Once you have matured your self-awareness, self-management, and social-awareness, you can use those tools to grow relationship management skills. The goal is to be able to manage relationships and become a leader that others will follow. That doesn’t mean managing others, it means you can drive change in an organization whether you are in charge or a member of a team.
The road to growing strong emotional intelligence (EI) is a lifelong journey, but a journey well worth the effort. The most effect way to grow your emotional skills is to practice with an organized approach, just like you do any other skill you are trying to master. For relationship management, I will offer a description of each key area and some approaches to being more successful.
Teamwork/Collaboration – Building effective teams
Effective teams are built when team members respect each other, are helpful, and corporate with each other. Your role is not only to be a good team member but also to inspire others to be good team members. As you are meeting with others, try actively listening to what they have to say and repeat what they said back. If they repeat themselves during a conversation, they may not think you were paying attention. In discussions with team members and people outside of the team, focus on what the team delivered and praise team members in front of others. When stating your position on a topic, start with “I feel” – feeling cannot be wrong so make it is easier for others to accept what you say as an opinion rather that saying they are wrong. And finally, deliver on time and in full. Team members must feel that if you commit to doing something they know you will follow through.
Building Bonds – Creating and maintaining networks
Building a bonds is the basis for any personal and business relationship. This is as easy as showing the other person that you care about them. I meet new people every day, and I stay in contact with people I met and/or worked with many years ago. I try to stay in contact with many, and occasionally reach out to them with no agenda or without needing something from them. How you stay in touch will be up to you and will need to be genuine. Some like to give small token gifts when they meet or visit people they know. Others reach out by writing notes or letters by hand rather than emailing or using social media. Some keys things to remember are to ask about things that matter to them as a whole person and not just about work-related topics, ask good questions and then listen to what they have to say, and always start a conversation on a positive note.
Conflict Management – Neutralizing misunderstandings or differences of opinions, and settling disputes
Like it or not, conflict will always happen and becoming effective at managing conflict will be a valuable and necessary skill. One key is listening to and understanding the differing perspectives and working to find a common or neutral solution. Another is to focus on the outcome of the common goal everyone is working towards rather than the minutia of the moment; focusing on the bigger picture will often help defuse a situation. Try to make sure and handle challenging personalities and tense situations with tact and spot potential conflict early, it is best to mitigate situations quickly and face them head-on rather than delaying or hoping they will take care of themselves.
Develop Others – Help build skill and knowledge, provide feedback
Managers are expected to grow members of their team as part of their job. Leaders’ help others grow as part of their DNA, and find the effort as easy as breathing. Acknowledge, value and reward other people’s strengths and accomplishments. Work with them to identify areas they can grow and help them prioritize the most valuable (to them) above other areas. Become a mentor or coach, and if possible, assign them to tasks that stretch them beyond their current skills. Lastly, make sure to occasionally reflect back on their growth over time. This will provide them with better quality feedback than just over the short term.
Change Catalyst – Recognizing the need for change and being a champion for change
In the technology space we are moving to cloud-based solutions. This is requiring programmers to think about how they write applications differently. Change is not comfortable and most of us do not like change, especially when we are the ones that need to change. As a change catalyst you must become comfortable with ambiguity and change. You will need to recognize the need for change, become a champion for challenging the status quo, and become skilled at creating and delivering a compelling case for change. Finally, you’ll need to find simple and practical ways to overcome the barriers to change. This could mean having to convince others to change, convincing yourself to change, or driving groups of people in an organization to change.
Influence – Building credibility and persuading others
We have all seen people that hold influence over a group, whether as youngsters on the playground or as adults through work or other social mechanisms or environments. As a thing, influence is the capacity to have effect on another thing. When influence is an action, it is applying that capacity. This capacity can be built through the others skills we have covered: being a good team member, collaborating with others, building bonds, and being a change agent. Using these skills, you will grow your capacity to have impact. Through teamwork and collaboration, you can influence how others feel in the moment or about an approach their team is taking. By building bonds with others, you will have a network of people who will endorse you and mention you to others outside of your network. By being a change agent, leadership will see you as a potential rising star in the organization that should be grown quickly and listened to.
Inspirational Leadership - The ability to motivate others to accomplish a common goal of significance
Inspiring others requires you to do something or enable others to do something that is outside of the norm and challenges others to be the best they can be. In an interview, Steve Jobs suggested he was able to inspire people to do things they did not know they could do. As an inspirational leader you must collaborate with others and gather their insights. You must help to clarify a situation and create a vision for the best future state you are trying to create. Ideally the vision will be challenging, important and will be presented in a compelling way. As you present your vision, you will have to be able to tap into the other person or people’s emotions while engaging their intellect. To gain buy-in, listen to suggestions they offer and play back the idea with their ideas incorporated, letting them know you will take their insights back to the team for consideration.
You will have to be open and honest, self-critical, and become skilled in change management. If your mentality is win-lose (with you being the winner) you will need to shift your thinking to win-win. Think of your win as enabling others to win.
Some books to consider reading to grow your emotional intelligence:
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, by Daniel Goleman. This book provides great reference for emotional Intelligence and is one of the de facto standards to read on emotional intelligence.
- The Future of You: Creating Your Enduring Brand, by Roz Usheroff. This book provides insight on how to build your personal brand and grow as an inspirational leader. There is great insight on having a set of principles that represent and guide you.
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath. These two are great writers and they provide insight and example on change management. They provide a common sense approach to change management and since reading this book I have seen many more graphics that use an elephant to describe challenges and change.
- Enchantment, by Guy Kawasaki. Guy Kawasaki was the original corporate evangelist and help create the modern apple brand. In this book he talks about inspiring others and building a personal brand that inspires others.
- Leadership, by Rudolph (Rudy) W. Giuliani. Like him or not, Rudy Giuliani is a polarizing personality and effective leader. In this book he talks about his approach and thoughts on leadership.
I have personally found great satisfaction in growing (and continuing to grow) my emotional intelligence. I have also found that this is a cycle of growth that is never ending. Being an extroverted introvert, I found the social competence and relationship management comes more naturally to me, while I have to continually work on growing my self-awareness and self-management. Try working with a mentor to figure out where and how you should start. Enjoy!