Challenge #6: Senior Leaders need to pay attention to emotional intelligence
To build better emotional intelligence in leaders, we need senior people to appreciate EI competences. This requires their attention, and willingness to invest time & money, in these invisible competences.
It’s not enough for one part of the system (say, HR, OD or L&D) to try and super-impose new ways of working on another part of the system.
Yes, the budget may lay in one of those departments. But it’s a bit like assuming that the responsibility for health and safety lies in the H&S department. Yes, we need knowledgeable professionals and specialists – but the basics need to be undertaken by everyone.
When everyone’s taking responsibility for paying attention to their own emotional well-being, the benefits are many.
I’m not suggesting that we all become narcissistic egoists. Goleman’s work on ‘Focus’ talks about paying attention to the self, to others and to the collective emotional environment.
The work of author, coach and trainer Dr. Marcia Reynolds points to 2 key areas of awareness that are worth paying close attention to:
- Our emotional language – we may have basic words for how we feel, but emotions are subtle and it’s worth spending time building our emotional vocabulary
- Our emotional triggers – knowing what (and in some cases, who) triggers our stronger emotions, gives a rich area of personal development and emotional self-management
It’s also important to be aware that human beings are perfectly capable of experiencing more than one emotion at a time. In our leadership development programmes, we use the metaphor of a musician’s ‘mixing desk’ where the sliders can increase the volume of one or more types of emotion at the same time.
I was coaching someone recently – about to speak in front of an audience for the first time. It was her emotional commitment – both to her socially-important topic, and to her desire to share her experience with her audience – that helped her overcome the negative emotions she was feeling. To enable her to concentrate purely on the positive.
Good communications skills are vital to emotionally-intelligent leaders. They need to see beyond their own field of technical expertise and grow their understanding of what are traditionally termed ‘soft’ skills and recognise them as core competencies, critical to organisation-wide success.