How to Grow Your Emotional Intelligence

Aug 13, 2014
7 Min Read

I spoke to Steve Gutzler, who is the President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle based Leadership Development company. Steve is a dynamic, highly sought after speaker who has delivered over 2500 presentations, to a who’s who list of clients including, Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing, Cisco, Starwood Corporation, U.S. Security Administration, and Oxford Financial to name just a few. Gutzler is a regular guest on T.V. and radio. He recently was voted #1 by the readership of Huffington Post as the Most Inspirational Leader on Social Media. You can follow him on Twitter @SteveGutzler and read his blog at In the following interview, he talks about the best ways to obtain leadership skills, developing a vision as a leader, controlling your emotional intelligence, and more.

Dan Schawbel: What are the best ways to obtain leadership skills?

Steve Gutzler: I have often said leadership is like a multifaceted diamond. In other words, it is not a one-cut diamond. It has character, vision, influence, execution, and inspiration to start with. Those are a lot of skills to obtain. I’ve found that leaders breed leaders. If you can sit under or partner with a great leader, you can speed up your leadership development.

Also, lead where you are. The best way to learn a skill is by doing…practicing. My father got me involved in our family business at a young age. He taught me to be a leader by being a great example to our employees. I am also a big believer in turning your car into Leadership University. I rarely travel in my car without listening to leadership development audiobooks. I learn how to obtain and develop my leadership skills from the best of the best!

Schawbel: How do you go about developing a compelling vision that includes others?

Gutzler: That’s the key, “others.” Any great vision at its core includes others. Their hope, dreams, needs, wants and desires. Often a vision falls flat because it does not stir and inspire greatness in others. Any truly great vision not only taps into the aspirations of others… it also leads them to a cause greater than themselves.

Each of us has a secret desire to meet someone who will inspire us to accomplish things greater that our own desires. Invite others to partner with you. “Let’s build it together, let’s give ourselves to a cause that matters!”

Schawbel: How can you master your own emotions and establish meaningful communication?

Gutzler: I don’t know if we can ever master our emotions, but we can learn to manage them more effectively. First, we need to honor our emotions and realize that we are emotional. Those emotions go up and down. If I don’t learn how to emotionally manage myself, I might end up sabotaging my own success and personal relationships.

Healthy emotional self-management can lead to meaningful communication and connections with others. Start with understanding emotions drive our behaviors. Take ultra-care of your physical life, it is powerfully linked to emotional balance. Finally, try not to push into conversations when you are emotionally depleted. Rest, recover, and re-engage to replenish your emotional bank account. You’ll improve communication two-fold by simply being emotionally healthy and practicing better self-care.

Schawbel: Why should you be purpose driven in all that you do?

Gutzler: We are all driven by something; parent approval, greed, recognition, success, and even failure. Being purpose driven predetermines your true north. We all have a propensity to drift, to slide toward selfishness or self-promotion. Every week for the last several years, I’ve taken an hour on Friday afternoon to review my life-purpose and my personal “code of honor.” It grounds me and recalibrates my motives, my goals, and gets my vision clear. I want to be purpose-driven with my family, my career, my finances, my personal development plans, my health and fitness, my spiritual peace and even my fun. My purpose shapes my priorities and provides me with the right intended results.

Schawbel: What can the science of our brains teach us about leadership and influence?

Gutzler: There is a small part of the brain called the amygdala. It’s the site of emotional memory, the site of emotional learning. When it gets triggered, or hijacked by feeling threatened, it can actually override the rational mind. Smart leaders, influential leaders allow time and space. They allow the emotional brain to neutralize…to settle down in order to find solutions, solutions that are not made in the heat of the battle. It is in those hotly contested emotional moments where your true leadership and reputation is established. Try to remember: give time and space, stay calm, and pause before reacting. It’s called playing big in leadership!

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