DeVaughn Narratives

Creating digital stories that resonate and inspire

Month: May 2016

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) has become one of the hottest buzzwords in corporate America. When you open your eyes and look around, there are a lot of examples and anecdotes that may come to mind. Here is an example that drives home the concept of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Many executive assistants have a high degree of emotional intelligence. They respond to subtle cues and react appropriately. Moreover, executive assistants quickly learn what an executive needs, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what might trigger anger or stress, and how to best accommodate his or her personal style. During my tenure at a large organization, the two senior-most executive assistants had very different personalities. One of them was emotionally intelligent and the other wasn’t. The President’s assistant was always uptight, unorganized, panicked under stress, and did not take accountability for her mistakes or behavior. Oftentimes she would yell at the other assistants. In stark contrast, nothing rattled the other executive assistant. The Chairman’s assistant had a strong personality and was professional, articulate, decisive, sociable, and always remained calm under pressure.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

emotional intelligenceIn a nutshell, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s own moods and emotions and the moods and emotions of other people. When individuals experience stressful feelings and emotions, emotional intelligence enables them to understand why and helps them manage these feelings so they do not get in the way of effective decision making. Individuals with high EI are proven to be effective leaders as they are empathetic, self-aware and hold themselves accountable to how their behavior influences those around them.

Emotional intelligence also plays an important role in how leaders relate to and deal with their followers, particularly when it comes to encouraging followers to be creative. People often talk about creativity in terms of artistic expression. For most people; however, creativity comes from solving the problems we all encounter every day. Creativity involves coming up with something that challenges the status quo. Oftentimes people feel more comfortable sticking to a familiar routine rather than thinking outside the box and heading down an unfamiliar path. Attempting to create something new is often accompanied by anxiety, fear, and uncertainty.

Leaders can either encourage or discourage employees from taking risk to come up with new ideas. Moreover, leaders can also create a favorable work environment that stimulates creativity. Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence will excel at stimulating and encouraging their followers to act on opportunities that enables creativity to flourish in organizations.

Primary Dimensions of Emotional Intelligence

Researchers have identified five primary dimensions required for effective emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness – This can be defined as having the ability to recognize and understand your own moods and emotions as well as their effects on others.
  2. Self-Regulation – This is also known as discipline. It’s the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and emotions, thinking before acting, taking responsibility for your behavior, and adapting to change.
  3. Empathy and Compassion – Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they may feel or react in certain situations. The more skilled you are in recognizing and anticipating other people’s needs or what motivates or upsets them, the better we can relate to others.
  4. Motivation – Motivation is a passion or internal drive that goes beyond the extrinsic value of money in order to pursue your goals with energy. In order to motivate yourself for any achievement whether professional or personal, you will need clear objectives, a positive attitude, commitment, initiative, optimism, and the desire to achieve.
  5.  Social Skills – Developing good interpersonal skills and cultivating productive relationships is essential to one’s ability to gain higher emotional intelligence and will equal success in your life and career. You must have the ability to effectively communicate clearly and concisely while working with others towards reaching common goals.

In conclusion, the moods and emotions leaders experience on the job, and their ability to effectively manage these feelings, can influence their effectiveness as leaders. Emotional intelligence is a critical tool that has the potential to contribute to leadership effectiveness in multiple ways including encouraging and supporting creativity among followers, exceeding goals, and developing and/or improving relationships.

The Importance of Internships

Internships

As you search the job boards, you may notice that internship hunting season is upon us and is quickly becoming commonplace—at least on college campuses. Many universities require seniors to complete an internship in order to learn more about their proposed career. College Career Centers help connect employers seeking interns with students looking for field experience. Internships can vary in nature depending on the employer and the student. Furthermore, they can range from local to international, for-credit or not, paid or unpaid.

The hope of gaining a competitive advantage for future employment has increased both the number and quality of internship applications. In today’s economy, internships have become a significant and important way for graduates to catch the eye of potential employers.

Even employers place more importance on their own internship programs as a recruiting tool for full-time employees.

Internship programs have taken a lot of heat over the past few years. Some for good reason—not every internship is legal according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, especially opportunities where for-profit companies expect candidates to work full-time for no pay.

 

Internship Law 101

As more internships have developed across the country, Congress passed a number of laws regulating them, including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. More recently, the Department of Labor has come up with six conditions that firms must meet when offering unpaid internships. As long as companies abide by the laws surrounding internship programs, these opportunities should not be written off.

  1. The internship must be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship must be for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees;
  4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern;
  5. The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship; and
  6. The intern understands that he or she is not entitled to wages.

Benefits of Internships

Besides getting a foot in the door with a potential employer and looking good on a résumé, internships have other advantages:

Internship Benefits

Gain Industry Knowledge You Don’t Learn in College

I took a different approach to interning. Returning to college as a highly motivated adult, I was looking to transition into the field of marketing communications after graduation. When I lost my job in healthcare, I decided to pursue an internship in my new chosen field. In 2015 my internship in marketing and communications with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter was productive and inspiring. During my undergrad coursework, I learned concepts and theories but I didn’t have the practical hands-on experience necessary for the workforce and this is where the benefits of my internship became apparent.

Acquiring New Skills

Employers know that internships are designed to be learning experiences for students, so not only do you get to participate in multiple tasks, but you are given the hands-on training and feedback that empower you to leave your internship with the confidence to tackle any task at your next job.

I remember very clearly my experience as an intern. I developed digital marketing collateral in line with brand standards that included postcards, brochures, print ads, digital ads, banners, posters, and website images. Additionally, I was assigned an interesting social media project where I created photographic and video communications from storyboarding to publishing in a weekly video series. These videos were then posted to a different media channel. Now, I can demonstrate new talents to prospective employers.

Establishing Relationships and Chances to Network

Another benefit I took away from my internship was the personal references I can use when prospective employers ask for them. While interning at Alzheimer’s Association, I’ve also been able to do some networking and got a few informational interviews and prospective leads on other workplaces that might be hiring.

Your Confidence Will Improve

I’m in the process of searching for a job, and I have a great résumé. I have the confidence and I have the names, references, and organizations to back me up.

In conclusion, internships are a proven way to gain knowledge, skills, and experience while establishing important networks in the field. Moreover, internships are a great way to find out if a specific field is something you could see yourself doing as a full-time job.

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