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How to Strengthen Emotional Intelligence (E.Q.)

Completing our series on Emotional Intelligence (E.Q.), research indicates that emotional intelligence and the related leadership skills can be taught.

Here are five steps to the type of personal change required in order to increase emotional intelligence:

  1. Identify the ideal self. In a way, this is analogous to imagining the future state of an organization — what it would look like without defects, rework, misalignment of work and requirements, etc. — but the ideal self is much more personal. One person’s ideal self, building on his or her core identity and aspirations, will be different from another’s ideal self. Personal change starts with envisioning the ideal self — the way one would like to be, to work, and to be perceived. This requires an awareness of one’s strengths, an image of the desired future, and a sense of hope that the desired future is attainable.  Insight into the ideal self is not always straightforward. One might simply extrapolate a trend of the present instead of envisioning a truly desired future self.
  2. Identify the real self. Where is one, relative to one’s goals today. This step is not as easy as it sounds, as many leaders do not really know if they have resonance with their organizations. The greatest challenge is to see oneself as others do. Using multiple sources of feedback can be very useful. Many organizations use 360 reviews for all individuals in management positions.
  3. Develop a learning agenda. In contrast to the stream of to-dos and complying with agendas of others, the learning agenda is development focused; it can make it easier to let go of old habits and to develop new ones.
  4. Experimentation and Practice. The fourth step is to practice, look for feedback, and practice again. A consultant, coach or mentor should help the individual who has embarked on intentional change to find safe settings to practice the characteristics of the effective leader he or she envisions.
  5. Helping relationships. Coaches, mentors, guides are very helpful to someone aiming to transition to the ideal self through practicing greater EQ and inspirational leadership.

No matter where we are in our journey toward Continuous Improvement, Emotional Intelligence is an essential tool in our tool kit.

However, to be sustainable the desire to change must be intentional. The requirement is a desire for change; without that, no sustainable improvement is possible. People with no interest in developing E.Q. will not do so, but if they are motivated to change, the above-listed steps will help them.

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