In my last blog, I explored a real-life case study in emotional intelligence. Jason Seaman, a middle school science teacher, exercised a text-book-worthy display of emotional intelligence skills when he jumped into action to protect his students’ lives. In the lesson from Mr. Seaman, we learn that effective self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, interpersonal skills and good decision-making can safe lives.
It is important for us to remember, though, that the emotional intelligence skillset is not centrally about preparing ourselves to deal with active school shooters. That kind of preparation, sadly, is more urgent now than it has ever been, but emotional intelligences so much more to offer us. Emotional intelligence is essential to our capacity to live adaptively in our daily lives—days that don’t involve hostage situations or active shooters. The classroom teacher dealing with postpartum depression as she returns to work from maternity leave? Exercise in emotional intelligence. The angry parent who uses social media to air his misinformed conclusions of you? Exercise in emotional intelligence. Your passive-aggressive neighbor who still leaves his garbage cans on your driveway even after you’ve politely asked twice that he not do so? Exercise in emotional intelligence. Your spouse, who twenty-three years later still doesn’t know the correct direction to mount the toilet paper roll? Exercise in emotional intelligence.
The list could go on, even down to each moment-to-moment interaction we have with any other human being who, in whatever way and for whatever reason, evokes within us a potentially conflict-producing emotion. In every case, the successful return to mental wellbeing is dependent on our ability to know and regulate ourselves, and to understand and interact with others.Emotional in intelligence is the oil in the gears of any relationship machine.
Research is clear: high emotional intelligence—the ability to accurately understand and adaptively manage the thoughts and feelings of self, other, and the group—drives transformational leadership in organizations. Leaders who demonstrate high emotionally-intelligent leadership skills benefit on multiple fronts: they serve in their capacities with greater success, and they are more sustainable. Perhaps most importantly, though, emotionally-intelligent leaders establish the relational culture necessary for effective learning and growth. Students demonstrate academic and behavioral gains in schools in which emotional intelligence is consistently modeled by classroom-level leaders (i.e., instructional staff); classroom-level leaders consistently model social-emotional learning on campuses in which campus-level leadership demonstrates a commitment to emotional intelligence by modeling social-emotional learning.