Learn about strategies for keeping yourself in good shape.
- Another hallmark of a high EQ leader is that they invest in themselves. They engage in self-care and they seek out support because both make them more resilient and adaptive. To be a good leader, you have to make sound decisions, remain calm during stressful events, and be a role model for others. And it's hard to do any of those things if you're not in good shape. Self-care includes the basics you'd expect, good nutrition, sufficient sleep, and exercise. And yet these are often the first things to go out the door when our calendars get full and deadlines are looming.
The best leaders prioritize their self-care, making it non-negotiable in their schedules. Today, many top leaders include mindfulness practices in their daily routine. Whether it's meditation, yoga, or expressing gratitude, mindfulness plays a powerful role in our brains. Dr. Sara Lazar at Harvard found that a daily mindfulness practice actually shrinks the amygdala, making it less reactive. Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin uses MRIs to compare the brains of long-time meditators, like Tibetan monks, to people who have never meditated.
The results are astounding. Even meditating one time changes the brain in a measurable way. And it's permanent. Regular meditators are able to focus longer, less likely to worry about future events. And when something stressful does happen, they experience less distress and return quickly to their normal state. To learn more, read the book he co-wrote with Daniel Goleman titled Altered Traits. Another important form of self-care is play.
Studies show that people who play are more adaptive, innovative, and have more positive relationships. So find a way to build more play into your life. It can be simple and solitary or complex and collaborative. The most important thing? Make it fun. You should have at least a good play session once per week, and more is better. If you need more motivation, consider this quote by Brian Sutton-Smith. "The opposite of play is not work. "It's depression." Emotionally intelligent leaders also seek support from their trusted network of friends, family, and colleagues.
Whether you know it or not, your support network plays an important role in raising your EQ. Have you ever notice that you can spend hours thinking about something and not feel better, but if you chat about it for a few minutes, the feelings shift? Research shows that feelings need to be outwardly expressed in order to be processed and shifted. Emotions have to leave the body. So talking them out works, as does writing them, which is why journaling is such a powerful process. We have to be able to express the raw, messy feelings and not just the cleaned-up, polite versions.
You may be able to do this with your social network. But I have found that most people benefit from having some other avenues too. Three great options are a structured journaling process, working with an executive coach, and/or having a personal therapist. All of these offer a truly safe space to explore and process your emotions. Interestingly, many of these strategies are also related to positive psychology and what increases happiness. So implementing these strategies will get you a double bonus. You'll be a better leader, and you'll be happier too.
As a leader, you can also help others do the same. Think about how these strategies can implemented in your organization. Consider how you can promote on-site coaching programs. Cover counseling through insurance. Offer mindfulness classes. And provide opportunities to play and laugh at work. All of them will help raise the EQ of your people and your organization.
- Analyze the brain science behind emotional intelligence.
- Identify and assess your emotions.
- Determine how to exercise emotional self-control.
- Identify your triggers and how to respond the them.
- Assess how others respond at work.
- Determine how to maximize team performance using emotional intelligence.
- Discover how to catalyze change.