Emotional agility is the ability to recognize the emotions in a social or emotional situation and then act appropriately. It means not letting your emotions rule your actions and to instead channel them productively by paying attention to people’s moods, body language, and other social cues. And it’s responsible for 58% of job performance! The problem is that being able to flex into a mindset that doesn’t come naturally to you can be difficult, especially when emotions or the stakes are high.   

You can, however, learn to flex into the other mindsets with patience and practice. According to the DiSC model, there are 8 different emotional intelligence mindsets that relate to personality type. Most people have 3-4 that they are naturally inclined to use. For example, a Dominant or ‘D’ type will usually have no problem being self-assured, dynamic, and resolute. But this same manager might struggle to show empathy and be objective, which could have devastating consequences for a team.  

Managers actually need to be able to access as many mindsets as possible in order to build relationships and motivate their diverse teams.  In fact, emotional agility at work is your #1 superpower, and you don’t have to wear a cape to wield it. Instead, just focus on becoming more self-aware, showing empathy, and encouraging productive conflict. Improving in these three areas will help you be a better manager. And considering that managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, the effort you put in will be worth it in the long run. 

Self-Awareness Build Emotional Agility

The absolute first step to improving emotional agility is to become more self-aware. This means being able to objectively look at your own behavior; how you relate to and impact those around you. Of course, this can be difficult because it’s sometimes hard to admit that there are areas that need improvement. And to make matters worse, the things we can’t see are usually the things that need to be changed! But managers that put in the work to become more self-aware help their companies perform better. According to The Korn/Ferry Institute, companies with a higher percentage of self-aware employees (individual contributors to top-level executives) outperformed companies with a lower percentage.  

Empathy Builds Emotional Agility

The second skill a manager should improve to become emotionally agile is empathy. To be empathetic means having the ability to see a situation from someone else’s point of view. Understanding someone else’s ‘why’ gives a manager greater insight into a direct report’s actions and reactions. A manager who can show empathy appropriately will be more effective at building trust within the team, motivating team members and communicating in general. And it’s important to realize that you don’t have to agree with someone to show empathy. Being an empathetic listener shows that the other person’s feelings matter, that their point of view matters, and that you value them as a person even if you disagree with their point of view or how they feel.   

Emotional Agility Includes Productive Conflict

The third area that a manager can work on to become more emotionally agile is conflict. Most people consider conflict to be a bad thing because it often causes anger and hurt feelings. But it is possible to receive instruction on how to engage in conflict differently. Productive conflict is a means of getting to the point of the problem. It’s the ability to come to a consensus without losing your temper or saying something that you’ll later regret. Engaging in productive conflict allows you and your team to work through issues in a way that lets all voices be heard. And when people have the opportunity to weigh in, they will more often buy in. They just need you, as the manager, to model the behavior.  

As 2022 comes to an end and you’re considering how to improve your management style, consider honing the skills of self-reflection, empathy, and productive conflict. These are the soft skills that will help you flex into the emotional mindsets that may not come naturally to you, but that are crucial to your success as a manager. So set your sight on improving your emotional agility in 2023. Your direct reports will thank you! 

To help managers improve emotionally agility, we offer the Everything DiSC Agile EQ program to show learners where personal development may be needed, why it is needed, and how it can be actualized. Call us today to learn more about this amazing opportunity! 

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