A Guiding Light on the Path to Emotional Intelligence

Have you tried, unsuccessfully, to improve your emotional intelligence?

You are definitely not alone! Almost every leader I meet understands the power and potency of emotional intelligence. But very few of them have been able to improve their EQ levels, even though they have tried very hard to do so.

Enhancing emotional intelligence is actually quite difficult – leaders need to put forth a strong effort and fail many times on the path to improving their EQs. Many simply give up and fall back into familiar patterns. Others try and try again, hoping the same methods will produce different results.

The truth is that if you have been unsuccessful at improving your emotional intelligence, it doesn’t mean you have failed. Rather, it means you need to try some different methods. Or you may need to enlist the help of another person who can supply you with much-needed perspective and coaching.

Habits, Tendencies and Practices

In my previous blog post, I wrote extensively about some of the key habits emotionally intelligent leaders possess. Leaders who practice habits like authenticity and constant learning are more likely to hone their EQs effectively – and are much more likely to act more consistently with their emotional intelligence. It really is all about practice and developing mindfulness around your tendencies.

Take a look at how you can hack your habits by working on some key practices that have been shown to improve emotional intelligence levels:

Pay Attention to Your Emotions

When working on your EQ, never forget what the “E” stands for – Emotional!

It is quite common for leaders to be so busy, so scheduled and so stressed out that they rush from one event to the next without ever paying attention to their emotional states. Being in such a flurry of constant activity and motion may seem like you’re getting things done, but it’s almost always at the cost of a healthy emotional landscape.

I suggest practicing mindfulness with regard to your emotions. Make a habit of checking in with how you are feeling at certain moments. Don’t get caught up in solving or correcting “bad” emotions like anger or sadness. At the same time, you should avoid trying to artificially extend “good” emotions like happiness or contentment. Instead, simply observe how your emotions shift and change throughout the day as circumstances around you change.

When leaders become too busy to monitor their emotions and act mindfully, they tend to rely on automatic, unmindful responses to things. They act unconsciously, which is a recipe for leadership disaster.

If you can pay attention to your emotions in a non-judgmental, observant manner, you learn quite a bit about yourself and the people around you. You also give yourself the chance to make decisions based not on the heat of the moment and a heightened emotional state, but based on your core values and beliefs.

Pay Attention to Your Actions and Reactions

When working on enhancing your emotional intelligence, emotions and actions go hand in hand. As I recommended above, paying attention to your emotional state is critical for getting in touch with your EQ. But you also have to be observant of your actions and reactions.

In many cases, leaders will experience a difficult emotion and react automatically without paying attention to the process. And when that happens, it is rare for leaders to make the best decisions.

However, when leaders pay attention to their emotional states and the actions that follow, they give themselves the chance to act differently, in ways that are more conducive to their values and the values of their respective organizations.

You are probably thinking that you are well aware of your actions and reactions. Most people think this way, in fact. But when individuals begin to practice mindfulness around their actions, they are often surprised by just how much of their behavior happens without their awareness.

Yes, this is scary! But once you start to notice your actions and become more mindful of them, you open up a whole new level of leadership ability and emotional intelligence.

Work on Responding Instead of Reacting

When you notice your emotional states and how they constantly shift, you give yourself the power to act differently. When you notice how you tend to act and react under certain circumstances, you give yourself the power to change your leadership course. Being mindful allows you to react differently, but I would challenge you to take this practice a step further.

Instead of reacting, what if you responded?

Here’s what I mean: Reacting comes from unconsciously processing emotions. Something happens and a reaction occurs almost automatically and instantaneously. Responding is very similar, but is different because it involves the conscious decision to act.

People who lack EQ often react automatically to experiencing an emotion, without first exploring what caused them to react so they can choose a different response.

On the other hand, when people have healthy EQs, they notice the emotions arising within them. They also notice the urge to react. But then they take a moment to decide the next step instead of going on auto pilot.

Build Empathy

I have a lot to say about the importance of empathy and how it relates to emotional intelligence. In fact, I will be presenting a new blog series devoted to the subject of empathy shortly.

For now, think of empathy as the cornerstone of your emotional intelligence practice. The tips and advice I have described thus far are practiced internally as you observe yourself and attempt to alter your actions. But for you to become truly emotionally intelligent, you have to be able to step outside of yourself and see the world through the eyes of others. Building awareness within yourself allows you to behave differently and handle emotions more effectively. Extending that awareness beyond yourself connects you to your people more deeply, giving you the opportunity to connect in the types of meaningful ways that drive organizations forward smoothly and rapidly.

Your EQ Guiding Light

I hope I have explained emotional intelligence and its importance in a way that inspires you to improve your EQ. The advice I have given here in the blog has helped countless leaders rise to new levels. But I understand if you still feel daunted by the prospect of digging deep into your emotional intelligence at this stage of your career.

The truth is that if you feel stuck or like you have reached a plateau with your leadership, you will have trouble getting out of your rut without first improving your emotional intelligence. But you may feel like you cannot possibly do it on your own. That’s where Leaders Edge can step in and be your partner on the path to greater EQ!

I love talking and writing about emotional intelligence – it is truly one of my favorite topics and one of the aspects of leadership I am most passionate about. But the thing I love the most is working directly with leaders like you to find ways to personalize the process for greater potential success!

Are you wondering how you can get unstuck and become a more emotionally intelligent leader? Do you need to enhance your mindfulness skills so you can become better at monitoring your emotions? Do you struggle with your actions and reactions? I can help!

I would love to continue this discussion on emotional intelligence with you, and I want to share with you how I can help you on your own personal leadership journey.

Interested in learning more? Give me a call directly at 1.855.871.3374 or send me an email at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca.

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