Demonstrate Leadership With Your Emotional Self-Regulation and Maturity

If I asked you to name someone who is emotionally immature, who comes to mind? Maybe it’s an adult acting like the kid throwing his phone in this Nationwide commercial. Hopefully, its not you!

In the business environment, emotions still take second seat to logic, even though the work of Daniel Goleman and Reuven Baron proved that higher emotional intelligence leads to better performance. In 1998, Daniel Goleman wrote an HBR article, “What Makes A Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters.

He states unequivocally:

“…emotional intelligence proved to be twice as important as the others for jobs at all levels. Moreover, my analysis showed that emotional intelligence played an increasingly important role at the highest levels of the company, where differences in technical skills were of negligible importance. In other words, the higher the rank of a person considered to be a star performer, the more emotional intelligence capabilities showed up as the reason for his or her effectiveness.”

Emotions evolved as a signal to make us respond immediately. They are unconscious. Once we are conscious of them, they are called feelings. The adverse emotions and feelings that we try to avoid actually serve a purpose. Without them, we cannot grow! Unlike the boy in the commercial, though, we can’t let them always be in control.

One component of Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence model is self-regulation. Your ability to self-regulate is critical to your business and to your employees’ loyalty and well-being. Emotions also influence how we cope with challenges, set new goals and learn new behavior. From the view of others, how well you self-regulate looks like emotional maturity or immaturity.

In his book, The Secret of Maturity, Third Edition, Kevin Fitzmaurice, describes six levels of emotional maturity.

  • Level One – Basic Emotional Responsibility (No more Blame Game): you can no longer view your emotional states as being caused by external forces.
  • Level Two – Emotional Honesty: emotional honesty concerns your willingness to know and own your own feelings. “To thine own self be true” is the primary goal at this level. This means that you are always true to what you feel: you do not hide, stuff, suppress, or repress what your feelings, but honestly experience them.
  • Level Three – Emotional Openness: This level concerns your willingness and skills in sharing your feelings in an appropriate manner and at appropriate times. Self-disclosure is the important issue at this level.
  • Level Four – Emotional Assertiveness: The primary goal at this level is to ask for and to receive the nurturing that you need and want; first from yourself and then from others. As a secondary goal, you should learn how to express any feeling appropriately in any situation, i.e., without aggressive overtones. You make time for your feelings; even prize and respect them. You understand the connection between suppressed feelings, stress, and illness.
  • Level Five – Emotional Understanding: At this level, you understand the actual cause and effect process of emotional responsibility and irresponsibility. Self-concepts are known as “the” problem. You realize that it is not possible to have a so-called good self-concept without a complimentary bad self-concept.
  • Level Six – Emotional Detachment: At this level, you have achieved  Buddhahood! You live without the burden and snare of self-concepts, self-images, self-constructs, and all group-concepts and thing-concepts. You are only aware of yourself as an experiencing being. True detachment from others has also occurred, which means that you have achieved (actually discovered) absolute emotional responsibility. Not having self-concepts to defend or promote, you can remain unaffected by the Blame Game.

Truly mature people are so detached from others that they can love their enemies, bless those who curse them, do good to those who hate them, and pray for those who use and persecute them.

HeartMath Institute’s Research Director, Dr. Rollin McCraty, writes in his scientific monograph, Heart-Brain Neurodynamics: The Making of Emotions:

“The importance of gaining a deeper understanding of the emotional system, has become increasingly recognized as an important scientific undertaking, as it has become clear that emotions underlie the majority of the stress we experience, influence our decisions, provide the motivation for our actions, and create the textures that determine our quality of life.”

You cannot be an effective leader without the ability to fully understand and tolerate your own strong negative emotions. Feel your emotions, pay attention to them, and learn from them. Use your emotions as a path toward greater understanding and as a way to inform your decisions about how to behave. If you do, you will be rewarded on many levels- and you won’t end up looking like the boy in the commercial!

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