Becoming a Better Leader by Unlocking your Emotional Intelligence

This week I’d like to talk about something that you can harness to become better human beings and better leaders: emotional intelligence.
Drawing on the Boudewijn Vermeulen® method I recommend to work with “body sensations”. You can also read Daniel Goleman’s (1996) classic “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ“. According to Coleman, we can identify emotional intelligence or ‘EI’ as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our emotions, while using the same guidelines to influence those of others.

The key point to note here is that to be able to influence the emotions of others, that is, to be an effective leader, requires an understanding of one’s own emotions. Therefore, I’ll be talking about ways of developing a better brain-body connection and how that sort of learning can enhance one’s sensitivity and consequently, their leadership skills.

Emotions manifest in various ways, like moods, perhaps even as physical ticks. Sometimes you don’t even know that you’re feeling a certain way, yet your body does and is tensed accordingly. Listening to these signs given by your body, therefore, allows us to develop a conscious language of sensation that can help us understand and articulate what is going on inside our bodies. So, being aware of our current mood allows us to access the unconscious wisdom of our bodies and enhance our self-awareness, which as a result lets us grow our emotional and social intelligence.
How does this learning help you become better leaders? One thing you can try to integrate into your leadership routine is to start off every meeting by asking people what their moods are, so you can have a sense of how the group is at that time. This will enable you to adjust the language, tone or flow to make the meeting more effective. It’s also a great way to get your team to engage in and develop emotional intelligence as a group.

The flip side of this is that as a leader if you are not able to manage your stressors or your emotions, that can be communicated to your team and negatively affect performance and morale. That’s where listening to your body comes in again, this time in the form of Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It is a relaxation technique that is especially beneficial for reducing muscle tension caused by psychological stress. Used effectively, however, it can help you be on top of any form of stressors, from pain to psychological distress. All these are, after all, manifested in the mind, so it stands to reason that their effects are interconnected.

Progressive muscle relaxation, at its very core, is all about focusing on and listening to specific muscle groups of your body. By actively relaxing these muscles, then tensing them for a while, before returning to full relaxation, you can relieve yourself of stress and pain. For instance, sufferers of lower back pain are frequently taught how to target their back muscles through progressive muscle relaxation techniques to manage pain.

You don’t have to be in pain to utilize these techniques to improve your connection to your emotions. Sometimes, invisible stressors will have your body in a tensed state which can affect how you perceive your emotions and broadcast them. That mind-body equilibrium is essential to being a better person. PMR, mindfulness or any relaxation technique is not just about improving stress or anxiety management, it is about aligning yourselves in such a way that your moods, emotions, and body language work together. This ‘optimal state’ of being is where one can become better listeners, able to make more informed decisions and have better personal and professional relationships.

The key is to incorporate progressive muscle relaxation techniques into your lives through practice and repetition – the only habit can create the kind of self-improvement that lasts. “Body learning” is something that comes intrinsically to everyone, you just have to listen and learn. We added weekly practices to our RockMeApp because I am from own experience aware that it is very tough to stick with such practice especially when your workload gets excessive, when you start to work on weekends and when you have young or elderly family members to take care of as well. Try it for at least eight weeks and do it at the same time every day, ideally after lunch or before you go to sleep.

This is currently my favorite video for practicing. You can also work with Dr. Beth Salcedo’s recording. If you prefer other voices you can try out several and find the voice that you like the most. In German, Dr. Stephan Frucht is very nice to listen to as well. For further reading on the practice of progressive muscle relaxation, you can check out this link for step-by-step guides. In my experience, it is best to just get started with a video or recording without overthinking it.

During the annual RockMeRetreat we practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation and other productivity-enhancing methods together. It’s often easier to start in a group. Don’t forget to claim your meeting with me to discuss your participation.

Kind regards
Angie Weinberger

PS: I would like to invite all of you to join me for the Relocation Talk on 22 May 2019 at KOSMOS Zurich.
“Enhancing the Expat Experience in the Canton of Zurich”
with Angie Weinberger
When: 22 May 2019
Where: Kosmos Zurich, Switzerland
Click here to sign up as they’ve limited seats available.



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