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Top 5 Takeaways from MI ATHENA’s Emotional Intelligence Discussion

For our spring MI ATHENA program, the MI Chamber hosted “Your Secret Weapon: Building Emotional Intelligence to Live and Lead.” Headed by moderator Christina Fecher of Meijer, the discussion ranged from emotions to self-awareness and emotional leadership. Our panelists Renee Beauford of Hastings Mutual Insurance Company, Lorri Rishar of Edge Partnerships and Margaret Anderson of Health Alliance Plan had plenty to share to keep us attuned to emotional intelligence moving forward.

Here are the top takeaways:

  1. “Emotional intelligence” is about understanding your emotions, how they influence your thoughts and behaviors, as well as your impact on others. Sitting in and identifying emotions is the springboard through which we understand how to work through and utilize them to our benefit. Once processed, we can work on the emotion’s impact on others, which Margaret identified as the “Three C’s”: Collaboration, Connection and Caring. Emotional intelligence unlocks our ability to problem solve and work through tasks on our team, create connection through transparency, and empathize further with our coworkers.
  2. A common emotional misconception is that empathy is “bad” or “weak.” People confuse having high empathy as allowing emotions to distract and negatively impact your work. In reality, empathy allows everyone to feel they are a part of a safe space where the goal is not perfection, but authenticity. When employees feel they can show up exactly where they are each day, even when facing hardship, a tightly knit work culture grows. A work culture that is built on encouragement will find it easier to maintain a growth mindset too.
  3. Emotional intelligence is needed to handle and problem solve pain points. For Margaret, this involved humility, vulnerability and curiosity with how to remove company barriers to success, while maintaining and respecting the relationships involved. In order to solve pain points, we have to address the various emotions running through the tension, while problem solving how to not only complete business needs, but mitigate the involved parties’ negative feelings toward the issue. Perhaps this means shifting task ownership, splitting the workload, sitting employees down with one another so they actually feel heard, or putting more money into hiring additional talent to support a cramped team bandwidth.
  4. Self-awareness is about acknowledging your seat at the table and how much room it takes up. Maybe this reflection means you have to intentionally stop and let other voices in or maybe this means you have to get out of your comfort zone to offer up your opinion occasionally. Diversity exists, and to value our differences we have to enter into courageous conversations, in part by listening to others’ points of view. Another way to check the effectiveness of your discussions and meetings is to round out a conversation asking if everyone felt heard.
  5. To increase self-awareness, you can gain insight from a trusted individual by asking about your strengths and weaknesses. If self-awareness continues to be a hard habit to dig into, you can trust a loved one has a perspective from frequent interactions with us. Sometimes we may grow so used to our default strengths and weaknesses that we have blind spots toward recently developed strengths or weaknesses. As our experiences and skills shift, our strengths and weaknesses will likely change. Emotional intelligence is built on life-long learning.

The panelists offered many more stories and insights, including leadership examples they modeled themselves after and specifics of their emotional intelligence journeys you will not want to miss.

Watch the recording of the event here:

The MI Chamber would like to thank our sponsors, who allowed us to present the insightful takeaways we learned today. We are grateful to our diamond sponsor, Lake Trust; our presenting sponsor, Consumers Energy; our gold sponsors, Amerisure, Hastings Mutual Insurance Company and Perrigo; our silver sponsors, Ice Mountain and Lansing Board of Water and Light; our supporting sponsors, CATA and West Shore Bank; and our educational sponsor, Davenport University.

For more on MI ATHENA, visit michamber.com/michiganathena. Plus, join us for our first in-person event Sept. 20 to hear from experts, collaborate with peers and leave with tools to level up your career during this one-day summit. Space is limited, so don’t wait and register today!