It is really unfortunate that so many leaders and managers don’t know the value of developing emotional intelligence. My experience working with leaders is that most aren’t even emotionally aware enough to name one when they are having it. Many are still afraid of talking about them as though having an emotion is bad or wrong.  This makes it impossible to harness the energy of their own emotions or those of their employees.

Traditionally there has been so much fear about the negative outcomes of expressing emotion at work that in order to talk about them in this context, we had to call it EmotionalIntelligence. This way it would be palatable to those who believe in the superiority of the rational mind.  But it is emotions that fuel the passion to achieve; the excitement to inspire; and the fear to resist. Leaders need to get comfortable with this notion if they truly want to understand how to maximize the potential of their people. Emotions are a critical ingredient in business and relationship success and need to be understood and utilized rather than feared.

Many leaders still believe that their emotions are a sign of weakness and they must be controlled or denied in order to be (or appear) successful. They also judge their feelings or decide that their feelings aren’t valid.  This conditioning often comes from early childhood.  You often hear parents telling their children that their fears are silly or they shouldn’t cry when they are hurt. As a result, when we as adults express our feelings, we tend to immediately judge them, saying they are stupid for feeling the way they do.  We get clear messages about how to sort, judge, control, deny, dislike our emotions but seldom to we learn how to experience them and learn why it is we feel the way we do.

As a result of our conditioning we continue to support our cultural norms around emotional self-expression. What a group of people believe about emotions determines how people behave and this is as true for an organization as it is for a country.  It is also true that different personality styles will have varying degrees of comfort with emotional expression – their own or that of others.  This personality “norm” will either align with the culture or will resist the cultural norm.  It is critical that a leader understand what is “normal” for them, what is culturally acceptable and what approach they make take to first align with the cultural norm in order to build trust and inspire their followers.  So many mistakes are made when a leader comes in believing that they are trustworthy and therefore employees should trust and therefore following them.

The reality is that as a leader, you can’t go to a country where they adhere to a hierarchical model of leadership and expect employees to welcome your democratic, participative approach. The same applies to an organizational setting. You can’t go into a group of employees who are used to not expressing their feelings and expect them to get all fired up just because you are excited about what you are doing and want them to be also.

A client of mine, a very entrepreneurial, inspirational leader (a Performer Striving Style) was keen on making wide scale changes to a mid sized data management company. He began to hold “town hall” meetings with his new employees and would talk excitedly and enthusiastically about the changes that he was going to make; how fantastic these things would be; and what a great opportunity there was for people to participate in areas other than their own jobs. He was shocked by the lack of response and the criticism that a few bold employees expressed. He had expected people would be eager to embrace these changes and would appreciate all that he was doing for them. He also expected them to show their pleasure and contribute their ideas. These employees were mostly computer programmers and librarians (Stabilizers) who did not want change or do anything other that what they were doing. Nor did they share his excitement. In fact, some of them became quite fearful and anxious about what was going to happen to them. Employee resistance to the changes quickly escalated to the point where he considered leaving the company because they were all “sticks in the mud”.  He hired me to “find out what was wrong with them”.

Although it is probably apparent to you as the reader where the disconnect lay, we put the staff through the Striving Styles Personality Assessment to understand what motivated employees based on their needs. I was able to interpret to him, through the collective results, where the emotional disconnect was and what emotions he was actually creating in his employees when he thought he was generating excitement. We developed an approach that was more consistent with the culture of the employees; however, he soon realized that this was not a group of employees that he could work with over the long term.  He wanted to be around people who matched his excitement and recognized his leadership.

When leaders understand what emotions they generate with their personality, words, behavior and expectations and how they can best deal with emotions as they arise. Validating emotions of others strengthens our connection to them, building over time, and the bonds of trust that are so important to high performance cultures. Leaders who do this are more likely to be a leader who engenders feelings of loyalty, pleasure, devotion and dedication in employees than those who don’t. These leaders are able to get your direct reports to do things for them that they won’t for others because they care and feel cared for.  

Anne Dranitsaris, Ph.D brings a lifetime of study, psychological savvy and hands-on clinical experience to helping people become who they are meant to be. Her interest in creating mental health coupled with her interest in personality systems and the dynamics of human behaviour has influenced the development of Striving Styles Personality System™. With a profound interest in human psychological and personality systems, she built a thriving psychotherapy practice. Her approach had a strong psycho-educational perspective focusing on the interplay between personality systems and thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors; finding patterns of self-protective behavior that limit the capacity for achieving one’s potential. She later integrated the world renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program into her practice opening an holistic psychotherapy center with a focus on using mindfulness training in a therapeutic context. Seeing how her clients were affected by their leaders and workplace culture, Anne became one of Toronto’s first Executive Coaches in the late 1980’s. She could see the direct application of the therapeutic tools into the corporate world, which drove her to expand her work into that realm. Anne began using the title of corporate therapist to indicate the depth with which she worked with leaders and teams developing emotional intelligence, behavioural competence, and relationship skills in organizations. She has also uses her unique approach to work through dysfunctional relationships, partnerships, teams and boards. This approach included assessing, educating, training, and coaching to develop greater self-awareness, awareness of others, improved team dynamics and overall corporate functioning. A prolific and frequently cited writer on the impact of behaviour, emotional intelligence and personality styles in the workplace, she has written a series of books on personality type based on Jung’s theory of Psychological Type. The Personality Profile Series© books are used to help individuals in coaching and counseling to understand themselves, their environment, their partners, and their children. Her latest series of books, The Jung Typology series, focuses on understanding the impact of personality type on employees, teams and leaders. Striving Styles Personality Assessment has been prominently featured in the media, on radio, television as well as in a wide range of national and international publications including USA Today, the New York Post, Huffington Post, The Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, Globe and Mail and where Dr. Dranitsaris was referenced in November 2009 as one of Oprah’s next protégés. Additionally, her work has appeared in three issues of “O” Magazine within the past year, with her article on Striving Styles being including in the “O” Annual as one of the year’s top articles.
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