Free cookie consent management tool by TermsFeed
Creating healthy workplaces through emotionally intelligent leadership

Creating healthy workplaces through emotionally intelligent leadership

To charter a company’s journey to success, senior leaders require a toolbox of skills and the ability to make the right decisions based on facts and market insights. Leadership of people is however less fact based and requires what is often referred to as emotional intelligence.

Many of us have heard the words ‘emotionally intelligent’, but what exactly does this mean? It’s the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, while being able to manage interpersonal relationships empathetically. Emotional intelligence plays a key role in personal and professional success. We all have thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the more leaders can tap into this and understand their people, the healthier the workplace – and the financial results.

If you are looking to harness the power of emotional intelligence and need somewhere to start, the five-step process that Richard Boyatzis designed in 1989 has become the golden standard. This approach is both achievable and simple, allowing you to work on each step at your own pace.

Step 1: My ideal self

Starting your journey with self-awareness and reflection allows you to create a vision of who you want to be in future. Cast your mind forward five to 10 years to a time when things are going well. Visualise what you’ll be doing in terms of both career and personal relationships and also note down how you feel about your life.

This gives you a glimpse of the perfect scenario, so come back to the present and look at what you are currently doing, the impact you are having and what the gaps are between your current reality and future aspirations.

Step 2: My real self

This step may be uncomfortable and confronting as it involves looking at yourself as a leader through the eyes of others – literally. This is where you enlist feedback from a range of people within your organisation: from people you manage, through to your peers, and important stakeholders. Although difficult, it won’t be a completely negative process as you will also ask the respondents to highlight your strengths, as well as the areas which you can work on to improve. See the Emotional and Social Intelligence Profile (ESI)

Step 3: Bridging the gap

Now that you have a clear understanding of your ideal self and your real self, it’s time to bridge that gap and take steps towards becoming who you want to be. There isn’t a specific method to do this, you can choose what works best for you.

This could include looking outwards to find a mentor who exhibits the type of leadership you aspire to, or opportunities outside work where you can focus on relationships with others, for example coaching a sport or charity work.

If you prefer a more reflective approach, commit to 20 minutes at the end of the day to look back and ask yourself whether the behaviour you exhibited aligned with your ideal self. If you find that there’s still a gap, there are many tools that can assist and guide you to develop these ideal behaviours.

All of the above will drive you to change behaviour and that’s the key towards moving from your real self to your ideal self.

Step 4: Practice makes perfect

To change, we need to continually put new behaviours into action until we adopt them as naturally as if we were born with them. Think of it as rehearsing for a play, job interview or important presentation, you keep going until you have it down to a fine art.

A useful piece of advice is to bring in your power of imagination in this step, as envisaging new behaviours can play a strong role in breaking habits, and ‘imagining’ actually uses the same brain cells as ‘doing’ it.

Step 5: Develop supportive relationships

Many of these steps so far have been introspective and internal, but the final step is to develop trusting relationships with a community of supporters. Who you choose to be part of your support structure is up to you. It could be leaders in similar or different sectors, your colleagues or other people leaders.

Like most things in life, we can’t evolve our leadership style alone, as it’s a constant journey of feedback, reflection and pivoting if needed to get back on track. See the Emotional and Social Intelligence Profile (ESI)

A final word: when you think about leaders you’ve had the most respect for in your life, high levels of emotional intelligence are likely to be evident from their ways of interacting with people. Bridging that gap between your current self and your ideal self will set you, your people and your business up for success.

Author: Peter Robinson
Team Management Services