There’s been much coverage recently about bullying and poor leadership in some high-profile organisations such as the NHS and BBC. This is not exclusive to these organisations and equally I know first-hand of excellent leadership within these most valued institutions. However, when leadership is lacking the consequences are pervasive and extensive.
When I coach or deliver leadership development there is an awakening that good leadership is actually common sense. To demonstrate this, go ahead and list the attributes of good leadership. Your answers may include traits such as listening, respect, collaboration, trust, clear and common goals, integrity and consistent values, decision making and vision.
These are not particularly difficult skills to deploy. So why doesn’t common sense prevail?
The issue, I believe, is low self-awareness or emotional intelligence. It’s having the ability to manage your emotions, of being aware of the impact of your mood and communication style. Being able to flex your behaviours, and to build rapport with different people, adjusting your communication style to the person and situation.
It is these miscommunications that can result in misunderstood intent which, if unaddressed, lead to poor performance, conflict and pressures. Without emotional intelligence these pressures can result in Jekyll and Hyde personalities! You may have highly skilled and experienced people in your team but it is your leadership style that directly affects the results they produce.
Many managers refuse to change their style because their ego tells them others should flex towards their style as they are the ‘boss’. The result is usually what is termed as a ‘personality clash’ - and you can guess who comes off worse!
We probably all know people who, no matter what, always seem to know just what to say and how to say it so we’re not offended or upset. They don’t get angry in stressful situations. They can look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They take criticism well, and know when to use it to improve their performance. People like this have a high degree of emotional intelligence.
I genuinely believe it’s rare that people intentionally set out to bully or intimidate others. So next time you’re feeling the pressure perhaps stop and think… how can I behave with more emotional intelligence?