You should only develop strategies to manage emotions you are feeling when you know what your goal is or the other person’s goal. To give you an example, imagine that you are feeling cross about a negative performance evaluation that a junior person on your team received. You deem that the evaluation is utterly unfair and furthermore it reflects badly on you as a manager and on the team as a whole. You feel that it’s unjust and possibly dislike the person who made the evaluation. Before managing this mix of emotions, you need to identify what your goal is. The goal can be to get revenge on the person who wrote the evaluation, or to make sure that the report is rewritten in a fair way. It can be to acquire more information from the person who wrote it and an explanation of the negative evaluation.
Actually listing your goals and what you hope to achieve is essential in working out how to deal with an emotional situation. Managing emotions is a process that takes patience, taking a step back and thinking through your intentions, and then checking with yourself that your intentions and goals are aligned to your values and that you are being intellectually honest. It also means validating the goals and intentions of the other people involved as they might be different to your own. Exercising emotional intelligence is therefore a process that takes time, prudence and a global vision of the situation.
Emotional intelligence is doubly important today, in a changing work environment, where many people, in particular millennials, value companionship and recognition over a big salary. A study commissioned by the Association of Accounting technicians (AATT) on work attitudes found that relationships with colleagues, self worth and the nature of the job itself came out on top. 80% of people polled said that they would turn down a big salary increase if it meant working with people or in an environment they didn’t like. People stated that the most important factor is work happiness, enjoying the rôle and getting on with boss.
For future leaders, emotional intelligence competency will be even more essential to handle diversity, globalisation, and human resources engaged in collaborative efforts. Emotionally intelligent leaders and individuals recognise the importance of creating a collaborative environment regulated with trust and equality, and are careful to manage their emotions and resultant behaviour accordingly. As Slater said:
Given that the key components of the collaborative process are inherently emotional in nature, leaders who are successful in developing collaborative work cultures may be those who are able to manage, rather than deny, their emotional selves.
It is emotional intelligence which ensures an adaptable mindset in dealing with changing situations and trustworthiness – that is demonstrating consistency and integrity with emotions and behaviour. Building emotional intelligence, which starts with being self-aware and being tuned into others’ feelings, is essential in the quest to become more resilient and socially integrated.