Leadership: Emotional contagion

At the end of last year I ran a half day training session on management and leadership for marketing and business development professionals. Some key topics of interest were emotional contagion, delegation, coaching and team meetings:

Emotional contagion

Those around us are affected by our emotions. This means that if we express dismay, worry, frustration or anger then it will be picked up by those around us. A leader’s behaviour can lift or deflate the team and a shared mood unites a team. Teams with a positive joint experience perform better. Emotional contagion is from neurobiology – positive behaviours (empathy, mirroring etc) create a connection between a leader’s brain and the brains of others

Goleman and Boyatzis found that after one executive worked with a coach and role model to improve behaviour, employee retention and emotional commitment increased in the team and annual sales increased 6%. So as a team leader we need to be more than a good role model – we need to exhibit those emotions that we want others to emulate.

Managing your own emotions and those of others are key skills in emotional intelligence (known as EQ or EI) which are known to be critical in leadership success. http://kimtasso.com/book-review-emotional-intelligence-2-0-travis-bradberry-jean-greaves/ One research report said “EQ accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs and is the single biggest predictor in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence”.

Motivating team meetings

Most teams will have some form of regular get together. This is as important for creating social bonds as it is for allocating work and responsibilities. It is particularly important where team members may be dispersed over a wide geographical area or co-opted onto temporary project groups.

Some of the best advice included: align goals, keep the meeting short, have a clear agenda, ensure that everyone has prepared, ensure participation by everyone, keep focussed (acknowledge unrelated issues and set them aside to be addressed at another opportunity), rotate chair and note-taking responsibilities, explain the background and encourage dialogue and idea sharing.

When new teams are created they need time to go through the forming, storming, norming and performing stages. We also talked about how to create an environment where people feel secure and confident enough to offer ideas. The work of Nancy Kline was explored here as well as some theories around individual and collective creativity.

Further tips on virtual team management are here http://kimtasso.com/managing-teams-and-virtual-teams/

Effective delegation

During delegation exercises, the feelings of those delegating (some felt guilt) and receiving tasks were examined. Some of the key points to emerge were the need to balance the amount of support offered and avoiding overly controlling or micro-managing behaviour – which impaired trust and confidence.

There were some interesting insights into the need to know the strengths and preferences of team members, how to adapt the leadership approach and to know how to provide enough stretch for tasks to be both good development opportunities and sufficiently motivating. Everyone saw the value in asking for views and suggestions so that the delegation process became more collaborative with responsibility being properly shared by those delegating the task and those accepting the task.

The need for clarity on goals and constraints and the context of the bigger picture was also discussed.

Other posts on delegation include: http://kimtasso.com/delegation-for-leaders/

Corrective and developmental coaching

While the primary role of coaching to support personal development and improved performance was acknowledged, we also ran coaching sessions to address under-performance.

Here the focus was on identifying the behaviours that needed to change and exploring the person’s perspective on why the chosen behaviour was adopted and what the alternative approaches might be. The power of positive feedback and an appreciative environment was acknowledged.

Misaligned expectations and inappropriate levels of guidance (both too much and not enough) were found to be common issues. The power of a coaching process to allow people to explore alternatives and come up with their own solutions – rather than having them imposed – was recognised.

Good coaching skills – structured questions following a process – helped people to feel listened to, understood, trusted, valued and engaged. Some delegates shifted their views on the need to balance control and coaching approaches. More coaching information here: http://kimtasso.com/coaching-skills-power-questions-2017/

Future training dates are here http://www.pmforum.co.uk/training.aspx