Firstly let’s examine why we would want Emotional Leadership. The reality is that Emotional Leadership is not new. Ever since tribal leaders, kings and revolutionaries have been sending troops in to battle there has been a need for them to emotionally connect with those who may sacrifice their life in their name. That does not mean they always did connect and perhaps some of the work we deliver today would have benefited the likes of Charles I.
In the present age Emotional Leadership is an essential component of getting the best of out your organisation. It is not, however, some surface level, skill based, manipulative management trick. This is where the leader develops a deeper understanding of themselves in order that they may lead with conviction, integrity and take their teams and organisations with them into the battle that we all call business.
Leaders are in a challenging position that involves them caring about customers, caring about results and caring about their employees. Leadership is about role modelling, being emotionally aware, and emotionally resilient. In this ever changing world resilience is vitally important and emotional resilience is what carries us through when the pressure is on. Emotional resilience and emotional leadership is all about self awareness, awareness of others and the ability to connect with those you lead on an emotional as well as intellectual level. Being clear about your personal direction, that of your business and communicating that to you teams in a way that connects is vitally important.
We started writing an A to Z of emotional leadership to help our clients understand what we mean. I thought I would share with you a few of the first letters.
Authentic – It is no longer acceptable to be “do as a say not what I do” type of leader. Most leaders accept this now. Being authentic is a little bit more than this though. There are many employees, managers and leaders out there that are taking a personality to work that they think fits the job, the role or the salary that they desire. In other words they do not bring their whole and true self to work with them. To carry on this act under increasing pressure and in a changing environment is an extra stress that no one should have to bear. Being authentic is about realising that you can be you, true to your core, and still be successful. When you are not being authentic people sense it and they do not listen to the leader that is not authentic.
Appreciative (of self as well as others) – It’s easy to appreciate others. It is not always easy to appreciate oneself. We meet many leaders who, perhaps doe to the environment they have learnt to manage in or due to their own fears are afraid to appreciate their teams and colleagues. Perhaps it’s the inbuilt fear that praise comes with an expectation of more praise. It often can, but it is a great motivator and can cost nothing. Others worry when they appreciate others they put themselves in emotional debt and as their leader they need as much coercive power as possible. Saying thank you for a job well done is a great thing to do and highlighting team members strengths and appreciating them for those is a great way of getting people to play to their strengths and build the strength of the team. The chances are we are preaching to the converted. When we say it is vitally important to appreciate yourself we will often find we get funny looks. Many successful but ultimately burnt out leaders are what we term “high achiever, low self esteemers.” They use their career/business as a way of shoring up and boosting their self esteem. They have a deep need for others to appreciate them when they do not really appreciate themselves. This can lead them to work harder and harder and drive themselves deeper and deeper into the ground. Appreciating yourself is a simple way of ensuring that you are successful because of the skills you bring and not simply because you work harder than anyone else.
So much is written about belief that it is hard to say any more. What we can add is that there is a deeply powerful source of energy that has almost unlimited potential that we tap into when we have true self belief. Its power carries us through the challenges, the stalling and the backward steps that are inevitable on the pathway to success. When we connect our self belief to our passion and link this with our emotional intelligence we can achieve anything we really want to achieve.
Why be an Emotional Leader?
There is no point me writing about this important subject unless I set out why you may want to allow emotional intelligence and emotional leadership to be part of your leadership style.
Emotional leaders connect with their company on a level that is more than just figures, targets, goals and strategy. Emotional leaders commit their whole self to leadership and do it because it is the right way to lead.
As a result they way they behave will be congruent with their beliefs and the way they communicate will resonate with their teams. They will have an abundance of empathy which will enable them to be demanding and challenging in a fat paced world without alienating the crucial soldiers that go in to battle for them.