Having emotional intelligence, often referred to as EI, is an important part of being a stronger, more effective leader.
But too many people assume that it’s all about being sweet and chipper. Sure, some EI competencies are related to sociability, sensitivity, and likeability, but others are connected to leadership skills like achievement, influence, and conflict management.
The key is to have a balance.
If you’re strong in some of the softer, emotional skills, then focus on honing skills like giving unpleasant feedback. For example, rather than using your EI to smooth over interactions with a co-worker who is overbearing and abrasive, work on bringing up the issue to your colleague directly, drawing on conflict management to give direct feedback and on emotional self-control to keep your reactivity at bay.
Most people do their best work when they know their manager trusts them. If they worry that you think they’re lazy, incapable of directing their behavior, or lack integrity, they’re unlikely to take feedback or coaching from you.
So go out of your way to gain your employees’ trust by demonstrating positive assumptions about them.
Give challenging assignments, with the clear and confident belief that your expectations will be met.
And don’t hide information, or assume people will mishandle it. Instead, promote transparency.
Try adding a “through the grapevine” agenda item to meetings as a fun, informal way for people to share company information they’ve heard, so you can either confirm or debunk the rumor. When managers demonstrate positive assumptions, employees respond in kind.
Many jobs require people to continually develop new skills. As a manager, you should be less worried with what people know and more concerned about whether they’re able to learn.
But it’s not enough to hire curious, adaptable people; you also have to reward them for learning. When your employees have increased their knowledge and their value to the company, provide them with new and challenging opportunities.
Promote people only when they’ve acquired sufficient expertise in other jobs in the organization, not just their own. Or you could give awards for individuals who organize events or activities to promote learnability in the company (running internal conferences, bringing external speakers, or circulating information that nurtures people’s curiosity).
Reward simpler habits, too, like writing a blog, sharing articles on social media, or recommending books and movies.
To build a great business, companies need a purpose — one that transcends the traditional bottom line. People want to be passionate about their work, and they want to be surrounded by others who feel the same. But how can managers actually foster passion?
Here are five ways:
Let people show their emotions. If you ask your people to check their emotions at the door, you can’t tap into their passion.
Hire passionate people. One way to get passionate people into your organization is to incentivize current employees to refer people they want to work with.
Fan the flames. Find plenty of ways to celebrate joint accomplishments.
Don’t stifle your rock stars. Give your people the autonomy to do the work that interests them most.
Share context. Connect job functions to the organization’s broader mission, and remind people why they do what they do.
In order to power growth you should aim for an adaptive and empowered organization, that:
Responds rapidly to threats and opportunities.
Adaptive organizations operate with speed and simplicity by giving managers the scope to act immediately and decisively within clear values and strategic boundaries. Making strategy an open, continuous and adaptive process is the key. It enables the firm to react to emerging threats and opportunities as they arise rather than being constrained by a fixed and outdated plan.
Attracts and keeps the best people.
It is no coincidence that Adaptive Organizations such as Google, Handelsbanken and W.L. Gore regularly appear in the lists of “best companies to work for”. The reasons are obvious. From the employee perspective, talented people want to learn and develop; they value time to think, reflect and try new ideas; they want decision-making responsibility and they want a friendly, collegiate culture. From the employer perspective, they want people who have the right attitude, have ideas and can add value, want to participate in decision-making, are good team players and have the talent to become leaders at any level.
Enables and encourages continuous innovation.
Innovation is about thinking and acting differently whether it is about strategies, business models, processes, or management practices. In adaptive organizations, people work within an open and self-questioning environment. Clear governance principles set the right climate and builds the mutual trust needed to share knowledge and best practices. This is also encouraged by the move away from individual rewards based on budgets and toward team rewards based on business unit or group performance.
Drives operational excellence.
Adaptive organizations have lower costs. Not only do they connect the work that people do with customer needs, but they also align products, processes, projects, and structures with their strategy. Operating managers also challenge resources used rather than seeing them as ‘entitlements’. Just asking the question, “Does it add value to the customer?” is often sufficient to ensure that unnecessary work is eliminated.
Leads to loyal and profitable customers.
Adaptive organizations know how customers want to conduct business with them. Key issues are whether customers just want the lowest-cost transaction, added-value services, or customized solutions. Under this “outside-in” approach, firms know how to satisfy customers’ needs profitably. This means not only knowing their needs, but also their net profitability.
Support good governance and ethical behaviour.
Adaptive organizations are held together by strong values and inviolate principles. However, it is not a soft option. It exposes nonperformers. It challenges people all the time. You cannot just agree on a number. You have to show people that you can actually achieve real performance improvements, and must always be prepared to be judged against others with similar problems and opportunities.
Leads to sustained value creation.
Leaders in Adaptive organizations focus their attention (either explicitly or implicitly) on creating wealth over the longer term. In particular, they focus on setting high performance expectations and stretching people’s ambitions. Those companies that operate this way tend to beat the competition not just this quarter or this year but year after year.
Clearly adapting in these ways the organisation that will emerge will replace the 20th century industrial age command and control management model that is no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
A viable alternative* that will provide a sustainable basis for high performance.
*BBRT.ORG will assist you on this journey as it has done alongside so many leading organisations (see website)
There are several compelling reasons why you should take my friends at Beyond Budgeting Institute seriously!
Below you will find 10 reasons why budgeting and traditional performance management practices cause significant problems and therefore should be replaced.
Did you know that:
Budgeting prevents rapid response. You need to respond rapidly to unpredictable events but the annual budgeting process was never designed for this purpose.
Budgeting is too detailed and expensive. Budgeting is highly bureaucratic and very expensive (often absorbing 15-20 percent of management time).
Budgeting is very quickly out-of-date. Many of the key assumptions change frequently (such as commodity prices, exchange and interest rates and of course customer demand) causing confusion and much rework.
Budgeting is out-of-kilter with the competitive environment. Today’s drivers of success are concerned more with fast response and continuous innovation than managing people and budgets.
Budgeting is divorced from strategy. Budgets are based on functions and departments rather than strategic themes. The chances of the goals and plans of many disparate functions and department being aligned with a coherent corporate strategy are often negligible.
Budgeting stifles initiative and innovation. Budgets tend to support an authoritarian management regime that stifles innovation
Budgeting protects non-value-adding costs. Cost budgets are usually compiled and agreed based on prior year outcomes. There is little time or incentive to understand and challenge the root causes of costs allowing huge amounts of waste to fester and grow.
Budgeting reinforces command and control. Budgets were designed to enable functional leaders to manage the organization from the center thus local decision-making is usually delegated within strict budgetary controls.
Budgeting demotivates people. When starting a new job most people are highly motivated to maximize their performance. But soon they learn not to fight the system but to ‘go with the flow’. This means doing little more than their job description specifies and the minimum to achieve their targets. Budgets are aligned with McGregor’s Theory X. The assumption is that people will only do the minimum required unless there is an additional incentive to do more.
Budgeting encourages unethical behaviour and increases reputational risk. Aggressive targets and incentives drive people to meet the numbers at almost any cost. This can lead to unethical selling and ‘creative’ accounting placing the CEO’s (and the company’s) reputation in jeopardy
When your top team fails to function, it will likely paralyze the whole company.
Few teams function as well as they could. But the stakes get higher with senior-executive teams: dysfunctional ones can slow down, derail, or even paralyze a whole company. McKinsey in their work with top teams at more than 100 leading multinational companies, including surveys with 600 senior executives at 30 of them, they identified three crucial priorities for constructing and managing effective top teams. Getting these priorities right can help drive better business outcomes in areas ranging from customer satisfaction to worker productivity and many more as well.
Get the right people on the team . . . and the wrong ones off
Determining the membership of a top team is the CEO’s responsibility—and frequently the most powerful lever to shape a team’s performance. Many CEOs regret not employing this lever early enough or thoroughly enough. Still others neglect it entirely, assuming instead that factors such as titles, pay grades, or an executive’s position on the org chart are enough to warrant default membership. Little surprise, then, that more than one-third of the executives they surveyed said their top teams did not have the right people and capabilities.
The key to getting a top team’s composition right is deciding what contributions the team as a whole, and its members as individuals, must make to achieve an organization’s performance aspirations and then making the necessary changes in the team. This sounds straight-forward, but it typically requires conscious attention and courage from the CEO; otherwise, the top team can under-deliver for an extended period of time.
Make sure the top team does just the work only it can do
Many top teams struggle to find purpose and focus. Only 38 percent of the executives McKinsey surveyed said their teams focused on work that truly benefited from a top-team perspective. Only 35 percent said their top teams allocated the right amounts of time among the various topics they considered important, such as strategy and people.
Address team dynamics and processes
A final area demanding unrelenting attention from CEOs is effective team dynamics, whose absence is a frequent problem: among the top teams McKinsey studied, members reported that only about 30 percent of their time was spent in “productive collaboration”—a figure that dropped even more when teams dealt with high-stakes topics where members had differing, entrenched interests.
Correcting dysfunctional dynamics requires focused attention and interventions, preferably as soon as an ineffective pattern shows up.
Finally, most teams need to change their support systems or processes to catalyse and embed change.
Each top team is unique, and every CEO will need to address a unique combination of challenges.
Developing a highly effective top team typically requires good diagnostics, followed by a series of workshops and field work to address the dynamics of the team while it attends to hard business issues. The best top teams will begin to take collective responsibility and to develop the ability to maintain and improve their own effectiveness, creating a lasting performance edge.