Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

The reality of life is that your perceptions--right or wrong-- influence everything else you do. When you get a proper perspective of your perceptions, you may be surprised how many other things fall into place.
-- Dr. Roger W. Birkman 1919-2014

If you are connected on LinkedIn or any other leadership website or forum, you probably have noticed quite a bit of talk about Emotional Intelligence or EI. EI is a way of talking about two things:

  1. Self-Awareness: How do I understand my own emotions and exercise self-control?
  2. Other-Awareness: How do I understand others and interact in ways that are beneficial?

Both of these perspectives are critical for all relationships, but especially in the workplace where personalities can often clash with one another due to a lack of personal awareness and other awareness.

If you lead a church staff, work for an organization, or are in any relationships with people, growing in emotional intelligence should be a critical desire and goal. So, how do we begin to achieve that goal?

In a recent blog by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, he gives these examples of a leader adjusting their leadership style to fit the need of the moment:

At 9 a.m., Emma met with a skilled team effective on day-to-day assignments but lacking a broader view of the company’s goals. She articulated a shared mission and the big picture, which got them motivated and headed in the right strategic direction.

At 10 a.m., she joined a group having a crisis after an overnight fire destroyed the warehouse of one of the company’s key suppliers. She knew that an emergency like this meant she needed to take a directive approach; she tasked group members to plan work-arounds and initiated a customer service response to manage delayed deliveries.

At 1 p.m., Emma headed to a session with a team that had lost most of its senior members after a recent wave of reassignments. She adopted a coaching role, helping the group recognize their missing skills and devising a way to quickly build the team’s capabilities.

By mid-afternoon Emma had already used three different leadership styles. To be an effective leader in today’s changing world, you need more than a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. You must adjust your leadership style to face the challenges of the moment.

First, a quick review. Here are several leadership styles that produce a positive work climate and outstanding performance:

Visionary leaders articulate a shared mission and give long-term direction.
Participative leaders get consensus to generate new ideas and build commitment.
Coaching leaders foster personal and career development.
Affiliative leaders create trust and harmony.

In the short-term, directive leaders who simply give commands and pacesetters focused only on hitting targets (like the emergency situation Emma confronted) can be effective. In the long-term, however, such styles produce a negative climate and very poor performance.

In March of 2015, I pursued certification to use a tool called the Birkman Method to help leaders and teams grow in Emotional Intelligence. In addition to learning how to use this tool to help others, my training also allowed me to grow in greater self-awareness and learn how my own leadership style could be both productive and not so productive given the situation. I wished I had been exposed to this while I was in seminary preparing for leadership in ministry.

Humility is always an important key to good leadership. I have worked with dozens of pastors, leaders and staff to help them work better together.

Here are some practical outcomes that can emerge as a result of using the Birkman Method:

  • Improve communication
  • Increase management effectiveness
  • Build cohesive teams and reduce conflict
  • Improve sales
  • Discover hidden potential of current employees for greater productivity
  • Reduce turnover
  • Develop accurate job descriptions

If you are interested in finding out more about the Birkman Method and what others are saying about how it has helped them and their teams, follow this link or click on the image to the right.

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.