If it’s not in your leadership tool box already, you are going to need it. Emotional Intelligence. Leaders are managing thru the pandemics of Coronavirus and racial injustice, and engaging in regular everyday relationships. Through all of this, they must manage their own emotions/responses as well as recognize how emotions influence the responses of others. In the present moment, emotions of all are heightened. So I ask, what’s in your leadership tool box? I hope Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ) has been around since 1964, but really didn’t gain traction until around 1995. The concept has been slow to gain traction in most industries because people often thought it had to do with how sociable a person is or because it was thought to be something you either have or don’t. And for many, EI just sounds touchy-feely. Ewww.

Emotional Intelligence is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately. They use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve their goals (Andrew Coleman, A Dictionary of Psychology, 2008).

This is great news! EI IS A CAPABILITY. EI is a skill which, like a muscle, can be grown and shaped!

The reason EI is so important is because of how our brain works. When information comes into our brains, it passes through the limbic system (where our emotions are triggered) before it travels to the prefrontal cortex (where we make rational decisions). This means that for EVERY experience, we have an emotional response before we can have a rational response. And that emotional response triggers the subsequent action we take (for good or ill) unless we can become more skilled at recognizing the emotions triggered and then being conscious, thoughtful and intentional about our response.

So take a look in your leadership toolbox right now. (In other words, reflect for a moment on your own capability.) Hammer? Check. Screwdriver? Check. Duct tape? Check.

Where is your Emotional Intelligence tool? How rusty is it? Not sure? Take a short and simple assessment available with Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. The assessment will quickly identify the areas where you have strengths and opportunities to grow your EI. I’m working on this myself!

In the present moment, I truly believe our most successful leaders will engage their teams and organizations and communities from a center of Emotional Intelligence. It is a critical skill.

So, what’s in your toolbox? I hope Emotional Intelligence.