Resilience & Emotional Intelligence: The Fifth Power Skill for Leaders in a New Era

To successfully lead companies and inspire people, leaders need to develop new capabilities. A new type of leader is needed to inspire and lead their people – one who engages their heart and soul as well as their capabilities, blending their analytical and whole human skills

There are seven Power Skills that help leaders do just this:

  • Self-Awareness & Capacity for Growth
  • Empathy & Compassion
  • Ego-Awareness & Humility
  • Transparency & Truth
  • Resilience & Emotional Intelligence
  • Purpose
  • Servant Leadership

Let’s take a closer look at the fifth: Resilience and Emotional Intelligence 

Resilience and emotional intelligence typically were skillsets sought by those interested in self-development. Today, they are fundamental power skills for all of us, especially for leaders who are depended upon to lead teams, make decisions, chart new directions, and provide context in uncertainty. 


The rate of change in our lives at home and at work has taken a massive toll on our psyches resulting in experiences of overload and overwhelm. Physically, we might experience this as tightness in our gut or chest, muscle pain, aches in our joints, or as spinning energy in our heads. We try to make sense of it all in order to maintain a positive outlook and have the clarity and confidence required for our roles as leaders. The skills of inner resilience and emotional intelligence can have a powerful effect on our internal experience plus influence how we show up for work and the people in our lives. 


The experience of resilience and sound emotional intelligence is a feeling state of inner calm, grounded, peace, and spacious that can hold possibilities and vision for the situation and the people in the room. It’s a container that holds all that is possible while staying remarkably present noticing ‘what is.’ It is a feeling of non-reaction, openness, and optimism. A vision that explores, asks questions, inquires for input, and recaps all the avenues of options. This expansion requires resilience, a wide stretch of edges that holds multiple influences and information simultaneously, while providing context and meaning, with a focus on what’s truly important. 


Imagine the impact on employee engagement, client satisfaction, and the bottom line if you were able to both model this state plus provide people the tools to replicate this experience. The connections and collaboration possible could be the energy that unlocks states of stress and fuels creativity and innovation for teams and companies to thrive in these challenging times. 


Micro-Practices to develop Inner Resilience and Emotional Intelligence:

  1. Awareness. Developing awareness—the ability to gain perspective, see from 30,000 feet, breathe, step back, take a walk, or say nothing— this gives you the ability to SEE information beyond what is presented and gain insights beyond what your conditioned self reacts to. Start with noticing how you feel, how your body feels throughout the day. Develop the new habit of noticing without judgment what you’re experiencing. What do you notice behind what you are feeling/experiencing? Can you get more information? Can you sustain your ability to notice without reacting or getting triggered? Can you create space within yourself for neutral awareness of self? You’ll begin to see patterns of behavior, reactions, and feelings that can help you develop strategies for any changes you wish to see. This self-applied skill then can easily be transferred into having awareness about your environment, a situation, and others.
  2. YOU are NOT your Emotions – Think of our emotions as valuable timers or alarm systems that are meant to get our attention to pay attention. Things happen to teach us something we need to see or feel in order to grow as humans. It’s important to maintain our awareness as we are IN an emotional response in order to detach enough to ‘see’ the greater lesson, wisdom, or information behind the emotion.


When triggered or in reaction, we can have a number of reactions: freeze, flight, appease, or fight. You may recognize one or more of these. By noticing your conditioned tendency, or how you tend to react when triggered or put under pressure, you can notice how these responses may be linked to a deeper underlying set of information. When we address the deeper cause such as feeling safe or fearing judgment, we can get to a resolution more quickly and spare ourselves the wake of the impact our emotions can have. 


The more we can detach and observe our emotions as simple alarm systems, and respond to them without reacting to them, the higher the likelihood for peace and fulfillment, giving rise to more resilience and emotional intelligence. 

  • Allow for What Is –  Some things that cross our path are not easy to look at, navigate, or accept. Sometimes we don’t like what we see. What we see may not match our vision for what’s possible. Oftentimes, controlling others or the outcomes gives us a sense of safety. However, when we shift our perspective and ask “Why is this happening? What is this here to teach me?” we open the door for transformation, growth, and more connection. Using our awareness and detachment from reaction, we give space for information to rise that can help us see the deeper meaning behind What Is. As leaders, this practice opens the door for empathy and compassion, offering the opportunity to have more meaningful and honest conversations with those we work with.

  • “Calm Down” – We often say this to ourselves and to others, but feeling calm is the key to bringing your body and mind together to work in your favor. By regulating your emotional state and your nervous system’s response, you are better able to handle whatever is in front of you and achieve a state of RESPONSE vs. REACTIVITY.  Make a list of all the calming influences and activities you have in your life. Now check your schedule to see how much you’ve booked them into your routine. Stopping to breathe, grounding, and centering and meditation help to restore your nervous system and brain regulators to release with calm-inducing hormones. Let your mind settle and continue to focus on your breath. Whatever energy is running through your body, shake it off and let it dissipate and run OUT OF your body through your fingertips and feet. Take a deep, clearing breath and let it all out. 


Practices to develop Inner Resilience and Emotional Intelligence:

  1. What am I feeling right now? How comfortable am I feeling this way? Do I want to shift how I’m feeling? 
  2. What brings me Calm, Beauty, Stillness? Family? Friends? How do I easily cultivate more of these things in my life? And in my schedule?
  3. What do I need right now? Do you feel you can ask for help and also receive it? What holds you back from naming what you need or getting what you need? How might you better allow yourself to get what you need from life?
  4. Begin by noticing the amount of and also the quality of the energy in your body right now. Is it high or low? Also, notice your state of mind, is it positive or negative? Can you place yourself on a X- and Y-axis of both and plot yourself on a chart of what you’re feeling. [credited to The Mood Meter, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence]. 


What grounds me each day is knowing that each new moment, I get to try again. Like a toddler learning to walk and stumbling and falling en route to mastering a skill that will serve her for life, I’ve developed a toolbox of practices that allows me to pick myself up after hard moments and hard phases of life, and try again. With each new step, I gain more confidence that I can be resilient, that I am resilient, and that I can trust myself to continue on this path. No longer stuck in the spin cycle of rage or fear or confusion or insecurity, I now seek a calm, grounded connection to myself and my practices that fuel me.

—Wendy Horng Brawer, Intune Collective