Emotional Intelligence in Management
26 April, 2021
I was very new to management when I first stepped into my current role as an engineering manager. I learned that, before becoming a successful manager, I first needed to partake in the personal work of getting to know myself well.
Up until this point in time, my experience was largely technical. Managing others was something that was totally new to me. I realized that my emotions had a significant impact on the way that I approached each employee and challenge in front of me, sometimes taking an unintended toll that I wanted to minimize.
The first step was becoming more aware of my own feelings, both on the clock and in my personal time. I spent some time researching ways of gaining a greater sense of self-awareness in this way. Emotional intelligence became a topic of great interest to me.
I came across a book called “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”; it really opened a lot of doors for me. Some of the most memorable strategies that came from this book involved emotional modulation — managing anger in the workplace, for example. I learned to notice my own personal symptoms, which gave me an opportunity to address feelings of stress or frustration before they had a chance to come to a head and to upset those around me. I gave myself a chance to clear my mind before making any important decisions. I learned how to manage myself, which put me in a better position to manage others.
- My advice to any new engineering manager is to start with their own emotional intelligence and self-awareness. If you are able to recognize your emotions and how they impact your actions and the way that you communicate with your team, the changes that need to be made internally will become apparent immediately. By tuning in to your own emotions, you will become more sensitive to the feelings of the person on the other side, making their behavior easier to understand. Always be on a mission to find the root cause of your own emotions. If you understand why you are in a bad mood, you will be better equipped to overcome the feeling. Being completely honest and transparent with yourself is non-negotiable; if you can achieve this, if you dedicate yourself to the emotional labor and commit to a habit of practice, you will learn the lesson and feel the changes in your behavior. You will be able to turn the page and move forward with confidence.
- Feedback is a two-way street. If you are not receptive to feedback initially, people will sense this and become less likely to offer you their perspective. Once you have taken in the feedback of others, the feedback that you have to offer them will become more relevant and valuable. Learn everything that you can about how people respond to your style of management.
- I try to avoid assigning blame when something goes wrong, especially in public. You create fear in the team when you do this and you end up losing their trust. They take every word that you say very seriously — you say it, and they do it. Choosing how to direct them carefully is very important.
- I expend a great deal of effort to always be very happy and positive in the workplace. You will be free to feel anything that you want after work; when at the office, however, you need to be their go-to person, a role model that they can rely on. If you are in a bad mood, everybody will be in a bad mood. Containing everything that you feel and taking care to not spread it throughout the team will prevent contaminating the group with negative emotions that often have nothing to do with them or the work at hand.
- I take part in a number of healthful hobbies and practices in my spare time that relax me and put me in a positive state of mind for when I need to be present for my team. I garden and exercise often. Anything that centers you and makes you happy will get the job done.
- Pass every lesson that you learn on to your team. If you’re the only person who learns the lesson, you’re the only person who wins. Sharing your knowledge will build trust between you and your reports. All of these lessons that I’ve shared with you, I teach to all of the managers that I oversee. They, in turn, gain a greater sense of emotional awareness, and then they do the same for those that they manage themselves.
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