Self-Healing Through Emotional IntelligenceJul 19, 2022
Law enforcement can be a really tough audience at times.
As a rule, cops are a tough and cynical bunch and for good reason – they see the absolute worse of society. When cops can truly help others, they relish in it because of personal reward it creates to actually help good people through difficult situations. So, when I talk about “self-reflection” and “self-healing” as my four pillars of leadership in my classes, I will often hear some groans or see skeptical looks among the students. I will admit I was likely among this crowd for most of my adult career as a practitioner of law enforcement. Although I was an avid consumer of leadership books that talked all about the topics of leadership, it wasn’t until I read Daniel Goleman’s game-changing book on Emotional Intelligence that I truly got it and saw its importance for personal growth. But before we dive into emotional intelligence, I want to spend a few minutes on self-healing as a leader.
Self-healing is something that all great leaders find a way to do. Throughout history, notorious leaders of all stripes have found ways to self-heal the wounds inflicted by others and, often, by themselves through failed strategies or policies. These leaders found that it truly is lonely at the top and they alone were responsible for finding the best way to overcome the adversity they faced and to heal any wounds they had incurred. Many would do this through self-reflection and, at times, talking to trusted confidantes or advisors. Sadly, when you are at the top, it is you alone who must determine the best medicine for what ails you. This is where emotional intelligence is a game changer.
Emotional Intelligence is measured in 5 main areas: self-awareness; self-control; other awareness; situational control; and empathy. If you were to view Goleman’s diagram of this, it basically involves two sides: One is your ability to be aware of your own actions and thoughts and to have the control over them to effectively interact and influence the actions of others which is the second side. John Maxwell would say that leadership is influence. Well, in the modern era, the best way to influence the actions of others is to be aware. In short, what Goleman found in his research is that the most successful leaders were aware of themselves and, more importantly, could control themselves at the appropriate times – when interacting with others. On the other side of emotional intelligence, Goleman found that the most successful leaders were very aware of the actions (verbal and non-verbal) of others with whom they were interacting and adjusted their own behavior based on the situation. In doing this, they were creating the right environment to positively influence the actions of others. As a result, the leaders with the greatest Emotional Intelligence were able to exercise the greatest influence on others and get the most out of them for the benefit of the organization they led.
Goleman found that the “tie that bound” all of this was the ingredient of empathy. Stephen Covey stated in his landmark book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, that “empathy was the fastest form of human connection and communication.” Why? Because when we show empathy by actively listening to another, the barriers come down and real communication and problem-solving can happen. But it does something else that Goleman discovered was the real success secret to the most emotionally intelligent leaders – their followers really felt they cared about them as people and cared about their success as professionals. When people feel that you care about them and their success, they will perform at a high level. Why? Because intrinsically you have created a motivation for them NOT to let you as a leader down.
The good news about emotional intelligence is that it is measurable AND that it is changeable. Most of us are good in some of these areas but not all. The goal is to find out where you are in each of these areas and to focus on becoming better in the areas you aren’t as strong. There are many websites and resources online that will help you develop your skills in each area.
What you will discover, is that as you focus on the areas of import and become better in each, you will become a better leader and have greater impact within your organization. Perhaps the greatest impact will be on you personally. As you become more emotionally intelligent, you will be better at healing yourself as a leader. This is where the real magic comes into play. You will find that as you get better yourself, you are better able to see how to help your people get better. As they get better, they see that you care and that you really want them to succeed. That creates a synergy within your organization that makes it the best it can be.
Hope you find what works for you and become the best leader possible.
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