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What happens when leaders experience their own behaviours?
I have long been interested in the kindness of humans and the impact our behaviours and actions have on those around us. Both positive and negative impacts can last decades.
We can all relate to the feelings left by someone in our past years after the event. Their words and actions might fade with time but the feelings their behaviours caused are as raw now as they were then. Think of the worst boss, teacher or partner you ever had. How did they make you feel? How long ago did you know them? See what I mean?
How we show up matters – especially in the workplace, especially if we hold leadership positions.
As humans, many of us do not think about the impact we have on others. We expect them to experience the impact in line with our intentions. But here’s the thing. They don’t know what our intentions were, unless we tell them – which we rarely do.
The pieces of the jigsaw in the picture above, for me, make an effective, intelligent leader:
- THINKING – how is what I am going to say and do going to be received? There’s a reason our parents tell us to ‘think before we speak’!
- CONNECTING – do I really connect with my team? do I know anything about them outside work? do we have fun at work?
- EMPATHETIC – do I empathise with my team? use my awareness of their uniqueness to connect and collaborate with them to ensure they are empowered to flourish in the workplace?
- AUTHENTIC – do I really deliver on everything I say I will and if there is an issue which will stop me delivering – do I share this with my team? do I take them on a collaborative journey to deliver what’s needed?
- AWARENESS OF SELF AND OTHERS – am I aware of when I might be struggling? what about my team? do I use my knowledge of my team to adapt my behaviours to meet their individual needs?
- WHAT IMPACT? – What impact do I really have on my team? do I ask them regularly for their thoughts on what I’m doing well and what I can do better? Do they know I value their opinions even if I’m not going to follow everything, I will always listen to their views.
As a certified Genos Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, I’m even more sure of the jigsaw pieces!
A current project has shown just how critical emotionally intelligent leadership is.
Let me set the context. A global organisation wanted to develop their key leadership team by finding out where they fell in core competency areas compared with how their connections felt.
Each leader nominated several raters from all categories of their connections – line management, peers, direct reports and others (suppliers, clients etc). Each rater completed a survey of 42 questions. The resulting 360 Emotionally Intelligent Leadership report revealed any gaps. The qualitative text facility enables raters to put into context their ratings.
Here’s the thing. Hardly anyone added qualitative text. Leaving many of the leaders bewildered on why they had been scored low in some areas.
My question to them on the debrief was “how does that make you feel?” which drew a range of answers – none of which were positive.
Then I asked “how many of the surveys you were a rater on did you leave qualitative text to give context to your ratings?”
Then came the lightbulb moment….
“Well, I assumed they would know so I didn’t leave any” came the response.
My final question “if you went back to the beginning of this process, would you add some qualitative text to give context to what your rating?”
“Yes, I now know how it feels to get a low score without knowing why”
Why share this event with you? Two reasons really
- It never ceases to amaze me how common it is for leaders to ‘assume’ everyone they connect with is clairvoyant and knows what the intention behind their actions was
- The power of that lightbulb moment when they realise the power of changing their behaviours.
How we show up matters. Your team are your most critical asset. They are they ones delivery the service for your clients. If they aren’t happy and flourishing – the relationship with your clients won’t either.