Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Emotions are far more valuable than we give them credit for and as a leadership consultant, I am aware of a term that has growing popularity in the business sector.
The term is "Emotional Intelligence" or EQ Emotional quotient, as an additional means to measure a persons IQ or general intelligence. The term was coined by psychologist and scientific journalist Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence 1995, he defines the term as
"The ability to identify, assess and control one’s own emotions, the emotion of others and that of groups.”
Written in the context that a person has the ability to recognise and control and their emotions for the purpose of adapting and influencing their environment. Specifically Leaders looking to better navigate the nuanced world of work and client relationships for the benefit of the company.
However this growing trend to measure a humans emotional intelligence EQ in order to determine their leadership potential, fails to recognise the fundamental purpose of human emotions.
Human emotions are not a nuisance to the human condition, to be "assessed and controlled" in order to maintain an egoic façade of balance or power, nor are they a leadership hack to be used to influence, manipulate or engage others for a personal agenda.
Emotions are our guidance systems, critical to understanding our internal equilibrium. Our emotional state of being is the earliest key indicators to diagnosing our very own physical, mental and spiritual health.
We are not blindly fumbling through existence without a compass, we simply have not learnt how to interpret the one we were given.
The more sensitive your awareness becomes of your own emotional state and the more accurately you can pinpoint and label what you are feeling in any given moment. When you are able to identify your emotional state you can recognise when something within you is out of balance.
The real intelligence in this EQ equation is our accuracy to name how we are feeling and for this we need to develop a comprehensive language of feelings.
Many people have trouble identifying even the most basic of feelings. This is because our society has developed the habit of asking "How are you?" and the standard response is "good or fine". Overtime this stoic response has weakened our innate emotional intelligence.
By measuring our emotional pulse so to speak we can make constant minute course corrections to our lifestyle to prevent physical, mental or spiritual health problems from occurring in the first place.
Maybe if our business leaders learnt to interpret what their emotions were actually warning them about - burnout, divorce, heart attacks and suicides could all be prevented.
By controlling our emotional self to focus on building business relationships, solving relational problems and increasing work efficiency, we are disciplining ourselves to use our emotional guidance systems for a commercial agenda.
We need to remember what emotions are actually designed for:
Save our lives or keep us safe - working intrinsically with instincts and intuitions.
Direct us towards our higher purpose and help us find meaning in the every day.
Indicates attraction or caution towards others
Emotional connection deepens our relationships.
Guides us in creating joy and harmony in our every day lives.
Emotions grow us as humans.
There are a few people who have attempted to decode what our emotions are trying to tell us, Louise Hay who has reverse engineered common medical conditions to find how they stem from the mind, body or spirit in her book "You can heal your Life"1999
or Richard Barrett Head of the Barrett Values Centre, in his book "Evolutionary Coaching" categorises some of the more tangible human emotions from Lightness and Alignment to Heaviness and Mis-alignment.
(Refer to the table below - note I have added the terms Healthy and Unhealthy.)
This table demonstrates how to identify whether an emotion is communicating a potential problem - something to be avoided or steering us towards more of our ideal life.
The emotions are then broken into three categories Body-mind feelings, Ego-Mind feeling and Soul-mind feeling, (for simplicity, I've changed them to Body, Mind and Spirit.)
By doing so Barrett eludes to where in our complex human ecosystems our feelings are directing our awareness but also how we would go about resolving or healing ourselves.
For example Detachment and Depression fall under the category of Spirit, assuming Barrett is correct, we can use this information to course correct our lives away from these heavy and mis-aligned emotions of depression and detachment towards the opposite polarity of healthy alignment. Imagine changing your life to seek work, relationships and hobbies along the alignment of joy, fulfilment, compassion and bliss. Now, if you needed support in your recovery you might seek the guidance of a professional who understands the benefits of spirit in moving beyond depression.
So, whilst I understand there are commercial benefits for Leaders to increase their emotional intelligence, to control and manage their emotions in the workplace, it should not be to the detriment of feeling their emotions fully, expressing rather than supressing and using actual intelligence to decipher the messages that emotions transmit.