So many CEOs and senior managers give concerted effort to hiding their vulnerabilities, under the impression that allowing others to see their emotional side will make them appear weak and incapable of being the right type of leader. As it turns out, just the opposite is true. When leaders use their emotional intelligence—their ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups—they are able to make smart decisions about what to keep personal and what to show in ways that positively impact the company.
Increasing your emotional intelligence occurs with a focus on the following three factors:
Care for Others
Who are your employees? What are their names and what do they do on a daily basis to improve the position of your company? Going beyond that, what do they individually want from their work experience? According to Inc. Magazine, the number one thing employees desire is a sense of purpose. While a paycheck and benefits are good, employees want to feel important, they want to know their work matters and has a tie to the company’s overall direction and success, and they want to be seen as more than just a number.
One of the biggest mistakes upper management can make is to further the misperception that creating a schism between upper and lower employee tiers is the most effective way to keep authority and order, and achieve results. Employees are more productive when they feel unity, can identify with the end goal, and have the recognition they need to stay motivated.
Focus on Sensitivity
Do not mistake sensitivity for vulnerability. They are not one in the same. With respect to your employees, being sensitive simply means avoiding a focus that is so narrow, it keeps you from seeing the human side of your business. People get sick, they have emergencies, they have bad days. Practice empathy, don’t be quick to jump to conclusions, and always try to give the benefit of the doubt. Don’t be so concentrated on the bottom-line, you forget that it’s real people helping drive it.
Be Part of the Accountability
No one is perfect. Your employees aren’t perfect. They know that falling short of their expectations subjects them to review and consequences. They also know that you’re not perfect. Yet, if you hide mistakes and imperfections in an attempt to look as though you are, the result will not be an increase in your number of followers as employees strive to be more like you. On the contrary, followership will decline because no one believes you are perfect and they would much rather follow someone with which they can identify than someone they cannot.
Instead of covering it up or getting someone else to take the wrap, acknowledge it, discuss it, and open up the opportunity to work together as a team on ways to address the issue as a learning tool or lesson. According to an article in Forbes, “The Most Successful Leaders do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day,” the fifth item is being accountable. Here’s an excerpt:
Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them. This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs. Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.
The real bottom-line? Having emotional intelligence doesn’t mean being an emotional person. It’s a skill that, when developed, has the power to build trust, increase productivity, and create a standard of leadership to which others will aspire.