photo by Ann Lewis

When you’re off balance, one of the first things to disappear may be your emotional intelligence. Fear gets in the way, and you can start misreading even the most innocent of other people’s actions. If you’re a leader too, this can be a particular problem.

My very welcome guest author this week is Kelly Gregorio. Kelly’s post focuses on ways in which leaders who are off balance can reconnect with their emotional intelligence, and how they help their own recovery by staying tuned to the emotional responses of their teams and colleagues.

Kelly Gregorio writes about leadership trends and tips while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a company that provides businesses with working capital. You can connect with her through the comments section of her daily business blog here.

Stepping off the emotional rollercoaster

When you are going through a rough time, managing your emotions can be difficult…managing other’s emotions?  That task can feel near impossible.  Still, those in leadership positions need to stay tuned in as employees’ emotions can easily have a negative impact on productivity and quality of work.

Ironically, being in the midst of your own personal struggle is actually a great time to tend to others.  Making someone else feel better, cared for and relieved can give you a boost in outlook, mood and confidence.

Read on to discover the three must-dos when it comes to brushing up on your emotional intelligence; with mental and physical benefits applying to both you and your employees, you’ll all be glad you did.

 It starts with you

The best place to start brushing up on your emotional intelligence is with yourself.  Make the extra effort to tune into your emotions, thoughts and needs.  Throughout the course of a day keep track of your changing attitude and reactions to things.  Being able to pick up on the different types of emotions is the first step in awakening your emotional intelligence.

While you are able to physically feel your own emotions, detecting them in others can be a bit more difficult.  Just as you did with yourself, you can learn to be more sensitive to the mood changes and reactions of your employees.  Read their body language for clues; posture, arm placement and facial expressions can all be clear indicators of the emotions brewing inside.

 Tend to your Emotions

When dealing with your own emotional intelligence, it’s much easier if you have a reflector of sorts to bounce thoughts and feelings off of.  Rather than keeping things (big or small) bottled up inside, indulge in a mentor or a blank notebook page and get your feelings out.  The process may seem silly until you actually try it.  However, emotions are not fleeting thoughts; they affect every action and a lot of the outcomes within your everyday life, so give them the respect and attention that they deserve.

As far as employees go, you can serve as that very necessary reflection point.  A check-in as simple as, “How are things going?” could do the trick. Whether they open up or not, your gesture could relieve stress levels knowing that you’re open and available to giving support.

If an employee is clearly dealing with a difficult emotional patch, extend a supportive hand in private.  Share with them that you’ve noticed a change in X behavior or Y mood and be guided by the goal of hearing them out.

For the more private employee you might suggest your learned tactic of writing emotions out in black and white.  This simple action can get them off of their Ferris wheel of thoughts, and the clarity should provide improved focus and productivity.

 Be Active and Present

A step even more casual would be to globally address your staff, reminding them that you are always there whenever needed.  Such an open-ended move feels less pressured, and may allow for better absorption of your message.

Actively lead with your emotional intelligence and pass on easy-to-implement tips like deep breathing, meditating or slowly counting to ten.  Encourage people to get outside on their lunch breaks and take a short, restorative walk.  Emphasize the importance of getting up and stretching, and provide flexibility like allowing people to plug in to their own preferred background noise.  Send your staff off on Fridays with positive thoughts and welcome them in on Mondays with encouraging words.  A participating staff will absorb these feel-good emotions.

Once you’ve refreshed your emotional intelligence, continue to listen to yourself and be aware of triggers.  Find a way to release you emotions whether it is through a workout, a journal entry or a pet project.  Teach yourself to dive into healthy outlets before consuming thoughts and feelings ever become an issue, and pass on these simple types of proactive treatment to your staff.  From your mental health to your staff environment, a heightened emotional intelligence will improve your leadership ability all for the better.

How do you tap into your emotional intelligence?