How good are you at regulating your emotions? Is this something you consider an essential skill?

Being able to manage your emotions is a key leadership – and human – strength. We are social creatures and successful cooperation with others is vital for our survival. However, as seen in recent media coverage, we cannot take our emotional regulation abilities for granted, especially in situations of high pressure. Mastering our emotions is a learnt behaviour – not an innate talent.

Company directors often ask for my help in coaching and training them to improve their emotional regulation. They realise that getting angry, upset or being passive-aggressive with their co-workers weakens their leadership capabilities – and their brand. Sometimes they mention that their lack of control is affecting their relationship with their family too. Overwhelmed with work stress is a big factor in these issues.

They and their HR teams request my support to help their future leaders develop these skills. I often hear something like: “he’s a fantastic manager and we want him to progress however, he can rub stakeholders up the wrong way and we need him to manage his emotions better” or “she’s a star performer but she’s so negative in our meetings and her attitude is impacting the rest of the team.”

Left unchecked, the individual can be left wondering why they have not got that promotion or been picked to collaborate on the new project, despite their ‘apparent’ consistent delivery. If they’re the business owners, they may begin to question why their staff don’t seem to stay for long.

Brighter Thinkers will be familiar that I facilitate an Emotional Labelling exercise with them at the start of every coaching session. This is grounded in neuroscience research and helps to increase emotional intelligence as well as ensuring that the brain is in the optimum state for coaching – plus, it elevates creative thinking, decision making and problem solving.

You may be surprised to discover that a lot of people are simply not aware of their feelings, so supporting them to find out exactly what is happening to them in the moment generates new awareness. Additionally, mindfulness is a useful tool to explore our emotions independently. Art, journalling and other creative activities can also be used to reveal our hidden feelings.

For now, how about a quick check in?

How are you feeling right now?

What do you call this feeling?

Does it feel right, or would you like to be experiencing a different emotion?

If yes, what can you do now to feel like that instead?