BY VICKY KARUGA
Each one of us has thought, at one time, about our personal development. This could have touched on Career development whether in the formal process of Employment or in more informal activities like hobbies and habits. Whichever one you pick, it is a deliberate process that involves taking steps to achieve certain goals and advance in one’s chosen field. While technical skills and expertise are critical to success, emotional intelligence (EI) plays a vital role in growth and development.
We all start to understand our need for growth through awareness. It can arise from a variety of situations that we find ourselves in. We recognize this need first and are aware that perhaps where we are is not where we want to be. We might then also realize that to truly get fulfilled we must adhere to some set ground rules and pursue some path.
In the Professional world, we may strive to develop more technical skills that allow us to carry out tasks more effectively, utilize the best technologies available at the time, and make more impact in our professional world. However, research has shown time and again that other less technical abilities such as EI will be more of a predictor for career success. To use the old phrase, “IQ gets you hired. Emotional Intelligence Gets you promoted,” and I believe it not only has to do with the ability to be better communicators, leaders, and problem solvers but also building our resilience and ability to handle stress in more meaningful ways. People with High EI intentionally build their Self-Awareness and their Emotional Awareness and their ability to empathize with colleagues, gaining their support and connecting at an emotional level. People who possess high levels of EI are often better able to navigate workplace dynamics, build trust, and develop strong relationships with their coworkers.
EI can also help individuals become more effective leaders. Leaders who possess high levels of emotional intelligence are often better able to motivate their teams, manage conflicts, and build a positive workplace culture. They are more likely to be able to recognize and respond to their emotional needs and build a sense of community and purpose within the workplace.
Fundamentally, Self Awareness is the big Key. Self-awareness is vital because it helps us unlock our creativity in us. In recent studies into the mind, it has also been shown that people who are self-aware or growing their self-awareness and learning more about their own internal climate light up certain parts of their brain that were otherwise dormant.
When we awaken within, we are able to address problems more effectively. We fundamentally are called to view ourselves; our journey from a lens that enables us to recognize the patterns that are unhelpful and those that are helpful. Cultivating Self Awareness can be a bit intimidating because it asks us to confront the parts of us that are less desirable, or perhaps not up to par (as defined by ourselves). But unless we do this, we might end up wasting our resources and time getting in our own way.
Self-awareness is essential in learning what to cut out and what you need to focus on because it actually moves the needle. In a nutshell, therefore, here are some of the things you can do as you grow your career and focus on what really matters:
1. Practice self-awareness: Take time to reflect on your own emotions, your motivations, and reasons, and behaviors, and consider how they may be impacting the decisions that you are making. Take time to listen to podcasts that give more insights into the development of self-awareness. Get into a deeper relationship with yourself and know yourself well.
2. Meditation: some time alone, silent time practiced in mindfulness, even if for just five to ten minutes. Read up on this area and find what works for you. This has been proven to improve focus and is very powerful in building sustainable habits that support growth.
3. Develop empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. This will allow you to truly connect with others and this is necessary for success and growth.
4. Stress Management– learn to manage stress levels and equip yourself with tools that allow you to sustainably carry out and go through your day-to-day goings-on. Pick stress-management techniques that work for you such as exercise, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Understand your relationship with sleep.
5. Seek feedback: Feedback can be an essential tool for developing yourself and being more objective with how you perceive yourself, yet this tool is the hardest to use sometimes because it might be uncomfortable. Ask for feedback from coworkers, managers, and mentors. If possible, get a feedback tool like the 360 Degree feedback tool, and get going on the information you receive. It will go a long way in sustaining your career for the long haul.
6. Gain value from where you are. Put down the skills you are learning either in your CV, Profile or Bio. Give Value back and also write it down. Understand how this will also impact places you want to work in or collaborate in and articulate it well. Internalize it.
7. As you grow in your career, seek guidance and support from sponsors either within the organization that you work in or outside of the organization where you work. Seek People who can help you get to where you want to go, in places that might not be readily available to you at the moment. This could mean getting into certain forums and networking with like-minded professionals. Get into a Board Network forum if being in board is key in career growth for you.
Last but not least, be a mentor to others and add value in their lives. Build their skills as you continue to build yours.
Career growth will require focus because some of the things that we must do will not be easy. Consider the following examples:
Being able to navigate conflict when we would rather not
Being able to put in long hours of focus to gain skills that are necessary for our growth and understanding our detractors
Cultivating sustainable habits that support us in our best times and our worst times.
Understanding how to navigate in the other areas of our life that are likely to see less of you- we cannot always have our cake and eat it too
Vicky Karuga is the Managing Director of Profiles International EA, A leading firm in the provision of psychometric assessments and Emotional Intelligence assessments and Training programmes in the Pan African Region.