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Great Leadership: Mastering your personal Emotional Intelligence awareness

In last week’s article, which you can read here, I wrote about navigating vulnerability, affection and professionalism in leadership. One of the tools for navigation and balance is to cultivate emotional intelligence.

Here are some actions you can take to develop your own EQ.

Familiarise yourself with the different emotions

According to Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions, there are 8 basic emotions - joy, sadness, trust, disgust, fear, anger, surprise, and anticipation— each has a polar opposite, for example surprise is the opposite of anticipation, and primary emotions mix to form combinations, for example fear and surprise combine into awe.

Identifying and acknowledging your emotions is an essential step in cultivating emotional intelligence.

Here’s a link to the Wheel of Emotion.

Get to know your own emotions

Spend some time linking what’s happening with what you’re feeling by setting aside time throughout the day to keep a record of your emotions.

What’s happening right now? How do I feel, drill down to find the right emotion or combination. What impact are my emotions having on my behaviour or thoughts?

Try and be as specific as you can, the more you can correlate your emotions with your behaviour, the more you’ll be able to identify when the emotions are having either a positive or detrimental effect on your reactions. The aim is to acknowledge and feel your emotions but not let them control you.

Practice emotional control

I’m sure you know someone who takes their emotions, pops them in a lockbox and puts them high on a shelf in the depths of their minds and leaves them there to gather dust. Or someone who wears all of their emotions on their proverbial sleeve.

Neither of these approaches demonstrates the skills needed to cultivate a healthy and balanced emotional intelligence. Finding the middle ground between emotional suppression and unabashed expression is key to fostering self-awareness, understanding others, and navigating the complexities of interpersonal relationships.

By recognising your own emotions and emotional triggers and reactions, you can implement control methods. For example, if you know you feel anxious on a Monday morning because of all of the actions from the weekend, you can book out focus time to assess and prioritise, avoid booking meetings 1st thing and lay your clothes out on a Sunday night so you don’t have to think about it on Monday morning.

Ask yourself what’s making you feel a certain way and if the emotion is appropriate. Emotions are completely personal. You can choose what to do with them and no one can make you feel any way.

Although situations and people can influence how you feel, you are the one in charge of your emotions.

If you'd like to find out more how I can help your leaders develop their emotional intelligence, contact me at


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