David was the Regional Vice President of the largest division in his national organization. Statistically, his region was outperforming every other region by a whopping 35% in terms of revenue generation. Unfortunately it was also leading the company in turnover – six key employees in the last year – all citing him as the reason. Upon interviewing David’s boss, peers, and direct reports, a pattern emerged. David was indeed an intellectual superstar who knew the business better than anyone, yet he lacked some key emotional intelligence skills. He was very direct, had no tolerance for subpar performance, was quick to find flaws in employee successes, and his feedback included comments like, “If you do that again, I’ll cut you off at the knees.”
He was known to over-react to even the smallest mishaps and never hesitated to send a flaming email to broadcast his dissatisfaction. Additionally, he felt his ideas were always the best and demanded to have the final approval on all projects. His team stopped bringing him new ideas and basically became order takers. His nickname may as well have been Micromanager Dave. Have you worked for someone like this? An even scarier question: Have you ever been like this? If so, there is good news.
David needed improvement in all four EQ competency areas: self awareness to see how his emotions were ruling him, self management techniques to prevent blow ups and be able to respond rationally instead of emotionally, social awareness to understand the impact of his behavior on others and relationship management techniques to show everyone in his circle of influence they were respected, heard, understood and valued.
Upon receiving the feedback, David was defensive at first, attributing the issues to misunderstandings and poor performing employees. When we connected the dots between positive emotions and peak performance, the light bulb went off.
• He began experimenting with sincere, positive feedback and using empathy, a core emotional intelligence skill, to better connect with his team.
• He implemented a self management technique to remind him to pause before reacting and think through how to respond most effectively.
• He instituted a program where employees could suggest ideas and were encouraged to act upon them.
• And he tested a new method for brainstorming ideas with his team that resulted in several amazing ideas, none of which were his.
• He then empowered them to bring some of those ideas to fruition, without his involvement.
What an incredible turn around! His team felt like they had a new boss.
These were the first of many steps David took to become a ‘kinder, gentler’ version of himself. His payback for investing in his emotional intelligence? His team’s innovation and productivity skyrocketed and his turnover costs all but vanished. Additionally, David’s ability to better manage his emotions and ‘get out of the weeds’ enabled him to step up his game as a strategic leader, working at the 90,000 foot level most of the time instead of ground level. I think he is enjoying the view.