Strong leaders— history’s full of ‘em.
Strong leaders can be found throughout history across all fields — from polyglots to military geniuses. They have some common characteristics that instill loyalty and pride in their teams. Small business owners know some of the qualities that these leaders possessed, and try to demonstrate those personality facets to fit their own companies: panache, grit, foresight, efficiency.
Do you pride yourself on running a tight ship?
Is keeping your team properly aligned with your company’s vision your claim to fame? That’s all well and good– but what about the ability to inspire your team to greatness? A softer skill set is needed to create a team that is cohesive and happy to attain your goals. What is this lesser known skill set? It all boils down to this: how does your Emotional Intelligence stack up?.
“Emotional Intelligence? Sounds like some namby-pamby stuff I don’t have time to deal with. I’ve got a business to run!”
That may be, but what kind of business do you want it to be?
- Studies have shown that people who are emotionally vested in a cause or project will work harder to meet their target than those who feel that they are just a cog in a wheel.
- Teams that feel like they can count on you to grant validity to their feelings and ideas will get the job done no matter what.
- A leader who dismisses these thoughts and emotions will cause some major problems for your team dynamics.
Here’s a concrete example of how some poor emotional intelligence from a leader may negatively affect a team:
A business owner proposes an idea for a new product rollout during her company’s weekly team meeting.
- She’s given lots of thought to this idea, and is so excited to share it with her team, she doesn’t notice the looks of consternation being tossed around in response.
- She doesn’t pause for questions or feedback, instead waving it away as “an idea that’s just in the works.” She vows they’ll come back to it at the next meeting, and moves onto the next order of business.
- At the end of the meeting, a few employees leave the room frustrated and troubled.
The short answer is, any number of things could have caused those team members to leave the gathering feeling dissatisfied or put out. It’s possible that they could have disagreed with the idea their leader put forth, or maybe they really liked it. The trouble is, either way, they weren’t given the opportunity to say so.
When a leader doesn’t recognize that her team needs to process and comment on a new action plan, she effectively shuts her team down and closes channels of communication. Her team, instead of feeling that they are part of a cause, are diminished to faceless skill sets. If this behavior continues, it could compound into much larger teamwide issues down the road, essentially blocking idea flow between and among the team, and eroding respect for the person in charge.
Moral of the story?
Maybe Emotional Intelligence isn’t as clear-cut and easily glorified as certain other characteristics great leaders may have (strength, willingness to take risks, perseverance, effective delegation… I could go on), but at the end of the day, it’s JUST as necessary.