8.08.2013

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership Careers

Ever notice how when kids misbehave, the first thing people wonder is how or what the parents are teaching them? The same thing applies in career life which is why it is crucial to follow the right leader.

As adults, our traits are molded by those whose lead we follow and overtime we shift closer to becoming a portrait of their habits. I was lucky enough to have bosses who taught me the value of emotional intelligence throughout my career. Kevin Pete, a senior Vice President, was one of the influential ones I reported to. His analogy was that hiring the best intellects and the best book smarts is easy; it's the intellects with strong emotional intelligence that are hard to come by.

There were certain things Kevin did which really impressed me and I started to insinuate his style. When he was giving me initiatives and feedbacks on my skills, he knew he was creating a new leader yet it never worried him that someday I may outgrow him. Suffice to say that he treated me like a child whose parents wants him to do better than them. This is actually a very important point because this is the difference between a manager and a leader. A manager is afraid of creating competition whereas a leader deliberately creates new leaders. He trained me to the point where I was promoted to report directly to the president and CEO of the company.

One thing I noticed common among Kevin and my new boss, Rick Haines (CEO of AultCare), was the fact that they both lead through inspiration instead of fear. Not once did I hear anything from either of them which implied directly or indirectly that if I didn't deliver xyz I would get fired. The end result was that I found myself trying to deliver results not to protect my job but to avoid disappointing them and breaking their trust.

The reason I brought my experience up is because these folks knew the power of emotional intelligence and through that they communicated the "why" instead of "what" to me. My understanding and agreement of why they want to do certain things made me felt connected to their cause and part of the family.

Never forget that as a leader you don't manage just people but also emotions. Our employees take cues from us more than we think and through slight adjustments in our style we can make it easier for them to approach us, enable them to report accurate statuses of where things stand without the fear of retribution and allow them to speak their mind on different strategic ideas.