[Video] How do the best leaders manage emotion and stress?

August 17, 2016 4 mins read

In this next instalment of the emotionally intelligent leaders interviews we look at self-awareness and how a leader uses this to manage their emotions in stressful situations.

AW:  The next question I’m interested in asking you is around self-awareness. When we talk about self-awareness in alignment with emotional intelligence, we’re not just talking about awareness of your thoughts but awareness of your emotions. From a physiology perspective so what are you experiencing when you’re excited, when you’re nervous, what goes on for you?

How do you manage your emotions intelligently in order to lead others?

AW: You talked about sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes there’s been situations. How do you do that?

JW: I think experience is very helpful because I think you learn almost intuitively when to dial up and dial down different emotions for different situations. I never nowadays feel particularly stressed or concerned about situations, probably because of experience.

AW: You have a level of confidence.

JW: I’m supremely confident that there’s going to be very little that can happen that either I’ve not had experience of before or is so left field that it takes me unaware. I trust myself to be able to cope with most situations.

There is that requirement of, I just said dialling up and dialling down, but there is that sense of being able to adapt to different situations, being cognisant of the different environments that one can find oneself in.

I would talk very different to my CEO than I would someone on my team for example. You just have to adapt.

AW: So it affects your style.

JW: Yes, I think so. And there’s an element of reflecting the personality and mood states etc. of people that you’re engaging with. If you’ve got an element of EI, that comes relatively naturally, perhaps.

Are there any tips that you’d give maybe emerging leaders around that on maybe how they’d manage their emotions?

JW: I’ve been very fortunate to do lots of things like Lumina Spark, genetics and things like that. I think it’s’ really helpful if you have a theory which you can underpin some of this with because some of the best performing teams that I’ve worked with have had a self-awareness that has come through some of those coaching type approaches and I think that’s really, really helpful. I’d advise any leaders to invest in something that...

AW: Especially the emotional intelligence one! I’m joking.

JW: Well I would! Because it gives you tools and reference points. Really helpful. Some of these tools, and there are many. They’re multi-various of course but it can be really helpful in developing dynamics.

AW: It’s critical and I’m really passionate about it but that thing around actually our personality type, preferences and profile really do dictate our emotional intelligence habits and therefore our behaviours so...

What top tip would you actually give to actually manage your behaviour once you have that self-awareness?

AW: Because self-awareness is one thing and obviously you can then choose to do something differently.

JW: Choose to do it.

AW: So choose to do it?

JW: Choose to do it.

AW: If someone was more red and more fiery and therefore more directive in their approach and their emotions led that behaviour, probably for them part of their development would be How do they not lose that but control their response to situations...

JW: And in a stressful situation how do they then manage?

What advice would you give so to somebody how to manage themselves in a stressful situation? So manage their emotions?

JW: I guess in a way it’s simply a muscle that needs exercising. Being conscious about it first and foremost and forcing yourself to think about that is really, really helpful. If you’re conscious of it then you’re more likely to do something about it.

JW: I think it’s really important to ask your colleagues and the people that you work with how they feel about your interaction. I very actively encourage my guys to talk to me about how I make them feel, what works for them, what doesn’t work for them etc. and I do listen and respond to that. I think that’s helpful in developing yourself anyway.

AW: And then choosing what you do with that information isn’t it?

JW: It’s all about choice. Everyone has a choice in every respect.

AW: Exactly. I agree with you.

Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China