Not Sure How to Feel About Emotions in the Workplace?

Businessman stressed sitting at the desk with head in hands

Emotional intelligence, a phrase that has become as common in the corporate vernacular as kale in the wellness industry. Everyone is looking for emotional intelligence. But why? Do we really want highly emotional people leading our most valuable projects and in charge of our most profitable divisions? Short answer, yes, but not for the reasons you think.

Emotional intelligence is just a starting point. There are many definitions of emotional intelligence but someone with high emotional intelligence can perceive, understand, manage, and use emotions in oneself and others effectively. Daniel Goleman identified five key components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. It would be hard to find a company that wouldn’t value a leader that possesses these five components and utilizes them daily. Emotional intelligence is good, even necessary, but it’s not enough. Not if you want to be great.

A great leader has emotional intelligence in spades, but they also possess something else… Emotional agility. Psychologist Susan David coined the term and referred to it as a process of navigating one’s inner experiences (thoughts, feelings, and emotions) in a mindful and adaptive way. It requires one to acknowledge his or her emotional responses without being overpowered by them. The result, an individual that can make choices that align with their values and goals. Emotional agility allows a leader to embrace their emotional intelligence and transform negative emotional patterns into positive outcomes that promote success within teams and throughout corporations.

Emotional intelligence and emotional agility are kindred spirits and dance a synergistic waltz of exponential growth within a leader. Emotional intelligence leads to a deeper understanding, acceptance, and navigation of one’s emotions which is critical for developing and achieving emotional agility. Conversely, emotional agility requires the implementation of emotional intelligence and therefore enhances one’s emotional vocabulary.

The result, a leader who is both resilient and adaptable to the complexities of the modern workplace in personal relationships and professional environments. Emotionally intelligent and agile leaders have a greater capacity for self-reflection, personal development, and building meaningful relationships. Leaders who are effective communicators, understanding of different perspectives outside of their own, and gracefully take on conflict as an opportunity for growth and change. Rather than seeing problems, the emotionally agile leader sees possibility. Most importantly, the emotionally intelligent and agile leader understands that to elevate oneself you must elevate the people around you. A leader that is capable of changes others must first be able to change within. A change within changes everything.