With the new year comes new year’s resolutions. It’s a time to reflect on what you want to achieve this year, what you want to improve and what you need to eliminate; things, people and attitudes that no longer serve you. We do this in our personal lives for each new year, so why not take some time to reflect and reassess on how you can change this year to be even better? Maybe you want this to be the year you put people before profits, or the year you build a more innovative team, to generate more ideas and become more competitive. Maybe you want to have a more engaged and motivated team. The best way to achieve any of these is to be more in touch, supportive and facilitative in your leadership approach; to be more emotionally intelligent. Here are three ways you can develop and grow your emotional intelligence as a leader this year;
- Be more engaged
We all get busy and when we have a lot on our plate and looming deadlines it’s easy to de-proritise those non-urgent meetings and catch ups. In fact we have come to appreciate being told a meeting is cancelled and we are given back half an hour in our day. But it’s the non-urgent one-on-ones and the non-urgent team catch ups that can actually create the most leverage when it comes to building connection, trust and rapport with the individuals in your team. In fact if you make time to prioritise these meetings when you are most busy it speaks volumes in how much you value your team and put them first. It’s vital to maintain a regular check-in with your team. And of course when you do catch up, make sure you carve out the time and mental space to make the meeting really count; make sure you are present and practice active listening. Ask for feedback and for their opinions.
With remote and hybrid working being commonplace, it’s more important than ever to take measures to ensure employee engagement is a top priority. It’s tempting to simply email everything, in fact with a remote workforce, you could go for days or weeks without having a face to face, teams or even phone conversation. And while this may seemingly seem efficient, the stakes are high in terms of connection and engagement. In fact with this work model, people can feel distinctly disconnected which is not a great thing for leaders wanting to retain staff and build engagement.
- Be more vulnerable
Gone are the days of the stoic, emotionless male manager of the mid-century; where a lack of emotion and being stoney-faced was a mark of professionalism and tough but fair leadership. These days leaders need to be more intune with their people.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, it was noted “Millennials, in particular, are much more likely to vocally share the challenges of caregiving, mental health struggles, and concerns about work/life balance than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts. Add to this an influx of Gen Z workers who have been found to be even more comfortable sharing their emotional and mental health needs, and it’s easy to see that the tides of work are changing”.
Leaders who create a space where people can be vulnerable and feel psychologically safe lead to employees who feel safe to share their creative ideas, take accountability for their mistakes and feel more connected. Likewise, leaders who show vulnerability, create more collaborative cultures.
Brene Brown, a pioneer of vulnerable leadership, founded her book Dare to Lead on the question; “What, if anything, about the way people are leading today, needs to change in order for leaders to be successful?” Of the more than 500 leaders she interviewed, the majority answered that leaders today needed to be brave. After digging deeper, Brown concluded that the main ingredient to being brave was to be more vulnerable. It’s not such an easy feat, to be more vulnerable. Hence her book is split into four key skills to master in order to become more vulnerable.
It has been conditioned into us that vulnerability is weakness but in fact showing some levels of vulnerability actually makes you more human, enhances your connectedness with people, builds trust and rapport and makes you much more likeable. Here is an insightful quote to consider from Brown to encapsulate this concept perfectly; “When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work. But daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human.
The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the exact same time as we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines and AI can’t do better and faster. What can we do better? Empathy, connection, and courage, to start.”
- Be more trusting
If you were inclined to be a micromanager in 2023, if you are worried that people in your team could get things wrong or fail, be more open to trusting them this year. It takes vulnerability to trust others but it could be the best change you make this year. Allowing others to take greater ownership of their work is empowering and motivating. Of course check in with them along the way and offer your support, but trust more in their capabilities and see what happens.
How can you be a better leader in 2024? If you and your team want to kick off the year on the right foot, get in touch today, I’d love to help.