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As we enter into another year's "Busy Season", I was reflecting on how important it is to manage our emotions during times of high stress and fatigue. We have all had experiences where we didn't perform at our best due to an emotional response to the situation. As we get busier it becomes more important to manage our emotions in order to maintain peak productivity for ourselves and our teams.  A definition of Emotional Intelligence is the following: "Our ability to manage the emotions of ourselves, others, and of groups."

This becomes more critical for leaders and managers in firms that want to enable their teams to perform at their peak. The evidence is in: we are emotional beings. Our initial response to being threatened or provoked is an emotional one. It's a chemical and physical reaction we have to our work environment.

As we move through our work day we encounter both positive and negative emotions. Each negative emotion, brought on by a not so positive interaction with a team member or a client, can cause us to lose focus. When this happens, our analytical brain, the part of the brain that makes decisions and keeps us productive, gets high-jacked and we end up operating at less than our peak level. We might even end up with and emotional hang over! It takes five positive interactions to overcome one negative interaction.

As leaders, one of the most important things we can do for our teams is to keep our fingers on the emotional pulse of the group. For example, when we start a meeting with an individual or group, begin by getting a good sense of the groups' emotional temperature. Take a few minutes to check-in and connect in a positive way. This will help counter any emotional hangovers the individuals bring to the meeting-- making them much more productive.

The first step for any manager or leader is to be aware of their own emotional level. In the EI model this is called "Self-Awareness". One of the best ways for you to get to know your emotional level is to take a couple of minutes each day, like right before lunch, and reflect on your emotional state. Are you angry, frustrated, happy, motivated or depressed? By doing this you'll be better able to identify your emotional state and manage the effect it has on your work performance. It will also help you manage your team and understand how your emotional responses affect their output.

Once we are aware of our emotions, we can take a step back and make sure that our communication with our team and clients is a positive one. In the EI model we call this "Self-Regulation".

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned. As opposed to IQ, which is fixed in each human being, emotional intelligence can be increased through life lessons. By becoming aware of EI and your current level (your emotional quotient or EQ), you can increase your emotional intelligence and become a more effective leader.

Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne, who has an Electronic Engineering from Cal Poly, worked with the construction clients of an accounting firm in Monterey and later become executive administrator of that three-office firm and spent 10 years in that position. During this period, he received an MBA in human resource management and developed a deep understanding of the inner workings of an accounting firm, its technology, client service issues, culture, and human capital management concerns.

In 1999, Osborne and his wife Edi Osborne launched Mentor Plus and the first Consulting Accountants’ RoundTable in 1997. From the start, the two collaborated on the development of curriculum for their workshops.

Besides his practical experience working with, Osborne has a special understanding of the dynamics of team building, conflict resolution, and people development. His education and certifications in the field of Behavioral Assessments provides a balanced perspective for the people side of any business. In addition to consulting directly with individuals and companies, he works with participants of the Consulting Accountants’ RoundTable and their teams. Presently, he is extensively involved in consulting on the Trimetrix Hiring and Coaching System.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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