22 Nov

Relationships? Who needs them?

‘91% of employees say communication issues drag executives down.. a striking lack of emotional intelligence among business leaders.’      Forbes – Interact/Harris Poll

 

This week, we have briefly introduced the fourth facet of what contributes to emotional intelligence – Relationship Management. We can be very self-aware and manage our emotions well. We can even have great empathy for others but if we don’t motivate or persuade, encourage others, effect change, handle discord or collaborate well, then it can all be for not a lot. Unless you’re the last person left standing on earth, you will have to encounter others and have relationships with them. Humans are meant to be social beings and as such, you’ll inevitably have some kind of relations with them. Ensuring that those connections are healthy ones will make all the difference in the world.

 

When coaching clients, this aspect of emotional intelligence is often the one found to be in the greatest need of development. Most people have good intentions. Once they are aware of what needs work or how others might be interpreting certain situations or behaviours, they are keen to effect change. The reality though is that many think that they have good relationships – that they communicate clearly and well, that they inspire others and are generally good at encouraging others. However, when we properly examine some of those relationships through the coaching process, we learn that things are not what they seem or what the coachees assume.

 

Recently I spoke at an event on the topic of ‘Harnessing Curiosity to drive your Career’ at the CFA Institute. As an experiment, I said the word ‘green’ and went round the room to ask what people’s interpretation was of the word. Some were literal in the colour (but what shade?), one thought about money, another envisaged the environment and another pictured trees. The point here being that we may think we are on the same page, but we may not be. This is true for so many of my coaching clients, whether they are working on being better leaders, looking for a promotion or managing their teams to greater efficiency and performance. All this requires effective emotional intelligence and relationship management.

 

‘85-90% of leadership success is linked to social and emotional intelligence’ Korn Ferry

 

Case Study

Client E has been a leader for a long time and has a great relationship with her team of senior leaders. They like her and respect her work ethic. She communicates well with them and they trust her enough to come to her with issues when they encounter them. Sounds wonderful!

 

Problem is that this is the perception that E has. However, when we asked her team members, they said that yes, they liked her and admired her work ethic. They trusted her to look after them. However, they did not feel they understood her vision, if she had one at all. They also felt that she didn’t really understand them. Although she was articulate, not many seemed to really comprehend her objectives and as such, there was a lot of confusion and duplication of work. This resulted in her micro managing her team and undermining them, however unintentional. Due to some members of her team ‘getting’ her better whilst others did not, it resulted in some in-fighting and conflict amongst team members which further reduced productivity. E’s workload increased because she had to get her team’s ‘subpar’ work done, thereby not delivering on her own objectives. The irony of it all.

 

The work we did was extensive but a large part of it was focused on her emotional intelligence. As we are discussing managing relationships today, I’ll break it down below with reference to E.

 

What is Relationship Management?

 

  • Inspiration – having an explicit and compelling vision that resounds with others bringing about confidence, imagination and drive. Often it’s about leading by example.

In E’s case, she thought she was leading by example by working hard alongside her team. However this only works if you’re setting the right example.

  • Influence – being able to persuade and interest others through respect that has been earned

E did have some of their respect but not wholly. As she was unclear with her vision and only had partial respect, she encountered more resistance to her plans than expected.

  • Develop Others – showing true interest in others. Listening, encouraging & helping them learn and grow to further themselves

E had every intention of doing this and thought she was by having frequent one-on-one catchups. However, one has to actively listen to understand how to help develop these individuals. It may take time but the outcome has far more solid foundations for the future.

  • Change Catalyst – people who incentivize change when needed tend to have earned the respect of those they lead.   They are able to make compelling arguments, have a clear vision, take feedback and act in collaboration with others to ensure no parties are left disenfranchised.

E wanted to enact change for her team but was unable to put forward a compelling enough argument to take everyone forward with her.

  • Conflict Management – the ability to manage difficult situations without further inciting unhealthy emotions and behaviours. Conflict, if healthy, is a positive, constructive and necessary part of growth.

However managing that was hard for E because she was too busy doing others’ work and micromanaging their work, as opposed to managing her team. Simple conversations snowballed into emotional outbursts and tantrums.

  • Teamwork and Collaboration – leaders should model respect, helpfulness and cooperation in this domain, which in turn inspires effective, exuberant engagement to the mutual effort. It’s also about recognizing others’ talents and contributions and helping them use those for the greater good.

E had all the best of intentions to work with her team and to a certain extent, it worked well. However, through a less effective outcome from the above points, active and enthusiastic engagement from the team was low.

 

A lot of hard work…

 

came from E and she finally saw light at the end of the tunnel after much work by her. A lot of her disappointment came from the fact that it looked like she didn’t care for and believe in the team. The opposite was true but it takes objectivity, a large dose of self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and relationship management to ensure that team turns into the high-performing executive function that it can be.

 

With E, we went through all six points carefully, observed, reviewed and analysed what was working and what wasn’t. It took several iterations and a lot of time & effort to achieve the results that she did. It required a lot of undoing of established thinking and actual habits. However, the endeavour was worth it. Her executive team has gone from strength to strength, and so has she.

 

Hopefully this very brief introduction to emotional intelligence and the 4 facets that make it up have offered you some food for thought. I cannot stress how important it is to you, your wellbeing and your relationship with others. All you have to do is listen to others talk about how p.issed off they are at work with a boss/colleague/employee/client, or how they’ve had an unhealthy row with someone at home – you’ll find that EQ (or rather a lack of) will feature very highly there.

 

Good luck! Go forth and be more emotionally intelligent. You’ll have a much happier, more fruitful and productive life!!!

 

 

 

 

Karen Kwong is a highly experienced executive & business coach who has worked with start-ups and social enterprises through to large established corporates (including FTSE100 companies) across a number of industries including financial services, engineering, retail and media & communications. She also advises boards on their dynamics. Added to this, she spent almost twenty years working at a senior level in fund management. She also has a Masters in Organisational Psychology. For more please see here or contact her at: info@renoc.co.uk

 

 

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04 Oct

OutRAGEous!!!! Who wants to talk about Emotional Outbursts?

Hands up all those who have experienced rage – being consumed by the red mist, being overwhelmed by a torrent of bubbling anger about to erupt into something greater than Vesuvius?? Think about a time where you have let rip, thrown the toys out of the proverbial pram and stamped your feet? Or are you a simmering anger sort who has perfected the passive aggressive down to an art? On the one hand, a glorious feeling of freedom from the shackles of ‘playing nicely’ and saying something that has been on your mind for ages. On the other, the consequences of this outburst or silent treatment – what have you done?? More often than not, they don’t end there – the post mortem and domino effect of said outburst or cold shoulder will continue ad infinitum. And you can’t take any of it back. People will remember the outburst not the words used, no matter how much sense (or not) you’re making. This occurs just as frequently in board rooms as amongst team members, family and friends.

 

Emotions are a wonderful and powerful thing. They are what makes us human. Even those who rarely show emotion are affected by them. It isn’t that they don’t have emotions, it just these emotions are not shown as freely or easily as by others. Make no mistake, emotions pretty much drive all our decisions, even logical ones (Dimasio 2016).

 

Here’s one of many definitions of emotions

“An emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response.”                                               D Hockenbury & S Hockenbury

 

To me, that definition is spot on. Whatever happens in a meeting, during a conversation, an experience – good or bad, it is always subjective. Your take on what is happening. A physiological response will occur, your pulse will start racing, your blood will start to soar towards the skin, the hairs on your body start rising… Be it in excitement, joy, anger or any thing else. And finally, the part where you get to show the world your behavioural or expressive response. This is that pivotal moment where your response could determine the outcome of how a meeting goes, what decision is made and what the subsequent impact will be. It can also determine how you perceive similar situations and the same people, based on your response. With the weight of all that responsibility of this third, it is worth thinking about how one can use this to its greatest effect.

 

Here is something you may relate to…

Recently, I observed a board meeting where the members were discussing strategy, during a crucial phase for the business. One had reverted to type and started to panic. In this state, he proceeded to issue dictatorial orders focusing solely on logic but not necessarily sense. This prompted an equal and opposite reaction in another who reverted to rebelling, eye-rolling and finally a wild outburst. It was clear that tensions were running high. Everyone in the room was committed to the same vision and yet…..

 

Typically, I would coach clients one on one, but in this scenario, I was invited to observe the board in action. I was not surprised by these reactions – it was a very pressure-packed and stress-filled meeting. Yet, I wonder if the meeting could have gone better if the individuals involved were really aware of what was happening in their minds?

 

Some immediate practical questions for high stress tense situations

  • What is really going on in this meeting? What is the real issue at hand?
  • What is the objective here?
  • Given there is common ground, where should the focus be and how can you get everyone realigned?

If you have to make a statement, ask yourself the following:

  • Would you like to count to 10 or 20 or 50 before speaking?
  • Why are you making this statement?
  • What do you want the outcome to be?
  • Is it important? Is that true?
  • Is this the right forum?
  • By speaking, will you be adding something constructive?
  • Is there another way?
  • Would you like to count to 10 or 20 or 50 again before speaking?

 

In the heat of the moment, it is very easy to react to the subjective experience and as a response to the physiological cues. ‘X is so controlling, I can feel my blood boil. I’ve had enough, I’m going to tell X what I really think’.

 

 

 

Away from the heated situation, it may be worth taking some time out to reflect on some of the below:

  • What happens to your body physiologically when under pressure and anxious?
  • Do you know what your triggers are?
  • What happens to you when you are under stress?
  • Do you react to situations (ie have emotional outbursts and/or act impulsively frequently) or do you purposefully act (ie consciously and actively choose to do or not do something?)

It is quite easy in an inflamed situation to blame others for your outburst or actions. When your rage consumes you with thoughts that involve inevitable jail sentences, ostracisation and dismissal, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by them. Remember though, that you own your actions. A thought is a thought and it does not need to be actioned, and hard as it may be to believe, it will pass. If you erupt, others will be focused on your explosion (the tantrum, the strop, the eye-rolling, the endless sighing- you get the drift) and not your words, no matter how true (or not) they are. Remember that if you are feeling your blood boiling over, just breathe and take a step back. There is no shame in saying that you need to think about this and to revert. Or sometimes, it is as simple as reaching out for a cereal bar or the family bag of M&Ms to help you when you’re feeling hangry…..

 

‘People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.’ Will Rogers

 

 

By better managing your emotions, you will yourself be calmer, have better relationships and achieve a lot more with a lot less effort. Visits to the doctor for high blood pressure will also be a lot less frequent too!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Kwong is a highly experienced executive & business coach who has worked with start-ups and social enterprises through to large established corporates (including FTSE100 companies) across a number of industries including financial services, engineering, retail and media & communications. She also advises boards on their dynamics. Added to this, she spent almost twenty years working at a senior level in fund management. She also has a Masters in Organisational Psychology. For more please see here or contact her at: info@renoc.co.uk

 

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