Emotional Intelligence During Leadership Challenges

Emotional Intelligence During Leadership Challenges

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Effective leaders use emotional intelligence to manage challenges

During the good times when work is flowing and results are good, the level of a leader’s emotional intelligence is not seriously tested. Keeping the ship on course in calm waters is quite a different proposition to steering it through turbulent times. When things get tough, a leader’s emotional intelligence, or lack of it, will become very obvious and will have an impact beyond the leader to his or her people.

So many things can create challenge in a leadership role – a tough market, a challenging work relationship to contend with or a difficult personal situation. The way the leader responds to this challenge is critical. Some leaders will have the ability to remain calm and clear headed, despite the challenge. This is the type of leader most people prefer to work with. Others will succumb to the stress and may become anxious, angry or frustrated. If these emotions are not well managed, they will impact the behavior of the leader, which in turn will have a negative impact on those around him or her.

Because the mood of a person in a leadership role impacts his or her followers, it is particularly important for leaders to develop the requisite emotional intelligence skills to manage negative emotion. The good news is that these skills can be learned. However, as with learning many new skills, it takes conscious effort and commitment.

One of the critical differences between leaders who manage stressful situations well and those who don’t is the ability to self reflect. The emotionally intelligent leader will recognise that he or she is feeling the negative emotions and, instead of allowing these emotions to take control, will be able to reflect objectively on the situation. A leader with emotional intelligence will take time to reflect on what is happening, and how he or she is reacting to the situation and why. This leader will have the ability to step away from the emotion to look at the facts.

For example, a leader who finds a particular person difficult to deal with, and feels angry or frustrated as a result, may find, upon reflection, that the root cause of the negative emotion is a clash of values between the two. Understanding this enables the leader to consider, in a productive way, what he/she wants to do about the situation. Moving into this frame of mind, and away from the frustration and anger, leaves the leader feeling more resourceful and in control of finding a solution and feeling less controlled by the negative emotions.

Self awareness, through self reflection, creates the foundation for self management, a critical emotional intelligence skill for leadership effectiveness and results.

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Related Articles:
The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Leadership
EQ – Fuelling Leadership

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