What is emotional intelligence?

You often hear that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is important in leadership, but for many it’s not clear what it is. We define Emotional Intelligence (EI) as your ability to identify your emotions in yourself and others and to understand and manage your responses and actions. Daniel Goleman said, ‘Emotional Intelligence is what prevents anger from turning into rage and sadness into despair’.

So an example of emotional intelligence is when you are aware that you’re getting angry; you understand why and you manage to control your anger. Instead of acting on impulses, you act more deliberately. Let’s have a look at the steps of Emotional Intelligence in some more detail.

Identifying emotions

The first step towards managing emotions is identifying them. You can recognise your own emotions by listening carefully to your thoughts, impulses, and physical sensations when you face a situation. Some feelings will be obvious to you and you will realise when you are sad, angry, scared, tender, excited or happy. Sometimes your feelings will not as obvious. When you have a quick impulse to react without thinking there is a good chance you’re having a feeling you’re not recognising: stop and think!

Understanding and managing emotions

Once you are aware of your emotions, you want to be aware how your feeling is affecting your judgment. Instead of reacting impulsively, take in the information your feelings are giving you and determine if how your reaction will help or hurt the situation before you. For instance, if you feel strong pressure because you and your team are not reaching your targets, you should think about your feelings and how your direct reports would react if you showed them your emotions without filtering. How would your team perceive a pessimistic versus an optimistic reaction?

Using and communicating emotions

Managing your emotions helps you reach your goals. Let’s look at our last example: if you show pessimism, your team members are likely to feel the same. On the other hand, if you show the challenges, your optimism and a way to get back on track, you are likely to instil feelings of optimism and motivation with the team. You are channelling your emotions and use them to enhance your leadership.

In our two day Emotional Intelligence for Managers course we get deep into the subject and will help you develop your professional and personal leadership skills by helping you understand and effectively manage your own and other people’s emotions. You will grow your ability to inspire, influence and grow people.


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