Emotional IQ Impact
Emotional Intelligence is a topic of increasing interest in the business world. Do you feel overwhelmed as a new supervisor with all the chatter about what defines a “good” leader and how to be the “best” supervisor? Or, are you an experienced leader who feels drained from your many obligations and demands?
This article may be just what you need to gain new energy and motivation, prompting you to feel inspired to be the best person and most dynamic leader possible.
Relationships and Business Outcomes are Linked
Why would you want to listen to my perspective? After three decades of observing others in a variety of industrial and professional business environments, with over twenty years as both a front line and a middle executive leader, I have been witness to what works and what derails employee: supervisor relationships and business outcomes.
The basis of whether an employee feels valued, respected and listened to has a direct correlation to their contributions – ideas, initiative, performance, commitment, attendance – and yes, retention. Employees consistently leave employment, often even for lower wages, because of their relationship (or lack thereof) with their supervisor.
Similarly, many leaders that I see resign employment, move on due to burn out. They feel drained of energy; they are stressed – long hours, covering shifts due to the labor shortage, burdened with concern over quality that they are feeling powerless to improve, and often feel a lack of support, respect or connection with their employee team – or their peers or their supervisor.
How then, can we turn this around to feel inspired?
Is being a dynamic leader even possible today with our ever-changing demographics? As supervisors we see first-hand the differences in work approach and mindset between the various generations – it can create tension and disparity among employees.
The reduced labor force is becoming increasingly more evident as baby boomers continue to retire and the smaller family sizes of more recent generations, are unable to replace this vast workforce.
Another variable is the ever-present immigration component – and working with and being responsive to cultural differences and language barriers that can be very challenging.
There is no doubt that our business demands become increasingly more intense, but by checking our perspective and putting a concerted effort in our self-development, we will feel inspired, which will lead to more dynamic interactions with others – and that is the foundation of leadership excellence and the reversal of burnout and overwhelm.
What will I Learn about Emotional IQ?
The six tips I discuss pertain to Emotional Intelligence and will increase our ability, as leaders, to work with very diverse teams while reinforcing their unique value, encouraging their initiative and committed performance, and showing respect for their individual differences.
The result of these achievements will be inspired leadership with increased energy, enhanced connectedness, effective relationship building and positive teamwork.
Let’s begin considering each of these six suggestions.
1. Approachability and Demeanor Influence Emotional IQ
Remaining conscious of how others may perceive us is essential to relationship building. Understanding that we may feel continual stress and tension makes it easy to visualize how our employees may be hesitant to approach us. Our affect may not be at all inviting or welcoming.
Instead, we may have deep furrows between our eyes, a rigid body posture, or clenched jawline. These may scream to all that are near; “Stay away from me!” or “Figure it out on your own, don’t bother me!”
Similarly, when an employee does strike up the courage to approach us, perhaps to share an error or a malfunction of equipment, or submit a request for a schedule change, how do we handle this?
Is our response one that conveys understanding, or do we devalue that person with a blaming tone, words or a frustrated and irritated posture and expression?
Take a few moments at the onset of the day, as well as scheduling a few 2 minute periods throughout your day (perhaps once every hour or two) to re-energize.
This may include stretching, doing some deep breathing, visualizing yourself engaged in a very relaxing, preferred activity/environment, and then ending with checking your posture by straightening our your shoulders, standing up, and practicing smiling. All of these will support a more relaxed physical presence, and will also increase your energy.
Additionally, when others approach, be mindful about relaxing your muscle tension in your face, smile warmly (a REAL smile is conveyed through your eyes), and take a moment for a calming deep breath before you respond.
Consider your word choice and the manner of which you speak; working from a point of understanding is ALWAYS preferred than one that is patronizing, blaming or otherwise demeaning.
2. Communication is a Significant Component of Emotional Intelligence
One of the leading causes of conflict, both personal and professional, is miscommunication. We are always, whether consciously or subconsciously, communicating.
Sometimes, as discussed above in our approachability, it is through non-verbal means including our posture, our body tension, and our facial expression. We communicate so much information through our eyes – from humor, warmth, acceptance and love to anger, fear, sadness, frustration and the list goes on and on!
We also communicate through our appearance – from hairstyles and level of attentiveness to personal hygiene, clothing, and accessory choices.
We further speak through our actions. Our punctuality and attendance, our leisurely (relaxed) stroll or our rapid or stomping pace, or jogging comparative to running frantically all share many things to those observing us.
All of this, and more, conveys our state of mind, how we deal with stress, what (and who) we value, what our interests and priorities are, and many other key aspects of who we are as a person, and as a leader.
All of this is without us having uttered even one word! When we begin to add in voice tone, inflection, vocabulary, volume and all of the many other nuances related to verbal communication – it is no wonder that entire semesters are needed to teach about communication!
Consider too, how much miscommunication occurs now with a significant portion of our communication relying on email and text, versus phone and in-person.
There is no way to convey the same level of communication when it is done exclusively through the written word. Our society relies even more on short, succinct texts and scanning of headlines as we do more and more multi-tasking and seeking of more immediate stimulus, actions, and outcomes.
At any time you are interacting with another – whether in person, over the phone, via email, or through a text message – be aware of your state of mind and physical presence.
Take a moment to assess yourself consciously, and similar to the first tip, do whatever you find helpful to provide calm, both internal as well as what is evident to others. This effort will contribute to your feeling relaxed, in control and will result in team respect while reducing the occurrence of miscommunication.
3. Empathy is Directly Connected to Emotional Intelligence
When we study management principles and receive basic supervisory skills training, I doubt that empathy gets much book or lecture time. I think this is of critical importance to be aware.
Our ability to empathize with another allows us to build a shared connection; it is a fundamental component of relationship building.
Questioning what empathy means and how it may relate to being more insightful as a leader? This link may offer additional clarity: http://www.greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/empathy/definition
While we have not walked in our employees’ shoes literally, it will increase our ability to build respect and feel connected, while offering a glimpse into the person’s fears, challenges, and struggles. Insight can inspire us with new ideas of how to approach the individual, how to motivate, show value and challenge them for continued growth and contribution.
Anytime we are planning to approach another, it is important to remember that there is a person behind that title.
The job title they hold is just one role in their life and is just one aspect of what can often be a very complicated life story. We do not typically know each employee’s personal history; some of their barriers, fears, or the core of who they are as a person.
These contribute to their learning style, how they communicate, what they value, what they have had exposure to and thus an understanding of.
Knowledge of any of these can be golden to you when you are attempting to build an alliance and establish a professional relationship based on trust, respect and one that validates.
Remain attentive and interested in learning who your employees are as a person so that you can use that information to reward and motivate them in meaningful ways while also demonstrating understanding, compassion and establishing trust.
Consider offering a questionnaire form to each employee, with some pre-formatted questions and some open-ended, that opens the door for the employee to share information that may help you work together cohesively. A free template that you can consider is available here on Diane Kubes Leadership Circle on the Freebies page. This may be especially helpful if you are leading a team of employees that you did not personally screen or interview.
One word of caution, however, is to be careful to not blur the lines of personal/confidential vs basic insights that support a professional relationship.
We must be careful to always avoid crossing over the professional boundary into a personal relationship with personnel that we supervise. Having clear boundaries is important.
4. Adaptability and Flexibility Impact Emotional Intelligence
Have you ever reflected on your ability to adapt to new ways of doing business? How flexible are you with accepting change and embracing new ideas that others may propose? Do you encourage personnel to experiment with new approaches, routines or methods?
Or, conversely does change frighten you, and/or do you believe that your way has been proven to be the best and expect others to not question this?
Opening ourselves up to change by stepping outside of our comfort zone can be quite exhilarating and energizing! Exposure to new ideas and experimentation to refine or streamline can create a new vision and inspire you and all those around you.
When we listen to others ideas and act upon them, we are validating them. We are actively demonstrating their value to us, and conveying respect.
This should not be taken lightly! This can create some dynamic energy among your team. It may not work – and it may work.
Whether it works or not, you will be loudly communicating to your team that you trust, value and respect them while opening up access to you as a leader who is approachable, flexible and willing to adapt.
Encourage employees to share ideas and to experiment.
- At the conclusion of routine team meetings, add an Open Discussion item to your agenda and actively solicit ideas and recommendations from your team members.
- At the end of routine performance evaluations, provide the employee an opportunity to share their ideas and suggestions for change or improvement, and then follow up on anything that is viable or that may serve the business in a positive way.
Attend industry trade shows and conferences to educate yourself on innovative ideas from your peers and competitors; this will serve to ignite your own inspired ideas, and you can also share these with personnel and collaborate on improvements or new revenue sources for your business.
To survive in business, and to thrive as a supervisor, you must be adaptable and flexible to change and new ways of doing business.
5. Integrity is a Crucial Component of Emotional Intelligence
Over the years, as I interview candidates, there is a clear trend. I ask candidates to describe a prior supervisor and aspects that they did not appreciate, and/or to share what is important to them from their supervisor. Repeatedly, it is very clear that as a whole, we all just want to work with and for someone with integrity.
What is integrity? https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/integrity
Besides the obvious, “Doing what is right even when no one is looking,” which is a common urban definition, the situations that others have related in a work setting include basics like, giving employees credit for their work – rather than the supervisor purporting it as their own work.
Another very common one was supervisors owning their mistakes.
Often supervisors set up an environment of expectation that errors are not acceptable, evoking fear among employees when a mistake is made – yet when the supervisor has a double standard and creates excuses or casts blame on others, versus owning responsibility for self-made mistakes. This quickly erodes trust and respect!
Another way to demonstrate integrity is being honest when employees come to you with requests.
Rather than honestly telling employees that they do not support the request or suggestion, the supervisor may state it is out of their hands and that the “superiors” won’t allow it – without ever sharing said request or suggestion with anyone else
Or, other common mistruths are blaming it on the budget, or policy, or some other untouchable – without there being any effort to research the viability; there is no basis of truth.
Some indirect ways to convey integrity, are to create and provide the opportunity for employees to have access to growth opportunities including outside seminars, conferences, certificate based training that will serve their career growth and leadership opportunities – versus the supervisor limiting such exposure and using the budget and other opportunities for their personal purposes.
Limiting their exposure is selfish; it is demoralizing to employees and will limit motivation, productivity and vested interest in the company.
Another indicator of integrity is the supervisor’s awareness and efforts to respect employee’s personal values and his or her right to a personal life versus an expectation that the business and revenue is the only thing that is important. While there may be times where the business requires longer hours for a sustained period, this cannot be a long-term or permanent mindset.
A supervisor with integrity supports employees with enjoying a balanced life.
It is my personal belief that Integrity trumps all else! If you find that there is more than one area within this article that you would like to address to increase your personal development as a leader, I suggest that you begin with focusing on steps to ensure your integrity is solid and without question.
It is the single most important variable that will influence your relationship with others, their trust and respect of you, and your credibility as a professional.
6. Invest in Your Leadership Development
When we take on the role of leader, we accept the responsibility to be the very best person that we can be, not just the best supervisor. These two roles are interwoven. You MUST invest in your personal growth to be an insightful, dynamic leader that inspires others toward excellence.
Our soft skills can derail our success, or can catapult our career and relationships.
Being confident in our values, our choices, and unwavering in our integrity is critical for success; both for the employee and for yourself. Exposure to peers, new resources, and current research serves to re energize and inspire.
Education Leads to New Ways of Thinking!
Create time to focus on learning new skills and mindfully practicing those skills with your employment team.
- Block off 30 minutes per week to read industry news, proposed legislation or new regulations.
- Access free webinars and podcasts that will enhance learning; these can be searched on social media platforms including Pinterest and Facebook, and may more easily fit into your daily work schedule.
- Another free resource is Google. Type in your keywords that address the area you would like to strengthen, and you will undoubtedly pull up free resources.
Mindfully considering these six tips, assessing your status, creating time to strengthen relevant areas and then employing them until they become second-nature to you will help you to become an inspired leader.
I have created a free tool you can use now to assess your current status related to these six areas. It can be accessed on the Freebies page!
In closing, I ask that you reflect on the photo at the top of the blog post; it is an ideal visual to reinforce the concept that leadership requires us to be visionary, inspired leaders.
I would love to have you comment below; did any of these 6 tips resonate with you?
Wishing you success with your leadership journey.
2 Responses to 6 Tips To Become An Inspired Leader with High Emotional Intelligence
Fantastic tips on being a great leader! Thanks for putting all the information in one place here. I resonate with all of the tips, especially integrity and empathy. I’m an educator and think they apply in the world of teaching too.
- Diane Kubessays:
Yes, I agree with you; those two, in particular, have applicability with educators. From my experience, those in the healthcare industry who work with caregivers also will find those two of significant impact. So glad you found value here; Thank You for your feedback!