Ever witness the devastation that you leave in your path when you’re in a bad mood? Great leaders are emotionally aware, of themselves and others. When we try to define “great leaders,” we think of strategy, vision, and powerful ideas.
But the reality is PRIMAL: Great leadership works through emotions. Whatever a leader does, her success is linked to HOW she does it. It’s important to realize how influential emotions are on our ability to lead and the relationships we create with others.
Mood Soup, Anyone?
Moods at work are like the ingredients in a soup. Each person contributes his/her own flavor, but the spiciest one is the leader. Why? EVERYONE watches the boss! The leader talks more. The leader is first to speak on a subject. Others’ comments often “parrot” or affirm the leader’s comments. When others in a group raise a question, the rest of the group looks to leader for a reaction.
Not all emotions spread the same way. Cheerfulness and warmth are the best (easiest to spread). Irritability is less contagious. Depression hardly spreads at all.
Of ALL emotional signals, smiles are the most contagious. We literally get emotionally hijacked by laughter. In a neurological sense, it is the shortest distance between two people’s brains. Most work-related laughter has nothing to do with jokes or pranks; it’s a response to friendly interaction.
Both good and bad moods perpetuate themselves and skew the employees’ perception of the emotional climate of work.
Ever had a sour relationship with a boss or mentor, where the emotions involved disrupted your sleep or eating habits? Negative emotions are the worst: chronic anger, anxiety, and a sense of futility. The most frequent cause of negative emotions at work is the relationship with the boss! (90% according to one Yale study).
The percentage of time people feel positive emotions at work turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of work satisfaction. It directly correlates to attrition and retention. Put simply, leaders who spread bad moods are bad for business. Common sense holds that upbeat employees are more productive.
For every 1% improvement in the service climate, there is a 2 % increase in revenue!
Overall, the climate, or how people feel about working at a company, can account for 20% to 30% of business performance. What drives climate? 50% to 70% of how employees perceive their organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of one person: the leader.
The discordant leader produces groups that feel emotionally discordant. People have a sense of being continuously off key. The emotional toll of dissonance is toxicity. Toxicity results in emotional hijacking.
When hijacked, people’s flight-or-fight response is triggered, and they tune out or stonewall. Leaders do not usually intend to create dissonance, but they may lack the emotional intelligence skills required to change. The most important of these competencies is empathy.
Intellect gets you in the door, but EMOTIONS ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN INTELLECT.
The Four Domains of Emotional Intelligence
There are four main domains of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Self-awareness: Can I accurately identify my own emotions and tendencies as they happen? The competencies are emotional self-awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence.
Self-management: Can I manage my emotions and behavior to a positive outcome? The competencies are self-control, transparency, adaptability, achievement orientation, initiative, and optimism.
Social awareness: Can I accurately identify your emotions and tendencies as I interact with you? The competencies are empathy, organizational awareness, and service orientation.
Relationship management: Can I manage my interactions with others constructively and to a positive outcome? The competencies are inspiration, influence, developing others, being a change catalyst, conflict management, and teamwork and collaboration.
The research shows that the four domains of emotional intelligence are closely intertwined and build on one another. A leader cannot manage his emotions if he has little or no awareness of them. If his emotions are out of control, his relationships suffer. Self-awareness facilitates empathy and self-management, and these two, in combination, allow for effective relationship management.
An Unbiased Assessment
Research shows that leaders can improve and DO improve their emotional-intelligence skills, if they are willing.
For an unbiased appraisal of your emotional intelligence strengths and weaknesses, we recommend completing this online assessment created by TalentSmart. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, and you immediately receive a report that details your emotional-intelligence strengths and maps out your growth opportunities.