Our emotions are powerful – they provide us with valuable information if we listen to them.
So why don’t leaders do more to understand their own emotions and other people’s?
In my experience the topic is now getting greater exposure in the boardroom. How to develop the right leadership behaviours in order to improve performance and the emotional engagement of employees is now a very hot topic and rightly so. I do, however, observe that there is still a discomfort in the workplace with talking about emotions, and different cultures will, of course, bring another layer of complexity to this issue.
'I firmly believe that if more leaders were to start to explore and recognise their own emotions, and use this awareness as a guide to flex their style, transform their thinking, decision-making and other leadership behaviours, we would start to see greater improvements in employee engagement and performance.'
In a thought leadership paper written by Daniel Goleman for Harvard Business Review “Leadership That Gets Results” , it outlines how new research suggests that the most effective executives use a collection of distinct styles – each in the right measure, at just the right time. Such flexibility is tough to put into action, but it pays off in performance. And better yet, it can be learned. Self-Awareness and the ability to read and understand emotions as well as recognise their impact on work performance and relationships, allows leaders to flex their style to the needs of others.
Top 5 tips to help leaders develop Emotional Intelligence
- Assess personality preferences by using a tool such as Myers Briggs or Personality Type Profile. Our personalities underpin our Emotional Intelligence behaviours and habits so it is a vital part of becoming more self aware.
- Assess Emotional Intelligence. I am accredited to use a tool that assesses the 16 different dimensions of Emotional Intelligence for executives. It provides some clear measures and allows leaders to become more aware of their own specific areas of development. For example I worked with one leader who was very attuned to her emotions and the emotions of her team. However she needed to develop the skills of managing her emotional reactions and become much more emotionally resilient to improve her conflict handling skills.
- Be honest about yourself. How would you rate your own self-regard and regard for others? The attitudes that we hold about ourselves underpin our emotional reactions to situations. Being really clear about what our own personal triggers might be in relation to these attitudes can help a leader unravel why they might find it either difficult to express their emotions or contain their emotional responses and reactions to situations. I have coached leaders who are very controlled in their reactions to situations and express very little emotion. This can hinder the ability to connect with others, so in these cases we would focus on developing this facet of Emotional Intelligence.
- Be brave and experience your emotions – in my own experience I had to be open and willing to understand more about myself, and how my emotions impacted my feelings, thoughts and subsequent behaviours. It was only by having the courage to look at these in more depth that I was able to really transform my leadership behaviours.
- Write a journal each day about the different emotions that you might have experienced. This will help you to become more self-aware and start to consider what leadership behaviours might have resulted. For some leaders, this will mean they will need to become more emotionally resilient and less expressive in the grip of their emotions. For others it might be that they suppress their emotions, and need to become more open and empathetic.
Over the next year we will be running an interview series on Emotionally Intelligent C-Suite Leaders. Our first interview will be with James Wildman, Chief Revenue Officer of Trinity Mirror Group. This interview will be filmed and will appear at the end of June as a blog/video.
Emotionally-i-Fit runs assessments, coaching programmes, workshops and leadership retreats that help leaders and organisations to measure and develop the 16 metrics of Emotional Intelligence.