We’ve seen the videos of coaches losing it. The pressure percolates inside until that final, inciting event hits them like a pin pricking a balloon and they burst, spewing their frustration and anger everywhere. In our suddenly small, over-connected world, tirades like this go viral in an instant, putting a leader’s lack of self-control on YouTube for the whole world to see.
If we don’t learn to control our emotions, they will control us. One way to avoid an emotional meltdown is to increase your Emotional Intelligence (EQ). At its core, EQ measures how well we manage our emotions and our relationships. It’s comprised of four areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
With its recent popularity, hundreds of books exist on the topic. I use Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves) with clients. It comes with an online assessment to take once at the beginning and again after you’ve had a chance to work on some EQ skills so you can measure your progress.
But the book’s best feature is the multitude of practical suggestions for increasing EQ in each of the four areas. None are rocket science, but all represent small steps toward big change. A few of my favorites:
- Feel Your Emotions Physically—close your eyes and think of a few events from your life (one positive, one negative) that generate strong emotions. Take note of physical changes you experience like heart rate, dry mouth or tight muscles. This practice develops awareness and trains you for the real thing. As you get better you’ll see that you often feel emotions long before you’re mentally aware of them.
- Greet People By Name—it feels good when people use your name and remember it! This simple action comes across as warm and inviting, breaking down barriers. If names are a challenge for you, practice saying “Hello, [Name]” when you’re introduced and then use the person’s name at least two times during the conversation.
As you can see, these are not difficult things to implement! Yet these seemingly “little” things are what make great leaders great. Strengthen your EQ and you will not only avoid YouTube meltdowns, but also quickly impact your leadership effectiveness.