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Post-Pandemic Employee Engagement, Part II: Leadership EQ Check-In

Responding with Emotional Intelligence

The level of depression in the workforce right now is astronomical, costing $1 trillion to the global economy in lost productivity, according to recent findings from The World Health Organization. Many mental health challenges are surfacing now—more than ever seen before. So much so that managers must understand emotional intelligence.

In Meaningful Alignment, we share principles and insights to improve your emotional quotient (EQ) as a leader. One cause of the increasing rates of depression is credited to the fact that isolation is at an all-time high. And we know that when people feel isolated, this impacts their physical health, mental health, and overall well-being. Leaders must be aware of those challenges for not only their employee’s well-being but their organizations too. Compassion, empathy, authenticity, and transparency are vital skills of an engaged, emotionally intelligent leader. These attributes are critical to have the ability to say to their associates, “Hey, listen; I get it. It's difficult.”

We are facing all kinds of disruption. Having empathy for that, with accountability, is the way through. It is not about NOT holding people accountable for performance. It is about motivating them to perform at their very best. Your employees will be much more motivated to perform for you if they feel like you know them, understand their situation, and support them because they are dealing with more than what meets the eye.

Be mindful of the challenges of coming back to work. Make sure your employees feel comfortable and safe. This is a slippery slope for leaders too. Frame it this way, “if you feel comfortable, we will do the six-foot distancing. We'll do the masking. We'll do whatever.” Let them choose and never push anybody into something they're not comfortable with, and give them the option to come back together in person when they feel comfortable doing so.

How do you show up more emotionally intelligent as a leader? What are some skills that you can adopt to do that? How do you handle emotional composure at the moment when they're getting triggered emotionally? What do I do at this moment? Maybe it’s a one-on-one with an employee or possibly a group meeting, and someone makes a comment leaving me ready to blow a gasket. What do we do at that moment to calm ourselves down as well as proactively responding to the situation? How do we build what I call the “reserve strength” to call upon emotionally when we feel a bit too overwhelmed?

  • Evaluate your EQ skills. (compassion, empathy, authenticity, and transparency)

  • Develop your leadership skills.

A good rule of thumb for the emotionally charged moment:

Pause. Ask Questions. Deflect.

Stop, take a deep breath, and wait to respond until the bubbling emotions have settled down. Ask questions to understand better the situation and the person behind the sarcastic comment or passive-aggressive voicemail, for example. There are some of tools available for you to use when you feel triggered. Meaningful Alignment teaches a six-step process on how to have conversations to gain alignment with another person. These skills are learnable and highly applicable to an open heart and open mind.

Another resource I use personally to fine-tune my listening skills is Sidewalk Talk. This organization provides “listeners” to anyone on the street. Anyone walking by can sit down, talk, and be provided a listening ear. No advice given, just listening. There is a deep level of listening training I've gone through called “Hear.” That is another excellent resource for people to learn some skills of how to listen more effectively. Sometimes more than anything, we need a listening ear or someone simply to say, “I hear you. It’s going to be okay.” Fine-tuning your listening skills as a leader allows your employees to be vulnerable with you without fear of a harsh response or disapproval.

Because we as people are emotional, it is unavoidable to have emotionally triggering situations in the workplace. A good leader does not purposefully avoid these circumstances or shy away from the chance to engage with their employees. Instead, they connect with their people and understand where they are mentally, physically, and emotionally. In turn, you will find turned-on, tapped-in employees motivated to perform at their very best for you. A company of emotionally intelligent employees begins with a leader who is willing to listen authentically and respond compassionately and empathetically. This transparency will encourage an emotionally connected workplace, in turn promoting employee wellbeing.

A virtual world presents its challenges when it comes to emotionally intelligent interactions. However, leaders can overcome the virtual challenges that hinder productivity and team culture. So implore these strategies and if you are still struggling, get help. (We do that!)


Susan Steinbrecher is an executive coach, speaker, licensed mediator, author, president, and CEO of Steinbrecher And Associates, Inc. A management consulting firm that provides professional development services in the areas of executive coaching, group facilitation, and leadership training. Susan has co-written several books: Meaningful Alignment: Mastering Emotionally Intelligent Interactions at Work and in Life (spring 2019), Heart-Centered Leadership: Lead Well, Live Well (Second Edition, February 2014); Roadmap to Success and Straight Talk from America’s Top 10 Speakers. Her Amazon best-selling book KENSHO: A Modern Awakening, Instigating Change in an Era of Global Renewal is a business book that delves into the realm of personal development. How well do you handle emotionally charged, high-stakes conversations? Take the Interpersonal Dialogue Profile™ assessment and find out! Reach out to Susan on her website:


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