“Leaders are being judged by a new yardstick: not just by how smart they are, or by their training and expertise, but also by how well they handle themselves and others.” Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence
This summer I had the privilege of taking MGMT 575, Leading with Emotional Intelligence. SDA students can take this class as a substitute for Leadership One or as an elective. Last year on the SUSDA retreat two continuing students recommended this class to me and this turned out to be some of the best advice I’ve been given in the program thus far. What’s different about this class is that it primarily takes you out of your head and deeper into your heart and emotions to the core of yourself. The purpose of the class is to help you grow in the four elements of emotional intelligence.
Self awareness: Your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen.
Social awareness: Your ability to accurately read the emotions of others and understand what is really going on.
Self management: Your ability to use the awareness of your emotions to positively direct your behavior – managing your emotional reactions to all situations and people.
Relationship management: Your ability to use the awareness of your emotions and the emotions of others to successfully manage interactions and relationships.
This is stretching work and pretty uncomfortable for many of us. Each student is placed in a T group (teaching group) and this is your learning group for the duration of the class. These are the people who get to know you at a much deeper level and encourage your emotional and relational growth. Each T group is assigned a coach whose role it is to teach you how to communicate your emotions to your group members. It turns out this is much harder than you think! As soon as you start psychoanalyzing what’s happening in the group the coach will stop you and bring you back to being present to each group member. This happened over and over until we started to slowly learn to practice the art of presence and of simply showing up in the fullness of our own emotions and being available to each other. I took more risks in this class than in any other. To grow I had to put myself out there and trust that within the structure and care of the T group and with the support of my coach I would find safety and encouragement. My T group turned out to be a very special group of people who listened deeply to my life and to my current struggles, my fears and hopes for the future. We learned to listen empathetically to each other, to hear the unsaid, to dig deeper with each other and build trusting and open relationships with each other.
The transformation (and there is no other word for this) that we experienced personally and corporately was truly remarkable. Our class retreat was an incredible experience and one that I count as a touchstone of my graduate program at Seattle U. What I learned in this class prepares me well to go into new professional settings and confidently navigate group dynamics, resolve work place conflicts and be truly present to my own experience and to my coworkers.
And yes, Jen Nakagaki can tell you that I cried a lot in this class!