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10 Tips to Upgrade Your Emotional Intelligence

Here are 10 tips to upgrade your Emotional Intelligence to become a better leader for entry-level to C-Suite:

  1. Watch and observe your thoughts. Our minds can become a snow globe of irrational thoughts and leaders need to not attach to each snowflake. Watch and let go of the thoughts. This will position you to be in the present moment without judgment/biases and give you excellent executive presence for the pressing needs immediately in front of you.                                    

  2. Find time to pause and unplug. Disengage from technology and enjoy your immediate surroundings. Constant interaction with technology rewires our brain in a negative way. We can have self-awareness of our thoughts in stillness during the busy grind of work and life. Find time for quiet during the day for self-awareness of our emotions and how we are feeling. The beauty is we can do this anywhere. For difficult decisions, adopt the long pause 24-hour rule.                                                                                   

  3. Embrace all emotions. Negative emotions give us wisdom. Negative emotions are part of life and illuminate the positive emotions such as joy and peace. It is impossible and utopian to always expect experiencing joy with the erratic ups and downs of business and life. Life happens, be resilient and embrace the suck!                                                                                                                                 

  4. Strive to feel what others’ are feeling (empathy) and have curiosity of coworkers and clients stories below the surface. I often talk about the iceberg. We often judge and only view above the water but there is a whole story underwater below the surface. Below the surface is the sweet-spot. Is this individual an introvert? Extrovert? Reader? Writer? Packers fan? Fan of art? What makes them come alive? Empathy improves sales, influencing, leadership, trust and coaching once we have empathy, curiosity and a desire for real understanding. The Employ Humanity Golden Rule is treat others how they want to be treated and this all starts with empathy. *Empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another) is not only human-to-human social awareness but also is a profound organizational awareness leaders have to see how everybody is feeling and connected on a team.  They just have "it". To have "it" awareness how everybody influences each other within the network and have executive presence to adapt in real-time with the ebb and flow of workplace emotions, strategy, changing talent, etc.                                 

  5. Be adaptable. Life is always changing and we need to adapt to different personalities, social scenes and strategy. Feel the mood of the room you enter and people in your presence and respond accordingly in a kind manner. This is often described as the “chameleon-effect” with executives. If you can master adaptability, the sky is the limit for your leadership.                                           

  6. Have an awareness that the workplace is a portal to inspire your employees to be the best version of themselves and provide them resources to thrive. It is not work-life balance because balance implies polar opposites. It is work-life integration which is the social awareness and social management that work affects the home and vice-versa and that there is a community outside of your work walls. I have certainly been inspired by the company Sargento and the philosophy of founder Leonard Gentine “Hire good people and treat them like family.”                                                         

  7. Model the behavior desired in your culture. Culture change starts with self-management. You (and your leadership) need to model the behavior desired for your people. Culture is the water around us. The more you swim around with the behavior desired, the more things will change for the better. It is a slow but obviously worthwhile process.                                                                                   

  8. Practice gratitude. Be thankful for everything you have both personally and professionally and watch how this gives you a growth mindset, mindfulness and increased positive energy. The best time to do this is in bed before you start your day or before you go to sleep.                                                                                           

  9. Visualize the best version of yourself both personally and professionally. Personally could very well be a family vacation or family photo and professionally could be achieving a company milestone or award. Have this image ready at all times for when you become emotionally hi-jacked. It will allow you to handle very difficult, emotionally-charged situations. Be sure to have the picture readily available in your mind and use it often.                      

  10. Have a growth mindset to always develop and improve your human-connection skills…Your awareness, adaptability and empathy to lead yourself and others. Emotional Intelligence and our being is like a muscle that constantly needs attention and definitely can be developed over time. Emotional Intelligence is an amazing human-only competency that will make you the best leader in and outside the workplace and will never be replaced by automation, technology or time!

To your continued success!

Bill Marklein

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