Have you ever had a boss who was a yeller? Or was so overwhelmed by his or her own work that they didn’t have time for you? Or was so indecisive it drove you crazy? Sometimes it is so much easier to see the short-comings in others than to see our own.

So let’s talk about how we can begin to: Understand the needs and feeling of ourselves and other people; Manage our own feelings; and Respond to others in appropriate ways. This, by the way, is the definition of “Emotional Intelligence” (EI).

EI has become such a cliché. However, so much of what we do as leaders is enhanced by our understanding of the four aspects of emotional intelligence. We know the term “Emotional Intelligence.” However, do we as leaders know how to intentionally implement EI?

I once had a boss who honestly believed the 36 people she hired in three years to fill just three spots were all square-pegs she was trying to force into the proverbial round-hole. You would think she would notice a pattern – and that she was the common denominator. But, she didn’t. No matter what we tell ourselves, we are not good leaders until we can understand the basics of emotional intelligence – and apply them.

Daniel Goleman created an emotional intelligence framework to help explain it more easily. First, it all starts with knowing ourselves. Our Personal Competence includes:

  • Self Awareness – How well do you know and understand your own emotions? Can you fairly accurately self-assess your emotions? Do you have confidence in yourself and your abilities?
  • Self-Management – Do you have such a handle on yourself that you can respond (choice) rather than react (survival mode)? Do you have self-control over your thoughts, emotions, and actions? Are you trustworthy? Are you adaptable? Are you self-motivated? Are you committed? Do you take initiative? Are you optimistic?

Once you understand yourself better (we’re never really “done,” are we?), then you can more easily utilize our Social Competence, which includes:

  • Social Awareness – Can you easily recognize the emotions in others? Do you have empathy (not sympathy) for them/their situation? Are you a servant-leader? Do you focus on developing others? Are you adept at the social skills – influencing (vs. manipulation), leadership, being a change catalyst, conflict management, building individual and team bonds, collaboration and cooperation, etc.?
  • Relationship Management – How do you handle good relationships as well as the relationships in conflict? Can you manage the emotions of others?

Think about your favorite boss – what was it about them that made them stand out for you? More than likely it was because they were skilled in their emotional intelligence.

My favorite boss was a skilled master at EI. He helped us grow as individuals and leaders. He helped us see things from a different perspective. He helped us think of our work as a strategic game – fun and productive. He gave much and expected much – and we were happy to give him more than what he asked for.

What was it about your favorite boss that made them a great leader?

Take a few minutes and answer the questions above. If you want to confirm your thoughts, ask some trusted colleagues or maybe someone on your team. This is where a 360 assessment tool can come in handy, too. However, don’t let someone else tell you what they think without first putting in the work to determine what you think. As leaders we need to understand ourselves and our strengths (and weaknesses) before we can more easily lead our teams.

Influencing is about understanding yourself and the effect or impact you have on others. It is about adapting and modifying your personal style when you become aware of the effect you are having on other people, while still being true to yourself. Behavior and attitude change are what is important when working with others, not changing who you are or how you feel and think.

Dr. Goleman asserted that “The criteria for success at work are changing. We are being judged by a new yardstick: not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other. This yardstick is increasingly applied in choosing who will be hired and who will not, who will be let go and who retained, who passed over and who promoted…”

Determine today, just today, to take a step toward intentionally Understanding the needs and emotions of yourself and others around you; Managing your emotions; and Responding (not reacting) to others appropriately. What step are you going to take today?

To hear more on this topic from this author, click this link to listen to their interview on Plaid for Women Radio.