“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions” (Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee, 2002,).
I share this quote as a reminder of the power and influence of emotions for leaders and followers. The head-heart connection continues to be researched and discussed in order to better understand successful leadership and the right balance of head and heart in decision making and maintaining relationships. In my coaching work there is a consistent focus on how to increase one’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ) while managing stress for greater personal and professional effectiveness.
What do we mean by the term Emotional Intelligence? The first definition of EQ was provided by Mayer and Salovey in 1997. “Emotional intelligence involves the ability to understand emotions in oneself and others, relate to others, and adapt emotionally to a changing environment and changing demands.” It was later revised to “the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion; the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”
So, Emotional Intelligence requires successful emotional self-management. That is often easier said than done, especially when one is under stress. A recent coaching client, Mary, was finding herself challenged in her relationship with her new manager. She realized that she was getting triggered by her manager’s tone of voice which resulted in her reacting in a defensive manner. She would either shut down, unable to hear what her manager was requesting, or react in an argumentative way, resulting in her making poor decisions. She knew she needed to make a change and was open to try a technique I’ve been using to help people better manage their emotions.
The Institute of HeartMath® is a non-profit research organization that’s revolutionizing our understanding of the heart’s role in human intelligence. The work of HeartMath® is a combination of scientific research and emotional wisdom. They offer tools and techniques for creating what they call “coherence” in our lives. Coherence is the logical connectedness, internal order, or harmony among the components of a system. The researchers at HeartMath® have discovered that we are often out of coherence, meaning our heart rhythms are erratic and that we can easily bring ourselves back into coherence with the use of a simple technique.
HeartMath’s Quick Coherence technique is used to create a calm, balanced or coherent state that allows us to think and act smarter, especially at times when we are experiencing stress or when making important decisions. It is a simple, yet powerful, three-step process that you can use it anywhere, at any time, to immediately shift your perspective and emotional state.
• Heart Focus – Shift your attention to the area of your heart
• Heart Breathing – Breathe deeply through your nose. Inhale for 5 seconds. Exhale for 5 seconds
• Heart Feeling – Bring to mind a positive experience or someone or something you appreciate. Focus on that feeling while you continue to breathe deeply for as long as you need or when you feel the emotional shift.
When Mary began practicing this technique she discovered she could stay calm even if her manager was sounding intense or intimidating. She was able to be more open to hearing her manager’s perspective and what he needed from her to achieve mutual goals.
So the questions I pose to you are the following:
• How are you doing in managing your emotions?
• Do you know what your emotional triggers are?
• Do you make decisions when you are calm and clear headed?
Your answers to these questions could indicate your state of coherence…or incoherence. Using this simple technique could make a big difference toward greater clarity and more effective relationships.