What about your emotional intelligence?
Manage your emotions. You’re a quick thinker and now your mind is running through options for an effective way of responding. Your goal is to respond with honor and respect because that’s one of your personal values. You remind yourself that Bob is a bright guy, too. Also, you’ve heard from your leadership coach that listening is a really good tool. One option you remember that might work is to say something like, “Gee Bob, I had not thought of it like that before. Can you explain the logic of how that would work?” Of course, tone of voice and body language are very important to pulling this off because they are two of your strongest communicators of emotions. Once Bob gives his explanation, more than likely you will see that he’s not stupid at all—just operating with a different perspective. But in any case, you’ve managed your emotions and maintained your decorum—signs of a good EQ.
Recognize the emotions of others. On the way back from the conference room, you run into Jane, one of your peers, who seems a bit down and overwhelmed. You’re depending on her to deliver the data that you need for the next step of your project and the deadline is tomorrow. Your immediate fear is that it’s not going to happen. Now that you’ve been working to raise your EQ, you mentally push back on your fear and consider what your teammate is up against and how her confidence and energy are sagging. It doesn’t take an EQ genius to realize that putting a guilt trip on her is probably not a good idea, but what can you do?
Respond appropriately/effectively to the emotions of others. Because you’re not fear-motivated, you focus on encouraging Jane. After all, she does good work and what she needs right now is an emotional boost. So you choose to show her some empathy and encouragement, telling her that you understand things are difficult right now and asking if there are ways that you and your team can help. You also offer to listen to her challenges and brainstorm with her on solutions. (By the way, this is one of the most helpful things you can do for an extrovert; they unusually need to talk to think effectively.) You close out by reminding her that she is a great teammate and that you have confidence in her judgment.
Having good EQ may sound somewhat soft, but it’s actually very powerful because it’s about being the most effective we can be. It begins with awareness—we can’t manage what we don’t recognize—and then it’s about managing our own emotions and our response to others. In the simplest terms, it’s about reading the situation and then acting in the most effective manner. It does get easier with practice, and it makes you the kind of leader that others want to follow. Try it and see for yourself.
Lee Ellis is a speaker and the author of "Leading With Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton," in which he shares his experiences as a Vietnam POW and highlights leadership lessons learned in the camps. Ellis is president of Leadership Freedom, a leadership and team development consulting and coaching company. For more information, visit www.leadingwithhonor.com.