How to Put Emotional Intelligence into Practice

How to Put Emotional Intelligence into Practice

Emotional intelligence is now a fundamental trait for any leader looking to be successful, but how do you put it into practice? Read on to find out.

In 1986, the American psychologist and author Daniel Goleman spoke about emotional intelligence. This began to resonate with many organisations, who then went on to reassess the competencies that had up until that point been deemed as necessary for great leadership.

Emotional intelligence found itself firmly at the centre, and organisations across many sectors started to put it into practice, with huge benefits.

When explaining the outlined areas to review for development, Daniel Goleman said: “Having emotional intelligence is developing oneself and being able to carry on even if there are frustrations. To be able to control our impulses and regulate our moods so that the distress one feels does not cloud one’s ability to think. To be able to recognize how another person feels and thinks and see situations from other perspectives.”

Goleman focused on the development of both self and social awareness, and in his book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, he laid out the Emotional Intelligence Framework. It identified personal competencies and social competencies.

The competencies he outlined encapsulate the art of managing oneself through self-awareness, self-regulation and the emotions that guide or facilitate us in reaching our goals or our motivation.

His social competencies are all to do with empathy, such as understanding others, developing others, leveraging diversity, service orientation and political awareness.

Social skills involve facilitating change in others, like influence, the way we communicate and listen, managing conflict, being an agent of change, building relationships and collaboration.

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Daniel Goleman

Emotional intelligence is now a necessity. It should be at the core of every leader’s style if they wish to be successful in their leadership. Effectively embedding the principles of emotional intelligence allows for happiness and productivity to thrive, among many other things.

When putting emotional intelligence into practice, one of the key things to manage is stopping your brain from being hijacked. I cover this in more depth in Human Touch Leadership, my debut book.

Essentially, if we react without thinking, our behaviour comes across as attacking and the mind becomes flooded or hijacked. When we can catch this, by knowing what has triggered us in the first place, acting calm and patient will allow us to use our human capacities more effectively. 

Just behind emotional intelligence and empathy is the skill of listening effectively, choosing how we react, learning to apply optimism to situations, being able to evaluate the pros and cons of a situation through consequential thinking, and bringing out the factors that not only motivate oneself but motivate others too. Motivation through purpose drives you towards your goal. 

If you want to look a little deeper into your own motivations, here are some questions you might ask yourself: 

  • What happened and why?
  • How am I reacting to this?
  • What thoughts and feelings do I have?
  • What thoughts and feelings are causing me to react?
  • What is underneath my current feelings?
  • How does this emotion motivate me or demotivate me?
  • How does this behaviour affect others?
  • What outcome would I like to see happen?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • What choices do I have?
  • What can I do differently?
  • How would I like to feel?
  • What mixed emotions am I having?

When I use the model, the “stop and pause” button first takes me to the purpose, or the solution I am trying to achieve. I then allow myself to learn and acknowledge the thoughts and emotions surrounding the situation.

This clears the way for calmness and patience, leading, inevitably, to success.

If you need help putting emotional intelligence into practice, please get in touch. I’ve advised leaders from across the world, helping them to build cultures of empathy and compassion, with emotional intelligence at the core.