Emotional Intelligence in COVID-19 Times

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Leadership has been of the most heavily tested skills throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders need to ensure that they utilize emotional intelligence (EI) as research has shown. EI accounts for a majority of what sets high performers apart from others with similar technical skills and knowledge. Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, understand, and effectively manage one’s own emotional state, and the ability to engage judiciously and empathetically with others, in part by being able to appreciate their emotional states.

Even in during times of normalcy, it can be challenging as a leader to manage yourself and stay emotionally connected to your team. The dramatic changes and new realities of our COVID-19 world has exacerbated the situation. The new challenges and stresses of working remotely and online classroom has added a new dimension of confusing pressure and friction to our lives. The new buzz-word, “social distancing”, is very challenging as it has made makes maintaining and deepening bonds with others much even more difficult. Furthermore, the constant news about infection rate numbers, deaths, faltering economies creates a greater state of anxiety. In this post, we will discuss some ways that Leaders can utilize Emotional Intelligence during these difficult COVID-19 times.

Self-Awareness and Take Care of Yourself

Ensure that you devote sufficient time on your own self-awareness so that you know what motivates and drives you. While it might seem selfish or a waste of time, we can work more effectively with others if we know ourselves, our thoughts and our emotions. One suggestion would be to spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day to write how you think and feel such as whether you are fearful, happy, angry, or concerned. Do not try to solve these issues at this point and use it primarily for tracking.

Devote sufficient time to ensure that you are recharged to avoid exhaustion. Maximizing leadership potential would be hindered if you are overly tired and exhausted. Take time each day to do something that brings you happiness or pleasure. Determine what drives you or motivates you and ensure that you remain positive but realistic as this leads to greater productivity and stress reduction.

Spend time on your own self-awareness and make adjustments as necessary based on your understanding of yourself. Self-awareness is an area that some leaders typically least enjoy or spend time on, however, it is extremely important. Some leaders may see it as self-centered or a waste of time, but we can effectively work with others only if we get better at knowing ourselves, our thoughts, our emotional reactions, and our tendencies.

Empathy and Fear

Practice empathy which has been shown to consist of 3 primary components:

· Awareness — Imagining you are the other person

· Communication– What you say? How you say it?

· Physical Aspect — Observation of tone and gestures.

Consider all three components whenever you are meeting with members of your team. It is important to note that the more attention you focus on who you are speaking with and really listening to them, the more your thoughts will resonate with theirs. A recent example of lack of empathy is Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s recent statement: “The government has continued to try to work with the population to make sure that we minimize the impact on our economy because there’s no point in saving people if in fact their livelihoods are being affected.” One possible strategy for trying to improve empathy is to spend a few minutes writing down what the person might be thinking and feeling, and then make note of what that addresses it.

It is also important to label fears in order to defuse them. The labeling of fears of your team indicates to them that you are aware of fears and challenges, and this is particularly critical in these COVID-19 times. However fear should not be used for victim-blaming as Minister Isaac stated in February 2021 “According to her, individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 simply let their guard down. Anybody who has had it dropped the ball. They either went to visit a family or friend”, she declared. “If I have it tomorrow is because I dropped my guard.” It would be preferable to make statements such as this: “You may feel like we are treating you unfairly or are making decisions without each of you and your personal situations in mind.”

Another example of being unable to relate to your constituents is this statement from Prime Minister Allen ChastanetI am a product of Canada — I did my high school in Canada; both my kids go to school in Canada.” Try to understand your team’s possible fears, and label them directly with empathy. Anger tends to be drawn from fear which is ideally managed by empathy.

Honesty

It is important to be honest and truthful and not make boastful comments that could make to haunt you later. Share with your team your own worries and concerns as this would help ensure that you can identify with them. It is especially important for your team to hear specific ways that you are all in this together. It further gives them the impression that you are not constantly berating or lecturing them.

Our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are intricately connected. Positive thoughts make a critical difference. Changing thoughts to be more positive will have a huge impact on the projection of your emotions. Thus, this shift in your behaviors will lead to greater productivity in your team.

As we continue to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic let us all try to improve our emotional intelligence and understand the challenges that our teams and wider society may face. Let us also hope that our current administration can show greater emotional intelligence that would allow the public to trust them.

Please reach out to stlucia.analyser@gmail.com with any suggested topics for future articles or if you would like to help write or edit our blogposts. Like or Follow our Facebook Page or at Medium.

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The St. Lucian Analyzer

The St. Lucian Analyzer

Critical data-driven research analysis of challenges facing Saint Lucia.

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