Layci Nelson

Layci Nelson

2019 is coming to a close. I am not going to ask you about your business growth this year.

I am going to ask you about your personal development. So friends, fellow bosses and business owners, how did it go? This can be a tricky question to answer, as growing our soft skills, is what I like to call, very squishy work. It is not always easy to measure. However, I will challenge that if you are not setting any learning goals for yourself more articulate than “be a better person,” you are probably not going to have much growth. In this final month of the year, I will wrap up my Emotional Intelligence column series with a solid look at the last two pillars of what makes a strong EQ; empathy and social skills, or in Daniel Goleman’s later work, he articulates as social awareness and relationship management.

In the last three columns we have deconstructed two of the five pillars of Emotional Intelligence. So far we have examined self- awareness, self-regulation and motivation. To quickly review, we took a look at the necessity and value of emotional intelligence at work. Goleman, the pioneer of emotional intelligence, studied the factors that result in highly effective leadership and discovered that emotional intelligence proved to be twice as important as technical skills and IQ. Today we will look at how to define and grow our capacity for social awareness and relationship management.

Have you even had a boss that was so skilled at making you feel great about your work that when you entered their office with a complaint, they had you smiling and bought into solution formation before you even had a chance to go to that ugly place with your anger and frustration? When these bosses are approaching us with authenticity, they are amazing to work for. If you get one in your lifetime, consider yourself blessed and take note (lots of notes actually) of how they lead. I want to be this kind of boss. I want to be the once in a lifetime boss that people leave better than when they came. It certainly doesn’t always mean sunshine and rainbows, but it does include a lot of joy and a workplace culture that makes you want to work there. Why is that? In the book “Primal Leadership,” the authors define this type of leader as one who is able to bring people’s emotional centers into sync in a positive way. After self-awareness and emotional self-regulation, they say this resonant leadership requires social awareness or put another way, empathy. We often dismiss empathy as not very “business like.” I mean what place do squishy emotions have in the workplace? Turns out, they dominate the workplace, so you better learn how to direct and manage them in yourself and others.

First let’s clarify what empathy is not. Empathy isn’t a touchy feely drum circle and positive feedback that is not deserved or authentic. In “Primal Leadership,” the authors share “It does not mean that leaders should adopt other people’s emotions as their own and try to please everybody. Rather empathy means taking employee’s feelings into thoughtful consideration and then making intelligent decisions that work those feelings into the response.” Empathetic leaders are superb at recognizing and meeting the needs of clients customers and subordinates. They also are key for keeping top talent longer.

When a leader has a solid foundation for all of the pillars covered thus far, they are set to employ the final EI ability: relationship management. Relationship management does not simply mean being friendly and having a network in and out of the workplace. It means friendliness with a purpose: leading people in the right direction. That direction may be consensus about a management decision or building a shared enthusiasm for a new initiative. These objectives are achieved by operating from a place of authenticity that inspires, influences, develops others, creates change, manages conflict and builds teamwork and collaboration.

If you have read the above and feel overwhelmed with where to start, I want to encourage you that this is a normal response. However, if you feel that pull in your guts to make the 2020 the year when you dig in and start doing the hard and valuable work of growing your emotional intelligence, go with it! People who successfully change begin with decision that they are going to. Make the commitment to dive into the lifelong process of growth and adaptation. I recommend buying a copy of “Primal Leadership” and beginning your own journey.

In a short synopsis, this book walks you through discovering who you want to be versus who you actually are. Once you know where the gaps are, you then create a learning agenda to build on your strengths while reducing your gaps. This is achieved through experimenting with and practicing new behaviors thoughts and feelings and finally, not doing it alone. Find someone you trust, buy them a copy and dig into this work together. Get after it. Right now. Your team, you and your family need you to manage like a leader.

Layci Nelson owns Nelson Management Strategies and the Iron and Mortar Summit.