In last week’s blog post we looked at the importance of emotional health for leaders. It goes without saying that leaders are expected to deal with a great deal of pressures and stress on a regular basis. What they may not realize is just how important it is that they handle this pressure well, and maintain a high level of emotional health for themselves and their teams.

Leaders have the ability to make work an undesirable experience, or create a healthy, vibrant work environment. The leader is responsible for setting this tone and maintaining it even during difficult situations. The first step to ensuring your emotional health is being self-aware.

Being Self-Aware

Anyone can allow emotions to override discernment or rational thinking. When this happens to a leader, decision making and solution generation are compromised. Emotions can get the best of a leader, and unfortunate things then tend to happen. Those who can find the proper balance of thought and feeling have the greatest advantage for managing well.

Emotional balance requires knowing your tendencies. Leaders must be cognizant of their emotional inclinations in order to address any shortcomings and correct them. This is one of the most challenging areas of leadership. In addition to technical skills and people skills, emotional skills require the deepest self-discovery. They require an accurate self-awareness that often calls for honest feedback from others. No one is the best judge of their own emotional state.

Self-awareness is a subset of emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and manage emotions to maximize the effectiveness of relationships, behaviour, and decision-making.

Although emotions can range from very positive to very negative, negative emotions – including anger, contempt, disgust, guilt, fear, and nervousness – typically interfere with effective leadership and cause unfortunate aftereffects.

To assess your emotional tendencies, note and identify emotions, primarily during moments of stress or trial. Make a habit of stepping back to identify the emotion of the moment. Patterns may appear.

Do you find yourself easily angered or openly frustrated? Do fears or anxieties tend to make you hesitate or become unable to make tough decisions? Are your relationships suffering from resentments or pessimism you can’t seem to break? How is this impacting your culture? Try to identify these emotions and identify thoughts or actions that precede them.

While we can’t control how others behave, we can control our responses. Are your responses healthy? In other words, are they adding value? Are they justified? These are all aspects of the emotional assessment in being self-aware.

Defence mechanisms of avoidance, intimidation, denial, or over-delegating are a result of an emotional inability to manage situations in a healthy way. If you find yourself repeatedly resorting to these tactics, you will benefit by evaluating why you have difficulty coping with stress. Consider working with a trusted mentor or executive coach for objective feedback and support in identifying and working through issues. Make a plan to begin an improvement process.

If you would like some guidance on your journey to becoming more self-aware and altering any negative patterns, I am happy to help you through our leadership coaching programs.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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