It has become a commonplace to acknowledge the importance of emotional intelligence (EI). The world has finally recognized that the capacity to recognize our own emotions as well as emotions of those around us plays a crucial role in our personal and professional success. Indeed, our ability to understand and manage emotions affects the quality of human life in all its aspects. Although emotions are often perceived as something irrational, unconscious and, thus, beyond our control, EI can be managed and successfully enhanced. The best way to succeed in this is to start perceiving EI consciously.
There is a number of excellent studies that explain and help to enhance EI. If you haven’t chosen any good reads for these summer holidays, why not to dive into the world of emotional intelligence and to investigate some of its pearls and wonders.
1. First of all, there is a classical “Emotional Intelligence” by the Nobel prize winner Daniel Goleman. His books help to rationalize the world of emotions. The author colorfully visualizes many life moments when emotions completely overtake our rationality. He explains the roots of emotional habits and gives suggestions on how to control the most destructive emotional outbursts. The book also makes a clear link between EI and our health, arguing that the lack of EI increases a wide range of risks from depression and violent behavior to eating disorders and drug abuse. Finally, the book demonstrates how the highly developed EI helps to ensure professional and career success.
2. The connection between happiness (one of the key human emotions) and professional success is further explored in “The Happiness Advantage” by the advocate of positive psychology Shawn Achor. The author proves the reverse connection between happiness and professional success. Contrary to the old belief that success brings happiness, the author demonstrates how our happiness fuels our professional success and work performance. Our happiness makes us more engaged, motivated and productive. It increases our awareness and helps to control our body and emotions.
3. Before we are able to control and channel our emotions, however, we need to be certain that we can distinguish, name and understand them. “The Language of Emotions” by Karla McLaren is dubbed ‘an emotions’ guide.’ The book explains how to recognize emotions which we experience and how to name them. The author invites us to approach our emotions with respect and curiosity; to express them in a healthy way rather than to suppress or repress them.
4. Amy Cuddy takes EI a step further, making us aware of our body language linked to different emotions. She demonstrates how the choice of our body language makes us feel more or less important, confident or powerful. Through various experiments, the author shows how the change in our body language improves our emotional intelligence and the quality of our lives. To explain the entire process, she introduces the notion of presence. "Presence" is the quality of believing in and trusting ourselves, which helps us to go through the most daunting and challenging life experiences. In other words, presence helps to develop an inner sense of confidence, which is essential if we want to feel good and progress.
5. Finally, Daniel Goleman with his colleagues invites us to discover and explore the power of EI in successful leadership. Their “Primal Leadership. Unloadingthe Power of EI” vividly challenges a traditional image of a severe and unaccessible boss. On the contrary, the authors lead us through numerous examples of the EI in leadership success. They show the direct linkage between the level of self-awareness and empathy in leaders and the success or failure of their organizations. How is this possible? Leaders’ emotions are contagious: as a living body, an organization thrives under energetic and enthusiastic leadership and flounders under the weight of negativity.
This reading list looks truly interesting and useful, doesn’t it? These books help to rediscover our emotional potential and enhance our emotional intelligence, teach to distinguish and understand our emotions and improve our body language. More importantly, they demonstrate the importance of happiness and empathy in our personal and professional success. In addition to being useful sources of personal and career development, these books are a pleasant and positive summer read!
Once you’ve read one or several of these books, you may be interested in exploring some techniques that help to enhance emotional intelligence. You may then be tempted to look at the HBR Emotional Intelligence Collection. The four books of the Review contain numerous tips, which are called to improve our understanding of ourselves and of our colleagues. The works in the collection explain how to deal with various challenging work and life situations, how to improve interaction skills and how to increase performance’s effectiveness.
Emotional intelligence is no longer a taboo subject. On the contrary, it has taken its due place among the crucial factors that affect and even define our lives and careers. It is wonderful to see a growing number of books published on the subject. Yet often we still feel at a loss on where to begin and how to enhance our EI, even after reading some brilliant books. EI coaching and training help to link the theoretical knowledge we get from books and its practical implementation in our lives. If you are interested, Gross Leadership offers EI coaching and training sessions.
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“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players…”
(W. Shakespeare, As You Like It)
We believe that each and every one of us is not only a leading actor but first and foremost a writer of our own destiny. Overwhelmed by life events, we may unintentionally forget that we are the sole playwrights of our own lives. We may even unwittingly drop or lose the thread of our unfolding life story. Then, we start questioning ourselves and let others do the writing for us. Doesn’t this happen to all of us occasionally? The best thing we can do is to resume the leadership as soon as we can: only we should write the play of our life!
With the renewed confidence and new skills, we design new perspectives. Coaching and training are the best instruments we use to achieve this goal.