Leaders: What’s your EQ traction that keeps you grounded in tenuous situations so that you always show up as your best self?
This photo is of my winter hiking boots, taken after yesterday’s dog walk on some local trails.
I love these boots. They’re sturdy, warm, waterproof, and never give me blisters.
But sometimes I need a little help to stay upright. Hence the traction devices.
Any time I’m out walking the dogs or for a winter hike, I have my traction either on my boots or in my backpack.
I know from experience it just takes one misplaced step to result in a hard fall. And even when it’s not icy, the traction makes it much easier to hike a snowy trail.
The traction keeps me upright and makes the adventure that much more enjoyable (versus a slog).
It occurred to me yesterday that my boot traction can be a metaphor for the techniques we use to build our emotional intelligence skills in the areas of self-awareness and self-management. A metaphor for building our EQ to impact how we show up as leaders.
𝗦𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 means being aware of situations that cause us to react, and understanding why and how those situations can cause us to show up in less-than-ideal ways.
Building this self-awareness means doing the hard work, the deep work, to uncover our shadow selves.
𝗦𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 means that we have techniques to notice and manage our reactions so that we can essentially “stay upright” as our best selves.
Building these skills requires intention, effort, and support from others.
For me, I know that I can react in situations where I feel left out, not included, or not part of the “cool kids” club. That can show up in ways ranging from shame (internal), to shrinking away from the situation (internal and external), to overpowering the conversation (external).
I’ve done the deep work to build the self-awareness that these situations are where I need some “traction devices” for self-management.
My self-management techniques start with recognizing and naming what’s happening. If it’s shame, I’ll take some deep breaths. Sit or stand straighter if I’m shrinking. Remind myself to listen–and give myself listening goals–if I’m overpowering.
Like my micro-spikes, the work I’ve done to develop my EQ helps me keep my feet under me, even when the environment feels unsteady.
It’s not always perfect, and sometimes I slip. It’s a leadership practice, not a leadership perfect. But I have better footing to navigate the situation.
And like hiking with my traction on, I’m better able to enjoy the journey.
What’s your EQ traction? What do you use to keep yourself grounded when something feels unstable?
PS – If you’re ready to explore your own self-awareness and self-management skills with a coach who has been there, contact me, and let’s chat about how we can work together.