Do You Scare People at Work?

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Leadership | Comments Off on Do You Scare People at Work?

scary guyLet’s face it….we all have our bad moments, myself included. If you have too many bad moments it can turn into a caustic culture or a place where nobody speaks up. Leaders are often reactive because expressed or unexpressed expectations were not met. Impatience and irritability can occur because of the different ways others express themselves to you. Although high functioning teams require diverse skills and ways of thinking, it can also create conflict. Diversity is not just the differences in gender, color or race. Conflicts in organizations often occur because of the diversity in the way people think and communicate. I coach many groups and executives around this very issue.

Successful leaders create a work environment where it is safe to air differences and voice opinions. As a leader, how you behave when someone pushes your buttons will be the model for how people behave in your organization. It will either facilitate or shut down communication, the sharing of ideas or truth telling. No leader can afford to shut down communication because he/she cannot manage their emotional state.

Emotional Safety is Critical to High Performance, Creativity and Effective Problem Solving

Hogan has collected over 30 years of research data on leadership personality traits. The data show that in some jobs emotional competence may be more predictive of job performance for a top leader than cognitive ability. Although emotional competence cannot replace cognitive ability, the performance difference predicting success for top leaders may be as high as 80% emotional competence. You might notice that I didn’t use the phrase emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a large component of leadership effectiveness, perhaps even larger than you thought. It is based on personality and specifies your natural tendencies. Fortunately you can develop your emotional intelligence into emotional competence and override those natural tendencies that aren’t working for you.

Regulating Emotions

Do you react negatively to people when they bring you bad news or don’t meet your expectations? What do you do when others question your ideas or the status quo? Do you get irritable and impatient with certain people or situations? If your answer is “I don’t know,” you might want to find out. If your answer is “sometimes I scare people,” you might want to find ways to change your behavior. If your answer is “I am a role model for acceptance and diplomacy,” I would suspect your EQ is above 80%.

An emotional intelligence assessment is part of Evolve’s leadership assessment package and executive coaching engagements. How you regulate emotions is only one part of what makes up EQ. I am often asked, “How can I stop myself from being reactive?” Although it’s important to incorporate context when working on emotional competence here are a few tips:

  1. Before you give your opinion or react, actively listen and reflect what the other person is saying at least twice. It will give you a better understanding of where the other person is coming from. It will also minimize the time between what they said and your negative reaction.
  2. Stay curious and ask non-leading open-ended questions. According to the managers I train this is one of the hardest communication skills to do. It’s important to find out more before you respond. It also helps people think, learn and uncover solutions for themselves.
  3. If someone is giving you feedback or bad news, don’t get defensive or make excuses; simply thank them.

Give these tips a try and see what happens. Please contact me if you want to learn more about emotional intelligence and how to enhance your emotional competence.