Emotional intelligence is kind of a popular thing these days and it’s been written about a lot. It is a critical component of being a leader and developing as a leader, but an important concept for life in general as well. Emotional Intelligence is made up of many things that stem from:
It's all about knowing your strengths and challenges and how you contribute to the outcomes of different situations.
We know that anyone can develop emotional intelligence. From start-to-finish during our year-long LEAP Leadership Acceleration Program, we track the change in emotional intelligence indicators; we absolutely see positive change in participants during their 12-month leadership development journey—upwards of 30% on average. In a nutshell, once a person gets feedback and becomes aware of the concepts around emotional intelligence, they learn to be aware of their behavior and their impact on their social environment. When they learn the tools for coping and regulating, they really can control their behavior and act with a higher level of emotional intelligence.
As an example, a couple of years ago we had a General Manager at a prestigious restaurant, who was a great employee—sharp, organized, great at his job, but he could not control his outbursts, he could not regulate he impulse when he became upset or frustrated. In this case, the person was very self-aware--the situation was quickly eroding his confidence as a leader and he could feel it. He knew there was a problem, he just couldn’t regulate. Through LEAP, with feedback, skill building, reflection, help from peers, and guidance from his Coach, by the end of the year we saw a 60% positive change in indicators for emotional intelligence and leadership confidence and competence. Backing this up, his sponsor and boss reported a visible and significant improvement in his leadership, the team he managed, and the work environment in general.
So, absolutely we can develop emotional intelligence. It comes down to first understanding “who I am at my core, at my best most natural self?” Then, “how do others see me in the work environment?” And from there, reducing the blind spots through reflection and sharing openly with trusted relationships.
It is important to note that the process of developing emotional intelligence takes time. It’s like working out at the gym; results don’t happen overnight. Throughout the leadership development process, the emotional intelligence muscles are being built overtime with the help of a coach, peers, and the tools and curriculum provided in the program.
We’ve tracked the development of emotional intelligence in leaders over many years working with executives, managers and aspiring leaders to increase their confidence and competence. We have metrics that show the change in emotional intelligence level from the start of the leadership development journey to the end, one year later. Based on this, we've identified 6 key indicators of lacking emotional intelligence:
#1 Very limited self-awareness, which really goes back to a lack of feedback. If employees are irritated, act annoyed, don’t respond to what you want them to do, have no idea as to why you’re asking them to do things, it could be something that you’re completely blind to, a particular behavior or a mannerism that you are completely unaware of, you have no self-awareness and also you have no feedback, therefore, you’re lacking that self-awareness.
#2 Having perfectionistic tendencies, being hyper-critical of others, and having unrealistic expectations that no one around you can live up to which deflates the morale of team-members.
#3 Defensive when accepting feedback. When people attempt to give the feedback, the recipient doesn’t see it as a gift, they see it as criticism and respond either defensively or angrily when others attempt to give them feedback.
#4 Inability to manage emotional impulses is another area or sign of lacking emotional intelligence. People who can’t quite control what their reactions are, become victims to their emotional impulses, whether its anger or depression or whatever it might be that they don’t have the ability to recognize that emotion and bounce back quickly or manage it effectively in the moment.
#5 Lack of accountability and not taking ownership for performance situations like lack of results in the organization or when something goes wrong on a project.
#6 Being inflexible, not just in behavior, but inflexible in one’s thinking and inability to adapt to changing environments and changing situations and other people.
Leadership can be lonely.
We're all familiar with the phrase "it's lonely at the top" but the isolation of leadership can extend through all areas of the organization--wherever people are in a position of authority. Whether you're at the very top or somewhere in the middle, when you are placed in a position of authority, you need to be the boss and sometimes you can’t really problem solve or talk through issues you’re having with your employees, team, or management team.
For example, let's say you have an employee that reacts in a very emotional way every time you give them feedback—who do you talk to about this? You can’t talk to other employees. You don’t necessarily want to expose the behavior to upper management and tarnish the perception of this employee. You don’t want to take it home. It’s sensitive and you want to respect the privacy of the employee, honor their trust, and help them overcome their challenges. But how? Without the ability to discuss and collaborate with others, self-doubt can creep in and really begin to affect your ability to lead well, ultimately negatively impacting the results of the organization.
How can a leader avoid the very natural isolation of being in a position of authority without creating division and separation?
We really encourage leaders to find a peer group. CEO’s and senior leadership often have an easier time with this because there are so many CXO focused groups and networks already available. For the mid-level manager, this can be really tough.
This is why our leadership acceleration program is based on a peer cohort group; we want our leaders to start with a trusted peer group where they can bring their issues and not feel so isolated. The peer-cohort is a group of like-minded people to talk to, who are also growing and developing themselves as leaders. Whether it’s inside your organization or not, you have a group of peers to talk about real-world things confidentially. The group will help you work through “how do I best handle these situations?” which can really be helpful for eliminating that isolation and also gives you the confidence to address things head on.
Looking for a leadership cohort in your area? Find out more about LEAP!
Better PROBLEM SOLVING. New INNOVATION. LEADERSHIP SUCCESSION. Improved RESULTS.
Executives who have sponsored employees in LEAP® report better problem solving, new innovation, leadership succession, and improved results as the top valuable outcomes of investing in the LEAP leadership acceleration program.
To achieve these valuable outcomes, leadership development initiatives need to have the right balance of skill building curriculum, 1:1 coaching, time to implement, real-world application, feedback, personal planning, and accountability.
Successful leadership development programs can not simply disseminate skill building curriculum via classroom or online presentation; nor can they be 3 or 5 day workshops that provide everything one needs to know in a whirlwind. These scenarios provide developing leaders with plenty of theoretical book-knowledge and ideas, but leaves them to their own devices on how to implement in their real-world environment. Once back-to-work, with their day-to-day workload tugging at their attention, it's too difficult for managers to apply enough of their learnings to really make the transition to an inspiring leader. While they want and are expected to be more effective as a result of the training, without knowing it, they really haven't been given the entire toolkit for success.
In order to grow highly effective, inspiring leaders who problem-solve, innovate, improve results, and are truly capable of succeeding current leaders, companies need to invest in an integrated leadership development program that combines curriculum, coaching, accountability, real-world application, and ongoing feedback over an adequate period of time to allow for proper implementation, reflection, and growth.
The LEAP® Leadership Acceleration Program is a 12-month journey that participant members take with 8 to 10 of their peers as a cohort group, guided by a highly skilled Certified LEAP Coach. The curriculum is customized to fit each cohort group's needs and real-world issues are discussed in a safe and productive way. Individuals work together to solve real-world problems, leading to better problem-solving and innovative thinking in their day-to-day environment.
During the LEAP® year we measure participants' "confidence and competence" at specific intervals so we know how much growth is occurring. We are proud to have graduated hundreds of leaders from our program since 2003 and our "confidence and competence" measure shows consistently high growth (in excess of 25%) in the following areas:
Watch this short video to hear from executives about how LEAP has helped pave the way for leadership succession, and why it works better than other leadership programs on the market.
New LEAP Cohorts are forming now. Make this your LEAP year! Apply to join a LEAP Cohort in your area.
If you are a top quality coach looking to add a proven leadership development program to your service offerings for small and mid-size businesses, join our collaborative network of coaching professionals at the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration and add LEAP to your business! Apply to become a LEAP Certified Coach.
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.