June 18, 2017 • 6 minute read • by Saeed
“Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect.” ~ Unknown
Over the last couple of decades, numerous studies have shown a positive relationship between emotionally intelligent leadership and employee satisfaction, engagement, retention, and performance.
The higher up the ladder you are, the more people you impact. The person at the top sets the atmosphere that permeates throughout the organization. They set the emotional tone for the organizational culture. Here are 15 traits that every leader should demonstrate that are indispensible to setting an atmosphere throughout the organization that is conducive to productivity and morale. They are also key milestones on your journey to emotional intelligence mastery.
1. Encourage open communication: When you get ideas and suggestions from colleagues or your team, acknowledge them. Ten words or less, such as, “I appreciate the heads up,” or, “Thank you, that update helped me,” does a lot to encourage further information, whereas a ringing silence or lack of response telegraphs apathy, which tends to shut people down.
2. Err on the side of over communicating: When you decide to ignore input or recommendations, certainly ones you solicited, take a moment to explain. Absent that, people will read their own story into your silence, which may be: s/he doesn’t want my input, so I’m not going to provide it.
3. Invest in relationships: Over time, go a level deeper of getting to know your people by investing in some one-on-one time with them, outside of the context of immediate tasks or projects.
4. Let people get to know you: People want to know you. Don’t hesitate to share a story or to talk about yourself in a way that shows something about your character, as context and time permit.
5. Understand personalities and motivations: It’s good to know your colleagues. How much do you really know? Make sure to ask questions about others — both work-related and on a human level. Show caring and concern about others when it’s heartfelt.
6. Attention is the currency of all relationships: Listen hard. Watch distractions, like doing other things while people are talking to you.
7. Know when to use kid gloves: Consider making extra effort to be gentle with people who are easily intimidated, or less prone to go “toe to toe.”
8. Have an open door: Leaders who sit behind a closed door all day long become cut off from those they lead. Their teams can become antsy because they rarely see their leader and feel like they’re imposing on him/her when they need to talk. Decide to have an open door when it comes to hearing out your team. Give them permission to approach at any time.
9. Smile more: Facial expressions say a lot. A scowling or stone-faced leader does not say: “I’m approachable! Come, let me know what you need and what’s happening.” Rather it tells those you lead to stay away and don’t bother me. Make the choice to smile more often than not. Let your team know they can approach you by welcoming them with a smile.
10. Share your mistakes and vulnerabilities: One thing exceptional leaders know is that mistakes need to be recognized. And they’re willing to go first with their mistakes. Approachable leaders open up about the mistakes they have made. They also let their team know where the mistakes have led. By being open about past mistakes, you encourage others to share their trials with you. Doing so allows you to help guide them through the tough times.
11. Know your team members’ names: Some leaders have large staffs. In these environments, it can be hard to learn team members names. Yet the best, and most approachable, leaders know that knowing the names of their teams make them more personable. When you begin to make the effort to learn names, people will see your willingness to get to know them. This makes them see you as a more effective leader.
12. Share the glory: You will find there are leaders who hog all of the glory for a job well done. You will also find that these leaders are rarely the ones that have credibility with their teams. Rather, the leaders who share the glory are the ones who are seen as fair leaders and people rally around them. Don’t hog the praise for yourself. Pass it around to the ones who really helped your organization get to where it’s trying to go.
13. Tell more stories: Stories have a great power. They draw people in and they help people remember details. Stories can also help make you a more effective communicator. People are drawn to stories. Stories click with others. And stories create community when done right. Tell stories that encourage your team to be a community.
14. Practice positive thinking: There are positive people and then there are negative people. Generally, people are drawn to those with a positive worldview rather than those who hold a negative worldview. Having a negative outlook will make others see you in a negative light. Change your perspective and begin to think positively. Share this with others and they will see you as a more positive and effective leader.
15. Initiate chit-chat: Effective leaders are willing to sit down and chat with those they lead. Whether it’s at the lunch table or at the front door or at a community event. When leaders initiate conversations with others they are seen as approachable. They open the doors to conversations They make the first move so others can feel more comfortable.
As a leader, you must have a solid understanding of how your emotions and actions affect your team. Taking the time to work on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills will pay off in dividends in the long run. In the meantime, if you practice the skills highlighted above, you will begin your journey towards emotional intelligence mastery.
©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.
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