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Makes sense to bring forth your emotions
 

 

Much has been documented on the importance of emotional intelligence in the modern world, especially in the domain of leadership. Psychologists, management academics, and business leaders continue to perpetuate interest in the subject, despite the fact that the concept it is far from new. One of the earliest references to emotional intelligence was in Joel Davitz’s 1964 collection of works on ‘The Communication of Emotional Meaning’. Other scholars such as Peter Salovey, John Mayer, and Howard Gardner helped to move the concept forward, while Daniel Goleman is often credited with bringing the concept of Emotional Intelligence to the fore through his 1995 bestseller ‘Emotional intelligence: Why It Can matter More Than IQ’.

 

Goleman identifies both self and social awareness as two of the main components of emotional intelligence, so it is not surprising that developing a high quotient of emotional intelligence is seen as central to leadership effectiveness. After all, if you don’t understand yourself as a leader, how can you lead and understand others, right?

 

If we take a simplistic look at where the concept of emotional intelligence comes from, it was initially thought that emotions had a negative effect on thought and, as such, was a detrimental quality to have. However, as our understanding of emotional intelligence developed, so did our perspective, conceiving that emotions and thought can be adaptive and complement each other. Indeed, Goleman proposed that emotional intelligence is fundamental to life success, and a number of theories on emotional intelligence have subsequently emerged.

 

As a leadership development practitioner, I am fully behind the importance of emotional intelligence, both in business and in life. However, despite the work on emotional intelligence, and its inclusion in leadership development programmes, many leaders still struggle with managing their emotions, or even show no emotion at all.

 

Indeed, I’m sure many can recall an experience of a leader who had no sense of self-awareness and lacked the ability to demonstrate the core principles of emotional intelligence, yet had gone through the training. The question is “why?”

 

The answer may be found in the fact that many leaders might be emotionally intelligent, but not emotionally mature. There remains a disconnect between the ability to learn the concepts of emotional intelligence and ‘intellectualise’ about them, and being able to manage one’s emotions or emotional reactions. Emotional Maturity takes us beyond intelligence to a higher state of awareness and consciousness, steered by our intuition in terms of what we sense and feel.

 

To truly develop our ability to manage our emotions, we first have to understand our emotional triggers, which are often formed over time from our childhood. Leaders who practice and demonstrate a heightened state of self-awareness are, by nature, very self reflective and comfortable with who they are, while being capable and willing to explore their inner-self to better understand why they react in certain ways in certain situations.

 

This defines and sets apart those who are emotionally intelligent, and those who are emotionally mature.

 

Both positive and negative emotional reactions through life are stored in our psychological makeup and can resurface through our emotional reactions and behaviours based on previous related events and experiences. This is why it is important in the context of leadership for modern leaders to explore, identify, and understand the nature of their emotions, and own and take responsibility for them, rather than bury them or blame other people and situations for their behaviour.

 

There is a saying that ‘a leopard cannot change its spots’, and it’s the same with emotional reactivity: our emotional triggers fool us, ambush us, and resurface when we are not in control and aware of self. While the trigger is often external, the emotional reaction is always internal. While we may not be able to discard them - as they are woven into our fabric through time - we can learn to manage and overcome them.

 

Developing your emotional maturity will enable you to detach yourself from your emotional triggers, and rather than react, allow you to acknowledge rather than suppress them, reflect on them, and chose a considered and informed emotional response to the situation you’re are facing. If emotional intelligence develops our knowledge, emotional maturity develops our behaviours, and the two should not be developed in isolation, but in harmony.

 

Only then will you achieve emotional mastery EQM².

 

Michael Castle is Executive Development Director at Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group (ADUKG)

 

Reference: Gulf News