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Borrow the information inside of the book if you are smart!
And make it yours if you are wise!
Part One: The Power of Emotional Intelligence
The real magic of great leaders isn’t in what they do, but rather in how they do it. Understanding the emotional tones in the workplace is what separates the best leaders from the average leaders. The leaders who understand emotions are better able to build higher morale, more motivation and a deeper commitment among their workers, which creates better retention of talent and better results on the productivity side. All of these positive factors add up to positive profits.
The bottom line is that followers are always looking to leaders for emotional support and empathy. When leaders drive out invisible toxic emotions and drive in positive emotions it is called resonance in this book. And when leaders drive emotions towards the negative it’s called dissonance. Everyone watches the boss. People take their cues from the boss. So the boss better be aware of the emotional tone that he or she is setting.
People want to work with leaders who have some emotional intelligences and are able to exude upbeat feelings. Creating this positive upbeat atmosphere is how emotionally intelligent leaders are able to retain talented people.
One of the oldest laws of psychology is that anything beyond a moderate level of anxiety and worry erodes mental abilities and makes us less emotionally intelligent. Thus, leaders who spread bad moods are bad for business because employees are likely to quit. And the ones who stay, can’t be at their best or even think at their best. So, once again poor emotional leaders are bad for business. But, you want to know what is good for business? Good mood spreaders who are emotionally intelligent leaders. They are good for business because of many reasons. However, here is just one of those reasons: every 1% increase in the service climate creates a 2% increase in revenue.
We can no longer afford to believe that just because a very intelligent person was put into a leadership position that it will automatically make everything okay. Einstein once said, “We should take care not to make the intellect our God. It has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead, it can only serve.” Good intellect can serve. Good emotional intelligence can lead. Now imagine what the two of them can do together.
There is no fixed formula for great leadership and it’s not innate. We aren’t born with it. That really is good news, and so is this next part too. The emotional intelligence necessary for great leadership can be learned. Furthermore, there is no one set path to great leadership. As the old maxim goes, there are many roads to Rome.
However, if one hopes to become a great leader someday, studies have shown that it helps to have at least one competency from each of the four fundamental areas of emotional intelligence. These four domains consist of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
Self-awareness consist of things like knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses. People who are self-aware have a ‘gut-sense’ to guide their decision-making process. They self-manage, which means they have self-control, have integrity, are flexible and are optimistic. These people are usually also self-starters, and achievers.
Social awareness is having empathy or understanding the perspectives of others. It’s having the ability to read the currents and the politics of a particular situation and environment. As well as, recognizing and meeting customer needs.
Relationship management is being able to motivate people with a compelling vision and then being able to persuade them to move forward and do it. It’s developing others. It’s resolving conflict. And it’s also being able to go in a new direction while maintaining friendships, and being a good team player.
So as this book, Primal Leadership mentioned earlier, if you have at least one competency from each of the four domains of emotional intelligence you’re in a pretty good place to be a good leader someday.
We just talked about the emotional intelligence domains and the associated competencies that are a prerequisite to good leadership. Now we’re going to move onto the different leadership styles. The direct leadership styles discussed in Primal Leadership are: 1. Visionary. 2. Coaching. 3. Affiliative. 4. Democratic. These first four are good for building a resonance leadership that drives positive emotions and feelings that was discussed earlier. The last two of: 5. Pacesetting, and 6. Commanding can also be effective leadership styles, but must be used sparingly because they can cause dissonance, or negative feelings and emotions.
A visionary leader gets buy-in from others because this leader helps people understand their “why”. This kind of leader is inspiring, and is empathic. A smart company realizes that vision offers a company its unique ‘brand’ or a way to distinguish itself from other companies in the same field or industry. Smart companies use this vision as a standard for performance and performance feedback. It helps employees see how they contribute to the big picture.
The coaching style doesn’t scream bottom-line results, but in a surprisingly indirect way it gets results through the leaders really getting to know their people, establishing rapport and trust, and successfully linking their daily work to their long-term goals. Coaches are really good at keeping people motivated. And motivated people tend to improve the bottom-line.
Affiliative leaders nurture personal relationships. They value downtime because it builds up emotional capital that can be drawn from when times get tough. They focus on the emotional needs of their people over goals and are good at healing rifts and bringing a team back together. They are good at solving conflict and creating harmony. These leaders also have some vision. Joe Torre, manager of the famed New York Yankees baseball team was a good example of an affiliative leader.
Democratic leaders are great at listening to others. They truly hear what people say. They are great communicators. Democrat leadership style works great when leaders aren’t certain which direction to go. They’re great at getting buy-in. They’re also great at implementing the vision that others haven’t been successful in doing. Democratic leaders actually execute the vision and tend to get fresh ideas all along the way from their workers on how to implement the vision even better.
Now, onto the last two leadership styles. Pacesetting works great when one already has a team that is highly motivated and needs very little direction,
and are competent. Since very few of us are leading the UConn Husky girls’ basketball team, we need to use the pacesetting leadership style sparingly. Coach Geno Auriemma probably doesn’t. This style can be misleading because in the beginning one can get results. However, pacesetting in the wrong environment usually turns our vision into just pure survival. It poisons the climate. And that’s bad for everyone.
Of all the leadership styles, the commanding style, which is really the coercive approach, doesn’t just poison the climate, but it can destroy it! It destroys the morale of the workforce as people walk around on egg shells afraid to do anything. They spend a good amount of their energy, not being the creative genius that they were meant to be, but rather just trying to stay off the radar. Now, to be fair, there are still some commanding leaders left over in the military and medical fields, for example, who are still getting good results. But, unfortunately, many of these gains aren’t real or lasting.
Their gains are usually short-term gains with an extremely high cost, especially to personal and human capital. When these commanding leaders are finally pushed out the door, that’s when what they really did comes unraveled and then it comes all crashing down, taking years to rebound; if ever able to rebound from the former wrecking ball. This is when it probably makes sense to find a good affiliative leader who can come in and heal the rifts and damaged relationships that the last leader left in his or her wake.
Part Two: Making Leaders
We spent much of Part One of the blog about Primal Leadership talking about how emotional intelligence helps leaders, and the lack of emotional intelligence hinders leaders. The ironic thing is that the higher one travels up the ladder of success, the less likely this leader is going to receive honest feedback on his or her emotional intelligence. This phenomenon is called the CEO Disease.
It takes a lot of courage to tell the boss that he or she has been performing poorly in the emotional intelligence arena lately. This is especially difficult to do when the boss has been a little rough lately and everyone is ducking for cover and trying to stay off the radar. People want to keep their job and continue to be able to feed their children.
The bottom line is that many CEOs lose some of their self-awareness as they travel up the rings. However, the ironic thing is that study after study shows that self-awareness is greatest among companies doing well, and poorest among companies doing poorly. So, now it comes down to which poor soul is going to put their job on the line to tell the boss that he or she is out of touch and acting like a schmuck because it’s good for the whole company if the boss is made self-aware?
As I said earlier, the good thing is that emotional intelligence can be learned. However, according to, Primal Leadership, most training and leadership programs only target the neocortex rather than the limbic brain. Leadership skills usually comes down to habits learned early in life. So, if we’re going to re-educate the emotional brain, they typical leadership program isn’t going to cut it. In order, to re-educate the emotional brain we need lots of practice and repetition aimed at the limbic centers of the brain. This kind of learning is very slow; but, that’s a good thing because once it’s learned, it’s learned very well, at a much deeper limbic level. Furthermore, this learning will be retained much longer than traditional surface level cognitive learning.
The cycle of successful change through emotional intelligence consist first of discovering what our ideal self really is. Second, then unearthing who we exactly are. What is our real self? Third, we have to discover what our learning agenda is. Next, we have to practice our new thoughts and behaviors over and over and over. Lastly, we need to discover some supportive relationships. We need people who help us succeed.
Emotional intelligence in leaders requires that they at least have some vision of their ideal lives. Through this vision they can uncover their real selves. This requires self-awareness though. Leadership strengths lie at the crossroads of where one’s real self matches one’s ideal self. Where it doesn’t are the gaps that one needs to work on.
Improvement plans crafted around learning rather than performance outcomes have been found to be more effective for working on those gaps mentioned in the paragraph above. The best kind of learning is when one gets to focus on what one wants to become; one’s ideal self, rather than what others want him or her to become. One’s own life goals ignite their full range of talents. And the more parts of one’s life that can be identified as relevant to one’s leadership goals, the more chances one will have to practice and grow. Being handed a performance goal des the opposite. It undermines motivation. It causes anxiety, and decreases performance.
Goals should be built on a person’s strengths, not their weaknesses. Plans of improvement should be flexible, feasible, and fit into their life and work, as well as fit into their learning style if it’s going to have the biggest impact on their development and growth.
The problem is that people try to force leadership upon others and thus these poor souls learn it haphazardly by repeating what they saw others do while growing up, or their own poor previous attempts at it. The good thing is that one can improve in leadership by becoming aware of bad habits and constantly practicing a better way until one masters it. Having a good supportive relationship here really helps a lot in making this change.
Part Three: Building Emotionally Intelligent Organizations
Groups are smarter than individuals only when they show emotional intelligence. We’ve all heard of the mob mentality. The mob mentality isn’t so smart. Each member of an emotionally intelligent group must have some degree of emotional intelligence. This is especially true for the leader who sets the emotional tone of the group.
The true work of a leader is to monitor the emotional tone of the team and to help its members recognize any underlying dissonance. These can be difficult conversations. Unfortunately, most leaders settle for safer conversations about the team itself, the organization, the people, the strategy, and functional alignment while avoiding the more difficult subjects of emotional reality and the norms of the team. By avoiding these tougher topics the leader is only adding to the dissonance (negative feelings) of the team, and causes individuals to lose touch with their unique own best qualities as their passion fades.
A company with employees who have a common vision is an emotionally intelligent organization that defines its vision in sync with its employees’ hopes and dreams for themselves. These spectacular companies create extraordinary moments or experiences that people go through together to create that tribal feeling, that shared mythology, which in return, creates a company that has empathy.
Emotional intelligent leaders connect with a vision that moves a culture toward resonance (positive feelings) through what they feel, sense and think about the organization. They connect with the vision and notice the gaps that the typical data doesn’t identify. They collectively involve all in a deliberate study of themselves and the organization. They look at the reality and the ideal vision, identify gaps and go to work on closing those gaps.
Ambitious leaders need to slowdown in order to speed up. Bringing in as many people as possible into the conversations about the culture and systems of the organization is critical. Leaders need to see the emotional, and then craft a meaningful vision with which people can identify on a deep and personal level. People need to feel they can reach the organization’s dreams without compromising their own dreams. People come first. Strategy comes second. Focus on what people really want and need, and then build a culture around that and build your dreams together.
People don’t change because of another five year plan. Besides the era of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin is long over. People change when they are emotionally engaged and committed. Focus on the individual first, then the team second, and then the organization last.
Our world is calling for change. We are in the midst of transformational change. Half of the business models out there will be obsolete in 2-5 years from now. We can’t be frozen in fear. We must manage our emotions and look for new ways. People can no longer be seen as expendable. The Captains of Industry era of the top-down approach is gone. The art of the relationship is rising to the top today. Emotional intelligence is a must for moving forward…
Award-winning author, speaker, and educator
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