Emotional Intelligence- Leadership

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Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes- Peter Drucker

How do you define leadership? Many great people and leaders themselves have already defined leadership in many ways. I would just like to mention my perspective about leadership as “When people follow you/your footsteps if and when your thoughts, words, and actions are congruent with each other and you resonate with people and spur them into action”. Some of the key elements of Leadership are inspiration, authenticity, and integrity. In other words, a true leader walks the talk. A true leader commands respect, adoration, and admiration.

Some of the exceptions to the definition of leadership are some of the so-called political leaders who become leaders not because people chose them to follow, but through money muscle, goondaism, and most times due to lack of real, authentic and honest leadership. People choose them as best among the worst. Some times people choose them for vested interests and prefer to be their sycophants rather than weighing them for their values, ethics and principles.

Today, however, we will be discussing leadership only in the context of an organization’s viewpoint. Being in the leadership position for more than 20 years in corporate and private companies, I know a thing or two about leadership. I firmly believe that unless you have that experience in any field or have learned a new skill, you cannot with conviction and full confidence speak or write about it. It is so very important for a leader at whatever level he/she might be in the organization needs to have an emotionally intelligent attitude to be successful professionally and personally. All the EQ (Emotional Intelligence quotient) skills discussed already in my earlier blogs such as emotional Self-awareness, Self-Management, Empathy, Motivation, and Social awareness are key to the success of a leader in any organization.

EQ- leadership is a vast subject in itself and to cover it in a single blog will be impossible. We can at best have an introduction of the same. To begin with, I would like to narrate some of my own experiences, wherein I was a Team leader, however totally oblivious of the term EI (emotional intelligence), nor did I possess some of these skills naturally, although I was fairly decent boss who can handle his team to get the best out of them. However, due to a lack of awareness sometimes even I committed some mistakes inadvertently.

Once I got really overwhelmed by a situation in which the delivery of the equipment was getting delayed well beyond the date and time which was promised by me to the customer (a regular feature across companies in the industry I was working). The customer was yelling at the top of his voice, as his position was at stake in his organization since he took the decision to buy our equipment based on the trust, I had built with him. That’s when I lost it completely. I vented out all the frustration on my colleague who was nowhere related to the project or not even at fault at that point in time. Now, when I look at that incident, I wish I were more self-aware of my emotions, had better self and impulse control before tripping onto my colleague. 

Another incident when I showed less empathy to a colleague of mine. It so happened that, I and my colleague went to a joint call (a presentation) and from there I went to another nearby customer just as a courtesy visit and my colleague was supposed to come back to the office for some urgent work. I completed this call, took a cab directly from the customer’s place to the office only to find that this fellow had still not reached. I jumped to the conclusion that he was just wasting his time outside or maybe go for some job interview. I was not able to resist my temptation (lack of impulse control) to shout at him as soon as he came to the office. He was too shocked and upset that he didn’t tell me the full story as to why he was so late. Only after some time I came to know from another colleague that, he first took a bus(since at his grade he was not allowed cab by the company) from customers’ place to the nearby railway station, then took local train to the station of our office and then had his lunch outside, had to visit the doctor in between as he was not feeling well since morning (he didn’t show or reveal this to me, nor was I able to detect) and walked for more than 15 mins in the scorching Mumbai heat to the office. I wish I was more empathetic before losing it out on him. Thankfully, all this was many years back when even I was too young, less experienced, learning (even today I am learning) immature, impatient and deprived of self-awareness. However, as you gain more experience, get beyond the age of say 35 or so you tend to get more mature, soberer/less flashy and more considerate about others. (Disclaimer: not to suggest that all young leaders of today i.e say below 35 years of age are immature or less empathetic)

How Team leaders/Zonal Heads/Managers halt their own and organization’s progress with these unruly/disruptive behaviors/emotions?

  1. Insecurity– If the team leader himself/herself is insecure about his/her job, no way they can give any kind of security to his team members. In fact, it is seen that people fire their sub-ordinates (especially in Sales) so that their positions are secured at least for a few months. They put their failures on some of their subordinates and make one or more of them as scapegoats. Such so-called leaders can never gain any confidence/ respect from their team. Such people will always try and terrorize team members that they will lose their jobs if they don’t perform.
  2. Divisive: It’s actually an extension of the first point. Being insecure themselves, they cannot tolerate their immediate next who himself/herself is handling a team, to grow in stature in the eyes of his/her team. Hence this leader may try and reduce your importance by dividing the team and asking some people to report to him/her directly and giving you a very small/inexperienced team just to demotivate you.
  3. High EGO: Such bosses are very hard to handle. They can trip at the drop of the hat if you hurt their so-called ‘Self-importance’ and this can be really tricky. On the other hand, if you can correctly catch his/her pulse and get to know how to flatter him/her, they are the coolest people to work with, although I have never used such tactics nor endorse one. (In fact, many times I got on the wrong side of my boss for calling “Spade a Spade”)

When these leaders make decisions, they expect others to just follow through without questioning them on anything.  Decisions taken by such ego-driven leaders are for fulfilling self /vested interest rather than for the betterment of the department/organization as a whole. But such attitudes can have negative consequences and the productivity and morale of the team may take a beating in the long run.

  1. Concealing Info: these people will try to give only enough information that is required. You are not supposed to know more. They feel it not correct to divulge too much information to even your immediate next since they belong to the TOP management. While every company has some set secret policies which is fine too, but these people most times do get too carried away.
  2. Working in Isolation: Their team is not aware of their whereabouts. Well not everybody should know & that too all the time, but yes if you and one of your team members are working together on a project or a big-ticket sales requirement, he should be knowing if you visit that customer & what all things were discussed.
  3. Tripping frequently on Emotions: In other words, their motto is ‘Just do as I say’ no questions to be asked. This type of leader are terrors for their subordinates and team members look for the first available opportunity to change dept/leave the organization.
  4. Wrongly loyal: these types are leaders who want always to be in good books & views of their bosses and the TOP management and will seldom fight for the rights for his/her team members.

Some leaders think these behaviors are necessary to have ‘control’ over their team members. They think it’s ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ to behave in such a manner. But these tendencies may give you short-term results but they will never succeed in achieving long term objectives and goals for the organization.

What is Emotional Contagion?

The moods, emotions, and behaviors displayed by the leaders get rubbed on to the employees. The mood generated in the organization/team/department comes from the leader heading it. Leaders set the organization/department’s tone. It can be formal, friendly, serious, anxious, relaxed, tensed, fun-loving, or any other shades of emotions depending on what percolates down from the leader heading it.

If positive emotions, collaborative working style, and enthusiasm emanating from the leader, it reflects in the better performance/productivity, quality and customer service from the team and they are more likely to achieve the desired results and targets. On the contrary, negative emotions such as threats for job, anger, jealousy, groups, instilling fear, etc result in poor team performance and ultimately high employee turns over rather than sales turn over.

Who is an Emotionally Intelligent Leader?

Some of the qualities can be listed as under:

  1. Importance to other’s work: An emotionally intelligent leader instills pride in his/her team member with a strong feeling that no work is less important irrespective of the position and the grade the person is working in. No job is too small. Everything each member of the team does contribute to the overall objective and goals of the team and the organization.
  2. Vision for each member: These leaders show and have a big picture and vision of each member of the team with clearly defined objectives and collective goals. They first identify where each person is and work towards the liking of that person to achieve a Win-win situation for the team.
  3. Just positivity: These leaders will be full of enthusiasm, hope, confidence, conviction on the task/activity they are doing, optimism, co-operation and continuously work towards building trust not only on themselves but among the team members as well. All these positive emotions get easily rubbed onto the team members. They keep that fire burning and passion alive on each working day. They build confidence in their team members by throwing more responsibilities on them and give them the belief that even if they fail it’s ok, they are not alone and that their leader is there to support them. They build trust and cooperation by showing that they care. One self-example of this I would like to mention here- in one of my earlier jobs where I was heading the Region and responsible for a separate profit center. It was the last day of the quarter and salespeople can relate how important invoicing is on this day. We need to get the numbers for not only meeting our own sales targets but also helping the region which is lagging behind (by exceeding our sales target) to meet the overall sales targets. We had orders in hand but the material reached the depot for local billing (those were pre-GST days) only late evening on the last day of the billing quarter. Me And one of my colleagues Nagrani waited in the office right up to 11.00 PM and completed the billing in SAP. Nagrani was commitment personified in spite of being a woman, to work so late in the night. Such acts of walking the talk and digging in and working together help instilling a sense of belonging to the organization in your team members who are then very loyal to you as a leader.

These leaders are very optimistic. Even when the going is tough, they never let their own and their team’s guard down, continuously pushing team members. E.g if a team member had lost an important big order, they motivate him/her by saying that “never mind, winning/losing are part and parcel of the sales game. Important thing is to learn from our mistakes and move on. I know you can still achieve your targets and you have the capability to replace the lost order with a new prospect of equal or bigger size. I am there to work with you in getting your numbers.”

  • Giving freedom: These leaders will give full freedom to their team members to work in a style that suits them within the framework of organizations’ rules and policies, just by letting them know what and by when the outcome is expected out of them. This helps to instill creativity among the team members and this flexibility allows them to work at ease and in a relaxed manner yet meeting the deadlines.

I Would like to end today’s blog with the following quote from John Quincy Adams…….

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

  • John Quincy Adams

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