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We have often spoken about the importance of emotional intelligence in successful leadership, but we refer to emotional agility in many of our programmes. Many people use the two phrases interchangeably, but there are some important differences in their definitions which can significantly impact the long-term success of business leaders.

Emotional Intelligence  – or EQ – means that someone is aware of, and in control of, their emotions and how their behaviour might impact on others. This translates into leaders who are aware of the emotional wellbeing of their staff, and how to manage challenging situations.

Emotional Agility refers more to someone being in tune with those emotions – and is more mindful than EQ. It sees people connecting not only with their positive emotions, but also their negative ones – allowing those responses to be processed more fully, rather than supressing them.

People think that leaders need to be strong, in control, and never show emotion – but this can actually be quite damaging. Not just for leaders themselves, but also for their entire team, who may think that their leaders don’t care about them, about any setbacks that the company might be having, or any difficulties they face.

In truth, supressing emotions can cause more difficulties – and can lead to poor performance, increased stress, and fighting or hiding negative emotions means they are never dealt with – so they fester, grow and can eventually overwhelm.

Conversely, mindfully and proactively addressing these negative emotions, processing your response and being more honest – even with yourself – about challenges you may have to face can have an immediate positive impact; the sooner that you accept there is a problem, the sooner you can begin to plan a way to deal with it, rather than letting it overwhelm.

This is an important strength in a leader – showing resilience and progression rather than simply pretending that things are ok; it doesn’t protect your team, your organisation or your own position if you don’t face your challenges – and acknowledging and processing them more openly will not only benefit you, but demonstrate to your team that it’s ok to feel these negative emotions, and that they will be supported through their own negative responses to find a plan of action.

A healthy workplace is one where everyone is able to openly discuss the challenges and difficulties they face, safe in the knowledge that everyone else is aware and honest about those same issues. Positivity is important – and we know that leaders who reward and praise create a culture of positivity and support, which increases productivity and success – but those same environments can’t be used to mask people’s challenges.

Instead, process those emotions – and use them to your advantage.

Principal Consultant Liaquat Lal will be discussing emotional agility in more detail at the World of Learning event, being held this October – and you can find his more in-depth article on this topic here, and find out more about the learning paradox on our previous post – and you can visit us on the day at stand G90 to discuss our programmes in person, or call today on 01234 757575.