The Journey So Far: Emotional Intelligence

By Onyekah Princewill

I have learned a lot this week. It’s been wonderful meeting new people with different ideas and creative minds. Mr. John, our facilitator, has really made this camp accommodating and memorable. We all are on a journey: The Entrepreneurial Leadership journey. The Bridge Program has designed a very inspiring module, and one I would really want to share is that of Emotional Intelligence.

We had read a Harvard Business Review written by Daniel Goleman: What makes a leader? In this review, Daniel Goleman talked a lot about the need for emerging leaders to be emotionally intelligent. Emotional  Intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. In Daniel’s article, he stated five hallmarks for emotional intelligence which are: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Our facilitator gave us a questionnaire which we did; it entailed 25 questions which could decipher your emotional intelligence strengths and weaknesses. I had gotten 19,18,15,15, 10 on motivation, social skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy respectively based on the guides to grade the questionnaire. It shows that I am low at being empathetic and high at being motivated.

An exercise that made me understand empathy well was an experiential John gave us to do called Squat Empathy. John had given us instructions we were to follow and asked us to squat closing our eyes. He told us that while we were squatting if we were touched once, we should stand up still closing our eyes. If we were touched again we could open our eyes but we could not move, and if we were touched for the third time, we could do anything we love and felt to do. I never knew what this exercise was meant to teach until I had squatted for about 5 minutes and my thighs were paining me. When I felt a touch, I stood up quickly though closing my eyes. Then I was touched again, wow, I could now open my eyes. Then I saw that others were still squatting. I really could feel their pain. There were some of us that were touched 3 times, they had the opportunity of helping those that were still squatting but were not empathetic enough to touch others. It really explains how most of us are oblivious of the problems surrounding us – – the squatters; some might identify the problems but won’t do anything – – those who could stand; while others can identify the problems, have a means of solving it, and yet, do nothing.

Blind empathy was another experiential we did. This time we were grouped into teams of three. One of us was blindfolded, I led the blindfolded team member and the third person was asked to watch and not do anything. Those of us who led were asked to take the blindfolded through any path we liked; they needed to trust us that we gave them the right direction and not lead them to doom. After this exercise we then were asked how they could make the building, Civic Hive more blind empathetic. It is nice to consider everyone blind, disabled etc in every project we were to carry out. Empathy is really a good emotional intelligence one should have.

It takes an Entrepreneurial Leader with emotional intelligence to be empathetic enough to look towards the needs of others and proffer solutions to them. It is amazing to tell that Emotion Intelligence can be learned – – develop yourself!

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