Twenty-seven years have passed since, in 1995, Daniel Goleman first published his book Emotional Intelligence (EI). Since it became popular in recent decades, multiple theories and methods of developing EI have been widely available and pursued by individuals seeking to become more effective leaders.
Ironically, many leaders still see emotional intelligence as a nice to have soft skill. They might understand it conceptually but do not necessarily practice the behaviors involved in recognizing their own emotions, much less regulating them or understanding how they impact their work environments.
During my tenure as an HR professional, I witnessed many leaders crumbling in the middle of difficult situations, from venting to being short-tempered and irritable up to public outbursts. They found themselves hijacked by their own distress and the negative repercussions to their credibility and team’s morale.
“Leaders can not effectively manage emotions in anyone else without first handling their own”.
Many leaders rely exclusively on rationality to tackle challenges and make crucial decisions. Leaders who emphasize the logical approach with the exclusion of emotions leave behind the ability to lead with strength. As leaders rise, technical competencies become less relevant, while their ability to recognize and manage their emotions accordingly becomes a differentiator for success. To be most effective and satisfied, leaders should also consider how well they integrate emotions into their rational approach to make a difference truly.
Three valuable books focus on the importance of the emotional component of a leader’s repertoire: Primal Leadership; Resilient Leadership 2.0; and Positive Intelligence. I found these three approaches highly relevant.
Primal Leadership argues that the first job of a leader is emotional. The fundamental task of a leader is to prime good feelings in those they lead, creating resonance as a source of positivity that enhances performance. The book highlights brain research discoveries showing why leaders’ moods and actions significantly impact those they lead. From this sense, the role of an effective leader is to be resonant by inspiring, passion and enthusiasm.
Resilient Leadership is a new way of seeing, thinking, and leading that helps leaders navigate the hidden dynamics of an organization more effectively. Resilient leaders lead with calm, clarity, and conviction amid anxiety triggered by amplified complexity and accelerated change. These leaders lead from strength and exude a calm presence. They know how to care for themselves emotionally, spiritually, and physically and can sustain their leadership efforts over time.
Positive Intelligence asserts that our mind can be our best friend or worst enemy. Negative emotions, including stress, are the result of self-sabotage tendencies. An effective leader increases performance and well-being by practicing positive habits to intercept saboteur tendencies, command their minds to tune with positive emotions, and access five powers to lead with clear-headed and focused energy. A leader uses the PQ channel to tune in with positive emotions to inspire and influence others to achieve their true potential.
I am sharing the valuable content these three approaches offer and even how they complement each other.
- Influential leaders find the right balance between emotional and rational minds to make the best decisions. They are aware of their ability to manage their own emotions reducing their reactivity by questioning their automatic negative thoughts.
- People pay the most attention to a leader. Even subtle expressions of emotions can have a significant impact. With this awareness, the leader becomes accountable and intentional about the type of energy they bring to their teams.
- Leaders execute a vision by motivating, guiding, inspiring, listening, persuading, and creating resonance. Visionary leadership is resonant and comes from the Sage in the PQ system.
- The journey to increasing EI starts with self-awareness, or the leader’s ability to read one’s own emotions and their impact on others due to the contagion effect.
- There is collective anxiety in the workplace generated by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, or VUCA. An emotionally intelligent leader knows how to self-regulate to bring a calming presence to a nervous system.
- Leaders become dissonant when they are out of touch with the people’s feelings in the room. When they lead from Saboteur energy, they bring more negativity, increase team anxiety and, as a consequence, create lower morale and performance.
- Calm the body to calm the mind. Both PQ and RL 2.0 recommend leaders recognize triggers that activate stress responses and find ways to neutralize ineffective responses (or saboteurs) by going to the body (PQ reps vs. six-second centering). According to PQ, daily practice builds one small muscle at a time, laying down new neural pathways to form lasting positive habits in a leader’s mind for more resonant behaviors.
- Teams have moods and needs, and they act as a collective unit, creating an energy field. A leader can help the anxious team center by using their PQ channel to create a calm and grounded presence.
If you are one of those leaders who still believe the rational mind matters the most, consider the value of doing your inner work to become more self-aware. Developing the qualities of a good leader requires becoming responsible, curious, and willing to listen and observe your work environment. Also, regulate your body and mind to bring a clear and calm presence, leading with ease and flow.
In the end, becoming a more emotionally intelligent leader is the key to your success. It will allow you to achieve your business goals and also to create engaging workplaces where people want to bring out the best of themselves.
Consider the science behind leading with ease and flow and make it your art as a leader. You will become memorable!