People in leadership are as human- and sometimes even more so, than everybody else! The demands placed on them could highlight their emotional and social strengths or it could illustrate the triggers that lead to being emotionally “highjacked”. To lose emotional control usually creates more harm than good and it often shows in relationships being harmed. A leader, as a person that guides others, should therefore really care about his or her own emotional resilience and how this could impact on the emotional and social health of the organisation. Emotions are present in all organisations and can be highly contagious. The leader could either support positive emotions such as hope, optimism or a “can-do” attitude or the leader could play a significant role in establishing resistance, despair, anger or suspicion. The organisation or the team will carry the “symptoms” of the leaders’ emotional capabilities and the constructive or destructive effect it could have on relationships with peers, seniors, clients, subordinates or anybody else they come in contact with.
Emotionally intelligent leaders tend to care about the emotional wellness of the organisation and understand the effect they may have on others. By honestly reflecting on- and working through their own values, needs, behavioural patterns, fears, preferences or emotional issues they are already managing and hopefully mitigating their emotional effect on others. A next step in the process is to elicit feedback from others and work through the implications of what they have learned. Leaders should give specific attention to their own flexibility, their ability to listen- also to different points of view, to allow disagreement or differences of opinion and be able to accept mistakes as part of learning. Working with people in a way that acknowledges their points of view may more easily allow them to speak the truth and still feel respected. If the leader is honest, congruent and transparent in decision-making, interpersonal trust can develop. None of this means that the leader is naive or cannot see when people are lying. It does not mean that he or she cannot be strict or not have very high expectations of others and themselves. It does not mean that such a leader will not fire people who should be fired or will not be very angry at times. There is great value in both the positive and negative emotions in the workplace but the difference is in how these emotions are understood, managed and used. An emotionally intelligent workplace is easier to establish if the leadership is self-aware, emotionally resilient and prepared to acknowledge their own strengths and weaknesses. Employees also have to be accepted as emotional beings with lives that go beyond the workplace. When emotions in the workplace are accepted as a reality the management thereof becomes more clear. By creating procedures and policies that is conducive to emotional well-being, by management modelling emotional intelligence, and by creating a climate of safety and hope much can be done to limit the effect of political power play, anger, distrust and emotional toxicity. It is generally accepted that people want to be happy. Given the number of hours most people spend at work and the financial benefit of optimistic productivity- it is worthwhile to create an emotionally resilient and socially effective work environment.