Leaders need emotional intelligence – of course they do – but emotional intelligence is not much good if a leader can only demonstrate it in favourable circumstances. It’s no use being a calm, sage, empathetic presence if you turn into someone else entirely when the pressure’s on or things aren’t going your way.
No, a leader must demonstrate emotional intelligence with consistency. To do that, emotional intelligence has to be allied to emotional resilience and fitness.
Our society has got very good at selling quick-fix calmness and yo-yo lifestyles. By that I mean dry Januarys that let you binge in December (and possibly February). Super expensive, hyper intensive HIIT classes rounded off with a green smoothie and a motivational pep talk about taking the good vibes from the class into the day ahead – good vibes that often last about five minutes, until you have to use public transport or get stuck behind a slow-moving tourist or cannot resist checking your email on your phone (while slurping the dregs of that kale smoothie).
What I’m saying is that we cannot buy a healthy mindset or consistent emotional intelligence. Mental health in all its forms is a long-term business. It is not found in the bottom of a plastic cup of kale juice. It can’t be generated – with any longevity – simply by busting a gut in the gym. It cannot be created out of thin air by a session or two with a leadership coach like me – I can only set things in motion for my clients. It’s up to them to embody the things we work on and make them a habit not a quick, short-live fix. The difference sounds quite subtle but training in emotional fitness is not a remedy to stress or a binge lifestyle – truly embodied, it is a genuine alternative to them.