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Brain Circuits

How leaders can develop emotional intelligence

Published 9 July 2021 in Brain Circuits • 2 min read

There is a mythical idea that, at work, people can park their emotions at the door. The fact is: that’s impossible! Emotions are triggered by the context and help us adapt.  You can’t control whether you have them, but you can decide how you are going to work with them. No emotion is necessarily good or bad, it’s how you handle and use that emotion, which will determine your abilities as a leader.

Be aware of your emotional state. Stop and do a self-evaluation. Ask yourself on a scale from one to five with “1” being unpleasant and “5” being very pleasant. How are you feeling? Now do the same to see what your energy level is. If either of these factors is not where you would ideally want it to be for the context in which you operate, consciously consider what you can do to change your state. Remember there isn’t a judgement on how you should feel, that is for you to decide and each task or situation might request a different emotional state.

Use emotions to facilitate thought and show empathy. After recognizing your emotions, ask yourself how the feelings are directing and influencing your thinking. Again, do not judge your emotion as good or bad, but recognize how it is causing you to think. You can decide whether the emotion is helpful or unhelpful to your goals and objectives. Consider how your emotion is affecting people around you as well.

Understand emotions.  Ask yourself why you experience what you are feeling. For example, if you are afraid, why are you experiencing the amount of fear? You will need to explore the story behind an emotion and explain what caused it. The more honest and accurate you are in recognizing your emotions and their causes, the more effective you will be able to use them as information and address them effectively. By understanding your fear, you may be able to identify what it takes to get rid of the fear or protect yourself.

Manage your emotions. Take actions that will help you use your emotional awareness to effectively address and work with your and other people’s emotions. For instance, if you are afraid your family won’t respect you because you are losing your job, the first thing you should probably do is talk to them openly. Work to not get stuck in your feelings but use them as a strong driver to instil action based on the choices available to you.


Silke executive coach

Silke Mischke

IECC Co-Program Director and Senior Executive Coach

She works as a leadership lecturer and senior executive coach. She holds a doctorate in business administration and a master’s degree in Cognitive Psychology. Silke is licensed to administer and interpret several instruments to illuminate individual and group preferences and growth potential. Her coaching and teaching activities cover work with teams and individuals from international organizations.

Jennifer Jordan

Jennifer Jordan

Social psychologist and Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at IMD

Jennifer Jordan is a social psychologist and Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD. Jennifer’s teaching, research, and consulting focus on the areas of digital leadership, ethics, influence, and power. She has received specialized training and certifications in lie and truthfulness detection, as well as in conflict resolution within organizations. She is Program Director of the Women on Boards and the Leadership Essentials Course.


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