Emotionally intelligent leaders lead with distinction

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THERE is more to leadership than meets the eye. Being a leader is more than looking good and directing people.

People Management Issues with Robert Mandeya

Leadership is that critical aspect that can make or break an organisation.

Employee engagement, organisational culture and business productivity are largely influenced by the style of leadership. The employees’ regard and relationship with their leader determines how long they stay and how productive they are in the business.

The ongoing challenge among leaders today is to continually boost productivity and secure retention of high performers.

A primary resolution to this is to enhance employee engagement through emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is defined as a person’s ability to understand, perceive, manage and reason with their feelings, mood states, behaviour and emotions. With this emotional sensibility, a person becomes more understanding and competent in handling other people’s feelings and emotions as well. Emotional intelligence makes an individual more capable of coping with their frustrations, controlling emotions and cultivating healthy relationships with others.

People spend 25% of their week in the workplace. Moods, behaviours and feelings on a daily basis at work affect employees’ motivation in doing their jobs. Engagement, team morale and job satisfaction are influenced by how people feel in their working environment.

Studies have shown that people with high emotional intelligence are healthier, happier and more successful in their jobs or businesses and personal relationships.

How to develop emotional intelligence?

Daniel Goleman’s model of emotionally intelligent leadership includes four primary components: Self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, social awareness.

Self-awareness includes emotional awareness wherein you recognise your emotions and their subsequent effects. You know which emotions you are feeling and why you are feeling them. You are also capable of doing accurate self-assessment which means you know your strengths and limits. You possess self-confidence because you are sure about your own worth and capabilities.

Self-regulation includes self-control where you can put a rein on disorderly emotions and impulses and you are able to keep to standards of integrity and honesty.

Self-motivation means you possess the drive to achieve. You take a stand on your commitment in which you align your goals with the organisation. You know how to take initiative and are optimistic about your goals.

Social awareness is feeling empathy for others. You recognise the significance of developing others, are politically aware and proficient in social skills such as influence, communication, change catalyst, leadership, conflict management and team capabilities.

Social awareness includes knowing when to speak up, when not to, and most importantly, how to speak up. Here is a story: Charles was the owner of a Zimbabwean information technology business with many different products and service offerings.

A new service was the provision of automated teller machines (ATMs) to the banking sector. One local bank had successfully installed Charles’ ATM system and a second, larger bank, which we shall call XYZ Bank, was implementing the ATMs. XYZ was a substantial customer to Charles’ business products and services. The ATM project was not going well for a number of reasons, one of which was quite clearly, resistance from members of XYZ management who it was strongly rumoured, had preferred a different supplier.

Charles called a meeting with XYZ including the CEO and members of senior management with the aim of “speaking up”.

Perhaps not the wrong thing to do, but it was how he did it that changed everything. He informed the meeting that the project was failing because XYZ management was resistant to change and hampering the implementation.

The XYZ team was not happy and walked away from the meeting, seething under the surface. XYZ CEO told his management team that in the next six months they were to make the business completely independent of Charles’ business services. And they did.

With hindsight it is easy to determine what Charles should have done, but in the moment it was his social awareness that was lacking. He should have listened first before “speaking out”?

This error of emotional judgement nearly cost Charles his entire business.

What have you done recently that you should not have done? Why did you do it?

The first tenet of emotional intelligence is introspection. Managers at every level in the organisation need to do more of it.

Robert Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development at the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. You can contact him on lead.inst.dev@gmail.com, mandeyarobert@gmail.com.

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