On Wednesdays, we periodically feature guest-authored articles from leaders in workforce and economic development, unemployment insurance benefits, higher education, and more. Today, we’re joined by Bounce Australia’s Maria Smith, a 15-year veteran in workforce development, and the 2019 Workforce Technology Conference keynote speaker. Her mantra is “Everything is Possible,” and conference attendees will find out why this summer. By Maria Smith It’s time to consider every workforce agency’s greatest asset – the team at the front line. Nurturing, developing, and boosting emotional intelligence (EI) in these crucial positions will change the way you see business, forever. While it seems like everywhere you turn someone is talking about EI and leadership skills, these things aren’t actually new ideas, and in workforce development, we’re only just catching up. There’s such a massive body of work out there and a ton of books to devour that it seems crazy not to take advantage of it. At the end of this post, there’s a handy list of resources if you’re interested in learning more. In a recent study of manufacturing supervisors that followed EI training, researchers reported a 20 percent drop in formal grievances, and an increase of $250,000 in productivity revenue. Looking at the statistics, it’s safe to say that if EI was sold in stores, we’d all be lining up for it like the newest iPhone. But, unlike technology these days, it costs nothing more than your attention and understanding – which is a pretty great deal. But what exactly is EI? Put simply, Emotional Intelligence is a measure of a person’s capability in self-awareness and social awareness. In slightly more complex terms, it’s a true skill that can take years to master. It can greatly increase your leadership skills, and all you need to do is dip your toe in the water. Here are some tips to help increase your degree of emotional intelligence: Own Your Feelings Relate your feelings back to yourself rather than a person or situation. For example, instead of saying “You’re really annoying,” say “I am feeling annoyed.” Your feelings are your own and it’s important to understand that. Discover Your Why Instead of reacting outwardly to a feeling, ask yourself why you are experiencing it. Just keep asking why – you’ll move past the emotion and skip straight to a solution. Use Your Feelings Before making a decision or taking action, ask yourself how you will feel if you do it and how you will feel if you don’t. Your emotions are a useful guide to put you on the right path. Use the Feelings of Others Just like the last tip, the emotions of others also need to be considered. Before making a decision or taking action, ask yourself how others will feel if you do it and how others will feel if you don’t. Emotional intelligence is just as much about others as it is about yourself. Convert Your Emotions Emotions like anger can be used in really positive ways. Use it to energize yourself and get things done. The energy is already there, you just need to direct it. Know That There isn’t Always a Solution Sometimes people just need someone to listen. You don’t always need to offer a solution or opinion. By just spending time with the person, you are telling them that they are valued. Check in With Yourself Taking a minute every day to ask yourself “How do I feel” and “What will make me feel better” is incredibly important. Sometimes we can get worked up over time and not notice how it is impacting us. Connect back in with your emotions and address them. Check in With Others At any given point in the day, one person can be experiencing a whole range of emotions. Be aware of the people around you. If you notice something is not right, ask “How do you feel” and “What will make you feel better?” Validate Others Do your best to understand other people’s point of view. Everyone sees and experiences the world differently, and one way is no more right or wrong than another. Show understanding, empathy, and try to accept the feelings of others. Step Out of Judgement Judgement comes from assumptions, opinions, and generalizations – and all of these hold people back. When meeting someone new, try to wipe the slate clean and walk into the room opinion free. You’ll have a much clearer head and will be ready to listen. If an emotionally intelligent leader means greater leadership and productivity, wouldn’t this also translate to employees? Create a more emotionally intelligent culture at your agency or development board. You’ll see greater engagement, and bigger, better outcomes. Reading list: • Working with Emotional Intelligence , Daniel Goleman • The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace , Daniel Goleman • Emotional Intelligence at Work , Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D. • Executive EQ-Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Organizations , Robert K Cooper Ph.D. and Ayman Sawaf References: • https://hbr.org/2015/04/measuring-the-return-on-character • https://onlinebusiness.umd.edu/blog/emotional-iq-and-you/ About the Author: Maria is the founder of Bounce Australia/USA, a multi-award winning organization delivering life skills and job readiness training to the long-term unemployed, as well as professional development to leaders using emotional intelligence and positive psychology methodologies across both government and corporate sectors in Australia and internationally. Maria has an excellent reputation in the facilitation of workshops for leaders and front-line staff in providing self-awareness of the impact their unconscious and conscious communication has on influencing the behaviors of their employees. Her workshops and presentations are profound and powerful, leaving you wanting more.