Archive for the ‘Leadership / Management’ Category

Emotional Intelligence – A Required Skill for Successful Teams

April 19, 2011

I am thankfully humble believing I possess a high amount of Emotional Intelligence (EI).  This critical leadership and management trait was instilled in me whilst a Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corp (JROTC) cadet in high school, a college cadet in The Citadel, an US Air Force officer, and via my varied business experiences. Importantly, this in NO WAY means I am an expert.  I believe one should be a lifetime student with a structured hunger to learn and experience new things. It is most important to break-out of one’s comfort zone, especially in a world experiencing innovative change at mind numbing speeds. Either one adapts, or one withers away.

Being able to understand how your emotions affect you, your organization and/or your team is an ability that leads to success.  Not understanding this skill, or learning how to use it effectively, will certainly destroy your career and/or project. Disappointingly, I have seen too many cases in organizations and projects I have led where both leaders and/or team members allow their emotions to control them.  It is the person who controls their emotions. On one project, I walked into an office area where the supervisor was having an intense and heated “conversation” with a subordinate.  I could see the subordinate’s eyes were wide with surprise, fear and disgust.  Not wishing to be an eavesdropper, I walked to another part of the floor because I had to discuss some points with the supervisor.  The supervisor finished her “conversation”, then saw me standing in the hallway after abruptly leaving the subordinate’s office. I saw the look and body language of a busy executive quickly moving in my direction. The first words from her were, “I have to tell YOU something that I really don’t like being told what to do and when I should do it!” This statement heavily echoed throughout the cavernous hallway and into the surrounding offices. I decided to not allow myself to be treated in an unprofessional manner, nor allow the situation to escalate into something unmanageable.  I decided to use EI. My response to her was, “I understand you are having a bad day, I can hear it in your voice and see it throughout your tense body language. Shall we go into your office to discuss our issues in a constructive manner?”  I gently and professionally gestured my open hand toward her office. She stormed in.  I followed, but the door remained open at her suggestion.  I pointed-out to her that, as a contractor, I am simply performing duties assigned to me by her supervisor.  I further, politely reminded her this issue was discussed, agreed to by all in a previous staff meeting that I would remind you of the tasks needing to be accomplished.  I kept a professional, calm voice during this exchange.  She, in turn, calmed down, too.  We finished the conversation smiling with one another and agreed to meet at a time more convenient for her and the project.

Sadly, many people would not be able, or know how, to rise above low-level events by using higher-ordered thinking in such situations.  I choose to approach my projects and people pretty much the same way I try to approach life:  We all are here for a purpose, we are all equal and need to treat one another with respect, and “LIFE IS TOO SHORT”.  I hope you gain insight and a new tool to lead you to success.