“I‘m tired of working with people who just don’t get it!”

This summed up Lauren’s mood at the end of yet another long work week. Lauren is a bright, articulate young executive. She’s done great work at her financial services firm. But, having been promoted and assigned a new role managing a brokerage support unit, Lauren finds herself increasingly frustrated.

Speaking with an executive coach, it became clear that the source of her frustration was, literally, that people were not “getting it.” She would conceptualize a new approach for streamlining brokerage processes, modify practices for connecting with brokers, or suggest solutions to problems encountered by her unit, and people simply did not seem to understand her point. They were not responding.

In turn, Lauren was becoming impatient and angry, and in few situations dealt with the problem by ruling-by-decree — steamrolling her way through managing the team. “This could be a story about change management or executive presence,” observes Maren Perry, president of Arden Coaching. “In Lauren’s case, however, let’s explore the level of her emotional intelligence.”

Based on the work of Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is comprised of four core elements and can be visualized as a 2×2 matrix:

  1. Self-Awareness revolves around recognition and includes having an awareness of your own emotional state, understanding how your behavior impacts others — and appreciating how others impact you. For more about self-awareness, read Arden Coaching’s post, “Don’t Be Clueless — Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness.”
  1. Social Awareness is also concerned with recognition and includes empathy, discerning the mood and emotional state of others, and strong listening skills. For more about social awareness, read Arden Coaching’s post, “Strengthen Your Social Awareness Skills to Become a Great Leader.”
  1. Self-Management is your ability to regulate your personal behavior — also based on your awareness — and includes emotional self-control, adaptability, and maintaining a positive outlook. For more about self-management, read Arden Coaching’s post, “Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and Self-Management.”
  1. Relationship Management is your ability to regulate your behavior with others — based on your awareness — and encompasses getting along well with others, influencing and inspiring others, teamwork, and handling conflict effectively.

From Recognition to Regulation

Awareness and recognition of yourself and your social context is essential, but it is not enough. Regulating and acting on that recognition demonstrates a high level of emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence is a way of thinking about the capacity you have to successfully manage yourself and your relationships,” said Perry. “Lauren needs to work on her ability to manage relationships — how she regulates her behavior and responses with others.”

Lauren’s inability to address her frustration with others will ultimately result in poor leadership behavior — impatience, anger, and disrespect. Long-term, she may find herself bulldozing people, or surrounding herself with yes-people anxious to appease her. Perry says Lauren needs to consider at least a couple of important changes.  

“If people are consistently ‘not getting it,’ Lauren needs to examine carefully whether she is clearly expressing her ideas and communicating in a way that resonates with her team. As an emotionally intelligent leader, it’s her responsibility to be a clear, positive communicator.”

Also, Lauren may not be doing enough to inspire and influence others.

“Change is always threatening and, being new, any proposed change might unwittingly disrupt someone’s routine or dismantle a process that an employee is proud of having created. Lauren needs to seek opportunities to be more inclusive and invest more effort in discussing her ideas openly — their benefits, challenges, alignment with company strategy, and how they’ll help the group. The bulldozer approach may appear to work early on, but you’re building a road that ultimately takes you over a cliff.”

Lauren will thrive once she begins to master her ability to manage relationships.

To learn more about executive coaching and how to develop your emotional intelligence and strengthen your leadership skills, contact Arden Coaching at info@ardencoaching.com or 646.684.3777.