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When leaders lack emotional intelligence

I was reminded of a conversation I had with a potential employer this morning. It was a few years ago and I was toying with the idea of going freelance. I'd submitted my cv and was delighted to see that they wanted to speak to me. I spoke with the owner of the training company and all went well until we started talking about day rates. I quoted a price (with hindsight it was quite low) and she started laughing. Then she screamed at me that I was living in a dream world. That was followed by "please, tell me how I can charge clients that". I tried to end that call professionally but abuse kept coming.

I don't think I will ever forget that conversation. It goes without saying that my lasting impression of that person and that business has not been a happy one. It's important to add that I went on to join a brilliantly talented learning and development agency a few weeks after that call - so it all worked out well for me.

What it does prove, is that leaders like that exist. I can only assume that a lack of emotional intelligence and self awareness led to that outburst. There was no understanding of the impact those behaviours would have. Change was definitely required.

Understanding self is the first step.

We all have a psychological preference and in understanding what that is enables us to adapt our behaviours to get the most out our working relationships.

With a true understanding of self we can then really develop our own effectiveness and also the effectiveness of the team that we are part of or those that we lead. If we want to be part of a high performing team, we must put in the ground work. All of that lies in growing your emotional intelligence.

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularise emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to it:

  1. Self-awareness.

  2. Self-regulation.

  3. Motivation.

  4. Empathy.

  5. Social skills.

The more that you, as a leader, manage each of these areas, the higher your emotional intelligence.

What can you do to grow? The first step is self-awareness. Get to know yourself better. Keep a journal of your day. Reflect on how you handled a situation, what response you received and how you might manage that person differently. You can also invest in psychological profiling. We work with Insights Discovery to produce your own unique profile that will give you a real reflection of who you think you are, who you think you need to be and how your behaviours show up to others.

We've had great success using Insights as a basis for leadership programmes over the last 7 years - some case studies on that will follow soon.

The key learning here is that to be effective, leaders must have a solid understanding of how their emotions and actions affect the people around them. The better a leader relates to and works with others, the more successful he or she will be.

Don't let your lack of emotional intelligence trap your leadership

To finish my story today, I've just googled the company that treated me so badly and nothing came up in the search result. I can only assume they've ceased trading. On the plus side, Acceler8 Training is performing brilliantly - so do get in touch if there is anything we can help your leaders with.

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