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Emotional Agility: The Secret Weapon for Today's Leaders

[fa icon="calendar"] 8/21/23 1:53 PM / by Deb Cullerton

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.-2Today we're diving headfirst into a competency that can be a game-changer in the work life of a leader, Emotional Agility. In fact, the skills required to be emotionally agile are very similar to those we prescribe for teams that want to be more agile:   discover, recognize and take action.  Rinse, repeat.  To build stronger teams and thrive in our roles as leaders and managers, we need to bring these skills into our daily consciousness.  How does your mindset impact how you show up?  And how do you recognize when you should shift your mindset and when you should not?  And even when you know you should, how do you fight your natural instincts?


The What and The Why

Let's start by understanding what we mean by Emotional Agility. To put it simply, it's the capacity to read the emotional and interpersonal needs of a situation and respond accordingly. Easier said than done, right? Emotional agility is transforming the way we lead and manage at work. It's like a secret sauce that gives us the edge in dealing with everything - from sticky customer interactions to influencing your boss to inspiring your team.


The starting point of emotional agility is awareness, both of self and others. It's about recognizing your emotional state and those around you; it's also identifying how these emotions impact our decisions and interactions. Awareness is like your personal inside scoop, giving you critical insights and thus, making you more effective and empathetic in every interaction.


The Mindset Factor

We've often heard the adage "Mindset is everything."   When we talk about emotional agility, it's impossible to ignore the role of our mindset. Like a maestro conducting an orchestra, our mindset sets the tone and rhythm for our emotions, responses, and ultimately, our emotional agility.


A fixed mindset is like that uninvited party guest who refuses to budge, no matter how many subtle (or not-so-subtle) hints you drop. Folks with a fixed mindset often believe their traits are set in stone.


"I am who I am!"

"My brain doesn't work that way."

"I can't change, even when I try to!"

I have always been a person who . . .(fill in the blank with behavior of choice).


Heard any of these before?


If you're nodding in agreement, remember this: a fixed mindset can be a roadblock to your emotional agility. If you believe you can't change, you might struggle to adapt your responses to different situations. You risk getting trapped in your emotional comfort zone, even when it's doing you more harm than good.


The Must-Have Leadership Competency

Emotional agility is fast becoming a non-negotiable competency for every leader out there. Why? Because leaders are human too and managing our response is not always easy. Being in tune with your emotions and those of your team doesn't just create a positive work environment—it makes you a more effective leader, more influential with everyone, and capable of driving better business outcomes.


Ever heard the saying, "People leave managers, not companies?" We all know it's true. Poor leadership can often lead to demotivation and high employee turnover. On the flip side, an emotionally agile leader who can foster better relationships—with a dash of trust, a dollop of respect, and a generous helping of understanding—creates happier teams and reduces turnover.


“Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.


Emotional agility is that stretch for your mind in this decade. It helps us manage our emotions, guide our thoughts, and handle our relationships more effectively, creating a positive ripple effect in our professional lives. Here's hoping you can embrace emotional agility as a key tool in your leadership toolkit. And if you'd like a little support along the way, check in with us here at PMA.  We'd be honored to help you and your team grow more agile!  Learn more 

Topics: Organizational &Talent Development, Leadership Matters

Deb Cullerton

Written by Deb Cullerton

Managing Partner at PMA and passionate about developing leaders