Become an emotionally intelligent leader

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) offered a leadership meeting touching upon the topic of emotionally intelligent leaders through Otter Be Involved on Dec. 2. It was led by Dan Burfeind, the coordinator of Student Engagement, Leadership & Development (SELD). 

SELD serves to educate and help students develop academic and individual success. Burfeind encouraged those core values when he started the meeting with an open discussion amongst himself and students present.

Students were first asked, “what is leadership?” and “what comes to mind when you think of emotionally intelligent leaders?” When people think of leaders, they may not necessarily associate emotions with their success, whether it be seeing themselves or others as leaders. 

One reason for this may be the constant ingraining of society to have to be strong and focused when in a higher position or leading a team. The definition of leadership is open to interpretation. A leader could be someone who keeps others in check, someone who takes charge of tasks and duties, who is goal oriented or who stands up for others when needed. 

Burfeind provided the definition of an emotionally intelligent leader as being able to monitor one’s and other’s feelings as well as emotions. That way students are able to use such information to guide one’s thoughts and actions. 

Other people’s behaviors can affect the people around them in a particular setting. A good leader can identify that. To put that statement into perspective, think of the work setting, school or even home life dynamic. At work, there are leads, supervisors, managers and more. At school, students think of group projects or even teachers and how they lead a class. At home, think of the head of the household and everyone’s roles to contribute. There is always someone in each setting that is there to take charge, but how it is done varies.

There were three core principles touched upon for emotionally intelligent leaders: consciousness of self, consciousness of others and consciousness of context. Leaders must be aware of their own actions, actions of others and of the circumstances in said situation. Leaders must also let others and themselves make mistakes and be okay with that, thus in turn learning from it.

There is no clear answer of what a good leader is, let alone a truly emotionally intelligent one. There are key elements to what one can embody, but above all one must be in touch with themselves to be able to be aware of their surroundings and other individuals. They should have the confidence and self-esteem to be aware of their strengths and their weaknesses as well, to fully be able to provide the support for those around them regardless of the setting. Remembering that, everyone is continuously growing and learning everyday.  

SELD’s contact information is listed on the school website’s directory along with Burfeind’s, should any students want to reach out and join the various leaderships and opportunities for community engagement. 

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