Q&A: Sarah Sullivan on emotional intelligence & ‘Search Inside Yourself Leadership’

Research has recently shown that emotional intelligence skills are often a better predictor of top performance than previous work experience or IQ – which is just one of several reasons for area professionals to attend “Search Inside Yourself Leadership” on Oct. 22-23.

Sarah Sullivan

As the flagship leadership training program of the Mindful Cities Flint Initiative, “Search Inside Yourself Leadership” uses a combination of lecture, reflective practices and experiential activities to teach mindfulness and emotional intelligence.

“These are key building blocks for effective leadership and well-being at work,” says Sarah Sullivan, director of the Mindful Communities Initiative at the Crim Fitness Foundation. “They help us navigate stressful situations effectively and keep our focus on what’s most important. That’s something all employers want to see embodied by their teams.”

Over the course of two days, attendees will take a deep dive into self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and leadership. It’s so popular that— according to Sullivan, a certified Search Inside Yourself Leadership trainer— there’s still an extensive waiting list for the program at Google, where it was first developed.

A key component of the “Search Inside Yourself Leadership” training focuses on the self-regulation of emotions. Why is that important in the workplace?

When we react immediately to a stressful situation it is often an emotional reaction, known as an “amygdala hijack” for the part of our brain that triggers our flight, fright, or freeze response.  When that happens we may say or do things we later regret.

However, when we take the time to pause, even for only a moment, we can create space to thoughtfully respond rather than react; allowing us to move forward in a way that is going to build our relationship positively and help us successfully navigate the stressful situation.

What’s been one of the program’s biggest takeaways for you?

I had practiced a lot of mindfulness skills prior to the program, and it’s really helped me integrate them more fully at work to be a more effective boss, collaborative colleague and engaged community member. I’m more present and aware in all aspects of my life thanks to the skills and strategies I learned over these two days.

Why should employers consider sending their employees to this training?

I think they’ll find their employees will be more engaged, more present, more productive and more effective at work. Since our leadership team at the Crim went through this training, we have seen a significant increase in effective communication, creativity, innovation and productivity—within our leadership team itself, in the individual teams we lead and even across departments.

Interested in attending? General registration is $650 through Sept. 1, after which it increases to $1,250.

Thanks to the generous support of the Mindful Cities Flint Initiative, reduced registration is available for residents ($100), nonprofits and educators ($200) and businesses ($350) in the city of Flint. To apply for a scholarship, click here.

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