Leadership Series

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It encompasses Emotional Self-Awareness; Emotional Self-Regulation; Social Awareness, and; Relationship Management. 

There is consensus that Emotional Intelligence is a leadership differentiator. Leaders that consistently practice emotional intelligence behaviors lead more high-performing teams, develop solid credibility, influence others more impactfully, and ultimately, achieve better results. 

The Center for Creative Leadership identified the top six leadership challenges that leaders face around the world: Honing effectiveness; Inspiring others; Developing employees; Leading a team; Guiding change, and Managing stakeholders. Excess of politics in the workplace creates divides, erodes trust, and promotes ineffectiveness. Toxic environments affect individuals’ health and reduce job satisfaction and productivity. Leaders face all of these and more.

On a given day, there are so many triggers that can activate positive and negative emotions. Like in an emotional spiral, there are expansive wave lanes of enthusiasm, optimism, and encouragement, followed by moments of constrictive energies when experiencing anger, disappointment, or distrust. How to identify and manage these wide ranges of emotions effectively requires self-awareness and emotional self-regulation. 

Because emotions are contagious, a leader must become more aware of the impact that their behaviors have on their teams and ecosystems. The Resilience Institute developed the Resilience Spiral to increase awareness of how their energy and mindset impacts the organization. A leader might be in a downward spiral feeling isolated, with a lack of energy and withdrawn, causing low morale and low engagement leading to regrettable loss of talent. On the upward spectrum, the one who is predominantly in a state of calm alert, and engaged presence, will create an organization with vitality and a vibrant culture where people want to give their best. 

Where do you spend most of your time? In a downward or an upward emotional spiral? How frequently do you find yourself in a low place not knowing how to pull yourself out of it no matter how hard you try?

You might recall times when something went wrong in your day, and other things started going wrong one after the other. When you are caught in negativity, it can spiral quickly and lead to feeling stuck and overwhelmed. The more you get caught up in negative thoughts about yourself, others, or your situation, the more those thoughts can prompt negative feelings, impacting you and others.

Here are ten ways to manage your way out from a downward spiral:

  1. Assume responsibility for your own emotions and behaviors. 
  2. Be curious about your thinking and challenge it when needed.
  3. Identify the triggers that produced your negative emotions. 
  4. Be present. Be willing to notice your thoughts and feelings.
  5. Recognize when you’re in a downward spiral. 
  6. Stop the negative chatter in your head. 
  7. Find ways to switch to a more positive emotion, such as gratitude.
  8. Do something constructive for others.
  9. Practice self-care. Sleep, exercise, practice good nutrition, meditate.
  10. If you can self-rescue, ask for help.

As a leader, know that you bring your emotions to your environment. Your mood and the mood of others might have a disproportionate effect on you unless you manage it. Even when you don’t notice it, your behaviors are impacting others all the time. Becoming a more mindful leader is about paying attention to your internal weather, knowing that you are always one thought away from feeling good or feeling bad. Choose wisely. If you find yourself trapped in a downward spiral of negativity, rebalance and find your way out. 

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