Optimal Leadership: Make decisions, prioritize, and solve problems with Emotional Intelligence

Leaders succeed or fail based on their ability to think. We all know that we are not our best thinkers when we are fearful, anxious or depressed.  When our thoughts are racing around our mind our bodies are designed to focus on survival and worst case scenarios.  This is a very useful feature in life or death situations, but “the science shows that if we operate from primal states of fear and scarcity, we are not operating optimally.

(Entrepreneur Voices on Emotional Intelligence (p. 63). Entrepreneur Press.) Emotions are extremely helpful for a leader to inspire, motivate, serve,  and empathize, but they are also the source of very distracting thoughts.


Optimal leadership occurs when we are able to think clearly with positive hope for the future.  Leaders need to be able to use and manage emotions to be able to think most effectively.  “Simply put—emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”

Entrepreneur Voices on Emotional Intelligence (p. xvi). Entrepreneur Press. Kindle Edition.


Here are four “C”s to manage your thoughts and emotions to optimize your leadership:

1.)  Concentrate. Focus your awareness on your feelings and what your thoughts are “saying”. Be aware of your sense perceptions: what do you feel, smell, hear, taste right now. If you’re hands are sweaty for example, recognize that and feel it. Slow down your thoughts to slow down the negative emotions.

2.)  Capture.  After you’ve slowed down your thoughts, “catch” them and “observe” them with curiosity; “what am I thinking”? Detach your “self” from the thought and “name” the thought for what it is. Perhaps you feel someone is angry at you because of the expression on their face; possibly say to yourself “that thought is fear because of their anger at me…”

3.)  Challenge. According to the book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, “challenging negative thoughts can reduce the emotional intensity and eventually eliminate feelings of panic. So ask yourself “Is that thought really true, right now in this moment? What is the likelihood of that really happening?”.

4.)  Crowd out the negative thoughts.  I like to use the acronym “G.R.E.A.T” to “flood” my heart and mind with positive thoughts and emotions:


Gratitude: think about what you are thankful for

Reflection: think about something true, noble, or good.

Expect Great Things: think about a positive future

Attempt Great Things: take action and try something outside your comfort zone

Talk to a friend. Express your struggle with the negative thoughts to a trusted friend Shine “light” on dark thoughts; darkness never feels as dark with a companion.


Written By: Andrew MacCoy

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