Our recent podcast guests gave their interviews during the 2020/21 Covid-19 pandemic against a backdrop of global uncertainty, political upheaval, and widespread social unrest. Interviewing high profile leaders during such a unique moment in history delivered several key themes across our podcast episodes. Something that came up time and time again was emotional intelligence.
As we transition into the next phase of the pandemic, leaders across the globe are likely to experience compassion fatigue and desensitization may be setting in, making it difficult to strike the right approach and leadership tone. So, perhaps now is a good time to recap on some interesting episodes to discover why emotional intelligence has never been more important.
In the context of employee engagement, attracting and retaining the right people, building a strong culture, and delivering meaningful communications, emotional intelligence is reflected in the ways that you understand, manage, and reflect your own emotional state, and those of your employees.
Our interviewees collectively agree that if you lack emotional intelligence, you may be ineffective at best, and at worst you may damage your leadership capabilities.
Emotionally intelligent leaders can positively impact employee happiness, alignment, loyalty and more!
Our sector leaders believe that navigating and understanding the emotions at play within teams and companies is crucial to changing minds and behaviours. Part of getting through a crisis is realising ‘we really are in it together’, which requires emotional intelligence and vulnerability.
As leaders, our interviewees regularly talk about authenticity and the importance of bringing your whole self to work. The pandemic has helped to break down barriers by helping leaders and employees to show more of themselves – whether that be via Zoom calls from home showing a glimpse into peoples lives and homes, a more relaxed approach to workwear giving people the freedom to lose the office attire in favour of more casual clothing and adapting to flexible working hours to fit around family and caring responsibilities has relaxed the working day. We will have all experienced meeting a family member during a call, or having a meeting interrupted by a pet, a child, or a delivery. These ‘normal’ occurrences during an abnormal period in time have broken down barriers for many and enabled emotionally intelligent leaders to harness their skills in new ways.
(In episode 44 our guest Peter Bigelow from xCell Strategic Consulting was looking after his dog throughout the interview. Our podcasts are raw and real and go ahead regardless. Offering an emotionally intelligent listen if you will!)
Trust and emotional intelligence go hand in hand
Many of our recent episodes cover interviews where leaders say, “it’s okay to not know the answer, or to say I don’t know”, with many agreeing that by being honest or suggesting that others in the room have the answer is a perfectly acceptable leadership response, especially in times of upheaval. Being honest builds trust and people recognise that leaders don’t always have the answer, which in turn gives team members the confidence and opportunity to make their own contributions and provide solutions.
Read the room or the zoom
Good leaders learn to read the room (or the Zoom for 2020/21) and know when to speak up, and when to sit back and listen. Really listen.
Using active listening, leaders can identify what they don’t know, so that they can work on giving employees what they need. By admitting that they don’t have all the answers, they naturally develop a more authentic leadership approach – and if our leaders are anything to go by this will win over hearts and minds, as well as trust and make people feel more comfortable with uncertainty.
Collaboration and conflict
Emotionally intelligent leaders tend to not shy away from discomfort or conflict. Instead they create a safe space to understand the situation and the emotions, giving people time and space to manage situations effectively. Facilitating conflict and appropriately managing reactions enables good leaders to build trust by being seen as a true collaborator.
An emotionally intelligent workplaces starts with you
Almost all our interviewees mention the importance of metaphorically ‘filling their own cup’ – emotional intelligence starts with self-care.
Self-awareness seems to play a huge part in this with leaders talking about their acknowledgment and making space for their own emotional experiences, doing what they need to take care of themselves from marathon running, to playing basketball with their kids, or enjoying travel and family vacations to the quiet peace of a cigar collection. The self-care theme is echoed by leaders from everyone inside the outsourcing space – CEOs to Consultants they are all self-aware and prioritise self-care. In turn they each empower others to do the same.
If you are interested in hearing more about emotional intelligence, we’ve selected 3 episodes from our archive that you should add to your playlist.
- Listen to ‘The humble leader’ Steve Ferguson via episode 43 as he discusses humility, pride and getting the balance right.
- Tune in to Jeff Dill via episode 41 ‘Creating a healthy culture’ to hear about Jim’s servant leader approach.
- Rewind back to episode 37 where you’ll hear Jarlath Keating discussing his transition from ‘Teesside University to global leader’ and the importance of understanding the jigsaw – your success is dependent upon the success of your colleagues.
Emotional intelligence starts with you.
From self-care and awareness to active listening and building trust our leaders offer an array of advice and tips to develop this vital leadership skill. Browse our podcast back catalogue to learn more or delve into the endless range of scholarly research and books that cover the topic.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s recap and that you will make some time to tune in to our recommended episodes. Don’t forget you can re-listen to our full A-Z of episodes here.