Power of EQ in corporate leadershipBy Lilia Borlongan-Alvarez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—There’s the story of an ambitious, driven senior manager whose department was plagued by an unusually fast employee turnover. Once in a while, she would launch massive recruitment of rank-and-file employees to keep up with productivity quotas she herself had thought up to earn for her brownie points from the higher-ups. Her non-negotiable requirement: Keep her direct reports and the staff busy by having them work overtime most days of the week so her department would be known as the prime driver of company profit.
Many of the employees said they had had enough of it—working long hours, generating reports to enable their supervisors to track their productivity levels (reports that should reflect even their lunch break and the time spent in going to the bathroom!), and most of all, not being appreciated for all their hard work.
But top management was intelligent enough to sense that she was screwing up. Result? Half of the department had to be laid off owing to huge company losses, and many have left feeling unmotivated and unrewarded by their slave driver-bosses and fearing they’d soon be given the pink slip. She was then relegated to the “freezer” (read: demoted) working in a position no one dared take and in less than a year, she was let go—she finally got the message she was no longer needed.
What’s the reason behind the manager’s major screw-up? Lack of emotional quotient (EQ) or empathy, which psychologists tell us is the ability to identify with and understand a person’s situation.
It is being “attuned to others,” says Dr. Karol Wasylyshyn, author of the book “Behind the Executive Door: Unexpected Lessons for Managing Your Boss and Career.”
In our example, the manager simply did not care if her employees were overworked or stifled by too many job and technical requirements. As if rubbing salt to injury, she simply went about her usual “blissful ignorance” routine—not taking the time to know what was going on in her staff’s lives or how they found the assignments given to them. She ensconced herself in her ivory tower obsessed with her department’s performance no matter what the cost!
Understand daily stressors
Wasylyshyn says corporate leaders must convey their understanding of the daily stressors of their employees to calm a growing level of fear and anxiety caused by any number of reasons.
Citing the term “emotional resonance” coined by Daniel Goleman, author of “Primal Leadership,” she says this practice has become a leadership asset that distinguishes stellar leaders from the rest.
“It is the attuned leader who will be able to manage chaos so that productive commerce can proceed with minimal disruption,” she advises.
She gives a very specific example of brilliant leaders, most of them gifted physicians who get low grades as regards their empathic engagement with clients. It’s not hard to spot them—those impatient, arrogant doctors who would brush off their patients’ health complaints, scold and reprimand them, and who would rise from their seats shouting “Next!” as they called out to their next patient. Simply put, they’re the doctors “na walang PR.”
But in the corporate world, emotion holds an important place in the quality of their work and their work-related relationships, says Wasylyshyn. She gives these tips to managers and business leaders on how to run their organizations based on empathy:
“Make an effort to understand your employees’ feelings especially as related to their career aspirations.
“Try to view things from other people’s perspective.
“Have a good sense of humor and try to use this to establish close rapport with people at work.
“Imagine yourself in the shoes of your direct reports especially when setting challenging objectives or when assigning difficult tasks.
“Ask people what’s going on in their personal lives to help you understand their reactions at work—when things may not be going well and even when all is well in the workplace.
“Cultivate relationships with people not merely on a transactional basis. For example, a curt “I need you to do this now” would turn off any employee.
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