Corporate BuzzSunday, December 19, 2021
LET'S TALK TALENT
Use emotional intelligence to better lead your employees
To recover from the negative impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, businesses will have to implement effective assistance programmes for staff in this difficult time as well as adopt a more empathetic leadership approach to see the best results.
Although traditional management styles and skills remain essential, greater emotional intelligence will be required to motivate and nurture teams today. Improving emotional intelligence as a business leader or employer is entirely possible as long as you're prepared to put in the work and learn the skills.
HR tips for being an emotionally intelligent leader
●Manage your own emotions
●Listen and observe more, talk less!
●Develop Your Conflict Resolution Skills.
Sheree Martin, General Manager & Head Of Retail Banking And Customer Experience, NCB
Sheree Martin is a Jamaican executive with a reputation for driving organisational transformation. We were lucky to have the opportunity to interview her and get a glimpse into her world.
The head of retail banking at National Commercial Bank (NCB), Martin opens up about her sources of inspiration, the ways in which she keeps her team motivated, and what she believes to be the attributes that add up to an effective leader.
Q. Who do you look to for inspiration and mentorship?
A. If I had to choose one person to look up to as a leader, it would be the chairman of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner. He practices compassionate leadership and I'm very drawn to that. He leads with empathy, and there's a big difference between empathy and sympathy. You can sympathise with a situation but do nothing to resolve it, but if you're an empathetic leader, you acknowledge that someone needs your help and you actually take action. I've found this an inspiring concept – if team members aren't performing at their expected level, it's not enough to notice from afar and criticise – you need to step in and help.
As for coaching and mentorship, Dr Trevor Little has coached me professionally in my career for many years, and has been instrumental in many of the decisions and paths that I have taken while negotiating situations and opportunities. Patrick Hylton is another person who I would describe as a mentor. I began working with him back in 2004 and I still approach him to get guidance and find out how to go about things at times when I'm unsure.
Q. How do you keep your team motivated?
A. I'm passionate about the concept of working for a purpose that's bigger than myself – setting an inspiring, bold, large-scale, transformative vision. I believe in giving my team a strong “why” about why we do what we do – we're here to make an impact and to leave the world better than we found it. I've found that this resonates with my team. I keep them engaged and focused by sharing the vision and the sense of what we're doing with them. Connecting the heart and mind as a leader goes a long way when it comes to whether people are prepared to respond, support and buy into the path that you're embarking on together.
Q. What are the most important attributes of a successful leader?
A. I believe there are four key attributes that successful leaders demonstrate:
● The willingness and ability to listen. Leaders never have all the answers – they need to leverage the perspectives of those around them, seek out feedback, and crave understanding of different viewpoints.
● The willingness to accept that they don't know everything and that they've made mistakes. The humility that comes with this connects leaders with their team – they realise you're with them, not above them. Essentially, you're willing to be vulnerable, and that's a strength, not a weakness.
● Being curious at all times. Wanting to understand why things happen rather than being superficial about situations and hypotheses. This helps leaders to be innovative – they can unlock things they'd never normally have been alerted to if they're open to new ideas.
● Being courageous and willing to face difficult issues with the conviction that the person on the other side of the issue isn't a bad person – they're someone who has a perspective that needs to be understood so that it can be confronted and moving forward becomes possible.
Q. How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
A. I want to know how things work. I want the devil in the details. I'm continually working on getting the right balance between wanting to be there shoulder to shoulder with my team and standing back to let them take the initiative and shine.
As a voracious reader too, I recommend three seminal works that I believe all aspiring leaders should read:
- The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success – this may not be a business-related book, but I read it 20 years ago and it changed my life.
- The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni – this book is about building teams and how you can better understand team dynamics.
- Beyond Performance by Scott Kellar and Bill Schaninger – this is a book that I continue to go back to as it is a great reference for how to think about organisational transformation and how to implement strategies.
HR THINK TANK
What does it take to be a successful leader in 2021 and beyond?
There was never any doubt that the job of a leader was a difficult one, but, in the last 18 months, the leader's road to success just got twice as steep and treacherous! Imagine a captain setting sail on rough seas without a compass, no anchor and a terrified crew, and that just about describes our current scenario. The even scarier part is that this picture is likely to persist for the foreseeable future!
The good news is that humankind has survived so far due to its ability to adapt to changing environments and circumstances. No longer are the survivors just physically strong and fit, it's those who can change fastest to keep pace with the phenomenal levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. This means we have to tap into new mental models, new levels of creativity and innovation, plus a resilient mindset that keeps us focused on results despite challenges and perhaps failures along the way.
A 2020 study commissioned by the Korn Ferry Institute, CEO for the Future, looked in detail at what is now required for leadership success. It states, "A top CEO is traditionally associated with certain key qualities: strategic vision, financial acumen, focus, intellectual acuity, determination and drive. Those attributes, while remaining important, simply will not of themselves suffice for the CEO of 2025.”
Here are some of the key trends and qualities listed as the key drivers for leaders to shape the future, not simply respond to it:
1. The ability to leverage the collective intelligence of the team through engagement and dialogue. Leadership must become 'distributed' requiring that the CEO be open-minded, building trust and mutuality. The name of the game is internal and external collaboration and a willingness to continuously grow and evolve.
2. Consistent authenticity is paramount. It is no longer sufficient to meet financial targets, the leader must be able to “impart a real sense of purpose to their entire organisation, which boosts employee productivity, fosters customer loyalty and encourages investor support”.
3. Leveraging agility and purpose to drive transformation. Curiosity and learning will be key skill sets to support the agility necessary to be on the forefront of change
4. Creating meaning through clarity and communication. Galvanising the support of a diverse community of employees (including a growing number of millennials) and stakeholders, requires exceptional communication skills
5. Technology as a must! Leaders must be tech savvy and be able to use the digital world to their advantage, both internally and externally.
There are two questions we must ask ourselves as leaders – how do we stack up on these factors and where can I go to sharpen my leadership saw? Undoubtedly, we can learn from the many leadership gurus on YouTube and we can always select from a plethora of leadership books on Amazon (and there a lot to choose from). But seriously speaking, although these may give us helpful ideas, changing one's personal profile characteristics to lean more towards 'People and Self-Leadership' is not an easy task. Changes at this level normally require a mix of training and personal coaching if we want to guarantee success in the shortest possible time – and let me remind you, there's no time to waste!
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