Manage Thyself

Managing oneself is a key aspect of Emotional Intelligence (EI) and confounds many leaders.  Let’s face it, being aware of a behavior that doesn’t serve us well is one thing; it’s quite another to exercise a suitable alternative when we’re in the heat of the moment.

Let’s begin by sharing some examples of what it means to self-manage.  Leaders who self-manage well tend to…

… call upon their self-awareness (and “self-talk”) for clues

… pause before taking action when “triggered” by emotion

… minimize impulsiveness

… exercise resilience when things go wrong

… tolerate uncertainty

… keep the long game in mind

… respond vs. react

On this last point, the diagram below might help with visualizing the difference between a reaction and a response.  It also highlights how to engender a response by simply taking a step back (or a breath) before engaging in an unproductive way.

React vs Respond Other ways to increase self-management skills include:

  • Identifying and expressing your prevailing emotion versus lashing out (“I’m frustrated by having to ask for this again.” is more productive than “Can’t you do anything right?!”)
  • Writing the email, then saving it in the draft folder to review (and edit) later, when you’re feeling less charged
  • Surrounding yourself with supportive, growth-oriented people — not people who love to complain and feed a negative climate
  • Practicing emotional agility — broadening your coping skills with alternative behaviors when extreme emotions are triggered, like taking a walk
  • Focusing on your “sphere of control” and ignoring the distractions within the “sphere of concern”

Of course, self-management tends to be tested most when we’re under stress or feeling overwhelmed, so the more we can keep our emotional triggers at bay, the easier it becomes.  This is where self-care comes in — a topic that deserves its own blog spotlight in the future.

Until then, when all else fails, enjoy a couple of marshmallows and go out to play for a while!

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