Post No.: 0397
In the context of resonant leadership – emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise, understand and use emotional information about oneself so that it leads to or causes effective performance in everybody; social intelligence is the ability to recognise, understand and use emotional information about others so that it leads to or causes effective performance in everybody; and cognitive intelligence is the ability to think about and analyse information and situations so that it leads to or causes effective performance in everybody.
Self-awareness is about how we handle ourselves, our own emotions, as well as our relationships. Emotional self-control is about keeping calm under pressure and taking the right perspectives. Motivation and adaptability are about having a positive outlook, keeping our vigour up and being flexible in how we reach our vision or goals. Empathy is about reading other people’s emotions correctly. Social skills are about managing conflict, being enjoyable to work with, teamwork, keeping people informed and managing our relationships with others so that we can all be productive. And achievement orientation is about seeking constant improvement. These are all things to consider in order to be an emotionally, socially and cognitively intelligent leader!
Leaders and managers often lose the ability to inspire when they cease to be emotionally intelligent and resonant because when one becomes too focused on an analytical task or on problem solving, one can inhibit the ability to socially function. In the brain, the so-called ‘task-positive network’, which is specialised for analytical, mechanistic and reasoning-based interactions, is contrasted with the so-called ‘default mode network’, which is specialised for empathic, mentalistic, self-referential and other referential social-based interactions; and when one network is active, it suppresses the other.
To be productive as well as resonant leaders, we need to utilise both problem-solving and social faculties. Leadership is about the relationship between the leader and the people around him/her, and the best leaders build or rebuild relationships by being in tune, or resonant, with others. Resonant leaders create relationships in which those involved experience compassion, hope, mindfulness, purpose or vision, and playfulness.
Effective leaders remind people of the furry purpose or vision of the organisation, which arouses context, meaning and hope. Resonant leaders care deeply about others, beyond superficial empathy or understanding. They’re present and mindful, are genuine, transparent and act with integrity. Most of the time, they leave the other person feeling charged up, excited and inspired!
Emotions are contagious – both our positive and negative emotions tend to be picked up by others, whether consciously or subconsciously. Social contagion is like ‘leading by example’, where people tend to follow their peers or mentors. Therefore, you must always be aware of your own demeanour, body language, words and behaviours i.e. be mindful and emotionally intelligent, in order to be able to consciously adapt your impact on others. Good leaders also lead from the front rather than are hidden away in ivory towers – read Post No.: 0297 for more about this.
At the most basic level, know and use everyone’s first names. Care about their families. It’s got to feel like a big extended family. There’s got to be a feeling of dependence on each other and a respect for each other.
A resonant leader always listens, learns and of course takes the responsibility to lead – balancing conviction with evolution. A good leader should be both loved (e.g. kind, compassionate, chilled outside of work hours) and somewhat feared (e.g. ruthless when required). Sometimes a leader needs to be ruthless but being a leader is not about being ruthless. It’s not to be enjoyed callously or done for egotistical power-trip reasons but is often necessary. And it requires an equal, or really a greater, dose of compassion because it’s a small world and what goes around will come back around.
Understand that different people work best with different leadership or management styles. Some people work best when they plan with a specific goal in mind, others when they plan with a general direction in mind, and others when they just focus on the tasks rather than on the end goals. Some don’t plan at all and believe in passively letting fate take its course, although this particular attitude or strategy is not recommended!
Different people also have different preferred learning styles, such as theory first or application first. Being aware that different people prefer different approaches to tackling a project or to learning will make you more effective in motivating them. A performance improvement review or plan can arouse defensiveness in most people. Obligation moves us into a negative emotion state. (This is why people who wish to lose weight merely because they ‘feel they should’ tend to fail. They need a bigger positive goal that excites them – something that they look forward to doing, trying or achieving.) It is most ideal if someone does things for the joy of it rather than merely because they ought to, and wants success by doing their very best every day without needing threats to motivate them.
Adaptable leaders also understand that some people require ‘tough love’ to bring the best out of them, and other people require ‘soft love’ to bring the best out of them. So again don’t approach everybody in the same way. It’s not always about being gentle – sometimes it’s more appropriate to be straight with people rather than dodge an important issue. Even so, there’s still a better way to do so, and that’s usually by being open, warm and caring rather than aloof or distant – disciplining should be about rehabilitation rather than revenge. And after any show of discipline has passed, let go of the issue quickly and move on i.e. punish or correct, but then forgive quickly after it’s all over – don’t hold grudges, and be nice and cordial again the next day. Woof!
Well a leader will be judged by the morale of his/her team and by the team’s results. Ultimately, the measure of a technique or approach’s success is whether it works or not, particularly in a sustainable and long-term rather than a short-term sense, and in a ‘I want to do it’ rather than a ‘I’m only doing it because you’re watching me right now’ sense.
Some stress is necessary and inevitable in business, but you must be able to identify when it’s becoming or has become chronic. Stress makes us feel tense, colder at our extremities, our blood pressure rises, our pulse races and our breathing quickens but is shallower. Stress can give us a short burst of high performance but this is unsustainable. And if constant over time, it makes us more ‘tunnel-visioned’ when it comes to experiencing new things, listening to different people, being open to new ideas or learning, and we can consequently make very poor decisions. When we’re calm, we are generally cognitively, perceptually and emotionally better off. So we must learn to sense when stress is getting too much for us and help identify when it’s getting too much for each other, and respond appropriately, which usually means with compassion. Compassion – but without an overload of looking after too many people on a daily basis i.e. seek quality not quantity – is good for our relationships, and resonant leadership is about relationships.
Those who inspire us the most are those who believe that we could be the person we want to be, who endorse our strengths by challenging us and giving us opportunities. They trust that we will be able to make it, and they invoke our aspirations and open us to previously never-thought-of possibilities. They leave us in either a calm or an acutely excited state rather than in a chronically stressful state.
Resonant leaders are consensus building in the sense that they’re good at getting everybody onboard and heading in the same direction. They are willing and able to listen to and accept bad news as well as good. Having a shared vision is key to predicting long-term success in family businesses. Reviewing a shared vision helps bring a group into a positive emotion state. (This could be achieved by first spending 10 minutes each morning talking about how we helped some customers or patients feel better the day before.) This then sets people up to be more open to new ideas, relationships, possibilities, learning and change where needed.
True renewal relies on three key elements that may initially sound too ‘soft’ to be part of the hard work of leadership but are in actual fact essential if a leader is to sustain resonance. These are – mindfulness, or living in a state of full, conscious, present awareness of one’s whole self, other people and the context in which we live and work (being awake, aware and constantly attending to ourselves and to the world around us); hope, which enables us to believe that our vision of the future is attainable, and helps us to move towards our goals whilst inspiring others to reach for their dreams as well, which are hopefully at least partially shared and aligned; and compassion, which involves understanding people’s wants and needs and feeling motivated to act on our concerns.
When untrained or emotionally unintelligent people try to help others, their minds are usually constantly in the mode of trying to give advice, which can have the complete opposite effect for the recipient because their primary goal is to be listened to. (And to be straight, if the goal of this person was to help then it’d be deemed as a failure on the part of this person who was trying to help, although his/her intentions were likely good so he/she can be easily forgiven.) Telling someone what they ‘should do’ and how they ‘should change’ to be more effective or productive often arouses defensiveness, obligation and mentally closes down the other person. It’s as if they need ‘fixing’. Thus they’re not going to be in the right positive state of mind for accepting new ideas or picking themselves up for change.
When people lack empathy and the understanding of human reactions (i.e. lack emotional intelligence) by telling other people what they ‘should do’, or to put their old/current attitudes down, for example, it can inadvertently invoke negative emotions and therefore a defensive mental state in the recipient, thus it can have the opposite effect to invoking change and a positive ‘can do’ feeling in them. When someone is feeling down and/or is seeking help, they are obviously already feeling vulnerable, so what will effectively help them to open up to new ideas and change is helping them to think of their positive attributes and putting them in a positive state of mind so that they’ll want to wake up the next morning ready for change!
So we need to coach for compassion rather than for compliance. This is difficult to do at first because when we want to help people, we can be too eager in telling them what we think they should do or not do. But we must switch from focusing on the problem to focusing on the process of coaching and motivating. We should focus on the person, which requires genuine empathy and compassion.
Whether one is in a leadership role or not, the path towards sustainable desirable change is seldom linear – we can have good days, bad days, great days (epiphanies) and terrible days (disasters), so don’t give up! We need goals, realism, plans, experimentation and supportive relationships.
We need the technical ability and the trained knowledge to do our jobs, but these are the minimum requirements – in order to be great at our jobs, we need emotional intelligence. We cannot self-assess our own emotional intelligence though (due to our biases) so only other people can judge it. Any resonant leader therefore also has the humility to both give and take feedback.