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NEWS | May 28, 2014

Emotional Intelligence

By Master Sgt. Kristy Beaudoin 437th Maintenance Operations Squadron first sergeant

How do we get better as people? Better yet, why would somebody want to be led by you?

Well, if you show others you are human, you are caring, charismatic or you dare to be different, then maybe you can capture the hearts, mind or spirit of your followers. There are many ways one could devise a way to capture followers, but have you thought it might be done best by having tough empathy, holding people accountable or even telling others what they need to hear, not what they want to hear?

Sometimes, being a good leader means people trust you and know you will take care of them, that you have their best interest in mind; not only to the unit and the Air Force, but to them and their families. If you can do all of this, then you have developed the traits of what it takes to be a good leader. But what about other ways to continue to improve personally and professionally? How do we do that?

We can use Emotional Intelligence. To understand EI, first we have to elaborate on what EI means to you. For Airman in the United States Air Force, EI can be honed to become better individuals, supervisors and Wingmen. With that in mind, each time we fail, we can learn from our failures and try to become better Airmen, taking care of each other and what we value. EI is how we communicate and it is more than having a high IQ. EI is something we can hone, practice and improve upon.

According to the Harvard Business Review, we hone our skills at being better leaders by allowing our followers to know we are not perfect. We need to constantly look to improve our communication skills. Our communication skills can be improved over time which takes commitment. Many journals, leadership documents, classes and books talk about how we can become better people and improve our skills by honing what is known as EI.

Having EI means you care about being a better person, supervisor and leader. Consider the numerous resources available about EI and the definitions at each source. The following definition is from an article, "What Makes a Leader?" which states EI includes the following five pillars:
1) Self-awareness. People with high EI, know their weaknesses and are not afraid to show them.

2) Self-regulation. People with high EI can control their impulses and even channel them.

3) Motivation. As in the type of motivation which contains passion embodied around achievement and is the type of motivation essential in leadership qualities.

The last two pillars discuss ways we can learn to relate better with others.
4) Empathy. Empathy includes self-management skills and considers how others may feel when decisions are made.

5) Social skill. The ability to build rapport with others and to get them to move into the direction desired.

Emotional Intelligence is more than just being smart or having empathy and compassion. EI is about motivation for the right reasons. It is then we can make the right decisions because we made them with a caring heart, mind and spirit. We took the time to consider all sides. We might have even been charismatic about it and in the end we become better people. As Airman, if we are more self-aware and live by the core values, then we might end up being the leaders the Air Force wants us to be; ready and able to take care of others, our Wingmen and families too. We incorporate emotions of others in our decisions. We concern ourselves by how others may feel. We become the leaders who live by the core concepts of taking care of people and making the mission happen.

Emotional Intelligence is something great leaders use. EI is more than IQ. IQ is being smart; EI is honing your skills to be better at taking care of people.

Being the right kind of leader, should be something everyone should strive to achieve. Being a better human being means we should always strive to improve ourselves. By improving ourselves, we become better able to take care of those in our watch. We become the leaders the Air Force wants us to be. Sometimes we need thoughtful, compassionate, heart to heart talks; at other times we need direction or discipline. Ultimately, we need quality leaders willing to do the right thing at the right time (Cameron & Green, 2012). In the end, being the leader folks look up to takes practice. So give it a shot today; hone your EI!