Yes, we are facing challenges this year few of us could have imagined. But these challenges are also bringing great – even transformational – opportunities. The events of 2020 are requiring us to develop skills needed to lead ourselves and others through times of medical, political, economic, social, cultural, logistical and emotional upheaval. Learning to recognize, understand, and manage our emotions may be the most crucial skill of all.
Why? Because emotions are the foundation of much of who we are and what we do. They drive us, connect us, and ultimately make or break us. They help – or hurt – us as we lead ourselves and others through stress, conflict, ambiguity, and change. Every vision we create, every decision we make, has emotions at its core. Emotions – most of them unconscious – are also at the heart of how we are currently responding to local, national, and global events. Even the root of the words “emotion” and “motivation”– from the Latin “movere,” meaning “to move” – acknowledges this. So, if we truly want to arrive at the wisest, most logical and rational decisions for ourselves and others, we need to first become more conscious of, and then manage, the emotions that are driving us.
If you’re thinking, “There’s too much going on right now; attending to my emotions is a luxury I cannot afford,” here are three reasons to challenge that thinking/reasons why Emotional Intelligence (EI) matters more than ever.
1. Awareness à Choice.
“The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain.” – Dan Goleman
We are wired for survival, and emotions – especially fear – serve to protect us. But they also can harm us. If we respond before we understand why we’re responding, we severely limit our choice of options and our potential for making wise decisions. What we don’t know does hurt us; ignorance is not bliss. Who would choose to purposefully limit access to all available resources when embarking on an important, potentially heroic journey?
2. Choice à Influence.
One of the most crucial questions we face as leaders is, “How can I better lead through stress, ambiguity, and change?” The “unknown” creates intense emotions – especially fear – in an effort to protect us. But if we are in a state of fear or confusion, we are not going to be able to access the more rational parts of the brain that allow us to respond in a wiser, more logical way. If you’re unsuccessful at influencing others with facts and reasoning, there’s a good chance they are in an emotional, not rational, state. The most effective leaders therefore help others first gain emotional awareness, which then gives them more choice, which then allows all of you to move forward in a more thoughtful and positive direction.
3. InfluenceàFulfilling Meaning and Purpose
Local, national and global events are providing a tremendous opportunity for leaders to make a transformative difference in the lives of many people. Emotions – such as fear, joy, anticipation, passion, optimism, hope, anger, and/or revenge – play a significant, sometimes leading, role in every action we take. Lives are saved, enhanced, or threatened because of emotions. Therefore, the most illogical, irrational approach would be to try to ignore the power emotions have in our lives!
As our EI skills improve, so do our skills in leading, influencing, inspiring, and motivating ourselves and others. And with this comes deep, effective, meaningful and lasting solutions that benefit all.