How to Use Your Emotional Intelligence to Unlock Creative Thinking Part 3

How does our physical environment affect creative thinking?
Because we are all sense-responsive beings, it is really important to set up the kind of environment that helps you to think creatively, or critically for that matter, taking into account what you see, touch, hear, smell and taste.

When I create, I often look at my physical space as a blank canvas and make it tidy before I begin my creation, whether it be with words, numbers or images.

We are all, however, different in this respect. Some people prefer working in a busy or messy environment and others prefer neatness and order. The key is to understand your preferences and go with that.

You must have at your disposal all the right tools you need for your creative enterprise. Whether that is paper and pen, paintbrushes, paints and canvas, or the right computer and software to develop a new website.

I find that having the right light is important to me so that I can not only see what I am doing but also that my space is illuminated in a beautiful and aesthetic way.

You may like to listen to certain classical music or baroque music which balances the right- and left-hand side of the brain, or you might like to listen to jazz, rock, pop or heavy metal. The key is to choose a sound that works for you or even silence for that matter, whichever best enhances your mood for the task at hand.

The key is to be aware of your environment and prepare it for the creative enterprise you wish to undertake.

When you get into flow and the ideas and images, or numbers and percentages are coming along nice and clear you don’t want to be interrupted. So, making sure that those around you know you are not to be disturbed is very important.

When we work in groups or teams in an office environment we also need to consider what physical environment works best for the kind of tasks that are being performed.

The more attuned you are to your emotions and what triggers your creative thinking for the task you want to accomplish the more time you will invest in creating the right environment for you to function at a higher frequency and a higher level of execution.

How do leaders use their emotional intelligence to unlock their employees creative thinking and problem-solving abilities?
I think to begin with, leaders need to consider solving problems in two ways; using critical thinking and analysis on the one hand, which most are very accustomed to, and on the other hand employing novel ways at solving problems using brainstorming and lateral thinking, which most are not that accustomed to.

Most business commentators and leadership experts agree that today, the ability to be agile in your thinking and agile in your methods is not only a desired approach, it’s also critical to survival in a highly competitive and changeable world.

By having this mindset leaders are half way there when it comes to remaining innovative and coping with constant disruption in their marketplace. The other half, and in my view, critical component of effective leadership today, is their emotional intelligence and how this impacts the team members they work with.

For example, if a leader can notice when employees are dissatisfied and can empower and support them to channel this dissatisfaction into creating improvements at work they are harnessing the power of emotion for the team’s benefit. When leaders can help their team members cope with unpleasant emotions, like working through frustrations and disappointments they help remove the obstacles that are in the way of creative expression and achievement.

By developing this kind of awareness and learning more about the effect of emotions on work outcomes, leaders can really help their employees. For example, when a leader is aware that when their team members are happy about the initial ideas they come up and this feeling can lead them to prematurely settle on substandard solutions, they become a voice of reason and encourage their team to go even deeper and examine more solutions without discouraging their team members to continue thinking creatively.

In broad strokes, when a leader is self-aware and self-managed they are in touch with their own feelings and have a handle on their behaviour. When they develop their social awareness and relationship management skills they are far better equipped to motivate their staff and respond effectively to the emotions which drive performance.

Emotionally intelligent leaders are not only connected to the task at hand but are also deeply connected to the human impulse that drives performance, namely, emotion.

Maya Angelo once said that people will not remember you for what you did but rather for how you made them feel. This is absolutely true in business and leaders who have a highly attuned sense of their own emotions and the emotions of others and have developed an empathy mindset are undoubtedly the leaders that achieve the greatest outcomes.

Richard Cullinan is the founder of eq4me, a master coach and the author of 30 EQ Strategies that will change your life