Emotional Intelligence to Stand Out as a People Leader in Retail
Your ability to handle emotions in conversations, negotiations, and conflicts makes the difference between success and failure. Retail leaders have pressing deadlines, ambitious KPIs, and challenging merchandising and sales objectives that frequently generate stress, anger, frustration, and anxiety in their lives. Satisfactory emotional management of these situations helps leaders not only to be more professionally effective but to be healthier physically and emotionally.
Emotional intelligence, according to Daniel Goleman (1995) pioneer in the area, is the ability to recognize and manage our own emotions, while being empathic with others and influencing their emotions. Each emotion has its purpose in a specific situation, but if it has an excessive intensity or duration, it can negatively affect your life. You cannot control what you are going to feel (a biochemical reaction to a stimulus), but you can learn what you are going to do or what decision you are going to make after feeling that emotion (a conscious decision and action). You can stop, relax, and think about what might happen if you do one thing or another. You can think about the consequences and make the best decision according to the situation.
To understand the functioning of emotional intelligence we must consider its biological basis. The pre-frontal cortex and neocortex are responsible for making rational decisions. The part that handles the disturbing emotions (limbic system) can dominate the rational part of the brain in a stressful moment, turning that emotion into the center of the person’s life, thus hindering the person from focusing on something else. However, if you can learn to handle these disturbing emotions, then you can continue to be efficient in your work, even though the situations are challenging.
What makes you a good member of a team?, What makes you stand out?, What will make you become a leader who is followed by people who feel they are better because of you? The answers to these questions can be based on your cognitive capabilities, but it is the way you make them feel and their emotional safety what builds the foundation for truly effective business leadership with outstanding business results. It is not what you know, what is important is what you do and how you do it to ecologically accomplish your team and organizational results.
To assist you on developing a higher level of emotional intelligence, I share with you some questions for a personal assessment about your emotional intelligence: Are you able to self-manage your emotions instead of reacting to internal and external conditions? Can you effectively persuade others? Do you empathize with your customers and team members?.
Being aware of your emotional intelligence level is the first step to master it. Knowing the emotions you are feeling in a particularly challenging situation is extremely important. Being able to identify that feeling and give it a name will prepare your decision-making process to take the right action to accomplish better results. What is that emotion you are experiencing in this stressful situation? Rage? Anxiety? Disappointment?
As a second step, I invite you to do a short breathing exercise when you face those demanding moments. Three deep and slow breaths, taking the air through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. That can help you to calm down, allowing you to see more clearly the different alternatives to overcome the situation. If it is possible, write the different options you have, and make an evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Developing your emotional intelligence will allow you to better understand the impact you have on the people around you, be more open and effective giving and receiving feedback, improve the way you deal with challenging relationships and situations, and successfully manage the resistance to change and the way to face failure.
This is the first of a series of articles that will share different ideas and exercises that you can practice in order to develop the different aspects that emotional intelligence embraces and its multiple benefits to your personal and professional life as a people leader in the retail industry.