Resilient Leadership: Mindfulness Tools for Enhancing Emotional Intelligence | Monica Thakrar | Skillshare

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Resilient Leadership: Mindfulness Tools for Enhancing Emotional Intelligence

teacher avatar Monica Thakrar, Organizational Consultant and Coach

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Defining Mindfulness and EQ


    • 3.

      Getting to Know Yourself


    • 4.

      Focusing on Self Management


    • 5.

      Building Social Awareness


    • 6.

      Navigating Relationships


    • 7.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Build emotional intelligence and leadership skills with Organizational Consultant and Coach, Monica Thakrar! 

Emotional intelligence is key to climbing successfully up the ladder at any organization. Research shows that your intelligence quotient can get you in the door of an organization but emotional intelligence is what makes good leaders great ones. Join Monica as she shares dedicated and integrated mindfulness practices to help you become a better leader on your team.  

Together, with Monica, you will:

  • Gain a greater understanding of mindfulness and emotional intelligence 
  • Get to know yourself by enhancing self-awareness
  • Focus on self-management to handle feelings as they arise
  • Build social awareness and empathy 
  • Navigate relationships and difficult conversations

Whether you’re a leader on your team or interested in building your leadership skills through mindfulness, this class will provide you with the tools to boost your emotional intelligence and improve your relationships. 


Monica’s class is designed for all students to participate and enjoy.

Meet Your Teacher

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Monica Thakrar

Organizational Consultant and Coach


Hello, I'm Monica. I am an organizational consultant and coach based in Washington DC. I have 18 years of experience working with medium and large scale corporate and government clients leading large scale change, teaching leadership classes focused on soft skills such as  emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, presentation skills, and mindfulness. I also am an executive coach helping leaders gain skills and grow in their leadership journey.  I am most passionate about helping leaders and organizations grow into their fullest potential. Sample clients include Marriott, NASA, MedStar, National Science Foundation, and Columbia University.

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1. Introduction: [MUSIC] I love teaching mindfulness and emotional intelligence because it's very close to my heart. I've seen the results in my own life and how much more calm, steady, and responsive I am. That is showing up and how I am dealing with people around me. I attribute these changes to my mindfulness practices. [MUSIC] Hello, my name is Monica Tharkrar and I'm an organizational development consultant, coach, and mindfulness instructor. I've been practicing meditation since 2006 and was trained in the Search Inside Yourself mindfulness program in 2018. I love bringing mindfulness to leaders to help them enhance their productivity, efficiency, as well as develop their emotional intelligence to enhance their leadership skills. This class, will cover how to build emotional intelligence and leadership skills using dedicated and integrated mindfulness practices. Emotional intelligence has proven to be a fundamental skill to be an effective leader. Mindfulness can help build up those skills. This class will cover the following topics: Defining mindfulness and emotional intelligence, getting to know yourself or enhancing self-awareness, focusing on self management, building social awareness, and navigating relationships. If you're new to mindfulness or want to go deeper in your journey to enhance your leadership skills, this is the class for you. Let's get started. [MUSIC] 2. Defining Mindfulness and EQ: In this first lesson, we will be covering mindfulness and emotional intelligence and the level setting of definitions for each of the topics. As a leader, emotional intelligence is key to growing successfully up the ladder. Research shows that your IQ, or your intelligence quotient, gets you in the door of an organization. But EQ, or emotional intelligence, is really the pillar of what makes good leaders. What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor one's own, and others feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions. Daniel Goleman, the father of emotional intelligence, who wrote the book with that title in the '90s, breaks down emotional intelligence into four different quadrants. Self-awareness, or knowing oneself, self-management, or being able to manage oneself, social awareness, or being aware of others, and relationship management, or managing our relationships with those around us. Emotional intelligence is a soft skills of leadership and critical to advancement up the ladder. Luckily, like a fine wine, we can develop and enhance our emotional intelligence over time and with age. What is mindfulness, and why does it help in building up emotional intelligence? Well, mindfulness is paying attention to what is happening in the present moment in the mind, body, and external environment with an attitude of curiosity and kindness. By becoming more mindful, we get to know ourselves better, which is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Mindfulness also helps us in building compassion, empathy, and resilience, which are fundamental skills in helping us interact with others. The science now also backs this link between emotional intelligence and mindfulness, as there have been many studies in neuroscience around this. Some of the studies are around the topic of neuroplasticity, or the idea that what we do and what we pay attention to can change our brain structure. The adult brain is malleable and we can intentionally change the structure of the brain. It's not just children's brains, which can change. Pretty exciting stuff. Ready to dig in? Let's go. 3. Getting to Know Yourself: How do we get to know ourselves? Well, the first pillar of emotional intelligence is self-awareness or understanding our values, strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Getting to know ourself first and especially how we are feeling is a critical foundational piece to building strong healthy relationships. Self-awareness is enhancing clarity and understanding our emotions when they arise. Mindfulness helps us to build up our understanding of our own body, mind, and surroundings, which builds up our self-awareness. When we focus on building up our emotional awareness, we can understand our emotions much better, which is critical to enhancing our knowledge of ourselves and gaining perspective on what is going on internally. This includes understanding our strengths, weaknesses, values, and also gaining self-confidence as a result. Now our body gives us major clues on what we're feeling. Ever noticed that if you are stressed you get inklings in the body? I know that my neck and shoulders get tight when I'm overly stressed. When I notice that in my body, it reminds me to take care of myself. The science backs it up that stress and changes in the emotional system show up first in the body. Studies have shown that certain emotions are tied to certain parts of the body. Imagine a time recently when you felt angry. Where do you feel that in the body? Now shift your thinking to a time where you felt happy or in love. Where do you feel that in your body? How do we get in tune with our body enough to understand our emotions, good or bad. Well, we can do a mindfulness practice called a body scan. A body scan is a way to begin to notice emotions and how the body is feeling without any need to change what is going on. Noticing is the first step and the most important. Let's do our first mindfulness practice. Please sit comfortably with your back straight, feet on the floor and palms facing upward. Close your eyes or lower them 45 degrees. Begin by taking a deep breath in and out. Taking another deep breath in and out. Begin to notice your toes and your feet. Bring awareness to your calves and your thighs. Notice your groin and your abdomen. Bring awareness to your chest, your arms, hands, and fingers. Begin to notice your lower back, mid back, and upper back. Just know we tend to hold a lot of emotion there. Notice your neck and shoulders, all the way up to your head and your jaw. Bring a small smile to your face. Just notice if there's any differences as a result. Finally, just relaxing the whole body. Taking a deep breath in and out and bringing your awareness back into the present moments. I know that one's a great one, in case you are having trouble going to sleep, it's a really good one to just be able to relax and get yourself back to sleep. I want you to come on back and begin to jot down some notes in your class project workbook. How are you feeling during your mindfulness practice? What did you notice in your body? You can always come back to this mindfulness activity and practice it at home. I would suggest you do so to build up your capacity to understand your own emotional state. 4. Focusing on Self Management: Knowing your emotions is one thing, but being able to manage them is a total other one. Understanding that I get hungry in the afternoon and being prepared with a snack, so I don't take it out on my employees is self-management. Taking a deep breath when your irritating coworker brings up an idea that you disagree with rather than responding negatively, is self-management. Getting triggered is part of the human condition. When I'm with my mom, I can get triggered quite frequently, although it has lessened a lot since I've become a mother. Whether it's a spouse, a child, a boss, or a colleague, we can have emotional reactions to things. Self-awareness is noticing that our emotions are getting triggered, but self-management is how we handle the feelings when they arise. The definition of self-management is our ability to manage our behaviors, thoughts, and emotions in a conscious and productive way. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and author of the book Man's Search for Meaning said, "Between stimulus and response, there is a space, In that space is our power to choose our response, and in our response lies our growth and our freedom." Finding or creating that space is how we can build up our self-management skills. We're going to do a little practice for this called the STOP practice. STOP stands for stop, take a breath, observe, and then proceed. Let's walk through each step now. The first step is stop. So often we're in stress we will go into fight, flight, or freeze mode, but if we can just stop, we can pause in the middle of those responses and slow things down. The second step is three breaths. By taking three belly breaths, we can physiologically shift the emotions in the body and become more present to the moment. It also gives us time for our brain to move from the amygdala or the emotionally hijacked part of the brain to relax and move back into the prefrontal cortex or the more rational side of the brain. We will now take three breaths together. Take a first deep breath in, [NOISE], and as you breathe out, [NOISE] feel the breath. Now take a second deep breath in, and as you breathe out, relax the body. Finally, take a third deep breath in [NOISE], and as you breathe out [NOISE], set an intention. The third step is observe. In the observed step, we will check in with the body, thoughts, and feelings through a short guided, mindfulness practice. Please sit up again with your back straight, feet on the floor, and eyes closed. Taking a deep breath in [NOISE], and out [NOISE], taking another deep breath in [NOISE], and out [NOISE]. Bringing attention again to your body from the feet up through the legs, through the abdomen, chest, the back, lower, middle, upper, up through your neck and shoulders, all the way to the top of your head. Relaxing your whole body, taking a deep breath in [NOISE], and out [NOISE], and now bringing awareness to your thoughts. Whether good or bad, just letting them come, just allowing them to flow right through. Now just bringing attention to your feelings, whether happy or sad, angry, or calm, allowing the emotions to come without any judgment, noticing your whole system, your thoughts, feelings, and body. Taking a deep breath in [NOISE], and out [NOISE], then coming back into the present moment. That allows us to observe what's going on for us, and then the final step is proceed. Once you have slowed down your body and mind, we have the option to now step back, reflect, shift perspectives, create options, and then respond flexibly. Often in stressful situations, we react without thinking about things. The STOP practice is a great way to slow things down and respond much more effectively, thereby showing self-management. When we practice mindfulness, this can be done in an integrated version. It does not always have to be sitting in a corner practicing meditation. I understand we have children at home, phones ringing off the hook meeting after meeting and those three belly breaths can be taken at any moment in the midst of all of those things you're doing, as well as observing what you're feeling by noticing your thoughts, emotions, and your body. When you're able to do that, you're able to react differently even in the moment. As part of your class project, think of a situation where you've been triggered. Do the first three steps of the STOP practice and then jot down how you would proceed. Also, begin to practice the STOP practice regularly and jot down what you notice. 5. Building Social Awareness: Building social awareness is the third step in Daniel Goleman's model of emotional intelligence. This is where we begin to focus on other people. Here we learn to recognize what is going on for others, such as noticing if a team member's mood is different than normal, or if the energy in the room of a meeting you're running is high or low. It is also where we can build up empathy for others. Empathy is a key skill in social awareness, this is where we can learn to feel what others are feeling or at least relate to the feelings. As Brene Brown an author and researcher says, "Empathy is very different from sympathy, empathy is where we feel as if we're feeling what the other person is feeling sympathy as being on the outside. Empathy fuels connection while sympathy fuels disconnection." Neuroscience also says that as we build up self-awareness skills, the part of the brain that is getting impacted by that is also building up empathy skills. The more you get to know yourself and understand your own emotions, the more your capacity for empathy can develop as well. A specific tool around this is building psychological safety, psychological safety is the idea or shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. In psychological safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected, take chances, and do not face retribution as a result. How can we build psychologically safe teams? Here are a few ways. First, promote self-awareness, understanding yourself is the best way to build up psychological safety. As you begin to know yourself and understand your own biases, strengths, and values, you can then promote self-awareness in others by helping them to honor themselves. Second, empathize and get to know your team members as people, getting to know your people, their strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them, and what emotions they have on certain topics is a hallmark of social awareness. Building up empathy skills as well can help your team feel like you care and therefore feels safer on the team. Third, show value and appreciation for ideas, respect and show value for others and their ideas or actions. Psychological safety is built through understanding others, learning what makes them tick, and then appreciating them for it. This is really important in your teams, especially getting to know your people and empathizing with them. Again, as we show more care for our people, the more they're going to want to work for us. As I talked to tons and tons of leaders in my coaching and consulting work, I really encourage them to get to know each of their people individually, because as they build their individual relationship, they learn what makes them tick, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and then they can actually give them work and motivate them in ways that are different and unique for each one person, thereby building really strong teams. Does your work environment have this psychological safety component? As part of your class project, begin to practice and implement one of the three areas mentioned above as you navigate your work environment to begin to build up or continue to encourage psychological safety in your team and organization. Jot down what you notice as you begin to implement one of these three areas. 6. Navigating Relationships: The final step in the four-step emotional intelligence model is navigating relationships. This is where the rubber hits the road for emotional intelligence when we have to actually interact and create healthy and sustainable relationships. This is where emotional intelligence skills are most needed. Difficult conversations can be an integral part of building and sustaining good relationships. When we are in a relationship with anybody, we will have differences of opinions and different ways that we think or react to things, thereby setting up opportunities to have difficult conversations. In the workplace this can show up as a disagreement with a co-worker or a difficult conversation with your direct report about a performance review. Whatever it is can be a challenge to bring up and yet often necessary to move things forward. According to the authors of the book, Difficult Conversations. Every conversation has three levels to it. Content, feelings, and identity. The content is what is the story about or what happened? The feelings are how am I feeling about this particular situation and the identity is what does this particular situation say about me? It goes typically to three different perspectives where we often ask ourselves, "Am I competent? Am I a good person? Or I'm I worthy of love and respect?" Think back to a time when you had a difficult conversation with someone and ask yourself about the content or what happened, your feelings, or what did you feel in that moment, and then your identity. What did the conversation say about you in terms of those three questions? Take a moment to jot down your answers. Now take a step back and think through the conversation from the perspective of the other person. What was the content, feelings, and then identity for that person. Jot down the three levels for that person. Really reflect and see what it meant for them. Does it change your perspective on the conversation? If you had a do over, would you do something differently? Often in difficult conversations, we think only from our own perspective. But if we really use our empathy lens and think about it from their perspective, would that change things? There are two sides to every story, and if you decide that the conversation, if you were to have it again, is worthwhile to have, you can relate to it more from a third-party perspective to get to problem-solving and to a better outcome. I know when I went through this process myself, I really had a different perspective. I had some difficult conversations I needed to have with some students of mine and how they were reacting to things in the classroom. But when I took a step back and really thought about it from their perspective, I realized that they had a point of view that I hadn't been considering and I really needed to think about it very differently when I had the conversation with them. The next time you intend to have a difficult conversation, do this pre-work before you have the conversation. Think of it from the content, feelings, and identity from both yours and the other person's perspective. Slow down as you think about it. Like Victor Frankel's pause and really see how you can have this difficult conversation in a more empathetic way. Having these difficult conversations in a way that takes into account both people is crucial in building up relationships, trust, and psychological safety. Remember, difficult conversations are where the rubber hits the road in emotional intelligence. Taking the time to pause before having a conversation can be really helpful. In your class project worksheet, take the time to jot down a difficult conversation you need to have from your perspective as well as the other person's perspective. Use this as a planning guide for when you need to have the conversation. 7. Final Thoughts: I hope you've found this class as relevant and useful as I have. When I first took classes like this, I realized how important it was in managing my emotional state, interacted with people much more effectively, as well as learning to just take a breath in moments where things were getting heated. This is so critical in leadership and in organizations because professionalism, making sure that we have respect and value in the organization is so necessary for healthy teams and organizations. I hope you can put some of this to practice in your organization as well. Thank you so much for joining me in this class, which is really so close to my heart. I hope you are able to use the mindfulness tools to help you build up the components of emotional intelligence like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management as outlined by Daniel Goleman. These are essential skills to becoming the best leader that you can be through enhancing your emotional intelligence skills. It has been a pleasure to have you in this class. I hope that you continue to practice the mindfulness practices shared here. I hope that if you share some discussions in the discussion section, I will definitely look forward to answering them and participating with you. I look forward to having you in another class soon. [MUSIC]