Some managers have a head start in the race to effectiveness because from what I have seen they always have strengths across a combination of characteristics which result in them having high emotional intelligence.
The ability to really bond with others as a leader is not only about having good communication skills or flexible leadership styles, although these are of course important; without the right characteristics these skills are of little value because it is the personal qualities which help the skills to ‘stick', as this little encounter proved to me.
Some time back I was working with an organisation which had a number of business units in different city-centre locations. These units had fairly similar offerings, mainly directed at the corporate market and operated under comparable economic and competitive conditions. In general, the performance of all the units was living up to expectations, except for one.
In working with the general manager to identify ways to improve things at the underperforming unit, the issue of employee engagement naturally arose. During our discussions, he made a comment which was pretty blunt, but very telling: "Look, these people are paid to do a job and I expect them to do what they are paid to do.
If they don't like it, then they know where the door is." The reference to ‘these people' says it all really. This comment was a snapshot of his overall approach and no prizes for guessing that the problems at this unit were not resource, marketing or product related; they were a direct result of poor leadership.
Some of his employees described their reactions to his frequent outbursts as ‘riding out the storm' and they readily admitted that when he lost it with them, they just stood there and waited for him to calm down. One or two of his more senior staff, the stronger characters, described it differently; they fought back and gave as good as they got and heated arguments and battles regularly ensued.
This bad boss, actually a real bully, was told by his superior to get his act together, and fast, because if he didn't do so his future with the company would be fairly short-lived. To his credit, his boss did not simply stop at issuing a threatening directive but also gave him lots of support and coaching and even signed him up for a prestigious leadership course, where he covered the usual skills such as how to communicate more effectively, handling conflict and applying different leadership styles.
But the manager in question found little real value from the program back at work. Why? Because he never managed to control his temper, so he was not really able to put the new skills into practice in any meaningful way. To be fair, he did try to become a better communicator but every time he found himself under pressure or stressed, he reverted to type; quickly losing his cool, with the result that all the learning went out the window.
It became clear that he did not have the right personal qualities, like self-control, to give him the ability to apply the skills. It is for this reason that emotional intelligence matters because relationship management skills are only truly of value, when the foundation is right.
Enjoy your Day!About UsEnda Larkin is Director of HTC Consulting, a Geneva based consulting firm delivering integrated business solutions to the European and international hospitality and tourism industry.
Prior to establishing HTC in 1994, he has worked extensively in the hotel industry in Ireland, the UK and the US, and has also been an advisor with the Irish government agency for tourism development. Since 1994, he has led many diverse projects throughout Europe and the Middle East.