Most of our actions are driven by a combination of two powerful forces: logic and emotion. Actions driven by logic are generally rational, thoughtful, and deliberate, while actions driven by emotion are impulsive and reactive. While both of these forces are fundamental components of our general being and psyche, learning how to control and moderate emotional responses is critical for those in leadership roles.
Learning how to react with logic, reason, and thoughtfulness is also known as practicing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is not a characteristic that one can simply develop overnight. Instead, it’s a habit that must be created through practice, patience, and ongoing leadership development. Building emotional intelligence is well worth the investment. Not only can it drastically improve your leadership style, but it can also transform your company culture, help you grow high-performing teams, and generate tremendous business outcomes.
How Emotional Intelligence Benefits Your Organization
Maintaining emotional intelligence in a high-stress role and environment is hard work. It requires a significant amount of practice, patience, and discipline. However, an executive team that consistently demonstrates high levels of emotional intelligence can have tremendous benefits for an organization:
- High Employee Engagement – Displaying emotional intelligence is the best way to earn the attention and respect of your employees. When teams respect their leaders, they’re significantly more likely to subscribe to your mission and values and act in ways consistent with your team’s plans to achieve excellent results.
- Strong, Resilient Culture – Building a strong culture starts with leadership. When leaders display the behaviors they want to see reflected across the organization, those characteristics will trickle down to middle management and entry-level employees, and will soon become ingrained in the culture. Once this becomes the norm, the team creates “corporate antibodies” to negative thoughts and actions – creating a resilient and healthy company.
- Excellent Business Results – When executives invest in leadership development, increase employee engagement, and build a strong, resilient culture, the end result is ultimately a high-performing team capable of driving the business forward and achieving excellence in the delivery of your goods and/or services to your customers. This creates a circular support system – happy team, happy culture, happy customers…
At the center of emotional intelligence is the ability to control and manage your feelings and expressions as well as the ability to empathize with others. This often can’t be done without a significant amount of practice and patience as it requires both thinking and meta-cognition (actively observing and evaluating the quality of your thoughts). Below are some common ways to develop emotional intelligence in your day-to-day work life.
Self-Awareness Is Key
The best way to practice a thoughtful, rational approach in your day-to-day business life is to maintain a strong sense of self-awareness. Leaders who are self-aware are not only able to recognize their own weaknesses, but they are also capable of acknowledging their own emotional thoughts and managing them internally before they drive impulsive reactions. Without a sense of self-awareness, you won’t be able to adequately identify actions and behaviors that negatively impact your team and your organization’s performance. Developing self-awareness requires practice. To practice self-awareness in the business world, you’ll need to build habits around certain behaviors.
- Learn What Triggers Your Negative Responses
Everyone has different triggers that elicit negative emotional responses. When you’re aware of your triggers, it’s easier to identify them in the moment and put the brakes on impulsive emotional reactions.
- Evaluate How You Respond To Things
Take time to think about situations or scenarios that you wish you would have handled differently. Recognize your response and think about what actions and emotions led you to react the way you did. Getting in the habit of pausing before you react (and evaluating your response as it “develops”) is a good way to ensure a metered, positive, and constructive response.
- Don’t Let Your Actions Be Influenced By Your Mood
We often let our mood determine our actions in the moment, but an important component to self-awareness is being able to recognize your mood in the current moment and ultimately prevent it from influencing your decisions.
Be Aware Of Your Language
As a leader, the manner in which you communicate and deliver your message is absolutely critical. It’s important to refrain from impulsive reactions and language choices driven by emotion. Pay extra attention to the words you use and the responses from your audience. Carefully select your vocabulary especially when dealing with a specific issue that may evoke an emotional reaction out of others. Much like your actions, your speech should also be very thoughtful and deliberate. One approach is to attempt to model the reactions you would appreciate and honor from wise counselors and mentors.
When you become aware of an incident or concern that has a negative impact within your business, it’s all too easy to have a knee-jerk emotional reaction. Not only can this be counterproductive, but it can also appear unprofessional. When you react emotionally, you’re also likely to say things in the moment that produce a negative reaction or response to your employee or colleague, which could result in additional conflict or impact motivation.
Instead, take a minute to pause, listen and put yourself in your colleague’s position. Try not to react in the moment and be careful not to criticize. Keep a level head, and try to think about the best possible solution. When you react thoughtfully, you’re not only more likely to solve the issue at hand, but employees will feel more comfortable coming to you to address issues directly. As a leader, it is your mandate to maintain a thoughtful and deliberate leadership style. By displaying emotional intelligence, you’ll not only be a more effective leader, but you’ll have greater success guiding and developing the organization around you.
Emotional intelligence isn’t simply a switch that can be flipped. Instead, it often requires practice and leadership development coaching. Leaders need to invest in themselves in order to effectively drive the business towards desired results. If you’re looking to improve business results, contact Lilly Consulting Group today. We specialize in leadership development programs that ultimately lead to improved efficiency and profitability.