4 Ways to Exhibit Emotional Intelligence as a Leader Post-Crisis
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Let's face it, we are all tired and in search of a glimmer of hope. Right?
Thankfully, as vaccinations lessen the threat of the global health crisis, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. For many leaders, there may be a strong urge to "bring home the troops," so to speak, and to ramp up business as usual.
With the onset of the crisis, organizations entered unchartered territories. They were forced into a seesaw, trying to achieve the balance of dealing with both accelerated change and adjustments to any original strategic blueprints. At the helm of the wheel, navigating toward what appears to be the tail end of the crisis looks exciting. But navigating a ship to recovery without first assessing the ship's inventory is a failed mission.
So, how do we start? Cue emotional intelligence.
1. Dig deeper
Avoid the temptation of settling for the surface-level textbook response. For many, this may mean seeking funds to revamp, restart or hire new staff. Yet, to reach the core of the matter, leaders need to connect emotionally and dig deeper.
Recently, I was on a women’s leadership call, where one of the leaders, Ijeoma Michelle Daramola, crafted an analogy of emotional intelligence akin to an open faucet. Daramola, a highly experienced global financial expert, said leadership in these times requires "an overflowing supply of emotional intelligence." In high doses, this ensures leaders are able to understand their feelings in this climate before making crucial organizational decisions.
2. Seek help
As leaders circumventing a new normal in a post-crisis era, acting on impulse may push our ships to crash into a massive rock. Leaders are human first and have also been impacted in many ways personally and professionally. Self-awareness is key. Not fully grasping one's emotions now, can lead to making the wrong decisions in business deals, signing or dissolving crucial contracts, or termination of important employees.
An important step for any leader to take is to seek help on how to fully understand your own emotions. What are some of your rampant thoughts?
Research from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that some men who are depressed are more likely to disguise their emotion as anger. Now, think about how dangerous it could be to mislabel your own emotion and then make a decision based on it.
For example, a company CEO may be sad and depressed about lost revenue during the pandemic, but unable to adequately process the emotion, he labels it as anger and reacts based on that. This could mean getting upset during a management meeting, which could have a negative ripple effect.
On the other hand, if the CEO had successfully identified the emotion, through journaling or therapy sessions, then that would have been dealt with properly. The behavior response would also be different. The management meeting could have been more productive, as they collectively would have come up with solutions to help increase revenue.
3. Connect with employees
Practice emotional solidarity and empathy. Prior to any important meeting (individual or group), consider spending time to approach the meeting from the state of mind of your employee. Think about the issues that could be affecting them outside of work as a result of the global health crisis. This could mean anything from lingering health issues, reengaging in society after an extensive period of self-isolation, trying to recover from financial hardships among other crisis-related issues.
4. Encourage healthy communication
For many who have spent extensive time away from an office setting, there may be a disconnect among employees. This can easily lead to a breakdown in teamwork and collaboration efforts. Leaders should ensure that there is an increase in more authentic communication methods. This could mean being more vulnerable about struggles faced during the past year. A leader sharing a story of dealing with the long-term effects of the global health crisis can go a long way toward motivating employees who may still be dealing with loved ones in the same situation. Providing more training to assist employees with handling difficult clients (equally affected by the crisis) and protecting their mental health could boost overall performance.
While leaders may feel pressured to hit the accelerator right now to recover all, it is important to dial in to emotional intelligence. This will provide the refreshing needed to ignite and motivate the entire team.