Reflecting on my conversations with clients during the COVID-19 crisis, I am reminded more than ever of the need to balance management and leadership. All companies and leaders are working tirelessly and have developed strong management contingency plans. However, many of these plans are omitting a crucial factor in effective crisis management: emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent leaders and organisations will handle this crisis and business unusually better than those with under-developed EI.
The 5 components of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy, and relationship management – can help a leader face this crisis with lower levels of stress, less emotional reactivity, and fewer unintended consequences.
This is the ability to recognise and understand your own moods, emotions, and drivers as well as their effect on others. This is a time for all leaders to be conscious of their own feelings and thoughts about them, because being aware of your own feelings puts you, and not your emotions, in charge. And every organisation needs its leaders (and not emotions) in charge right now. This requires consistency in moods, values and principles to help effective decision making.
Q1. How consistent are you being?
This is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses or moods. The propensity to suspend judgement. To think before acting. Having a plan for effectively leading yourself before you lead others.
All leaders are faced with the unknown and emerging threats on a daily basis. Without self-control, leaders’ risk being in the grip of an amygdala (fight or flight) hijack and shutting down the prefrontal cortex, the logical and creative part of the brain – totally at the mercy of their feelings. In his great book, The Brain and Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman refers to the amygdala as the “bad boss” and the prefrontal cortex as the “good boss”.
Q2. Is your “good boss” showing up every day right now?
This is the passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. Self-motivation precedes motivating your people, and leaders must show their drive, passion, optimism and energy, and be able to clearly articulate what’s important right now – be mindful that ‘people do what people see’.
Q3. Is every leader in your organisation ‘showing up’ every day and can they articulate the top 3 priorities right now?
This is the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. The skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions. One of the biggest challenges leaders face in dealing with Covid-19 is its potential impact on employees’ mental health and wellbeing, and the need to thoughtfully consider their feelings, along with other factors, in the process of making decisions. This is a time like no other for ‘team’. Remember, that at the end of this crisis, employees won’t remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.
Q4. How well are you listening, observing, and serving?
This is successfully managing other people’s emotions to move them in the direction you desire. As this crisis continues, it is essential to manage many relationships among many people – to inspire , to foster teamwork, to negotiate, to manage conflict, and to create purpose. We are all dealing with heightened emotions right now and as a result all relationships have the potential to be more highly charged and difficult.
Q5. How much time are you spending identifying where other people are coming from?
Of course, it’s true that developing these competencies will take time and effort, but there are massive rewards for leaders who do – now and in the future. And while you reflect on whether to put in the time and effort right now, have a think about this:
“The time for personal development and growth is when there is no time for personal development and growth”
Feel free to contact me at Matt@incrediblethinkers.co.uk to discuss your leadership performance.