Amari is a technically proficient and accomplished engineer at a large firm with offices in New York, Chicago, Charlotte, and San Diego. Ten years into his career, he possesses a healthy awareness of his own patterns of thinking, his emotional state, and behavioral tendencies. Amari has also developed a solid understanding of how his behavior impacts others.

However, when working on a project, Amari has a habit of doggedly sticking with whatever initial engineering solution the team has developed. Any proposed changes to the solution — whether required because circumstances have changed, or recommended by another engineer as a potential improvement — is extremely upsetting to him. 

Amari tries to contain himself, but negative emotions overtake him. He becomes increasingly impatient, short-tempered, and sarcastic with co-workers and subordinates. Often, he sours on the project entirely, thinking, “this is chaotic; it’s never going to work.”

His skill set is so strong that, in spite of his negative behavior, he has been promoted twice. But limits have been reached and Amari knows it. The company cannot rely on him for consistent leadership. He is aware of his behavior, but he can’t change. He is stuck.

Emotional Intelligence and Self-Management

“Emotional intelligence is a way of thinking about the capacity you have to successfully manage yourself and your relationships,” said Maren Perry, president of Arden Coaching. “Awareness is fundamental, but acting on that awareness is what builds and demonstrates true emotional intelligence.” Perry notes that while Amari has done a good job developing a sense of self-awareness, he has been unable to leverage his awareness by making changes.

According to Daniel Goleman, who pioneered and developed the concept, emotional intelligence is comprised of four core elements:

  1. Self-Awareness revolves around recognition and includes having an awareness of your own emotional state, understanding how your behavior impacts others — and appreciating how others impact you. For more about self-awareness, read Arden Coaching’s post, ”Don’t Be Clueless — Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness.”
  2. Social Awareness is also concerned with recognition and includes empathy, discerning the mood and emotional state of others, and strong listening skills. For more about social awareness, read Arden Coaching’s post, ”Strengthen Your Social Awareness Skills to Become a Great Leader.”
  3. Relationship Management is your ability to regulate your behavior with others — based on your awareness — and encompasses getting along well with others, influencing and inspiring others, teamwork, and handling conflict effectively.
  4. Self-Management is your ability to regulate your personal behavior — also based on your awareness — and includes emotional self-control, adaptability, and maintaining a positive outlook.

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Act on Their Awareness 

For most, honest self assessment is extremely difficult. We struggle to recognize and understand our own patterns of thinking and our emotional responses objectively. We are rarely able to see ourselves as others see us. Taking action and changing behavior based on awareness can be even more challenging. 

“As we become aware of our emotional competencies and understand our typical reactions to certain situations, we make choices,” says Perry. “Will Amari choose to continue to get angry about project revisions, or does he change his patterns of thinking and his behavior, and treat alternatives and changes as opportunities to improve an already good solution? Can he find a better balance between fighting for decisions made and being adaptable? Can Amari refashion his emotional response to change and work with a more positive outlook as his baseline?”

According to Perry, executive coaching engagements help build self-awareness and then, critically, link awareness to action. “In addition to increasing self-awareness and understanding the choices we make, developing an action plan to build new patterns of thinking and behavior, and creating accountability for real change are some of the biggest advantages our clients talk about.”

For Amari, this approach was liberating — working with an executive coach, he was able to create a specific plan to make significant changes in his default thinking patterns and behavior, take control of his own emotional responses, and become more adaptable and positive in the process.

Read more about emotional intelligence: “Improve Your Emotional Intelligence With These Practical Steps.”

To learn more about executive coaching and how to develop your emotional intelligence and strengthen your leadership skills, contact Arden Coaching at info@ardencoaching.com or 646.684.3777.