Leaders: Do you lead, manage, or are you just in charge?

You know them: the managers who ignore the fact that human beings don’t (actually can’t) “leave their feelings at the door” when they come to work.

These managers ignore conflict and avoid confrontation, especially when there’s a “pot-stirrer” in the office and everyone is just wishing the boss would step up and deal with him or her.

This boss will suffer the consequences: a slow, painful erosion of the trust he has been given by his employees, all because he is unaware of the forces of emotions at work.  The contagion of anxiety, worry, frustration, stress and more will eventually erode the trust of even the most loyal employee. And need I mention the negative impact on the quality of their work? The customer or client suffers in the end.

According to Mayer and Salovey, emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions and to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth (Mayer & Salovey, 1997).

Dr. David R. Caruso (1999) describes how emotional intelligence can be broken into four related parts:

1. Identifying Emotions – the ability to correctly identify how people are feeling
2.Using Emotions – the ability to create emotions and to integrate your feelings into the way you think
3.Understanding Emotions – the ability to understand the causes of emotions
4.Managing Emotions - the ability to figure out effective strategies that use

Managers who ignore emotions in the workplace are just “in charge.” Managers who understand, appreciate, acknowledge, and use emotions (their own and others') actually engage in management.  And I'll go a step farther and add that they engage in the act of leadership.

The good news is that most of us are born with emotional intelligence (there’s actually part of the brain that can be seen on a fMRI scan when we are engaged in this fashion), and this strength and skill can be developed and grown with practice.

As a leadership consultant, this is the most critical skill my clients desire to improve. It is critical to not only manage others, but most of all to lead people to accomplish great outcomes.

The higher up a manager or executive goes in an organization, the more critical emotional intelligence is to their own success and potentially the organization's success (from the eyes of the employees and customers).

For new leaders coming into your organization, is there an orientation, an on-boarding process, or employee manual for  him to understand the psychological nuances and hierarchies of the complex emotional system they will have to manage and lead?

If not, you'd better hope they score high on the "EQ" test!

How are emotions handled in your organization? What are the cultural “rules” (spoken or unspoken) when it comes to how emotions are handled (or not)? Who can express emotion and who can't?


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