Emotional Intelligence in Uncertain Times For Leaders (2)


Emotional intelligence is essential for leadership success. In part one of this series, we established why emotional intelligence affects wellbeing and relationship. Here, we will look at how emotional intelligence influences happiness, performance and productivity, to fully understand why emotional intelligence matters.

  1. Happiness

The third way emotions determine our motion is with happiness. We like to think of ourselves as rational leaders that are in total control over our state of mind. Suppose, for example, that you didn’t have a sound sleep overnight and you’ve had an unpleasant morning, making you somewhat overwhelmed. Then, while at work, your subordinate voices out his opinion on a particular decision of yours, you are likely to feel angry or displeased. What you may not realise is that your feeling has more to do with your emotion that morning, and not the actual incident of being opposed.

This principle applies to both positive and negative emotions. For instance, when we are in a very excited mood, we tend to look at tasks with a disposition of “bring it on. I am ready for this. It is going to be really interesting.” Conversely, when we are in a very sad mood, we feel like, “This is going to be difficult.”

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One way to get better in this area is to scrutinise your feelings. So, in-between home and work or work and home, pause and ask, “How am I feeling right now?” And what we know from studies is that when we attribute our feelings to its actual cause, it’s less likely to negatively influence our state of mind or our happiness.

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  1. Performance

The fourth reason why your emotions determine your motion is that they influence your performance. Take stress for instance. There is a continuum of stress – from no stress at all when you are calm, relaxed, and peaceful, to positive stress when you are under enormous pressure to perform at your best. Then, there is distress. First, acute distress, which is momentary. There is chronic stress, and there is toxic stress, which happens when we experience stressors for a very long, prolonged period of time, and in high intensity.  The higher the toxic stress, the worse our performance can be.

Our mindset around stress can influence our performance positively or negatively. For example, a researcher at Yale Centre of Emotional Intelligence did a research where she had people watch videos. They were videos of people engaging in intense sports. One group watched the videos and observed, “Wow, look how stress is enhancing their performance.” On the other hand, the second group felt, “Gosh. That stress has got to be harmful for people.”

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In our work with business leaders, what we know is that organisational culture and climate literally influence the stress levels. We’ve all been there, isn’t? Stress levels influencing things like stress-related absences, low performance, burnout, anxiety and even depression.

Think about that for a moment. Our organisational climates affect our emotions, which in turn influence our performance, and it all works in a cycle. As business leaders, we must strive hard to create an organisational culture that is calm, relaxed and serene that can bring out the best in our team members.

Moreover, research shows that our experience of more pleasant emotions can buffer against negative impact of stress on performance. The truth here is that we have to learn how to manage our stress effectively. We have to be careful about our mindset around stress, and we have to find a way to have a greater balance of positive to negative emotions.

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  1. Productivity

Your emotions determine your motion because they influence your everyday creativity and productivity. What we believe at the Sesan Kareem Institute is that our feelings are the fuel of our creative process, but it’s our emotional skills that determine whether or not we maximise our creative genius.

We’ve all had employees, most of whom have all the intellectual capabilities to achieve their full potential. But why is it that they don’t all achieve their full potentials? What research shows us is that they don’t know how to deal with failures, disappointments, setbacks, frustration at a project not going well and the anxiety around feedback.

Essentially, therefore, those who have the skills to manage their emotions are more likely to achieve their full potentials.

Action Plan: Strive to intentionally slow down to be more conscious about how you feel each moment. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling this moment?”

Affirmation: I master my emotion. I am blessed and highly favoured.

Sesan Kareem serves as Regional Manager at Pharmaplus, www.pharmaplus.com. ng, and the Principal Consultant at Sesan Kareem Institute, www. sesankareem.com.ng


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