Emotional Intelligence: Relationship Management & Intent vs Impact

Vicki Noel, MLHR, SHRM-SPC, SPHR

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

When leaders forget that the business of leading is not “all about us”, then we fail at building the relationships necessary to achieve real results that matter.  Leaders may believe that because of personal competence, they should be the one deciding and everyone should just go along.  Leaders can get so focused on personal success that they micromanage their team and overlook other’s contributions or opinions.  Leaders can also get so focused on personally “winning” that they forget to look for ways to achieve a resolution best for the team.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Leadership is a TEAM SPORT.  A leader is not effective if others are not able or willing to follow the lead.  I truly believe that most of us go to work and want, sincerely, to do the best job we can.  We start off our days with this positive intent.  But somewhere during the day, our focus on “self” gets in the way and the impact of how we make leadership decisions affects the perception of this intent from those we serve.   Effective relationship management requires leaders to spend more time focusing on the IMPACT of our behaviors, as that is what others see, hear and experience.  Certainly, INTENT is important to reconcile within our own minds as a check and balance, but the only true way others can see our intent, is through the behaviors we exhibit.

How can you do it? 

  1. Explain your decisions.  Instead of making a change or decision and expecting others to just have to deal with it, take the time to explain the “why” behind the decision, including your reasoning behind the why, the alternatives you considered, and who will be affected.  If there is time with a decision, present the problem and options and get input from your team on the best option (or options you have not even considered).  In the absence of a clear “why” case and explanation, your team may conclude that your decision was made with a much different intent than you had in mind.
  2. Align intention with impact.  To align the impact of your words/actions with your intent, use your social awareness and self-management strategies to observe the situation and the people involved, think before you speak, and say the appropriate, sensitive response.  If you perceive the response from others is not what you intended, reflect on what happened, what you said/did, what you might have been missing going into that situation and what you could do the next time you are in that situation.  Leadership is a journey…learn from all of its bumps and curves.
  3. Offer a “do over” when needed.  Please know that when we have enough credibility with those we serve to have a “relationship bank account”, we might need a “do over” on occasion when we have a withdrawal.  When you realize that what you intended did NOT have the impact you hoped for, it’s never too late to try to fix it.  To do this sincerely, let go of who is wrong or who started it, apologize and refocus positively on what it will take to resolve the issue.

Have you ever made a leadership decision that had a different impact than what you intended?  How did you handle that situation?  Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/blog.  We learn best from each other’s experiences.

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