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4 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Dec 03, 2023

Emotional Intelligence, EQ, is the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions.

Quick, name any and all human emotions… Go!

How many did you come up with?

Mad, sad, or glad are the most common answers, but there are actually twenty-seven distinct categories of emotions with ranges and nuances.

How can we, as leaders, improve our own Emotional Intelligence and help nurture that skill in others?

4 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence:

1. Self-awareness.
Investigate what is going on emotionally, internally, and externally with your teams.

Internally: Take time to review your day. Journaling helps to notice internal patterns. Continue asking yourself, “What went well? How could I have said that differently? What was their reaction? How can I be better?”

To this point, Co-Founder Wendy Papasan amplifies her business partner, Sarah Reynolds, “It’s why you’re such a great leader, Sarah. What you’re telling me is that in your free time, your thinking time, you prioritize thinking about your interactions with your people. That’s amazing.”

Externally: Consider a survey like Sarah uses with her teams. Anonymously, she asks on a scale of 1-10, how cared for do you feel by your leader? What would make it a 10?

2. Self-regulation.
Sarah Reynolds gives this powerful example and tip:

“Emotional regulation is key because of how much is thrown at us in a day. When there are problems, we have this emotional reaction depending upon what it is. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is to create a process for when negative things happen. I prefer to have time. I do my best not to react in an emotional way. What I say is, ‘I really need time to think on this. Let me give this some thought. And I would love to set up a time to talk about this further.’”

Wendy reminds us of this important pearl, “It’s okay to show emotion as a leader.” There is a certain vulnerability that can make you powerful as a leader. The difference is being reactionary versus reflecting and responding. Don’t stifle the emotion; stifle your behavior.

Or, on the other end of the spectrum is Co-Founder Seychelle Van Poole. Seychelle needs to objectively communicate her feelings, otherwise, no one even knows she is upset.

Lastly, it never hurts to pause and take a breath.

3. Work on your internal motivation.
Are you playing an internal or external game?

Learn to work on your internal motivational goals. When your intention is coming from your heart, people can feel it. As writer and poet, Maya Angelou, says, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

4. Become more empathetic and work on your social skills.
Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

“We as leaders do not want to be the smartest people in the room. So asking others for their perspectives and thoughts is really important, and don’t forget to pause,” Wendy suggests.

Simply encouraging others to jump in by ending emails with, “Your thoughts?” invites that opportunity for your Team to think, to answer, and for you to listen.”

Learn more about EQ in Episode 43 of the Empire Circle podcast, The Secret Leadership Quality You Won’t Learn in Business School: Emotional Intelligence.

This holiday season, pause and ponder how your Emotional Intelligence is and ask yourself what you may do to improve it. This dear leader, is a part of self-care and leading with your best self.

By raising our EQ, we can better address the challenges and fully celebrate the wins.

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