By Gail Gumminger, MPA, BA, FACHE

“Beep, Beep, Beep”  ~ Sputnik, 1957

The first-ever artificial satellite took to the skies on Oct. 4, 1957. With those faint beeps from Sputnik, the Soviet Union kicked off the space age and the Cold War space race. As a result of those infamous beeps, our world is filled with beeps and buzzers that provide us with signal. The sound of warning, information, starts and stops.

These somewhat irritating sounds are all around us. Car doors, dish washers, dryers, smoke detectors, seat belt indicators, trucks backing up, cell phones, alarm systems and the list continues.

Obviously, Sputnik taught us a thing or two about the effectiveness of a beeping signal. We have been programmed by the beep that something is not right and needs attention or something is complete or done.  Either way, the beep signals that action is needed.

In your leadership role:

  • When are your internal leadership beeps going off?
  • What are the beeps indicating? What else on your leadership dashboard is beeping?
  • What are you noticing?
  • What action is needed to end the beeping sound?

To answer these questions, let’s take a deeper dive into emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (“EI” or sometimes referred to as “EQ”) is a concept first published in the 1970s and later popularized in the ‘90s by Daniel Goleman. Over the years, hundreds of articles by researchers have been published linking emotional intelligence with leadership effectiveness, engagement, productivity, healthy organizational cultures, and likelihood for promotion, to name just a few.

EI pioneer, Daniel Goleman, tells us that, “Effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence.” The good news: neuroscience has discovered that, thanks to the neuroplasticity of our physical brains, we can actually change our minds, rewire our brains, and learn to become emotionally intelligent. “You need motivation, passion, and the propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence,” Goleman says. It may seem simple, but it is not always easy. With daily mindful awareness we can all improve our emotional intelligence.

There are four areas of emotional intelligence that after some review, may be beeping for attention and action. These include:

  1. Self-awareness. Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Without it, it’s hard to say we are “emotionally intelligent.” Self-awareness is our understanding of ourselves, our personality, values, emotions, and emotional triggers. By becoming self-aware, we improve our ability to maintain emotional composure, recognize our own emotions, respond appropriately to the situation, and maintain effectiveness under stressful or difficult circumstances. Strong self-awareness ensures we have a realistic picture of who we are and, more importantly, how we show up in relationship to others.
  2. Self-management. Self-management refers to managing our emotions, feelings, impulses, and resources. It involves emotional self-control and our ability to use awareness of our emotions to flex and direct behavior. Self-regulation reflects how well we control and manage our emotional reactions to all situations and people. It also involves the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check.
  3. Social awareness. Social awareness is best described as our ability to focus on three different levels: what is happening within ourselves, what is happening with others around us, and awareness of the overall environment (organizational-level awareness). It is our ability to “read the room” through awareness of others and their emotions.
  4. Relationship management. Relationship management is our ability to use awareness of our emotions and the emotions of others to manage interactions successfully. It is about letting awareness of our own emotions and styles guide clear, direct, and positive communication. With relationship management, we use our emotional awareness to adapt to those around us and adjust our leadership styles to be effective with the individuals, groups, and teams we are leading. It is also about building trusting relationships and recognizing the importance of trust in our relationship.

In summary, emotional intelligence is being fully present and tuned in to what is happening within ourselves and others. We gain information from what our body is telling us. We can recognize intuition, listen deeply and are able to be present with others to allow for more effective interactions. To build stronger interpersonal relationships, we can act by asking powerful questions, listen deeply and practice empathy.

Do you hear a beeping sound when you lead? What is it indicating and what action is needed?