Emotional intelligence gets the job done
The foundation of good leadership is managing your emotions so that your team trusts you, says Elise Boggs. That’s the message she delivered in a recent webinar sponsored by the School of Extended Education.
If attendance is any measure, it’s a message many people want to hear. The Emotional Intelligence Webinar is one of the most popular offered with 250 listeners. The webinar provides an introduction to a corporate training program that’s equally popular.
“It’s impactful both personally and professionally. It’s not just a skill that’s important for leaders. It applies to everyone in an organization,” said Reagan Forlenzo, director of Corporate Training, Business and Technology Programs for the School of Extended Education.
It’s also measurable through an assessment and can be learned. It is not a personality trait.
Nor is it just about relationships. “It’s about getting the job done. Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships,” said Boggs, stressing “in the moment.”
In her work leading training programs, she finds that people tend to fit one of two extremes: people who are “stuffers” or stuff their emotions away to deal with later or “reactors,” people who react immediately and without thinking about the consequences.
“At either end of the spectrum, neither one is intentional,” said Boggs. A lack of emotional intelligence in either extreme can lead to all sorts of problems in the workplace including bullying, anger or hostility, micromanaging and emotional immaturity, often reflected in an unwillingness to be teachable.
The result for the organization is often a lack of engagement, low morale, increased sick days, lost productivity and a loss of authenticity, she said. It can be a safety issue.
Full assessment measures 26 aspects of emotional intelligence. They fall into four major categories: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
Among the examples of emotional intelligence Boggs offered was different reactions to being cut off in traffic. “Nobody likes to be cut off. We all have different reactions – anger, tailgating, yelling an expletive out the window or just calmly driving by,” said Boggs. “Often we blame the situation for our reaction.”
Those who think they were cut off on purpose are likely to react in anger. Those who assume it was accidental, are likely to remain calm. The cutoff was a trigger, followed by a thought, followed by emotion, followed by a reaction. “Slowing down the scenarios that cause you to react in a way you aren’t always proud of … makes triggers less potent,” she said.
Emotional intelligence resonates across a variety of industries. Forlenzo said the School of Extended Education program has been used by those in health care, banking, law enforcement and education, often as part of a leadership program.
A variety of options, including one with a multi-page assessment that helps participants see their strong competencies and those that can be improved, are available. “Because it’s a self-assessment, the participant has a higher level of buy-in and ownership in their own development,” said Forlenzo.
Citing examples from her clients, Boggs said the results are measurable. “People are happier and empowered. That’s contagious. If you’re getting along – and it’s safe – you are freed up to be creative and innovative. You not only get the work done but you enjoy the process of getting the work done.”
“Leaders need to lead themselves first. We get focused on what our teams need to change. If we’re unhappy with our team, it’s a reflection of us. We can only help others grow to the extent that we’ve grown.”
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