Self Awareness & Self Regulation During COVID-19

"My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them." -- Jack Kerouac

In last week’s blog, I wrote about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and its importance as a leader during this time of the COVID-19 crisis.  This week I want to touch on two aspects of EQ that are critical to your success as a leader – self awareness and self-regulation.  These two have a direct correlation on one another. If you practice effective self awareness, then you are able to effectively manage (regulate) your negative emotions. 


Self awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others. It is a hallmark of a great leader and demonstrates a capacity to honestly evaluate your own actions, beliefs and their impact on your employees. Numerous academic studies on leader self awareness found it to be the greatest predictor of success in leaders. Being self aware requires a conscious effort to self assess your emotional state in the moment, consider who your audience is in that moment and determine how to respond to get the effect or response you desire. We all have our default patterns of response to our world at work and at home. Being consciously self aware during this time of shelter-in-place about how you are impacting your employees in a Zoom meeting or phone call can make a difference in achieving the outcomes you want for the business. 


What is self regulation in the emotional intelligence context?  It is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and the propensity to suspend judgment and think before acting. Can you control yourself and how you handle situations under the stress of COVID-19?  Do your emotions take over? Do you tell it like it is? Or do you know how to deliver messages, so the recipient can hear it and benefit from it?  Despite what you might think, sometimes telling it like it is, is not necessarily the best way to get the result you desire. Self-regulation is about self-control and building a key set of skills that we are not generally born with. It takes practice and may not be easy learning how to balance feelings, tension and even unintended negative consequences when we are leaders.  The key is, are you open to growing and learning how to self-regulate your emotions?


As you learn to grow your EQ skills and how to navigate those landmines of negative emotions, there are two types of pressures that we all experience. 

  • Bad pressure: The current stressors of COVID-19 may be creating bad pressure for you and your team. Think about a time when you didn't succeed at self-regulating.  What happened? What did your work environment look like? What about your personal life? When we aren't capable of self-regulating ourselves and our emotions, we create a tense and sometimes toxic work environment.  We lose focus on driving results. Leaders who are able to self-regulate are not immune to their emotions. Instead strong leaders recognize those things that trigger their emotions and maintain their self-awareness of them. Identify your triggers.  Write them down. Look at your reactions. How do you want to behave differently?

  • Good pressure: As important as it is to identify our "bad pressure" triggers, it's equally as important to identify good pressure.  People look to their leaders at all times. Are you setting clear expectations? Is there a level of accountability on your team?  Are you celebrating and generating success? Are you confident, calm, cool and collected? How you behave gives others permission to behave the same way.

There are techniques to maintain control of your emotions, even on a bad day. If you’d like to learn how to do this, contact me to talk through your challenges! I want to help you evolve as a leader so that you and your team achieve great success through this current pandemic.