We have heard of Artificial Intelligence or AI. AI is a new technology that can revolutionize the way we work and live and compete. We know it’s an important, growing tool for leaders. But what about Emotional Intelligence or EI? Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions. And to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others! For this reason, it’s an important and valued leadership skill.
Young Upstarts recently analyzed the top teams of all time. On the list were: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, The Apollo 11 Nasa Team, the Justice League, the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, Rogers and Hammerstein, and more. All very special and successful teams. But what makes these teams – and teams in business that we may have managed in the past – great anyway? We might argue that one of the major components of high-achieving teams is how effectively the leader can influence the rest of the team.
Think about the football coach at a major university who will be coaching in the final 4 playoffs. Are they going to have to control their emotions? Is there team going to have to control their emotions and execute the game plan? Is the coach going to have to understand each player and how to motivate them and help them perform at a high level? This is Emotional Intelligence (EI). We have to influence our team to move toward our goals and succeed, amidst emotional pressures from many angles.
Leaders should inspire teambuilding and a locker-room togetherness that
‘We are in this fight together!’
Based on learnings from my own career so far, I built an inspiration model called CHEER that my teams have used successfully to inspire teams to high performance levels:
The leader is not going to develop Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills unless he or she gets to know their team members individually, and communicate with them individually. You can do this by getting out in front, being visible, and being available. From open-door policies (I have one hour on Friday where any associate can walk into my office and talk about anything), to my Friday morning walk-arounds, you can structure time to enable 2-way communication with your associates and they will love you for doing it! The associates want to see you and hear from you directly. And inspiring a 2-way communication can continuously provide emotional intelligence about your associates and you, that will help you more effectively lead the team to success!
Do you know what it feels like to hold someone close? A dear friend, a son or daughter? To be involved in their challenges and their fears? Your associates also have challenges and fears that can affect their emotions and their performance. You should be engaged with them and support them. Your associates are not just a number, or a “headcount.” They are real people. You can influence them by understanding them and just simply utilizing your emotional intelligence sills to motivate them.
A few years ago, after departing one of my companies, I received a card in the mail from someone on the front-line in the accounting department. It is a letter I have saved to this day. The letter read, “Gary, thank you for caring so much about the reports I send out every month from accounting. You were the only one in the company that really read them, and that was so important to me.”
I held her projects and what she was working on closely, and valued her hard work. As a result, she felt it. Involvement is about everyone in the company, from the CEO to the front-line associates. I am very proud of this note because it emphasizes how little steps by a leader, can make such a big impact on your associates performance.
Why is it that 90% of front-line associates, when asked in confidence, will tell you they do not have what they need to delight customers? This is frustrating to your team. They want to see you enabling them by making investments in their training and their tools, so that they can be more effective.
As an example, if you are a small business CEO, you may be the only one in the company who deeply understands the Customer environment. This is an issue, especially if you try to sell the company someday. How do you expand the capability throughout the company and enable yourself to scale and take on more customers? If you invest in training and tools for your team, you can positively impact their emotions and step up your team’s ability to perform at high levels for your customers! That’s a win-win.
We know that executing the right strategy is important to drive the business forward. But I will tell you something strategy does not drive: Energy! How many times have you been part of a company or organization that takes a lot of time to set out a strategic plan, and then none of it gets implemented? It just sits on the shelf. This is very frustrating to associates, especially those who helped to come up with the plan. They want to see goals achieved, plans implemented, and dreams come true. So if you want to make them raving associates, you have to energize people around executing the ideas in the strategic plan. It’s with execution that we get things done – and people feel a sense of contribution to the goal and the success achieved by the team.
Recognition can trigger very positive emotion in the person that receives it. But what about everyone else on the team? We want to inspire everyone on the team to achieve that same level, correct? But how many times have we seen recognition go the other way – and demotivate others on the team. We leaders sometimes forget a very basic principle that we all know: recognition is personal; everyone is motivated differently.
To give recognition properly to your team, you must understand what motivates them. This is possible by spending time with your people to genuinely ask questions and intently listen to them. The Emotional Intelligence (EI) gained from this exercise alone is a huge gift for leaders. It does take time, but it is so important to shake someone’s hand, to walk into their cubicle and say thank you, to give out a gift card that says, “Job well done,” and to give someone some personal time or family time. This is how you say, “I care about you.”
“As a leader, you should make every associate in the company feel valued.”
The CHEER model will help you get results! Everyone wants to be part of an inspiring team. Influencing is the ability to recognize, manage, and evoke emotion within oneself and others – to promote change. And the greatest leaders can influence this by understanding and developing Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills to better inspire a team.
The bottom line is this: Building relationships is important. If we can learn to understand our own emotions and how we respond to our emotions. And if we can better learn about our individual team member’s emotion and impact that in positive ways, we can build better relationships that will help take your business all the way to the top!
Ready to explore your potential?