We are in an emotional crisis. Rates of stress, anxiety and depression are climbing. The gap between business leaders and employees is at an all-time high. So, what are the most meaningful skills that leaders can bring to the table NOW to support their people best?
The single most important and effective thing a leader should focus on now is to actively develop their own Emotional Intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?
EI is defined as the ability to recognise, understand, and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others. In essence, it’s understanding how emotions can drive our behaviour, influence decisions, and impact people – especially when we are under pressure.
Here are three key areas to ensure you approach every situation with emotional intelligence:
1. Create a culture built on trust
Would it surprise you that, according to Forbes, 63% of employees don’t trust their leaders?
Other global surveys have been conducted with similar results, indicating that the state of trust in leadership is not improving. We know the importance of trust in leadership but many leaders fail to make it a priority until it’s too late.
In 'The Neuroscience of Trust', which appeared in the January 2017 Harvard Business Review, Claremont Graduate University Professor Paul Zak wrote:
Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report:
74% less stress
106% more energy at work
50% higher productivity
13% fewer sick days
76% more engagement
29% more satisfaction with their lives
40% less burnout
Harvard Business Review has stated that a high-trust culture is a 'hard necessity'. Increased levels of trust can result in improved productivity, higher levels of engagement, and greater levels of discretionary effort.
We were already trending downward globally with trust in leadership prior to COVID-19. The pandemic took the brakes off and exacerbated declining levels of confidence and hope in business leadership.
Now is the time to make conscious and urgent shifts toward connecting with your team and reinforcing authentic workplace relationships.
It has never been more important to prioritise emotional connection
and cultivate authentic workplace relationships.
Employees don’t trust their managers when they have no relationship with them. They need to know their leaders, become familiar with their values, and understand that the whole team is working towards the same objectives.
This can only happen when communication is frequent and expected.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Think of a time when you have experienced infrequent or formal communication with a boss. Perhaps it was an annual performance review, or worse – maybe you were called into an unexpected closed-door meeting. Did it cause you to feel stress or apprehension?
Don’t be the 'Bad News Boss!'
If you communicate only when there is unpleasant news to deliver, it is likely that you will be personally associated with bad news, which can damage the way you are perceived by others and ruin your chances of having trusting workplace relationships.
Leaders must take the time to help their employees feel informed and valued.
It might be challenging to build the habit of frequent communication at first – which is exactly what it is: a habit. Focus on small and consistent adjustments now and you are sure to see significant improvement in engagement levels and trust over time.