As employers we hold a certain amount of power. I don’t just mean writing the checks and providing financial stability; I mean employers and company leaders can affect each employee’s day-to-day quality of life. Whether leaders aren’t aware, or they’ve simply forgotten in the monotony of it all, their attitude, communication and leadership styles can all have a big impact on the overall happiness of their workforce.
This year, we collectively lost a childhood friend and mentor, comedian and actor Robin Williams. Since the loss, I’ve seen a lot of friends urging one another to keep in mind the silent emotional struggles of those around us. This isn’t the first time we’ve had such a tragic and harsh wake-up call, and sadly, it won’t be the last. So what can be done besides a thoughtfully crafted Facebook post?
Be aware of your own influence
As leaders, we often forget the influence that we can have on a day, a career, a life. The average full-time, US worker spends about 1,700 hours per year at work. It truly is up to company leaders how each of those 1,700 hours are spent.
I have personally had a few bosses who would come into work like an emotional tornado. You were either going to have a great, uplifting and fun shift, or you were going to grow more bitter with each passing minute that you will never get back, and it would all depend on what mood the boss was in.
“Employees have a positive relationship with supervisors who care. Just one-third of respondents believe their manager cares about their personal lives, but 54% of these are engaged. Among the two-thirds who do not believe this, only 17% are engaged. There is a dramatic opportunity to boost engagement by managers demonstrating a caring attitude to staff.” – Dale Carnegie, The Role of the Immediate Supervisor
Some workplace management experts contend that having high levels of EI (Emotional Intelligence) is actually more important in leadership than having a high IQ. Wake up to the power of your own influence, learn your own triggers, and make an honest commitment to forging positive relationships with your workforce.
Beyond getting in touch with one’s own emotions and triggers, the other side of emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor other people’s emotions; the skill to discriminate between different emotions, label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour.
Emotional intelligence allows leaders to understand the emotions, triggers and feelings of those around them. This understanding helps them to manage relationships and situations more effectively. These leaders are responsive, rather than reactive. Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence are more often successful in their roles. Caroline Smith of MindTools explains why:
“...Because they’re the ones that others want on their team. When people with high EI send an email, it gets answered. When they need help, they get it. Because they make others feel good, they go through life much more easily than people who are easily angered or upset.”
Forbes business advice contributor, Steve Cooper reported on an international study of over 500 senior execs that revealed that emotional intelligence was a better predictor of success than either relevant previous experience or even a high IQ.
“Leaders are so focused on remaining relevant for their own personal gain that they have forgotten to be more sensitive about how to best serve their employees (the people who help give them relevancy)...Beyond the traditional leadership roles and responsibilities, today’s workplace uncertainty requires leaders to be much more sensitive about what matters most to their employees.”
–Glen Llopis, Workplace Leadership and Innovation Expert
There are assessments, courses and entire training programmes dedicated to emotional intelligence in the workforce. I’m all for training and tools, but right now might be a better time to simply reflect on how we impact those around us at work, and what we can do to make each interaction just a little more genuine, and respectful.