Unlocking Emotional Intelligence

It’s time to challenge the conventional wisdom that suggests emotions should be kept out of leadership, and we should always logically think our way out of our crises. In this engaging exploration, we dive into the profound impact of emotions on leadership resilience and decision-making during crises.

Interestingly, I’m not sure people understand that when we suppress our emotions during times of crisis, we unwittingly activate the “fight, flight, freeze” response. This emotional repression can shut down our ability for complex thinking and multiple perspective-taking (Pillay, 2020). It can even deactivate some of the brain’s memory regions and can set off conflict areas in our brains. The long-term consequences of this emotional suppression during high stress situations like our recent pandemic include compromised immunity, hypertension, and even an increased risk of certain cancers (Abbass, et al., 2005; Munde and Mitte, 2012). Additionally, non-emotional leadership during times like these appears to make leaders less resilient and more vulnerable to what is called vitality depression (Pirre, Marty & Oliner, 2013).

Coincidentally, emotions appear to be important for skillful decision-making during all leadership situations. While it is accurate that we do not want to make critical decisions while we are feeling intense emotions like anger, panic, or sadness, we should feel comfortable making decisions during times of less extreme feelings like optimism and calmness (Main, 2023). It has been suggested that when people tried to make logical decisions, they also ended up practically being influenced by cultural conditioning (i.e., this is what popular culture would do) as opposed to what would bring us individual peace (Main, 2023). Think about that classic dilemma: a job offer at a lower-status company with more control versus a high-status company with less. Your gut says the first option of greater self-determination will bring you peace, but social pressures would tell you to bask in the light of high status.

The Journey to Holistic Decision-Making: So, how can we harness the full spectrum of our emotions to ensure optimal health and resiliency during our high stress leadership predicaments while also acknowledging the appropriate emotions for optimal everyday decision-making? Build a rich emotional vocabulary to help you identify and acknowledge your feelings. I send people who have little emotional awareness to the emotional wheel which can be found on the internet. Create moments to exhale, connect to and explore the depths of your thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and dreams in various life situations. View challenges paradoxically and through the perspectives of others. These are brain-based neuroscientific methods to lead a healthier life and make sound and innovative leadership decisions through the storms.

See you soon-