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Published by Geneviève Major on January 31, 2023

Retrospective on New year beginning: some choices of answers to support our success.

How emotional intelligence can help you?

On my return to work in January, my opening words of a “Happy New Year!”, conversation with colleagues often began with “How was your Christmas holiday break?”  For most of my colleagues, my heart sank when I heard their answers.  Between episodes of COVID in the family, the hospitalization of an aging parent, the turbulence of managing children, electric power outages, and the professional emergencies that obliged a return to work between Christmas and the New Year, the majority of my colleagues had not been able to rest as much as they had planned during their holidays.

I was silently asking myself, “what kind of year is this going to give if the teams start tired?”  Then I realized that I was also fearful for my own performance.  In all honesty, I was one of the people who had not really rested during the holidays.   I was starting the year just as I finished the last one, “shattered”, to use the expression of a British girlfriend.

What can I do with this? What can we all do about this?  What can business leaders around the world do about this!? 

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What would outstanding leadership look like in a situation like this? Outstanding leadership shows up not in

“WHAT is done” but in “HOW it is done”

I propose to rephrase the question in this way: how can we lead brilliantly in this situation?

This is where emotional intelligence tools that can be of very precious help. Here are a few tools that can help us transform our state of mind in the same way that the January sun turns a freezing day into a sparkling day and inspires us to go out and play!

1. Know your strengths 

The gateway to emotional intelligence is self-awareness.  One component of self-awareness, (which is a vast subject), is knowledge of one’s strengths and abilities.

A few years ago, I was struggling and unhappy at work.  By the time I realized that I had to do something about it, the emotional weight was already very heavy on my shoulders.   That’s when I discovered Gallup’s Clifton Strengths assessment tool.  This discovery was a real breath of fresh air.

The Clifton Strengths is a powerful tool in a process for developing greater self-awareness.  It allows us to identify our strengths and thus helps us better understand ourselves and others. 

When we understand ourselves better, communication and collaboration within teams is enhanced.  Since I discovered this tool, I have been working with it to help other teams. The principle is to help each person “be on their X”.  It is a win/win formula, since strengths-based employee development is strongly associated with individual team’s performance1.

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Back to January, where I wondered HOW I would reconcile beginning of year fatigue and workload ahead…

My No.1 strength, according to the Clifton Strengths tool, is “Restorative”.  In Gallup terms, it means that “I am adept at dealing with problems.  I am good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it”.  Yes, that’s me, all right!

 What this means is that when I face a challenge, I instinctively ask myself, “how can I use this strength to face this situation?”.  Just framing the situation like this relaxes me.  Another person would refer to another of his strengths by asking “what strength can I use in these circumstances?” and it would probably have a similar calming effect.  Just like job resources that can contribute to making us feel motivated 2, the very act of bringing to mind that we have strengths and resources within helps us mediate our perception of workload and its effects.3

We invite you to visit the Gallup Clifton Strengths website to learn more about this topic.


2. Journaling

Many emotional intelligence tools are so simple that it is hard to believe they can have such a positive impact on ours and others well-being.  One tool that is very popular within teams, and often used in coaching to develop self-awareness, is “journaling”.  That is, writing the answer to an introspective question.

The method is simple: we need a pencil, a piece of paper, and our phone timer set for 3 minutes.  We start the timer and start writing what comes to mind in response to the question.  The key to success: removing all filters.  We throw everything on paper!  Ignoring the little voice that is perhaps telling us, “You shouldn’t write that!”. And if we have nothing to write, we write “I have nothing to write”, until something else comes to mind or the timer rings the end of the 3 minutes.

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Some questions relevant to the topic of the day could be :

“I feel energized when…” 

And we complete the sentence with what comes to us until the end of the 3 minutes.  Or:

“My intention for this year is…”

Remembering our intention can assist us in achieving our aspirations by establishing a sense of accountability and support as we work to reach our goals.  4. A fun and somehow touching variant to bond a team is to do this exercise individually, and then invite each person to share with the rest of the people on the team.  Inviting people to share as much as they feel comfortable doing so. 

There is a powerful sentence from Viktor Frankl’s that is summarized in Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of highly Effective People”5 that says the following: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

In that space of choice, how could you choose a new response to that tired feeling at the start of the year?

Do you have any questions?

If you have any questions about Gallup, emotional intelligence, leadership and performance, please contact Geneviève Major at for detailed assistance.


1.         2018 CliftonStrengths Meta-Analysis Report | EN – Gallup.

2.         Ivcevic, Z., Moeller, J., Menges, J. & Brackett, M. Supervisor Emotionally Intelligent Behavior and Employee Creativity. J Creat Behav 55, 79–91 (2021).

3.         Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E. & Schaufeli, W. B. The role of personal resources in the job demands-resources model. Int J Stress Manag 14, 121–141 (2007).

4.         (2) Post | Feed | LinkedIn.

5.         Covey, S. R. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. (2004).


Geneviève Major, PhD, Leadership and Performance Consultant at Major Group | LinkedIn

Geneviève helps individuals and companies reach their full potential and perform in a sustainable manner.  She specializes in leadership training based on emotional and social intelligence, and neuroscience research in this field.  With a background in human kinetics and nutrition science, and a career in innovation, research and development with a multinational, Geneviève puts her expertise at the service of people who want to be at their best. 

Geneviève is a SIY Global certified teacher.  She is a lecturer in emotional intelligence and teaches mindful eating and living programs (MBLC, MECL).

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