Scott Monty

Scott Monty

When you point at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you

Have you heard of the term emotional intelligence? According to A Dictionary of Psychology (3rd edition), emotional intelligence is
"the ability to recognize one's own and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior."
The four key elements can be understood in a shorthand version:
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness (or empathy)
  • Relationship management
Self-awareness means having realistic self-confidence and knowing when to rely on yourself versus the team, as well as knowing what kinds of things set you off. Self-management requires you to keep those emotions in check and let others know what's wrong and provide a solution. When you're truly listening and can pick up on visual cues others are giving, you have the tools to act with empathy. Effective communication and being a team-oriented individual will help you with relationship management.

The link between emotional intelligence and leadership

What does emotional intelligence have to do with leadership? Everything.

Ultimately leadership is about getting along with other people. The business world functions because people - colleagues, employees, customers, suppliers - work together. Negotiation, haggling, sales, setting vision, strategy and goals, and other key business functions require us to collaborate and interact with others in a constructive way.

Leaders that exhibit emotional intelligence have an easier time accomplishing goals than those that don't. A leader without emotional intelligence is a boss - and there are stark differences between bosses and leaders:

  • A boss drives others; a leader coaches them toward their best performance.
  • A boss instills fear; a leader inspires enthusiasm.
  • A boss blames others; a leader works to help repair the damage and understand what happened so it won't occur again.
  • A boss thinks in terms of him or herself; a leader thinks in terms of we.
  • A boss knows how it's done; a leader shows how it's done.
  • A boss depends on his or her own authority; a leader depends, along with the entire team, on mutual accountability and trust.
  • A boss uses people; a leader is interested in helping them grow and develop.
  • A boss takes the credit; a leader gives credit to others.
  • A boss is a commander; a leader is more concerned with asking and listening.
  • The boss says "Go!"; the leader says "Let's go!"

Digital cues for leaders

Even if you're not off the charts with your EQ score, there are ways to improve your emotional intelligence. If you notice the elements of emotional intelligence above, listening is a key aspect of three out of the four.

If your role requires you to be in the public eye in any way - and that also includes in front of your employees - you can get feedback pretty quickly. Anonymous surveys from employees and public reaction on social media - including tweets, comments on your company's Facebook page or commentary on a video - can call indicate how people are feeling about you, your statements or your position.

In short, if you're intent on becoming an emotionally intelligent leader, there's no excuse to be ignorant of your surroundings.

One exception

You've probably been following the slow implosion of Donald Trump this week. The over-coiffed business personality has never been self-conscious about his massive ego, which is probably what he's most known for.

However, he completely misjudged the public and other leaders when he made the announcement that he was running for president on June 24. His errant remarks about Mexico and its people - from which he refuses to back down - have cost him a number of business relationships, including: NBCUniversal cancelling his reality show The Apprentice; Univision cancelled his Miss USA pageant; at least three Miss USA co-hosts and judges have quit; Macy's has terminated its Trump-branded clothing line; even the city of New York is taking a closer look at its relationship with one of its most famous residents (or at least its resident with the most garishly large name emblazoned on its buildings).

But rather than accept responsibility for what his remarks cause, Trump is continuing with his bluster: he's suing Univision and threatening to sue NBC, and if you can believe it, he claimed that the Macy's decision was his own (akin to "you can't fire me - I quit!"), citing inferior materials and - 3 years after the relationship started - that the clothing is not made in America.

Social media has been rampant with taunts, cries of hypocrisy and general disbelief at the lack of emotional intelligence displayed by Trump. Make no mistake: he is so egocentric and bombastic that he cannot legitimately hear or accept criticism, whether it's said to him in person or tweeted to him.

Interestingly, Trump isn't in last place among the myriad of Republican presidential hopefuls. In fact, he's in second place. He would likely assert that because of that (single) statistic, he's on the right track. However, we would argue that his high placement is due mostly to his name recognition. There's a difference between being well known and well respected. [Tweet this!]

If you look above at the attributes of a boss versus a leader, it's pretty clear that Trump is a boss. This is the guy that became synonymous with the phrase "Your fired!" - an utterance meant to instill fear and demonstrate power.

If you map the behavior - and that of the emotionally intelligent leader - along the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Modes, where do you suppose Trump would fall? [Hint: he's very assertive and he doesn't play well with others.] Where would you fall?

The measure of a true leader
Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes

While the access to more information and instant feedback (not to mention the presence of Internet trolls) can give us more insights about where we need to make changes as business leaders, it won't fundamentally change your personality. You've got to want that.

That is, if you value how you're perceived as a leader.

Photo credit (top): Gage Skidmore (Flickr)


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