Week 50, Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

"In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, 'Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart'" - Nehemiah 2:1-2.

Nehemiah was the king's personal servant and came into the king's presence burdened for Jerusalem and the condition of his people there. The king could have easily dismissed Nehemiah's countenance or missed it altogether. Instead, the king not only noticed how sad Nehemiah was but also asked the reason. The most powerful man in the kingdom was watching his people, 'read' where they were at, and then cared enough to inquire what was going on. This is a classic example of emotional intelligence, for the king was not just observant, but also empathetic enough to probe the matter to see if he could help. When Nehemiah shared his grief, the king helped set a plan in motion to relieve Nehemiah and rebuild Jerusalem.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to improve your ability to 'read' the people around you, especially those with whom you work. First of all, try to do less business via email or phone and have more face-to-face time so you can observe the people while you chat. Then pay attention to body languagewhen they cross their arms, wiggle in their chairs, or get a sad or excited look on their facesand then pursue what's going on with questions to see how you can help them.

Week 45, Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

"At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched my clothes?' You see the people crowding against you,' his disciples answered, 'and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it" - Mark 5:30-32.

In this passage, the crowd pressed Jesus from every side, and He was pressed by His schedule to get where He was going. His disciples were acting like ushers, helping him get through the crowd and also focusing on their next event. Suddenly, someone with a need touched Jesus and He immediately knew it. He felt the woman's need and her faith touch triggered His awareness. The disciples were incredulous that He could be that busy and pressed, and still know when one needy person touched Him - but He did. Leaders are busy people but they should work to stay in tune with the needs and feelings of those who come into their world and do what they can to alleviate their pain and encourage their progress.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to work on your empathy and sensitivity to other people and their needs while still leading your organization. If you are in a faith-based group, start every meeting with prayer for any needs in the room. If not faith-based, begin one-on-one or group meetings by asking for personal updates. When someone expresses a need, do what you can to follow up to check on their progress or give them immediate relief, help, or sympathy.

Week 40, Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

"When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, 'You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?'" - Galatians 2:14.

Paul confronted Cephas [Peter] because he was living among Gentiles like a Gentile until other Jews arrived. Then Cephas withdrew from the Gentiles so he would not offend his Jewish friends, acting like there should be a separation between Jew and Gentile. Paul was angered by this hypocrisy and confronted Peter in front of others. There are two examples of emotional intelligence at work in this story, one for good and one not-so-good. The not-so-good is Peter, whose fear of criticism from the Jews caused him to act in a way inconsistent with the mission to the Gentile world, ignoring how his snub would impact the Gentiles. The other was Paul, who directed his anger over the situation into a loving confrontation to try and turn Peter from his hypocrisy while warning others against imitating the error of Peter's ways.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to emulate the way Paul handled Peter's misstep. Here's how: 1) Determine if there is anyone's behavior inconsistent with the values and mission of the organization you lead or serve; 2) Recognize your own feelings toward their attitude or behavior; 3) Speak up, either in a one-to-one session or in a team setting. Caution: you can only do the latter if the team leadership is secure enough to handle this type of encounter.

Week 35, Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us" - 1 John 1:8-10.

Emotional intelligence is defined as functioning in self-awareness, knowing what you are sensing and feeling so that you can understand how your emotions are impacting your actions. Leaders of all people must function in that awareness, for they have the power to make decisions that can cause great good or pain. When leaders deny the reality of their emotions, they often operate in what is called their "shadow," and followers never know if they are relating to the real person or a hologram that appears real but is actually wearing a mask or functioning from motives that even the leader may not understand.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to spend some time probing your inner person. You will do this by asking questions and making requests of the Lord you may not often make. Pray this prayer found in Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Don't deny or excuse what you hear, but record it in your journal, and then determine to change and seek help.

Week 30 Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

"Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s
mother, 'Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son
of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David
knows nothing about it?'" - 1 Kings 1:11.

At this point in his career, King David was pretty much out of the day-to-day operations of the kingdom. His staff was preoccupied with meeting his personal needs and that left a vacuum at the top of the nation, which Adonijah tried to fill through a coup. David almost died before he installed Solomon as the rightful king. The point is that David inflicted much anxiety and angst upon his people by refusing to deal with his aging and who would take over the throne, insisting that death be the only cause of his retirement. Leaders must realize that the nation, organization or company does not exist only to serve their needs and provide their comfort, but should do the same for as many in the entity as possible.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you training your successor? Your Step today is to first recognize that you may be the source of pain and suffering in your organization through your refusal to delegate or plan for the future. Then you must develop a plan to identify your successor or at least to begin to train others in some of the functions you perform in your company. Just talking about your eventual departure will help people with that reality and give them less cause for concern.

Week 25, Day 1- Emotional Intelligence

"He [Jacob] said to them, 'I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me'" - Genesis 31:5.

In this verse, Jacob talked to his wives and informed them of the shift he had noticed in his working relationship with Laban, his supervisor and father-in-law. Laban's attitude had changed and Jacob took this to mean that their work contract was coming to an end. Jacob declared his trust in the Lord in the midst of this work shift and then went on to make a transition that brought him back to the land of his fathers. Leaders must learn to read people and the signs that things are changing and not cling to what was, but respond to what is so they can help create what will be -- all the while trusting the Lord for their decisions and future.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to face the reality of what your gut or instinct is telling you about a relationship with one of your team, perhaps even your supervisor. If you sense tension or a change of attitude, then it's time to address it. If the change is permanent, then you as a leader must develop a new plan for the future (and perhaps your future). You must face the truth, however, that something has changed and determine to get to the bottom of it, rather than deny it and hope it will go away on its own.

Week 20, Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

"And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude
 toward him was not what it had been" - Genesis 31:2.

Jacob was paying attention and saw that his father-in-law's attitude had changed toward him and his work, so he began to prepare for his departure from the 'family business.' Jacob did not ignore the signs, hoping things would change. He did not try to talk to Laban or work out a new deal. He simply saw that it was a new season in his life, and he acted accordingly. Leaders must read other people and determine what to do to maintain, adjust or end business relationships, regardless of the past success, family ties, or difficulty of the transition. Yet it all started with Jacob paying attention and seeing the emotional state of his business partner and boss.

LEADERSHIP STEP: One of the best ways to 'read' people is to observe them in meetings and listen to their responses. When you notice someone say "yes" to a question, but draw out the yes, saying it slowly with their voice pitch rising as they say it, they are really saying "yes, but." You need to follow that with a question to clarify. Your Step for this week is to stop doodling or working on your computer during meetings, watch the people and probe deeper to draw them out.

Week 15 Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

“Who touched me?' Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, 'Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you'" - Luke 8:45.

Even though people were pressing Him on every side, Jesus knew when someone with a special need touched Him. Effective leaders are in touch with the people around them, both emotionally and physically. They're not hesitant to connect with people through appropriate physical contact like a pat on the back or a handshake, but they also 'read' people to recognize when someone is distressed, has a question, or is anxious to speak. Then they discern how to help address that need. The study of this awareness has taken on the name emotional intelligence, and in many situations is considered more important than practical knowledge or technical skills when working with other people.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to practice staying in touch with people in the coming week. Your assignment is to watch people at work or  home and try to determine what they're feeling at different times. When appropriate, tell them you noticed something and ask them to confirm what they were feeling or sensing at that moment. See how accurate you can be by reading the subtle physical signs they're using to communicate.

Week 10 Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

"But I said, 'Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!'" - Nehemiah 6:11.

Leaders are often threatened in an attempt to intimidate them. These threats come in the form of possible lawsuits, questions about their performance, insubordination or betrayal by subordinates, and criticism in general. Leaders must be confident in their ability and calling to lead and must face their own fears in order to stand firm in the day of trouble. Nehemiah did that and was not going to run away because he was the leader and had important work to do.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you adjusting your leadership style or decisions because others are intimidating you? Are their threats subtle or overt? Your assignment today is to face your fears, but also to face the fact that "someone like you" cannot afford to allow threats to alter your course. What threat do you have to face? Clearly identify it, and then determine what is the worst that can happen if those threats come true. Can you live with the worst? If so, then stand your ground! If not, then consider adjusting your current course.

W5D1 - Emotional Intelligence

"Some men brought to him a paralyzed man,
lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith,
he said to the man, 'Take heart, son; your
sins are forgiven'" - Matthew 9:2.

Jesus always paid attention, especially to people and their condition or emotional state. In this case, He was teaching but he 'saw' the faith of those who brought the man to be healed. It is easy to get so involved in the things of leadership that the people in the leader's world can become a means to an end. In leadership circles, this is called 'emotional intelligence,' which is awareness of what is going on in the leader's heart as well as in the minds and hearts of those around the leader.

LEADERSHIP STEP: If you have never encountered the term 'emotional intelligence,' there is a large body of work done on the subject. If you are familiar, perhaps it's time for a refresher. Either way, your Step today is to read this introductory article found online. Another possibility is to re-read a book or article you already have on the subject. The important thing, however, is that you begin to apply the principles to your own life today.