Why is emotional intelligence suddenly so touted as a major leadership skill?
Because we know a lot more about what makes people tick, what motivates them, and what inspires top performance than we ever did before. HINT: It’s not the old dominant intimidation model that helped the moguls of the past become monopolists (Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie.)
Industry was built by men during a time when being a man meant being tough, not showing weakness (by ways of emotions,) making decisions and demanding compliance, or else. The line between respect and fear was very thin.
Research done in 2005 proves that greedy entrepreneurs have less customer and employee satisfaction.
The more a leader gives freely, the more they will inspire trust and reciprocated financial and emotional rewards. The more they create a climate of lack, the more survival instincts will lead to cut-throat competitiveness that kills collaboration.
I mean, science does tell us this, but common sense might also tell you that starving people of rest, sleep, joy, living wages, and sometimes actual food will inhibit their performance. But that doesn’t mean that it’s common sense to make sure that your employees get ample rest, sleep, food, vacation time, fun, and money. That sounds like common sense, right?
What about starving people from being heard, having a voice, growing in contribution, having and expressing emotions, and being human?
We are learning more about what it means to be human and what it means to be an optimized human. So much has been discovered about the brain and its relationship with the mind, body, and spirit.
Did you know there actually is a part of your brain related to spirit? The insula and anterior cingulate, which also help you process social dilemmas. These are “newer” parts of our brain, evolutionarily. However, they are also parts of the brain we didn’t know much about, especially the implications of its clinical function, when many of today’s leaders were in college. And, these areas don’t fully develop until well into your third decade of life, unless this is accelerated (and development can be with practices that take mere minutes daily.) In fact, while they are the slowest developing parts of our brain, they are critical to helping us with perception, morality, and virtues.
So, it would stand to reason that this type of training certainly benefits everyone, especially younger professionals, and perhaps even students.
However, a major focus is on leaders for obvious top-down reasons, like the fact that a leader is more effective when he or she leads by example, and leaders are expected to set the tone for the culture. But also, science now recognizes that as someone grows in ambition, they may express what is being called situational greed. Greed can contribute to amassing wealth, but can also cause people to act unfairly and selfishly, which will inspire altruistic punishment instead of cooperation and collaboration. It can also lead to full-blown crisis, such as the great recession. It needs to be kept in check, and for that, awareness is necessary. So, emotional intelligence and mindfulness training will also prevent leaders from a well-documented inclination that can lead to decisions that inspire low satisfaction, disengagement, and even sabotage.
On the upside…
What would be possible for your company if all of your employees could be trusted to act in the highest good of the company, its people, and its employees?
What would happen if, instead of having leaders who were able to leverage the strengths of his or her team, you have a team that can leverage each others’ strengths?
If this seems like a pie in the sky outcome, you may need to readjust your expectations of what is possible, and even what’s probable when you focus on enhancing individual self-awareness and empathy.
Think about all of the measures you take now to handle conflicts, ensure compliance, and mitigate human-based risks. You’ve been playing defense. I invite you to see what’s possible when you employ EI/MT (Emotional Intelligence/Mindfulness) training and start playing offense.
Small ripples create big, transformative waves.
What is EI/MT NOT?
It’s not just explaining etiquette. It’s not teaching ethics. It’s not a new way to make some people feel inferior or superior. It’s not going to make your employees “soft.” It’s not suppressing or denying emotions or emotional responses. It’s not a way to avoid conflict.
In fact, it’s going to help your employees become more self-sufficient at facilitating non-judgmental communications and consensus building. They will crave collaboration, think more creatively, and have healthier relationships with their emotions.
I have seen mindfulness be misapplied and misused to discourage people from disputing management decisions that seem to not be in the highest good. I have also seen people employ mindfulness and meditation to escape their emotions. These misuses backfire in big ways. The first is really bordering on mental abuse, and the second will lead to physical symptoms and illness. What we resist persists. Emotions need to be embraced and allowed. What the training does is release emotional bottlenecks and give them a more appropriate and healthful way to flow. It also increases awareness of the emotions so that decision making is done in an enhanced state of mind.
I have also seen those who have the training make others who are struggling emotionally feel like they need fixing. If you have been playing defense, the introduction of these trainings risks imposing these feelings. There is a way to introduce these trainings to your workforce that will help them embrace the changes and get excited about all that is possible for them rather than making them feel like they are joining a woo woo club of spiritual elitists.
Finally, these practices may produce a flow state, but that doesn’t mean that your workforce will suddenly become “soft” and unable or unwilling to deal with pressure. In fact, mindfulness has been proven to increase resilience.
I know a lot has been floating around about trainings of this type, which are not new, but have now at least been proven by small and large organizations to have a positive impact. If your interest is piqued, reach out to schedule a consultation and learn how EI and Mindfulness training can enhance your work experience and outcomes and those of your team.
Music video by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians performing What I Am. (C) 1988 Geffen Records
Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.
Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.