How to apply emotional intelligence to your leadership (Inc)

By Maya Hu-Chan  

When it comes to building strong, lasting relationships with clients and team members, it’s time to start thinking like CEOs but under a different definition: Chief Emotional Officers.  

We business leaders are often trained to focus on data, numbers, and “hard skills.” As leaders, we must equally engage our other skill sets, to focus on the skills of emotional sensitivity and empathy. It’s these “soft skills” that are crucial to cultivating psychological safety — the sense of trust and well-being that helps teams thrive. These skills can’t run on autopilot. They require self-awareness and intentionality. 

I’ve developed a model that can help leaders build these skills: the AAA Model for Cultural Agility. It consists of three steps: aware, acquire, and adapt. 

  • Aware. Reflect on your own state of mind, biases, and assumptions. 
  • Acquire. Ask questions. Explore and engage with others. The information you gather should help you to understand where others are coming from.  
  • Adapt. Bridge the difference by adapting new behaviors and mindset. 

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