As a leader, a millisecond could change everything. Learn how to make this change for the better.
There is an old saying that our success is determined by the “three A’s”: Ability, Availability, and Affability. There is no question that ability and availability are key components for success of any clinical healthcare practice. Affability is a curious quality, however.
In recent years, the “softer skills” of affability have been well researched and have now risen in stature among the critical three A’s.
Daniel Goldman refers to these softer skills as “emotional intelligence” in his seminal book of the same name. Today, I want to share a lesson that touches on this very topic and how it is critical for leaders.
Becoming emotionally intelligent is a process through which we become acutely aware of our responses and how we show up in any given situation. It is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Critical to this acquired skill is our degree of self-awareness and the ability to self-regulate.
Emotional intelligence has become so highly regarded as a leadership competency that there are now widely used assessments to gauge one’s level of emotional intelligence.
The EQ2 assessment is one of these assessments which is widely used by executive coaching professionals. It is often used in conjunction with other leadership profiles like the Leadership Circle Profile 360 (LCP 360). In combination, these two assessments are commonly used in developing personalized leadership development plans for many of corporate America’s best leaders.
Viktor Frankl in his groundbreaking book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” offers this poignant thought:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Often, this space between the stimulus and response is a brief, yet critical, a millisecond.
Each of us face pivotal moments in our personal and professional lives where a given response in a critical situation could have a profound and enduring future impact with significant consequences.
A millisecond that could change everything.
Emotional intelligence is dictated by the responses we choose and can make the difference between success and failure, a committed or compliant staff, or a transformational versus a transactional organizational culture.
In our personal lives, the responses we choose may determine the quality of interpersonal relationships or even our family dynamics.
Unfortunately, we often choose the wrong response because we unconsciously default to spontaneous knee-jerk reactions rather than making a thoughtful appropriate choice.
These thoughtless knee-jerk responses are blind spots that occur at an unconscious level. Many believe that these spontaneous reactions are caused by deeply ingrained responses that have become habitual and originate from beliefs and assumptions that we have brought forth from past experiences. Because we are unaware of these blind spots, making a conscious choice to respond differently is difficult.
So how do we go from autopilot to making a thoughtful response in these critical milliseconds?
Self-awareness is the answer. Understanding the critical nature of our responses and acknowledging that we have a habitual blind spot when choosing an appropriate response is the key. Only then can we short circuit the reactive knee-jerk response in favor of an emotionally intelligent response.
Carl Jung, the noted psychologist is quoted as saying:
“Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will direct our lives and we will call it fate.”
Bringing the unconscious to a conscious level is a critical step in substituting a mindful constructive response for a mindless reactive one.
Having this conscious awareness of our habitual default response is also vital to our ability to self-regulate: a mental process through which we control our emotions in favor of making the appropriate response in any situation.
Self-regulation allows us to stop, if even for the briefest moment, and even when emotions run high, to consider our best possible response. There would seem to be some truth that our fate, good or bad, is determined by our choice between responding purposefully or defaulting to an inappropriate spontaneous reaction.
Carefully choosing our responses and the words we use are part of becoming emotionally intelligent. Words are powerful and responses have consequences. Choose them wisely.
If you want to learn more about how Leadership and Coaching Culture can change your team dynamics, then download our free ebook: 7 Surprising Steps to Grow your Practice Through Leadership.
Dr. Joel Small and Dr. Edwin McDonald, the founders of Line of Sight Coaching, are dental practitioners, authors, speakers and Business Leadership Coaches who work with healthcare professionals to help them build more successful practices so they can live the balanced life they seek.