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A blueprint to boost self-awareness

Leadership skill: Developing emotional intelligence

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blueprintLeaders with emotional intelligence rarely possess it by accident. Their high self-awareness lets them see cause-effect relationships between their feelings and their actions.

To raise your awareness, keep daily notes of your actions—and the thoughts that led to those actions. Devote five minutes every evening to jot your reflections on key interactions: what you felt at the time, how you acted and the results.

You’ll also become more aware by limiting or eliminating impulsive be­­havior. Instead, slow down and explore why you’re feeling certain negative emotions. Search for triggers. If you’re fuming, ask yourself, “What’s causing me to experience such anger?”

By slowing down your response, you’re more apt to regulate yourself. Emotionally intelligent leaders maintain control over their behavior even when they’re frustrated.

Holding yourself accountable helps you self-regulate. By acknowledging your limitations, admitting mistakes and refraining from blaming others, you can proceed in a more deliberative manner.

You can also practice choosing how you respond to adversity. As soon as you feel a sensation of stress, decide your next move. Electing to remain calm and clearheaded works better than yelling.

Finally, articulate your non-negotiable core values and use them as your guideposts to navigate moral dilemmas. Crafting your own ethics code and honoring it when challenges arise can steer you away from poor decisions or weak-willed compromises.

— Adapted from “Emotional Intelligence in Leadership,” Bruna Martinuzzi, Mind Tools.

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