Manage Your Emotions

“…leaders who have mastered their emotions are better able

to roll with the changes and help the organization to adjust.”

-Daniel Goleman

I’m a big fan of Dr. Daniel Goleman and his research on emotional intelligence (EQ) as an effective leadership tool.  He is the author of many best-selling leadership books but I highly recommend Primal Leadership if you want to learn more about EQ and its powerful role in leadership development.

One of the four basic tenets of EQ is self-management which, among other things, includes self-control.  You might think of self-control as something you need around cake or chocolate (my personal challenge) – not necessarily in your office. Self-control, however, is a key ingredient in demonstrating emotional intelligence and in modeling positive leadership.

Self-control is more than willpower – it’s being able to act calm no matter what emotions you may be feeling.

Staying calm under extreme pressure is a valuable skill. Remember the phrase ‘never let them see you sweat’?

It’s an especially important quality for leaders as the rest of the office will take its emotional cues from you.

Remaining calm and in control of your emotions, even when you’re feeling upset or highly stressed, is a quality that will lead to success. By maintaining calm, you’re creating an environment for solutions instead of staying stuck in the problem.

When a leader shuts down, slams doors, or yells at people in anger, he or she shuts down the flow of creative problem solving. That kind of behavior leads nowhere and sets a negative tone for your workplace, not to mention incites fear and intimidation in your team. Increasing the level of control you have over your emotions builds trust, teaches your team how to handle stress, and can literally translate to increased productivity.

Not sure where to start?  Here are a few simple (but pivotal) tips to help build your self-management skills:

  • Be aware of your emotions. Awareness is the first key step toward change. Recognize what each emotion feels like in your body. Do you get a lot of energy when you’re excited? Do you raise your voice and talk with your hands when you’re angry? Know how you express different emotions. It will help you avoid those things when you’re trying to remain calm.  Without knowing what we’re feeling, we are at a loss to control those feelings and we become controlled by our emotions.
  • Practice control. Practice saying ‘I am calm’ or counting to ten when you feel emotions rising. Move your body and choose your words deliberately. If you have another tried and true way to calm down, use it. Emotions can be strong, but they don’t have to control you.
  • Be the leader you want. When things really hit the fan, it can be daunting to be the one in charge. Ask yourself what you would want to see happen.  Better yet, ask your team what they believe is the best course of action and set those things in motion. Take action and use your team’s input to bring the best case scenario to life.

Self-management is not about never feeling emotions. We’re human – by our very nature we are emotional.  It’s about recognizing and managing those emotions rather than letting emotions rule you.

Learning to recognize your emotions and managing them in a healthy way can take years to master and even then we can still experience an emotional highjack from time to time.  Don’t give up the first time your emotions get the better of you – keep practicing the art of self-management.  Learn to use your emotions- good, bad and ugly- to fuel productivity. Channel them into the energy you need to be a part of a strong environment and winning organization.