One of the consequences brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic is an undercurrent of emotional disturbance characterised by rising levels of anxiety, depression, fear and stress. Leaders are not only confronting these challenges from a personal point of view but are also having to help the individuals on their teams to cope with their own experiences and emotions whilst also trying to achieve key performance targets and innovate in a marketplace that is rapidly changing form and function.
Key to creating an environment where innovation and collaboration can still take place is developing the right conditions for physical as well as psychological safety. When people are taken care of physically and feel they are acknowledged and understood in an authentic and empathetic way, they feel empowered to speak up and contribute to the enterprise they work in without any fear of negative feedback.
The degree to which leaders can manage their own stress and feelings today is a reflection of the way their teams will respond to the crisis and the personal challenges they are facing. To create the excitement and purpose they need to inspire their teams to greater performance during this time requires a caring growth mindset that is somewhat different to the type of authoritarian leadership mindset we had become used to before the pandemic.
Leaders in this environment of radical change and disruption need to develop their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management skills to get the best out of themselves and their team members. They also need to get to understand themselves and their team members on a far more scientific level so that they can ascertain the strengths they have on their team based on the type of personalities and the types of intelligence they can tap into to leverage diversity and configure exceptional project teams who create solutions, products, processes and systems that outperform their competitors.
Building up these emotional intelligence skills combined with redefining a clear vision for the work that is done by their teams will not only increase their own confidence and motivation but also inspire their team members to follow them.
A few years ago researchers at the World Economic Forum reckoned that by 2030, Emotional Intelligence will be the most required skill for everyone in every job. In many respects the pandemic has drastically accelerated this need as we have had to contend with a new emotional landscape and have had to adopt a more sensitive approach to all the stakeholders in our businesses, namely, our employees, customers, shareholders, our communities and the environment we serve.
Emotional Intelligence is so important it accounts for 58% of performance in all types of occupations and is the foundation for several critical skills: self-leadership, team-leadership, self-motivation, decision-making, time management, change tolerance, diversity tolerance, assertiveness, empathy, stress tolerance, communication, sales skills, presentation skills, social skills, customer service, anger management, accountability, critical thinking, creative thinking, flexibility, adaptability and trust.
Emotional Intelligence is our ability to recognise and understand emotions in ourselves and in others and to use this awareness to manage our behaviour and relationships.
When there is a lack of emotional intelligence in the workplace, communication becomes strained and people become disengaged, losing their ability and motivation to think critically and creatively. The way leaders employ their emotional intelligence during this time will also, to a large extent, determine the achievement of their team and company’s goals, metrics and financials.
The good news is, emotional intelligence, or EQ, unlike IQ, can be developed with study, training, coaching and practice.
Leaders that invest in the development of their emotional intelligence will not only improve their leadership performance, staff engagement, productivity and the bottom line, but will also prepare themselves for a future which may be characterised by further uncertainty and volatility.