When I’m coaching a client who wants to become a more effective public speaker, one of the most revealing experiences is videotaping your speech and then having to watch it back. Watching oneself “perform” is one of the most challenging exercises in self-awareness for developing speakers. It’s not easy to be pushed outside of your comfort zone and be forced to see yourself as you truly are—flaws and all. But the amount of wisdom that can be gleaned from these sessions is often profound.
The same can be said for a leader who takes self-awareness seriously. Those who desire to reach their optimal self are willing to take a thorough look at themselves and learn from both the good and the bad. I suggest to my coaching clients that they take a complete view of themselves via the feedback of their peers. Undergoing this type of review experience may feel nerve-racking and uncomfortable, but it provides an objective and accurate view of an individual’s contributions and effectiveness – allowing you to understand your specific areas for personal and professional development. Being willing to take an honest look at yourself and how you interact with your environment leads to greater emotional intelligence.
Improved Self Awareness = Increased Emotional Intelligence = Greater Leadership
Emotional intelligence…is this really that important in climbing to the top of your career? Isn’t it about your education and technical skillset? Like excellent communication skills, having emotional intelligence can be categorized as one of those “soft-skills” that people often overlook; however, it is critical to effective leadership and decision-making no matter the situation.
What is emotional intelligence exactly? John D. Mayer, a professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire was one of the first to define the idea of emotional intelligence in the early 1990s. “From a scientific (rather than a popular) standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions. It doesn’t necessarily include the qualities (like optimism, initiative, and self-confidence) that some popular definitions ascribe to it.” Since Mayer first defined it, many scholars and professionals have invested greater focus to validate the same conclusion: emotional intelligence is extremely important in not only the business world, but also life in general.
There are many publications that have written on the idea that perhaps emotional intelligence is more important than one’s IQ. That is certainly a debatable point depending on the context. However, it’s important to understand that the “skills” that make up EI, are all incredibly important in dealing with people; these include, self-awareness, self-regulation/management, social skills, empathy and motivation/passion. And since people are a fixture in everyday life – your ability to master these “skills” is critical to your success.