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One of the emotional intelligence skills that consistently has an impact on careers in general and more specifically, on leadership careers, is Impulse control. It's a skill that contributes greatly to the way in individual makes decisions and is acknowledged as being one of the prime contributors to career (and leadership) derailment. We've all known someone that has hit "reply to all" and sent an ill timed and angry worded email.

Impulse control is your ability to think before acting and to show restraint in the face of impulses and the various temptations to act. Having the ability to remain focused, delay temptation, and avoid making rash decisions will ensure that you remain at low risk of derailment. This skill requires flexibility, the ability to reflect before you speak (or act) and patience when communicating with others.

Even with the best of intentions it is possible that frustration or impatience can get get us to act in a way that contradicts everything we've invested in workplace relationships. Those who have the integrity to take responsibility for their behaviour by admitting their mistakes are much more likely recover from workplace incidents with collateral damage than those who pretend the event never happened.

If you're in a leadership role and find yourself dealing with the fallout of your own impulsive behaviour admit to a moment of frustration and offer an apology. Do not, under any circumstances, blame your behaviour on anyone else or on anything that you believe was outside of your control. The only correct course of action is to take ownership! You will be able to maintain a positive impression by discussing what you would do differently in a similar situation and asking others to provide feedback on your plans going forward.

Containment strategies for low impulse control include:
  • establishing or reinforcing protocols that require methodical procedures prior to taking action
  • monitoring your self-talk for signs that you may be headed toward a rash decision or behaviour
  • documenting the pros and cons of a specific course of action prior to taking any action
  • using a multi-step strategy or proposing a solutionand then verifying it prior to implementation


Here's a simple self-assignment for anyone that feels impulse control may be an issue. Over the next week pay close attention to anger or frustration as it begins to build. Make a point of monitoring what your feelings are at the time and what your self-talk sounds like. Debate and dispute what's happening with you at the time if you're able to do so. Regardless of the outcome, summarize the incident in a notebook and and reflect on whether your efforts allowed you to stay more in control of your emotions.

Find out more about the EQ-i 2.0 Emotional Intelligence assessment.
 


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