You’ve likely heard the oft-quoted statistic that 70% of people don’t leave bad jobs or troubled companies, they actually leave bad managers. No pressure though, right? Managers are often stuck between the “rock” of limited resources or time, and the “hard place” of ensuring their direct reports feel both supported and empowered. Recognizing how much of our success depends on factors outside of our control, it can be encouraging to focus on the one thing we have complete control over: ourselves – which really means the intentional ability to manage our emotions, our behaviors, and our own development.
In his 1946 book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes his experiences in numerous concentration camps and tells one story of an early morning forced march to gather firewood, where he paused to admire the beauty of a sunset. Amidst one of the more horrifying experiences, he chooses to appreciate the beauty around him. “Between stimulus and response, there is a space,” he wrote. “In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
The research behind Human Synergistics International’s Management/Impact® tool strongly correlates our (in)ability to manage our own emotions to the impact it can have on the people around us, especially our direct reports. If we, as managers, react to things without thinking or get upset or frustrated by setbacks and failures, our employees are likely to react by avoiding us or pushing back harder against us. It can be easy to see their defensive behaviors as a reflection of their personality, however, if we learn to manage our emotions, even in upsetting situations, they may not have felt the need to defend themselves in the first place.
Research related to Emotional Intelligence shows that a higher EQ often accounts for up to 90% of our success at work, much more than our IQ scores. If you are looking to improve your management skills, a great place to start is by looking at how you manage yourself during difficult situations. Think back to the recent crises we asked you to reflect on in the Introduction to this series. Consider how well you handled any strong emotions and maintained your ability to choose to behave in productive ways, rather than reacting emotionally. As always, consider asking others for their perceptions of you during that situation.
If you feel you behaved in ways that run counter to who you want to be as a leader, Evolution Management Inc. can support you in your development with the Management/Impact assessment and leadership coaching.