Emotional Intelligence: how can you impact your management style?
Based on a 20 minute video released by Dr Fanny Whitens (UCL Belgique) and Dr Lisa Bellinghausen (Paris Descartes)
As a team leader I had the opportunity to participate in research regarding Emotional Intelligence (EI). This provided me with practical tips for EI implementation.
Emotional intelligence leads to an ability to identify ones own emotions. Self awareness first.
As a good manager, your role is to support your team members to manage their own emotions. As a result, each team member feels is more content, so delivers better performances.
Quick definition of emotional intelligence by Dr Fanny Whitens and Dr Lisa Bellinghausen:
Strategic use of emotions to increase performance and well-being.
By reading this piece I hope to increase your focus on your emotional quotient (EQ) within your management style.
We are all driven by our emotions. In this regard, we are all equal. The benefit of this focus is to learn how to turn emotions into beneficial assets. Positive emotions are a good method of protection against psychosociologic risks (stress).
I grew up in a French environment. Usually people tend to cluster everything. Good emotions versus Bad emotions. “You got angry: let’s add this to your improvement box in your annual manager review”. But what does happen next?
This negative annotation can stay with you for the rest of your career. Nevertheless it is highly recommended to work on this exact situation to benefit from the instant and take proper action. From conflict can result best practice!
It is important to note that in general, we tend to focus more on people's “bad” emotions than on people's “positive” emotions.
However, it is worthwile considering that there are NO “bad” emotions. Emotions can both have beneficial and unproductive impacts. Joy and satisfaction are as normal as anger and frustration. Why should we deny unpleasant emotions? Everyone can feel delighted, overwhelmed, excited, and/or frustrated at some point.
Let’s focus on anger. You got angry. Why? What caused this emotion?
These questions are tools to help you to detach yourself and come up to a global view of the situation.
This is the moment you can check how you can deal (or do not deal) with your emotions. Performance and wellbeing rely on your capability to put things into perspective. You need to identify the emotion in question and channel it.
Indeed, emotions are the result of interpretations. About half of our emotions rely on our perspective and on our system of reference. Once again, this data makes things interesting. We can all work on our systems of reference. Thus, we can all adjust our interpretations. (For the record, the other half relies on our genetic / education / cultural background).
What differentiates you as a well-performing manager compared to someone else? It is your ability to identify your emotions.
Dr Fanny Whitens and Dr Lisa Bellinghausen give us tips.
1. ACCEPT the emotion
As we said, we need to identify and channel our emotions. Therefore, we need to accept them as they are… as they come. We can say “I am aware I am living an emotion right now”.
How do I feel right now? satisfied, sad, thrilled, frustrated…?
Is my body conveying any physical attitudes? tensions, warmth, cold, sweat…?
The idea is to recognize an emotion and combine an attitude to this emotion.
The purpose of this tool is to understand more our body and its behavior. Thus, my emotions can be visually recognized and easily identified.
For example: When I feel under pressure my nose and cheeks become red, or, my throat tends to be dry when I am intimidated.
Any question so far?
2. What MESSAGE does my emotion convey?
After having identified my emotion I can understand its source and work on it. Once again there are no positive and negative emotions. There is absolutely no point of being willing to banish critical emotions from our life.
For example feeling fear helps us to understand we are or might be in danger. (relevant example, isn't it?!)
What Dr Fanny Whitens and Dr Lisa Bellinghausen say makes sense: “An intelligent person should be someone able to welcome unpleasant emotion and do something out of it.”
This is all about being proactive and moving forward.
On the contrary, letting unpleasant emotions affect us could drag us down. For what purpose? Feel downhearted? Certainly not.
We usually spend more time at work than at home. So let’s be diligent! Welcome the anger and let’s do something out of it!
3. The emotion’s VIRTUE
Emotions imply Change. Instead, of being confined to gloominess, capitalize on the assets of your emotions to try things differently.
The two researchers, who are also Emotional Intelligence corporate coaches, quote the story of one of their clients. It appears their client was part of his company's board of directors. However, he could not stand the people he was working with on a daily basis. The emotion the coach helped him to identify was disregard. This individual in question lived with this bitterness while facing his team mates on a daily basis. He felt he was never able to be himself within their team. He felt discouraged and apart from the others. As a mechanism of defense he started (consciously and unconsciously) despising them. Not that healthy, is it? Therefore, his mission was to expose his discomfort to his team so as to work on it together. What a challenge?! I confess I felt surprised by his mission. On paper sounds great and quite logical. There is an issue at work with your team: let’s gather everyone, expose it and solve it. In real life, I guess it is not that simple. How do you bring the “elephant in the room” to the table? How to be sure your team will be mature enough to understand your whole discomfort? What about those who just do not want to change anything about the situation?
This statement brings us to a deep concern… How to work on one's Emotional Intelligence without taking the risk of being misunderstood by your company? I have no real answer to that.
Working on its own EI is awesome. However, it can have an impact on others. Others also need to get it. This is your management role.
4. Emotional LIFESTYLE
Emotion is part of a whole. We often get home brainwashed at the end of the day. Guess why? Because we amass a lot of emotions. Therefore, we’d better learn how to properly live with them to remain healthy.
Everyday we can feel peaks of emotions. I would advise to take care of these peaks right away in order not to implode or explode. How? Tools 1, 2, 3 chronologically combined to identify, understand and act.
How to manage to drag down our peaks of emotions?
Dr Fanny Whitens and Dr Lisa Bellinghausen advise:
RELAXATION and more specifically a technic called “mindfulness” which is a state of meditation while fully conscious.
As far as I am concerned, I feel like each one of us needs to know what fits us best in terms of relaxation. People can look into yoga, massage or running. Good for them. I like to cook, it relaxes me. What does relax you?
LIVING IN THE PRESENT. What belongs to the past is past. Accept that looking back is just a way to learn from our mistakes to go forward. Accept the pleasant or unpleasant situation and live with it without any regrets. Accept that any situation can make you grow. Once again your acceptance might not be “accepted” by others who do not tend to be indulgent. To me, mistakes make people grow. I can manage when people give me a critical look (really?!). Don’t you approve? “I was not good this time. I understand. Now I live present.”
To conclude, note that half of our thought processes are based on thoughts about past and future (regrets and plans). It’s a lot to think about. Let’s learn how to live in the PRESENT during the other half...
Living with emotions is proof of intelligence. It is worth noting that studies demonstrate that people who show the best ability to manage their emotions are people who do not have a high Intelligence Quotient. It can give food for thoughts. On the contrary, Emotional Intelligence is about human behavior, but really, more importantly about emotions! Dr Fanny Whitens and Dr Lisa Bellinghausen correlate the ability to handle emotion with the capability to love oneself and assume our role in our social environment. I definitely agree. So we said... 1,2,3... identify, understand and act! Go!