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5 Emotional Intelligence Hacks That Can Immediately Improve Your Leadership

If you want to grow in emotional intelligence, though, you absolutely need to know what happens when you walk into the room. You need to become a student of how you impact others.

So here’s the hack. Ask people what it’s like to be on the other side of you. Do it openly, and honestly. Don’t be defensive. Just listen. (I got that question from Jeff Henderson, who preached an incredible series on your impact on others called Climate Change.)

You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

Want to know what I learned? When I started asking my team about my impact on them a decade ago, one of my direct reports said, “You’re Bamm Bamm.”

Bamm Bamm Rubble was a Flintstones cartoon character who, as a toddler, didn’t know how strong he was.

Apparently, I have a very strong personality. Again, for years I was unaware of that because I had only ever been, well, me. But as I asked about my impact on others, my team would tell me that when I walked into a room, eyes would focus on me and I would offer my opinion and basically sway the room. It shut down real discussion.

So I gave the team permission to call me out on it. And for years, in meetings (or after them) staff would come up and say “You’re being Bamm Bamm again.” Then I’d apologize and stop.

I made it a point to be a lot more intentional and a lot more frequent in understanding what I was doing. I would ask people before and after meetings what role I should be playing, and solicit feedback about whether my level of input was too high or too low. It really helped.

Even at home, I regularly ask the question, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” The dialogue that ensues always makes home life better…if you’re willing to change.

2. Protect your team from your moods

There’s you on a good day. And then there’s you on your not-so-good days.

Too many leaders make their team pay when they’re having a bad day. No one wants to work for someone like that for a long time, especially if they have a lot of bad days.

Maybe you can’t stop yourself from feeling bad, but you can stop yourself from taking it out on the people around you.

Self-awareness is a big key to emotional intelligence. And so is self-regulation.

Self-regulating leaders realize that just because they’re upset, they don’t need to take it out on the people around them—at work or at home.

I know what you’re thinking: Well, how will I process my frustration? Here’s my guess. You’ll pray a lot more.

By the way, this book by Andy Stanley really helped me get to the root of my emotions. It got to the root of four things we all struggle with as people and as leaders: guilt, anger, fear and jealousy.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.