Creating Leaders - Step 3: Emotional Intelligence
By Dr. Andy Schell,
The skills of a successful Leader are known based on decades of research.
Great leaders have a common set of skills that include:
comprehensive knowledge of the dynamics within a specific business process
proficiency creating and implementing a business plan
self-awareness with a high emotional intelligence quotient (EIQ) to avoid self-deception
proficiency in critical thinking and decision theory (Double Reflective Thought)
the ability to interact authentically with people based on personality traits (Big 5)
knowledge of how to match leadership style to organizational design (vertical/ horizontal)
a keen awareness of the relationship between Leader/Manager and Coach
Emotional intelligence is a measure of the extent to which a leader embraces the ability to process their own emotions as well as identify other’s emotions.
Emotional intelligence includes thinking rationally about decisions and refusing to react impulsively in high-pressure situations. Just because an emotion is experienced does not mean it is required to act upon the emotion.
Leaders with high emotional intelligence are self-aware and not blinded by self-deception, enabling them to build trust and authentic communication with employees.
Leadership’s behavior matters. The little things may become the big things that either enhance or destroy a vibrant culture. Successful companies share common traits that include deploying a comprehensive strategic plan, a leadership team that understands the strategy and can inspire the staff to excel.
Dr. Caldwell has researched leadership and emotional intelligence extensively and noted that the ability to think rationally and deny the erratic compulsions to behave impulsively enables leaders to build trust with employees. Leaders must acknowledge a sensitivity to the inner voice of self-deception and rely on principles related to values and personal competence to ultimately form the basis of how to live authentically. Self-awareness involves having a deep awareness of one's emotions, strengths, and limitations, including a keen understanding of one’s values and motives. Self-awareness theory suggests that individuals who are more cognizant of how others perceive them can implement a more accurate self-appraisal. Someone’s ability to honestly view their behavior through the lens of others may then initiate behavioral change.
Hearing one’s inner voice allows for the implementation of continuous personal improvement that enables behavioral adjustment based on the internal feedback loop that transmits information to silent cognitive thought creating a Personal Kaizen.
Self-aware leaders carefully examine their behavioral consistency given the attributes defined in the firm’s values statements and the leader's convictions. A corporate value to respect each other is defeated when a leader yells at an employee. A self-aware leader would see the behavioral impact of their words and actions and take corrective measures to make things right with the affected employee and take steps to extinguish the behavior.
Introspective leaders are more effective when they demonstrate that they are receptive to feedback from others. Self-awareness is a fundamental element of emotional intelligence and is critical to our ability to communicate with and build relationships of trust with others.
Research demonstrates that individuals who possess a high degree of self-awareness are skilled at self-monitoring and adapting their behaviors to relate effectively with others.
Self-awareness incorporates a capacity for self-reflection and thoughtfulness, which enables rational thinking.
Self-awareness will help to mitigate impulsivity, which, when unchecked, may result in dangerous consequences. The goal is awareness, not perfection. When they fail, authentic leaders apologize.
The elements of leadership are definable, and yet, it may be challenging for a person to become an effective leader. One impediment to leadership is self-deception, which stems from unidentified behavioral challenges that are seen by others but not by the person.
Dr. Caldwell identified self-deception as a discrepancy between the way in which one knows to act and how one actually behaves. When one acts in a manner that is inconsistent with the intended behavior, cognitive dissonance surfaces as the disparity between intended and actual action surfaces causes remorse. We did what we shouldn't do. When this occurs, self-deception may manifest as a defense mechanism that results in aberrant behavior such as projection, displacement, undoing, isolation, sublimation, and denial. These behaviors are a universal observed phenomenon and may lead to the leader implementing feedback-avoiding behavior to soften the scream of cognitive dissonance.
They ignore the little voice of truth in their inner ear to accept a lie of self-reinforcement as a symptom of self-deception.
A self-deceived leader may ignore input from others and deploy projection or blaming others for their failure as a tactic to avoid feedback that reflects poorly on them. Many political leaders come to mind.
This level of feedback avoidance is known as megalomania, where the self-deceived leader disconnects from reality and rejects any input that is inconsistent with their view of themselves.
This is also when the failure of inductive reasoning is most present. (See Inductive Reasoning below)
Even skilled leaders who recognize the importance of carefully preserving the subtle elements of interpersonal relationships fall prey to the uncontrollable situations that hijack our physiological responses, which exponentially increase stress and cause inevitable self-awareness dysfunction. The loan did not close, so we yell at the processor, the underwriter, and the dog, regardless of whether or not they contributed to an uncontrollable outcome.
The other issue surfaces when ego-driven self-protection prevents the cognitive dissonance feedback loop from activating. In short, we may know we behaved as we shouldn't, and we don't care.
When self-deception acts as an ego defense mechanism to maintain self-esteem without regard to others, the leader ignores their behavior to preserve their appearance, yet they fail as a leader.
The leader's behavior is all that matters, and few words can repair the employee's observation of the leader's duality, where the employees experience the leader's blindness to their bad behavior. This is particularly detrimental when the leader reprimands their employees for the same behaviors they ignore in themselves as it reveals a double standard.
At this time, the leader has lost the employees' trust, and the office becomes an emotional wasteland that is the antithesis of the sought-after vibrant culture. All of this resulted from a leader's self-deception. If the leader believes it is acceptable to yell and swear at the processor because the leader's sales activity created the job, then the leader exists in a fantasy world of self-deception that is not sustainable.
As an example, when an apology does not follow the accidental shopping cart bump by a stranger in the grocery store line, emotion stirs. This same "they didn’t apologize" feeling is felt by the staff when the leader acts inappropriately without remorse. The key to a vibrant culture is for leaders to embrace the occurrence of self-deception’s inappropriate action with remorse. When stress leads to inappropriate expression occurs, the leader should feel remorse and apologize.
When leaders experience remorse and communicate an apology, a Vibrant Culture is possible.
Dr. Andy Schell, DBA (Ph.D.), MSML, MBA, CPA/CFF, CMB
Dr. Schell is CEO, Managing Partner, and Co-Founder of Mortgage Banking Solutions and MBS Financial Services ("MBS"), based in Austin, Texas. Dr. Schell is known for his ability to turn "vision into reality" and "chaos into order" as he finds creative solutions to the challenges his clients face addressing Revenue Stability, Technology Enhancement, Financial Management, and Workflow Efficiency. He has 4 decades of experience as a leader/ manager/ coach directing the activity of both small and large groups of employees including mortgage lending activity at Bank of America. His leadership knowledge extends from his hands-on experience and his academic training in his MBA, his master's degree in leadership, and his doctoral work to examine employee dynamics given leader stimulus.
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