Emotional Intelligence Part 2: How important is emotional environment for a successful leadership?


“Emotions are a big part of leadership” as stated by Brian Evje, helps people and organizations on change management, leadership development, and organizational health. Brian is a graduate of Santa Clara University, and the Master’s program Consulting and Coaching for Change at HEC School of Management, Paris / Saїd Business School, University of Oxford. He is a Management Consultant in the Organization Effectiveness Practice of Slalom Consulting. Leaders will need to use their emotions during challenging situations and periods of self-doubt. There are 3 factors that reveals this statement:

1. A leader is an emotional container for the group. The terminology of ‘container’ is quite vague and psychology refers to it as a ‘safe situation in which issues and problems can be examined and worked through without the participants being damaged, punished, or burned”. There are many nuances of this state as researched by Walter Isaacs at MIT). The container reminded me a bit of a notion of ‘flow’ pioneered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – a state of hightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work. It is in the state of ‘flow’ when people can actualize their utter potential and stretch their abilities, while enjoying completely their activity.

And again, environment plays a vital condition and might be referred to as a part of a ‘container’ that helps the leader extract full potential of a team. Honest feedback, direct discussion, conflict resolution and clear decisions are features of such environment and leader must create and maintain it. Evje recommends the following steps:

a) A leader must welcome differing perspectives and intense debate that strong teams will generate. Strong debate might be generator of ideas which helps eradicate misleading strategic path. It is vital not to restrain from this discussion, as it might shut down the voices of others while it is critical for them to feel safe to express a contrarian point of view.

b) A Leader needs to understand emotions dynamic and be prepared to the disruptions caused by uncertainty, distress, anxiety and fear of the future. THis awareness allows a leader to have a direct discussion about these very natural reactions to challenges and change. It is critical to clearly understand the borderline and difference between diving into the emotionality of others by trying to provide solutions and being aware of these emotions in order to address them effectively. Evje suggests that mostly Leaders avoid the latter because of the fear of the former.

2. A Leader must have his own personal emotional container. In order to productively address the emotions of others, you need to understand and address your own first. This reiterates the notion of Self-Awareness mentioned in my previous post. Leaders’ personal emotional container will take him through fears, doubts and uncertainties. It is possible by having an honest and ongoing discussion with yourself. Enlisting the help of a coach, mentor or very good friend who does not have a vested interest in your leadership might help significantly. Thus, emotional self-awareness stipulated emotional health of a Leader, who puts yourself in a better position to attend to the emotional needs of others.

3. Ignore emotions at your peril We all are humans and sometimes we neglect to proactively address emotional issues, because we avoid revealing our feelings as it makes us more vulnerable. As a Leader you need to overcome this challenge in order to strengthen the team spirit and the shared purpose of the group. Leader needs to address emotional issues of the team, otherwise people will be disinclined to tell the truth. Another interpretation of CEO as a Chief Emotional Officer was introduced by Chip Conley, Founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels. CEO is responsible for emotional health of organization what is a good perspective for organization but is only possible by the emotional health of leaders.    


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