Are YOU ‘that’ manager? Building your emotional intelligence

Posted 12 Feb 2015 by John Hackston - Head of R&D at OPP
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People don’t leave their jobs, they leave their manager. It’s an old saying, but there’s more than a grain of truth here. The most recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management shows that 37% of workers are planning to leave their jobs in 2015. A quarter of those interviewed cited being unappreciated and undervalued by their manager as the reason. Across all workers, 30% were hoping for ‘better management’ in 2015.

Now, it’s hardly news that people leave organisations because of poor management. But, as many sectors of the economy recover and workforces become more mobile, this will become a growing issue for those wishing to retain talent.  And here’s a sobering thought: what if YOU are part of the problem? What if you, or I, are one of the managers that people leave? How can we tell?

The answer might be concerned with how self-aware we are, and with how readily we can apply this knowledge to working with other people. Tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) can be extremely helpful here. Because at one level the MBTI framework seems very simple, it provides an extremely effective way for us to build our own self-awareness; and it is also a good basis for starting to understand what makes other people tick. This in turn allows us to work more effectively with others, and to manage our employees in a more emotionally intelligent way.

For example, each of us will have a preferred strategy for making decisions, tending to mostly use either the Thinking approach or the Feeling approach:

T & F diagram

Many managers have a preference for Thinking; while they can use the Feeling approach, this will not be their natural tendency. A Thinking manager will typically wish to be given recognition (and be rewarded) for results, and on completion of a project. The emotionally intelligent Thinking manager will realise that not everyone has the same worldview as they do. Their Feeling members of staff may want to be appreciated for the effort they put in and throughout the project – and the emotionally intelligent manager will flex their style accordingly.

There is a lot of evidence that emotional intelligence has many benefits in the workplace, including improved performance, more effective teamworking, greater engagement and wellbeing, and enhanced performance as a leader or manager. And, fortunately, emotional intelligence is something that we can develop and build on through our lives. We don’t need to try to change the core of who we are, our underlying personality type; instead we can learn to adapt our behaviour so as to work with other people in a more emotionally intelligent way. Here, the knowledge that we can gain from the MBTI provides an excellent framework for developing our own emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence deals with both intrapersonal and interpersonal factors:

EQ table

                                  Adapted by OPP from Goleman, 2011

For each of us, the dynamics of our MBTI type show which aspects of our personality we prefer to use in our internal, introverted, intrapersonal world, and which we use in our external, extraverted, interpersonal world. For each type, this can help us to see the areas where we may find it most easy to display emotional intelligence, and the areas where we may face developmental challenges.

The effective use of type can enable us to better perceive, understand and manage our own and others’ emotions, enhancing our performance as leaders, managers or simply colleagues.

Of course, there are many other ways for us to help both ourselves and others to build emotional intelligence; for example, in a previous blog post we mentioned OPP’s Emotional Judgement Inventory (EJI™). In a forthcoming blog post we’ll talk more about how we can use the MBTI and EJI frameworks together.

Despite the stereotype of the abrasive, aggressive, go-getting leader, more emotionally intelligent organisations actually perform better. And if you want to be a manager who attracts and retains the best people, it will pay you to be emotionally intelligent too.

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