Knowing Me, Knowing You

As a leader, your job is to help others understand their needs and to help them use this knowledge to become aware of their own development needs. An important part of this needs identification and development process is the concept of emotional intelligence. Successful leaders recognise that emotional intelligence and leadership are intrinsically linked.

Being in touch with your emotional intelligence is the first step to being a good leader. In order to help others, you must understand how your needs manifests itself through your emotional reactions to situations and stimuli, and know how to control your subsequent actions. For more information on how to achieve this please read this article on how emotions manifests itself, and this article on how mindfulness can be a useful tool to buy you time to think before reacting.

Knowing whether your style of leadership encompasses the values of high emotional intelligence is critical to being a good leader. Generally, leaders with high emotional intelligence will exhibit the following traits:

  • concerns for high ethical standards
  • strong sense of integrity
  • readily admits when they have a lack of knowledge or understanding
  • have a strong capability to help other develop
  • a noticeable sense of presence
  • good, effective decision making skills
  • self confidence through a thorough understanding of their strengths and weaknesses
  • knows when to lead and when to follow

Understanding your own level of emotional intelligence isn’t always easy. It requires honest self-awareness. As a first step, you should be familiar with:

  • how the emotional and cognitive brain work together – knowing how your past is still influencing your behaviour
  • how emotions are triggered and the corresponding feelings and actions they arouse
  • what are your triggers that lead to thought/action which aren’t beneficial to the situation – the “amygdala moments”

Reviewing and reflecting on your behaviour will assist you in understanding your behavioural reactions. Look particularly for situations that cause you to repeat unwanted behaviour, have negative thoughts or be angry in an unhelpful way.

The next step is to work on changing and adapting inappropriate behaviour. There is no magic bullet that will work for all types of negative behaviour. The tactic to tackle a particular emotional reaction will defer from trigger to trigger, and from individual to individual. However, a good checklist to help monitor your “amygdala moments” is to:

  • keep track of your initial thoughts when the trigger occurs
  • determine the source of those thoughts
  • determine if your reactions were driven by your initial thoughts
  • notice the reaction of the people around
  • review the short-time and long-time impact of your actions

Any emotional journey will be difficult and painful at times. Determining your own emotional triggers and working on a way to change unwanted behaviour that results from it requires determination and perseverance. Build a support network around you to help you with advice and to provide you with another point of view.

Once you are regarded by others as a person who can inspire and motivate, who has vision, and pushes the boundaries while treating people firmly but fairly, then chances are you will be in tune with your emotions and feelings and that you are leading with high emotional intelligence.

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