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Emotional Learning: A Key to Developing Better Leaders

Better leaders lead to better outcomes. It’s as simple and also as complicated as that. Under the correct leadership, organisations are able to thrive from the more collaborative, aligned and energised teams that prevail. Technical skills are undoubtedly important, as evidenced by the many reviews, studies and performance evaluations throughout time. The impact of social and emotional skills however, remains a largely untapped scope and a growing field of research in leadership development.

Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process of acquiring and applying constituents of emotional intelligence to facilitate responsible decision making and higher team commitment. These include inner focused concepts such as self-awareness, self-motivation, emotional regulation, as well as external focused concepts such as empathy, active listening, effective communication, conflict resolution, emotional reasoning and general inter-relational skills. The emotional component of SEL involves the development of emotional intelligence and management.

Some of the benefits of Emotional Learning include:

  • Improved communication: Better communication results in deeper understanding and more effective collaboration in teams. This can be achieved through encouraging all voices to contribute, appreciating the input and encouraging peer recognition.
  • Stronger relationships: Additional attention, vulnerability, empathy and compassion enable individuals to forge deeper connections, making it easier to align on a common goal and take joint inspired action. This can be done by breaking the superiority barrier and humanising self in a way that establishes common trust.
  • Enhanced decision-making: Engaging team members emotionally provides clarity on what the shared purpose is, the rational plan of action and the logical way forward which allows leaders to make informed decisions even in high pressure situations.
  • Increased productivity: These factors combined create a positive psychologically safe work environment which results in increased productivity and job satisfaction.

But how do you ‘emotionally learn’?

Expanding emotional intelligence is great for progressing team efficiency and organisation goals but it is also effective at unlocking personal power. Emotional learning inspires long-term behavioural change led by authenticity therefore making it a sustainable tool for leadership. This is what we like to call ‘experiential learning’ which puts into practice the different elements of emotional intelligence.

It involves replicating work challenges in a non-work way by carefully curating expert-tested scenarios designed to stimulate new responses, after which leaders can reflect on the experience and apply the ideas and lessons acquired to future situations. This approach is highly effective for developing emotional intelligence as it allows the identifying, attuning and managing of emotions in a safe and supportive environment.

How Emotional Learning is incorporated into Leadership Training:

  • Emotional intelligence and regulation skills training: Participants are introduced to the modern context, highlighting the importance of responsible emotional handling of self and others, and how these tools can further goals and improve team or follower engagement.
  • Promote self-awareness: Undertaking activities that provoke self-introspection and reflection to discern emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.
  • Application in a safe social environment: This space encourages mistakes and experimenting in a context that holds very little consequence, it offers the opportunity for unlearning unhelpful tactics and relearning useful strategies. The reciprocity of peer feedback and facilitator coaching encourages positive reinforcement of lessons.

At Leadership Trust we facilitate ongoing development through programmes that support leaders through these methodologies. The Leadership Trust journey is one of self-discovery and growth, and we are committed to helping our clients navigate that journey with confidence. Our programmes are designed to help leaders develop the skills they need to lead with empathy, emotional intelligence, and authenticity.

For more information on Leadership Trust’s expertise in providing leadership development programmes that support leaders through these methodologies, contact us today.

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