Friday, October 24, 2008

Confidence, Compassion and Composure

Why ‘Emotional Intelligence’ Matters More Than Ever

So, how’s morale?

The recent economic turmoil has frayed even the steeliest nerves. And if the ups and downs are haunting you—be honest, now—then they’re probably spooking everyone else in and around your organization.

There’s no better time for a check on your “emotional IQ.” The term, which refers to a person’s ability to identify and manage the emotions of themselves and others, was the timely topic of a program put on last week by Tempo Milwaukee. A panel of executives from a variety of companies explored the most “emotionally intelligent” communications approaches for leaders during the current economic crisis.

What’s your company doing to weather the storm? What new pressures does this put on the team to perform? These are the kinds of questions on the minds of employees and customers alike. Company leaders can rise to this communications challenge by deploying emotional intelligence in understanding, acknowledging and addressing these concerns.

It’s about more than just telling people things will be OK. After all, empty reassurances and blind cheerleading won’t overcome the worries. And left unchecked, low-key fretting can turn to full-scale panic, which can wind up dictating the (wrong) direction of your company.

Leaders must be in tune with these cultural mood swings. And they must address them without reflexive emotional responses. Verbal diatribes, email flame wars and the like only escalate the negativity.

Instead, you’ve got to step back, take a deep breath and then confront the issues head on in a thoughtful manner. Project confidence, compassion and composure, and do it continuously—in all employee communications, customer newsletters, press interviews, etc.

Such emotionally intelligent leadership can help keep companies strong for when the outlook inevitably turns brighter in the months ahead.

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