Part II: Emotional Intelligence at Work



emotional intelligence

The benefits of leaders and organizations with Emotional Intelligence (EI) include greater integrity, improved decision-making, a culture of communication, healthier relationships and a long-term view of current actions.

The following example walks through a situation and the potential impacts a leader has when allowing his emotions to control his outcomes and when he employs EI.

Becoming the emotion

A CEO learns about some potentially damaging actions by one of his employees, which has the potential to hurt the company legally and financially. Instead of assessing the situation and being mindful of future implications, the leader immediately becomes angry. He storms around the office with neck veins bulging, cursing, letting his emotions rule him. In haste, he calls an all company meeting and begins passionately yelling about the behavior and its potential to destroy the company. In closing, he sends a very direct warning to anyone who engages in said behavior and promptly adjourns the meeting.

What are the potential impacts to the organization delivering a message in this fashion?
  • You get your point across and employees understand the message and its importance.

  • Employees may be scared and not bring future bad news for fear of reprisal.

  • Employees may begin to distrust how the leader handles other news that can impact the company.       For example, if a business deal is not working out. Does the leader get angry and burn bridges?

  • The leader is known as a hothead outside of the firm, impacting external business relationships.

  • Cultural damage.

Emotions and actions

The list can go on and on, but the main message is your emotions and your actions have major impacts beyond the current situation. Leaders who are self-aware and self-regulating are able to see beyond the immediate issue. EI is not about bottling up emotions or disregarding feelings. It’s about having the capacity to pause and think before acting on them.

Let’s rewrite this scenario with EI in mind

The CEO hears the bad news and gets angry. The leader understands that when he hears news of this magnitude, he becomes very passionate and upset. He knows that it can throw him off his game and with this knowledge takes actions to regain his composure. He collects his team and discusses the issue dispassionately looking at all angles. He calls a company meeting and acknowledges that he is angry, but speaks in a controlled tone and explains the situation, the outcomes and actions he has taken. He discusses honestly how this could impact the firm and requests that no one engages in the behavior.

Potential impacts:
  • Employees understand importance of issue and it is being resolved.

  • The leader can retain or gain trust by being honest about his feelings.

  • Employees know that he is cool under pressure and can lead through challenging moments.

  • The leader maintains his integrity.

Slow down

It becomes very clear that EI has a tremendous impact on behaviors, actions, culture and relationships for a leader and company. Learning and embodying self-awareness and self-regulation greatly improves the ability to slow down the emotional freight train and allow the rational mind to work.

Derek Lauber, ACC
image courtesy: Cyron

Related articles

Part I: A Primer on Emotional Intelligence by Derek Lauber
Part III: How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence by Derek Lauber

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