We’ve all seen it. The leader who receives bad news in a meeting and with a loud outburst of disgust, slams their fist on the table. Or, the leader who becomes overcome by their emotions and breaks down in tears. From one emotional extreme to the other, neither of these leaders instill confidence or trust in their team. Working for an emotionally unstable boss results in a group think culture or an eggshell culture.
A Group Think culture is formed when the group realizes that the only acceptable response to the boss’s latest and greatest idea is agreement. Have you ever sat in a meeting where the whole group just did the ‘smile and nod’? If so, you have experienced group think. Leaders who are prone to impulsive outbursts when they feel like they are being questioned create a culture where people are afraid to do anything but go along.
An Eggshell Culture is when everyone is ‘walking on eggshells’ and that is no fun either. This is created when you have a leader who goes from one extreme to the other. You never know what you’re going to get. It all depends on their mood that day. One minute everything is fine. The next minute they are in a rage because traffic was a nightmare and they are running late. They are an emotional hot mess.
You clearly do not want to do create either of those cultures, and in almost all cases they are created unintentionally. That’s the scary part. The leaders don’t realize the impact they have. They lack emotional intelligence.
Simply put, emotional intelligence is your ability to cope with adversity. When people are doing what you want them to do and your plans are working out the way you hoped, life is easy. But, how do you react when people aren’t doing what you want them to do and your plans aren’t unfolding the way you had hoped? That’s the true test.
The good news is that emotional intelligence is a skill that can be developed over time. Just follow these five communication habits of emotionally intelligent leaders:
Most leaders are not intentionally creating negative workplace cultures. They just aren’t aware of how their reactions can impact other people and create a sense of uneasiness. The emotionally intelligent leader is not only aware of the impact of their words they are also aware of what message they are communicating through their facial expressions and body language. They understand that the perceptions others have of them, real or imagined, impact how their message is received. They strive to develop a heightened level of self-awareness through feedback, self-reflections, and assessments that can help them understand their natural personality style.
The emotionally intelligent leader pays close attention to their thoughts and takes swift action to shift to a positive outlook when they catch themselves getting sucked into negativity. You can train yourself to have more positivity simply by paying more attention. What do you think of first thing in the morning? Do you think about your day ahead and say things to yourself like, “This is going to be a hard day”? If so, guess what kind of day you’re going to get? A hard day. It’s simple, just changing your thought to “Today is going to be a great day” can make all the difference.
The emotionally intelligent leader looks ahead to where they’re going. They know that their reactions can either help them or hurt them as they work to achieve their professional and personal goals. They talk about the mission of the company with their team. They know that having a shared sense of purpose will motivate and energize a team in ways that an angry outburst never can. They share the success stories that show the mission in action and help their team see they “why” behind the “what” in everything they do.
Stress and setbacks are a part of life. How you bounce back from a setback sets the tone for the rest of team. The emotionally intelligent leader is aware of their stressors and their natural reaction. Do they go into fight mode or flight mode? They take steps to proactively counter-act the negative impacts of stress on their life. The understand the serious health effects of long-term stress. One study revealed that 60% of all basic health issues are caused by chronic stress. By controlling their own stress levels, they are better able to help their team walk through stressful situations.
The emotionally intelligent leader doesn’t accept every invitation to engage in conflict that they get invited to. They understand that conflict is a natural outcome of a group of people working together. Every individual on a team is bringing their own set of beliefs, values, perceptions, and personality to the workplace. These leaders understand that when a particular person seems “difficult” it’s usually just that they are “different.” They can see, and appreciate, the strengths that different personalities and backgrounds contribute to the greater whole. They accept individual differences rather than insisting that everyone see things their way.
There you have it. Five communication habits that can increase your ability to handle any situation in stride. Not only will you feel better, you will enjoy the results that come from a team of people who respect and trust you as a leader.
Liz Uram is a speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 4 books, including The Power of Personal Leadership. Her strategies help leaders get better results, make a bigger impact, and be a more positive influence on others.