The World Academy for the Future of Women (WAFW) leadership program is a bold and rigorous training initiative for young women students committed to acquiring skills and confidence to develop as campus, community, national, and eventually global leaders. These young women found a focus on emotional intelligence played a big part of how they evolved and developed as leaders in the nine-month program.
Supported by a grant from Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network, and the commitment of network member Angie Wong, the WAFW participants had the opportunity to experience the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment and EQ training program. The Six Seconds EQ toolset helped the 87 young women at the Sias University in Henan, China to become more aware, more intentional and more purposeful with their emotions.
Through facilitated curriculum, dialogue, and interactive programs, the young women students are prepared for leadership roles in the new economy as global citizens. Team projects based on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals are the centerpiece of the WIFW program. Together with other volunteer facilitators, Wong provided the Six Seconds assessments and training to compliment the other components of the WIFW curriculum.
As a result of the EQ work, these WAFW women had a greater understanding of their own emotional intelligence competencies and were able to apply what they learned in building the capacity in influencing others. By developing more clear self-awareness and practical tools for becoming more masterful with their own emotions and reactions, they gained much more confidence as leaders and were able to apply their EQ strengths for personal and team effectiveness.
One participant, Acqua Shui, described the need for this aspect of leadership development, and the changes she experienced in the program: “At the beginning, I have fear in my heart instead of confidence, courage. I was fearful to speak out. I fear to have a challenge and make a difference. Even when I wake up and open my eyes I feel helpless and weak. Fears fill up my heart so I cannot focus on my study and I didn’t have any passion.”
After the program, Shui had a dramatically different perspective: “In my future, I want to be a strong, powerful and heart centered leader. I want to be a leader who will inspire the female to be independent and become a whole person. I also want to be an educator, to help educate future generation. I want to support others to live a happy life with positive heart in difficult life.”
Coco Lee, another participant, shared a similar perspective of her life before the program:
Firstly, in the past, I am timid, even when answering questions in class, I will be shrinking. I am scared to speak in public and am not comfortable of who I am. I am overly concerned with how others think of me. I am nervous about who I am. I feel unhappy.
I know nothing about the feelings. I think they are just feelings and let them control me. When I am angry, just yell out at others and regret what I have done later. What’s worse, I am so easy to lose my temper. I think we can do nothing about our nature.
I don’t care about the outer world. I only focus on my trifles around me. I think I am an ordinary person, a female, and I can do nothing about the world. What I need to do is to live my life. Other things are not my business. I am selfish.
Finally, I used to be living a life without thinking. I have no idea about my future, my life, my direction. Just live one day and the other day. I don’t like to communicate with others. I have no interests to explore people, life’s meaning and others things. I am a person who doesn’t recognize her soul and the meaning of life.
In her writing about her current state, after the program, Lee describes a dramatically different experience of herself as an emerging leader:
Now, I am confident and finish my presentation successfully. I know confidence comes from sufficient preparation, self-awareness and self management. I am happy that I find myself. I have the confidence and courage in my heart. Sometimes I am a little afraid. But it is OK, I think. I can control it well. Confidence helps me find a life.
I know the skills of controlling my feelings. I don’t escape from the condition. I face my feelings, analysis them, and work through my negative feelings. I am more skilled in responding to my feelings when I get influenced negatively.
I wake up my conscience and build universal love. I learn that all of us have challenging situations that create sufferings in us. We are humans and we should care about each other. Helping others is also helping me. It is like paving a road, and then you can walk smoothly. Only when you help others, and you spread this spirit, then you can receive others’ help when you are in trouble. Nobody is lucky all his life.
Finally, I start to think now. Even though I don’t figure out until now; life is complex as it is. Maybe the life’s meaning is the process to find the answer itself. I am on my way.
Shui’s and Lee’s descriptions characterize the three key elements of Six Seconds’ approach to utilizing emotional intelligence in life and leadership:
- Increased self-awareness, with recognition that we all have feelings, and that these affect our choices.
- Increased self-management, including using emotions as a source of important information.
- Increased self-direction, articulating a larger vision and increased commitment to create positive impact.
Given the success of the program, WAFW is continuing this effort. Six Seconds has extended the grant to the World Academy for Future Women to provide assessments and support for their 2011-2012 program.
For more information about The World Academy for the Future of Women, see www.globalinteractions.org. Angie Wong is a volunteer facilitator, and a member of the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network. She lives in both Hong Kong and the US, and her mission is to support women leaders in Asia, for more information, see: www.6seconds.org/profile/awong
Six Seconds is a global organization supporting people to create positive change and increase people-performance. Founded as not-for-profit corporation in the US in 1997, the organization is now led by offices in 10 countries. Six Seconds’ change agents work to improve leadership, collaboration, and effectiveness in every sector. The organization gives a limited number of grants to educational and community programs to provide powerful emotional intelligence assessment and development tools to support positive change. Visit www.6seconds.org for more.