Last week, I hosted a workshop with a client in the Midwest around the topic of emotional intelligence and how we grow as leaders through our use of emotional intelligence. The topic of “Leadership” has got to be one of the most over-workshopped concepts around, and yet, once we started looking at what an “emotionally intelligent” leader looked like, things got interesting quickly.
And this same dynamic applies to other aspects of work. So whether management or sales or operations, emotional intelligence is one of the things that we have been promoting and counseling on here at Rewire.
But there’s a bit of trick with emotional intelligence: it requires awareness. When we walk around unaware of our own thoughts and feelings, or oblivious to the emotions of others, then it becomes difficult (nigh, impossible) to ever grow in our emotional intelligence. But trickier still, when we lack awareness, there’s a tendency to miss the signs, assume we already are well aware, and thus have no need to ever consider our own growth in emotional intelligence (I call this “the Michael Scott effect,” named after Steve Carrel’s completely unaware middle manager character from The Office).
Right now, in this very moment, how would you rate yourself with regard to awareness? Are you aware of what you are thinking and feeling? Are you aware of your physical surroundings? Growing in our personal awareness of what and how and why we are thinking or feeling in any given moment is crucial to our ability to grow in our emotional intelligence.
About the best way I know to illustrate this is to highlight my own thinking as I prepared for the workshop I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Ironically enough, as I prepared, I was aware of the fact that I was nervous about how this really cool group of people would respond to the concepts of awareness and emotional intelligence. I knew that in order to get this point across, I would need to be transparent and even vulnerable in front of them.
But not every group handles transparency and vulnerability well, and my nerves flared up around how this group would respond. So, even while leading them through this workshop topic, I myself had to be aware of how I felt and what I was thinking, in order to be sure I was reading whatever signals they might be sending. In that moment, I had to be an observer of my own thinking. And this type of observation (non-judgmental viewing of our patterns and thinking) is what allowed me to proceed with the group and give them a live, in-the-moment example of what it meant to be aware.
In writing it about it now, I have to laugh a little about being aware of my own nervousness while helping others be aware of theirs. In the end, it was a tremendously powerful session and many walked away with a skill or two that would help them improve their emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness.
So, how about you? Where might you need to grow in your own awareness? Merely asking this question is a step in a good direction.