The role of emotional agility in leadership

At Questline  we encourage leaders to grow and develop by better understanding themselves and unlocking their potential. Through our emotional intelligence programme and agility leadership coaching we help to create emotionally agile and intelligent leaders. 

Emotional Intelligence has shown to be an invaluable tool in leadership development. However, in this blog we wanted to cover an important, yet often overshadowed function of Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Agility.

Emotional Agility.

Whilst Emotional Intelligence is the skill of processing and understanding of emotions, Emotional Agility is a leader’s ability to not only understand triggers and emotions experienced but to move from reacting to those triggers to responding rationally.  Emotional agility is linked to emotional intelligence but specifically looks at the responses and actions that are taken as a result of the emotions we experience.

The definition of Agility is responsiveness and flexibility for example Agile Project Management, let’s explore this in the context of Emotional Intelligence.

Our responses to situations are typically habitual – worn into our sub-consciousness over time to keep us safe and save our poor old brain on processing power. But what if these responses are not the most effective in that moment, what if what we are perceiving in that moment has been partially edited, skewed by our beliefs, or pre-judgements and may veer us off course, in trying to be helpful?

Enter Agility, this agility enables the leader to register an emotion, process the feeling and then, in breaking the habit, act in a way that may not be routine. This is neatly covered in the Harvard Business Review article on Emotional Agility.

So, let’s look at some scenarios –

During a team-meeting, our leader announces breezily an organisational decision and receives negative feedback from an individual. If our humble leader is not as self-aware, they may not even register the feedback opportunity and close it down and move on – missing the look of resentment on their colleague’s face.

Same situation, yet this time our self-aware leader notices the look of horror on their colleague’s face and takes this home and stews on it overnight – playing the limiting beliefs over and over that they knew this individual was a trouble causer, or they knew they weren’t cut out to be a leader (oh limiting beliefs)!

Yes, you guessed it, third scenario – our leader recognises the situation and – here’s the disruptor – instead of following the old routine – shut down conversation/ignore colleague / go home – stew – repeat. They break the cycle. 

Now in our agility Leadership coaching experience, here is where it is interesting, we will not direct the leader to what that alternative response could be – we would simply highlight that there are options; options are empowering! It is this realisation that there are other ways which are truly powerful, once our leader recognises that there are other options, get that torch out and look for other disruptor opportunities. This is being truly emotionally agile!

Are you feeling curious?

If you have read this blog and are feeling curious, you have already begun your journey to developing emotional agility.  Questline can help and guide you through the process through our agile leadership coaching programmes.  Why not contact us to find out more about our programmes or take a look at our website?

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