To be effective, leaders must understand how their emotions and actions affect the people around them.
By DEREK BBANGA
At times, people tend to misunderstand why emotional intelligence is so important. The bottom line is that the way you ‘show up’ (how you behave and interact with people) determines how they feel. Think of the person you know, who brings the atmosphere in the room down just by showing up. Additionally, the way people feel determines how well they engage with you, which in turn determines the outcome of that relationship. Simple…Basic…And you already knew that, right? It’s logical.
This should matter to leaders, because a large part of our success is dependent upon our ability to engage people to get the results that only engaged people deliver. Emotionally intelligent leaders inspire and engage their people and, consequently, they achieve results that are superior to the results achieved by other leaders. This is a key point: you are only as emotionally intelligent as people experience you to be. If you ‘show up’ and don’t demonstrate that EI ability, then you don’t get that payback. It all comes down to behaviour. This means that any leader who cares to understand what behaviours constitute emotional intelligence – and takes the time to learn how to make those behaviours part of their day to day leadership style – can become a more engaging leader and get better results from their people.
The organisation I work for invested 20 years of research in identifying a specific set of 42 behaviours that are responsible for driving an emotionally intelligent impact. The good news is that pretty much every leader already has many of those behaviours as a standard part of the way they behave day to day. Likely, it is these behaviours that got them into their leadership positions in the first place. So, every one of us already has many of the behavioural seeds in our default behaviour. But equally, none of us is perfect, and we all fail to demonstrate some of the behaviours that would dramatically improve our impact. But don’t worry: our experience shows that it is not necessary to assimilate every one of those emotionally intelligent behaviours to raise the level of our impact upon the people who work for us. Even changing one or two of these key behaviours can have dramatic impact.
Think of emotional intelligence as being like a kaleidoscope. In a kaleidoscope, a series of mirrors set at angles to one another create fascinating fractal patterns when they reflect the tiny coloured beads that share the tube with them. Each bead is reflected by each of the mirrors and each of the mirrors also reflects the reflection of the reflection, and the reflections of the reflections of the reflections and so on. So, if you turn the tube and even one bead, you change its reflection, and the reflection of its reflection and so on — then the entire pattern changes dramatically.
Your working environment is just like that – each of your behaviours is like one of those coloured beads, and each of the people who work for you are like mirrors: they are affected by every one of your behaviours. And how they are affected by your behaviour is reflected to you and to every other member of your team that they interact with day to day. The reflections, and the reflections of the reflections of your behaviours are felt throughout your team. This is best illustrated in the book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis.
So, if you change even one small thing about the way you behave in your interaction with your team, it is reflected all around the team (and the world at large) — having a dramatic effect on the way you are perceived. Assimilating even one or two of the emotionally intelligent behaviours could have a dramatic effect on the impact you have on your people and the extent to which they engage with you and their jobs to contribute superior results.
But how do you know which of those behaviours are already part of the default way in which you show up, and which you need to work upon? You must ask those who work for you to tell you what behaviours you demonstrate day-to-day.
Derek Bbanga is a Genos International Certified Emotional Intelligence Facilitator. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org