Editor’s note: This is the final article by Executive Coach Mike Crompton in a series for iBi about how to improve your emotional intelligence (EQ) to become a more effective leader. The first article in February included an overview of the four EQ quadrants. The April article focused on self-awareness, June’s article addressed self-management, and Crompton discussed social awareness in the August issue.
The fourth and final emotional intelligence (EQ) quadrant of relationship management consists of nine essential components: 1) developing others; 2) powerful influence; 3) communication; 4) conflict management; 5) visionary leadership; 6) catalyzing change; 7) building bonds; 8) teamwork and collaboration; and 9) building trust. This article focuses on the two key components of visionary leadership and building trust, both of which correlate directly to effective leadership and also require outstanding communication skills.
Inspire Employees with Visionary Leadership
Extraordinary leaders possess the ability to create a clear and compelling vision that maps their company’s future direction. The key words here: clear and compelling. Every employee needs a clear understanding of the vision, leaving no doubt in their minds about the company’s direction or why it is pursuing the vision. The vision also needs to be so compelling that the entire organization can relate to and embrace it. Perhaps most importantly, everyone needs to see how their individual contributions will help achieve the vision.
Here are a few coaching tips that you and your leadership team can employ to strengthen your visionary leadership.
- Develop a clear vision. A clear and compelling vision paints a picture of the company’s future and makes it easy to understand why achieving the vision is worthy of everyone’s efforts. You want to make the vision aspirational, as well as ambitious, to help inspire employees to willingly stretch their own capabilities.
- Articulate the vision. Communicate the vision at every opportunity—with passion and conviction. Your messages must convey the vision as realistic and attainable, and make it apparent to employees how they will benefit in the long run from working toward the vision.
- Discuss issues and opportunities openly. Any major change in a company’s vision will naturally create concern and possibly even fear in employees. You can counteract these natural responses by listening, offering support, and discussing issues and opportunities with employees. Listen and talk to them openly about how they can help make the vision a reality.
- Think “big picture.” Explain where the organization is going without giving every detail about how it will get there. When you avoid micromanaging the details, you allow capable team members the latitude to take ownership and discover their own creative methods for moving toward accomplishing the vision.
- Maintain credibility at all times. Ultimately, it’s up to leadership to make the vision credible in the eyes of everyone in the organization. So leaders must remain believable and continue to articulate the vision, with passion and conviction at every turn. When they do, they gain credibility for themselves and the vision, and as a result, employees buy in more willingly and commit to making the vision happen.
Manage Relationships by Building Trust
Trust, as another vital component of the EQ quadrant of relationship management, is just as important as visionary leadership. As Stephen Covey points out in his book The Speed of Trust, the two essential ingredients for building trust in an organization are integrity and competence. Covey explains that on the one hand, leaders need to act with integrity. By the same token, leaders also have the opportunity to demonstrate their competence by delivering desired results consistently—on time and within budget.
These coaching tips can help you and your leadership team improve integrity and competence to build trust throughout your organization.
- Focus on relationship building. Listening is the answer to building a relationship that embodies trust. So listen carefully to each individual you interact with. Be sure to “listen” with your eyes as well, so you can see and understand feelings, too.
- Deliver on commitments—always. When you keep your word without fail, you develop a reputation as someone others can count on. So, when employees come to you with issues and you agree to look into them, make sure you follow through—every time. You’ll also want to offer timely feedback so they know you kept your commitment to them.
- Make yourself accessible. Make time for your team members. Build a reputation as a leader they can go to with issues knowing they will get a fair hearing. Also, always wear a smile—even during stressful times. You’ll find a smile not only helps you get through challenging times, it will also communicate to your team that you are approachable.
- Admit to and “own” your mistakes. Don’t pass the buck or play the “blame game” when results fall short or mistakes are made. Leaders gain respect and earn trust when they take responsibility for their share of failures.
- Protect interests. As a leader, you need to continuously protect your team’s best interests. That means never betraying a trust by repeating something told to you in confidence. It also means making sure anyone not present during a discussion receives fair treatment. And it means taking special care of those with less power in your organization to ensure their interests are protected.
Our journey together through the four quadrants of emotional intelligence began in February. As this series of articles on EQ closes, I want to end where we began to remind us all why it’s so important that leaders work on improving their EQs.
Because, while cognitive intelligence (measured as IQ) is important, research shows the key determinant of leadership success is actually emotional intelligence (measured as EQ). In fact, research indicates EQ accounts for a whopping 80 percent of success in the workplace and in life, while IQ accounts for just 20 percent. That means business success is not simply about how “book-smart” leaders and other employees are, it’s more about how “people-smart” they are that produces profitable results.
With that in mind, I urge you to practice the tips offered here and in the previous articles. If you do, I think you will strengthen your EQ, become a more effective leader and find even greater business success. Good luck! iBi
Mike Crompton is a certified executive coach and founder of The Excel Leadership Group (ExcelLeadership.net), which offers executive coaching and leadership development services.