Emotional Intelligence

Become a Stronger Leader Through Emotional Intelligence: Social Awareness

Becoming a stronger leader does not happen overnight. It is a continual process built around the core of improving your emotional intelligence. Already improving your Self-Awareness? Time to move onto improving your awareness of others' emotional experience through Social Awareness.

Social Awareness

Moving beyond self-awareness and self-management, a leader observes the behavior of the team. Through social awareness, employees feel heard and appreciated. Weekly meetings are the perfect time to practice active listening. Paraphrasing feelings, content, and meaning, as well as variations within the group are a good way to make members of the team feel heard. Matching and mirroring others people's feelings are also good exercises to being to improve social awareness.

These are skills where empathy is built and developed. Perspective-taking and reflection are key to effective leadership.

Emotional understanding of the team

Good leaders are empathic and have an emotional understanding of and concern for their team. This can be evident in as small a gesture as noticing when an employee is sad or distressed. Facilitate discussions of points of tension and note where the company can make things less stressful.

Awareness of company culture

Hearing and understanding the feelings behind what a colleague or client communicates is represented on a macro level through company culture. Company culture is more than a dress code and Bagel Friday; find out which parts of the mission statement resonate the most with your team. Notice group dynamics and find out what unique strengths and talents each person brings to the team and what keeps them engaged. Set the tone with your own emotionally intelligent style.

Effective managing style

A great leader uses active listening skills and finds commonalities across people and situations. They use self-management and adaptability to guide their team to the desired goal. By practicing self-management and modeling it to newer members of the team, the level of social awareness will raise as each person identifies their motivation.

Which management style works best for your team? Experiment with different methods with strengths and emotional intelligence in mind.


Become a Stronger Leader Through Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness

Becoming a stronger leader does not happen overnight. It is a continual process that includes developing the essential skills to improve your Emotional Intelligence (EI). This is Part 1 of our series: Become a Stronger Leader Through Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness.

One of the foundational principles of EI includes emotional self-awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence.  Leaders who are aware of their internal responses and are self-confident are in a better position to understand others and to succeed.  Do you know your triggers and predispositions?  The more self-aware you become, the better leader you can be.

Emotional Self-Awareness

A good leader is one who knows her strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness builds on other aspects of emotional intelligence to understand where you shine and where you might need to do some polishing. In today's competitive environment, making time for self-reflection will help you stand out from the crowd.

Leaders who are aware of  triggers and expectations are better able to tweak their managing style for a positive outcome. For example, self-reflection and mindfulness can help if a manager needs to manage frustration in meetings.  Developing a robust emotional vocabulary also helps to pinpoint and articulate specific, nuanced feelings.

Accurate self-assessment

Self-assessment can simply include journaling or quiet reflection, i.e., any specific time set aside to understand your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness practice can also be useful, as well as asking others what they think are your strengths. Readily available personality assessments such as Meyers-Briggs and StrengthsFinder 2.0 can help guide you toward identifying your main strengths. Recording meetings or phone calls (with permission, of course) and playing them back later can help a leader to identify specific trouble areas and plan more effective responses in future situations. Working with a team member or a coach on these areas can also be extremely useful.


Shadow coaching is an excellent way to build confidence in leadership skills. A coach will observe the group dynamic in the work environment, with special attention paid to the leader of the group. Immediate feedback encourages the best behaviors while creating the opportunity to improve on less desirable actions.

Unlike your Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, EQ can be learned through a particular set of competencies, skills, and qualities. Ready to increase your EI?

What are some ways that have helped you increase your self-awareness?

Maximize Your Leadership Potential

Earlier this week I had the pleasure to present a non-profit seminar hosted by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce. Attendees came to learn how to use their strengths to become stronger leaders and build stronger teams.  One of the takeaways from the presentation is a series of areas where you can focus to maximize your leadership potential. Think about each of these through a lens of strengths. Where do you or your team do well in a specific area? Where do you want to improve?

Maximize Your Leadership Potential Action Steps

leadership potential

Lead with emotional intelligence.  Being self-aware of your emotions will help you tune in to the emotions of your co-workers as well. You will respond in more appropriate ways and create a calmer work environment.

Embrace and prepare for change. Change can be a catalyst for positive growth. When you embrace and prepare for change as the leader in a non-profit, your team will respond better when faced with a new situation. They are taking their cues from you as to whether this change is welcome or unwanted.

Communicate effectively. Clear instructions delivered in a collaborative way can help save time on new projects. Share the information needed to give your team a focus and shared goal. Create an environment where questions are welcomed.

Foster teamwork and collaboration. Encourage your team to trust and rely on one another by assigning projects that can benefit from multiple viewpoints. Reward the group as a whole for a job well done rather than singling out individual contributions.

Be a coach. Encourage the growth of every member on your team. You want to share in their success and be there to celebrate their achievements. Give your staff the tools they need to improve their skills.

Practice self-care. Model the importance of scheduling time off after completing a big project. Allow yourself to savor a job well done without racing back to the next task on your to do list.

How can you put these steps into action for yourself and your team?

Love Means Wanting to Say You're Sorry

Valentine's Day is coming up soon and love is on the mind of many. From red greeting cards and balloons to boxes of chocolates and bouquets of roses, expressions of love are being marketed as tangible goods to be bought. In healthy relationships, love is shown in a multitude of ways in addition to thoughtful gifts.

Love Means Wanting to Say You're Sorry

The 1970 movie Love Story still has cultural significance decades later. Today the famous line "Love means never having to say you're sorry" is quoted and adapted to cover all manner of transgressions. For those of you too young to have seen the original movie, here's a quick synopsis:

In the movie, the characters Jenny and Oliver are friends with vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds who fall in love to the dismay of Oliver's wealthy parents. When Oliver is disowned for choosing Jenny over his wealth and status, the couple begins to build their life together. After a big fight, Jenny says "Love means never having to say you're sorry" to Oliver when he tries apologizing for his anger.

Jenny and Oliver's relationship is not an ideal representation of a healthy marriage and it's not meant to be. Off the silver screen, relationships are complicated and full of personal idiosyncrasies. With my clients, the focus is on improving leadership skills in a business setting. Showing leadership at home and in our personal lives is as important as becoming a stronger leader at work.

This Valentine's Day you can show love at home and at the office by practicing these habits:

  • Active Listening A person feels loved when they feel valued. Actively listening to someone when they are speaking is vital to deepening a relationship. In business, active listening can give you added insight into the needs and wants of your customer. In life, active listening does the same for your loved one, whether family member, friend, or spouse.
  • Develop Empathy Flex your Emotional Intelligence muscle and focus on understanding the emotions and motivations of those around you. Consider the situation from their point of view and try to respond in a loving way. Empathy does not mean agreeing on everything; it means validating the other person's feelings and making their voice feel heard.
  • Apologize Wanting to say you are sorry is a big step toward taking accountability for your actions. If you have hurt someone, an employee, spouse or partner, you need to make amends. When you make a mistake, set aside your ego and acknowledge the severity of your mistake and how it has impacted those around you. Share a sincere apology for the problem and together make a plan for how to move forward.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you, dear readers. I hope that the holiday finds you sharing love and feeling loved. Thank you for reading.

Bonus: Do you know that Love Story has the line "Love means never having to say you're sorry" once again in the film? You will have to watch the movie to find it. No spoilers here.