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How to Lead Better with EQ, Communication, and Delegation Skills

A photo of motivated and engaged team working together around a table. The leader is writing, with her team focusing on her work.

In a rush? Read the Executive Summary:

  1. With higher costs of living and gloomy stories in the media, these are stressful times. That’s why we need to create workplaces that are places to thrive, where we can become our best selves. Being part of a Motivated Team is critical to this, and to both performance and retention.

  2. Emotional Intelligence & Managing Stress: Many people are unaware of the impact they have on others, and far fewer know how to create a positive impact. Instead, each person reacts to their stress, and conflict or avoidance are usually the outcome.

  3. Listening & Communication Skills: Are these essential or optional skills at work? And does our training demonstrate that? Communicating our needs, agreeing expectations and feeling understood and valued are all key to performance, teamwork and retention.

  4. Delegating & Coaching Skills: In a world full of technology, we are still time-poor. We must delegate to accelerate, but how do we let go of the need to control and how can we use coaching to develop our teams?

Following on from our previous two articles, here I will be diving into 3 Goals to help leaders build motivated teams in the modern workplace.

In an era where living costs are rocketing and the media is saturated with gloomy narratives, stress levels are hitting unprecedented heights. Each morning, we wake up to news headlines that do little to inspire optimism. The daily grind of work, coupled with the constant undercurrent of escalating living costs, adds to the stress.

Now, more than ever, we need to reimagine our workplaces. They should not be mere brick-and-mortar structures where tasks are completed and targets are met. Instead, they should be vibrant ecosystems where individuals can thrive, grow, and evolve into the best versions of themselves.

Central to this vision is the concept of a Motivated Team. Imagine a team where every member is not just working but is truly invested in their work. They're not just colleagues but a community, each member playing their part towards a shared goal. This is a Motivated Team, a crucial element that significantly influences both personal and organisational performance.

In this high-stress, high-cost world, cultivating such teams is not just desirable, but essential. It is these teams that will weather the storm, turning challenges into opportunities and driving performance in the face of adversity. The future of work is not just about surviving but thriving, and Motivated Teams are the key to unlocking this potential.

A side profile drawing of a head on a chalkboard. Words inside the head read EQ, IQ, Personality, Self-Esteem, Motivation, Decision Making, Care, Empathy, Commitment, Values.

Goal One: Cultivating Emotional Intelligence to Manage Stress

Consider - just for a moment - the ripple effect your reactions might have in your workplace. Imagine this: deadlines are looming, stress levels are hitting the roof, and without even realising it, your responses to colleagues become terse, even dismissive. This behaviour, often unnoticed by the perpetrator, can trigger a wave of tension and conflict, spiralling into a cycle of stress and avoidance that engulfs the entire team. It's a scenario that's all too familiar in many workplaces, but what if a heightened awareness of your own emotions and reactions could rewrite this narrative?

Enter emotional intelligence, an often overlooked skill that holds the power to break this cycle. It's not just about being aware of and managing your own emotions, but also understanding and responding to the emotions of others. By developing their emotional intelligence, individuals can learn to navigate the choppy waters of workplace stress more effectively, thereby defusing conflict and fostering a more harmonious work environment. In fact, emotional intelligence (EQ) has been identified as the strongest predictor of performance out of 34 tested workplace skills.

Leaders are key drivers in cultivating emotional intelligence within their teams. They can do this by learning how to develop their own Emotional Intelligence first. Instead of reacting, they become present and aware of how other people are behaving. This enables them to be a positive influence, rather than the trigger of other people’s reactions.

Constructive feedback is another critical tool in the emotional intelligence toolbox. Leaders should aim to deliver feedback that is specific, timely, and focused on behaviours rather than personal traits. This approach can help team members become comfortable with giving and receiving feedback.

After all, ‘You can predict someone’s success in any area of their life, by observing how willing and capable they are at dealing with uncomfortable conversations.” Steven Bartlett, Diary of a CEO.

The most potent way for leaders to promote emotional intelligence is to lead by example. By demonstrating emotional intelligence in their own actions – showing they care, managing their own stress effectively, and responding to conflict in a constructive manner – leaders can set a positive example for their team members to emulate. This is particularly important considering that employees of leaders with strong emotional intelligence are four times less likely to leave.

By championing emotional intelligence in these ways, leaders can help their team members better understand and manage their stress levels. The result? Healthier interpersonal relationships, a more harmonious work environment, and ultimately, a more motivated and productive team.

A screenshot of a video call between 4 happy and engaged team members.

Goal Two: Enhancing Listening and Communication Skills in a Hybrid Work Environment

In today's world, where remote and hybrid work models have become the norm, the importance of listening and communication skills cannot be overstated. The question isn't whether these skills are essential - they undeniably are - it’s how we can adapt and enhance these skills in a work environment that is increasingly devoid of face-to-face interactions.

Imagine a team member, let's call him Alex. Alex is working remotely, miles away from his colleagues and his manager. His ability to articulate his needs, align on expectations, and foster a sense of understanding and value is not just important, but indispensable to his performance, his sense of belonging to the team, and his intention to stay with the company.

Effective communication, especially in a hybrid world, is a complex process that goes beyond the mere exchange of information. It's an art that involves active listening, empathetic understanding, and appropriate response. It's about creating a dialogue, not a monologue, where ideas are not just spoken but heard, understood, and respected.

Leaders play a pivotal role in fostering this culture of effective communication within their teams, particularly in a remote or hybrid setting. Our own Liberating Leadership Programme teaches you to accelerate successes and avoid conflict by clearly outlining expectations, providing consistent and constructive feedback, and promoting a culture of genuineness and positive regard. By doing so, you will create an environment where every team member, regardless of location, feels heard, valued, and productive.

The shift to remote work has also underscored the importance of investing in communication skills training. Such training programmes can equip team members with the tools to express their thoughts and ideas effectively, understand others' perspectives better, and resolve conflicts in a more amicable manner, all within a virtual context.

The impact of the hybrid and remote work model on communication cannot be overstated. With fewer face-to-face hours, people aren't getting the same amount of experience in communication that they once were, making it a significant challenge. However, with the right strategies and a commitment to continuous learning and improvement, teams can overcome these challenges and thrive in the new normal.

A wooden figure in front of a whiteboard. Pen drawings illustrate the how the leader (the wooden figure) delegates tasks to his team.

Goal Three: Mastering Delegation and Coaching for Empowered Teams

In the 1950s, the era of typewriters, rotary phones, and manual labour, our output was less than a third of what we can achieve now. Fast forward to the present day, and we're living in a world where productivity has skyrocketed by over 350%. This is a world of high-speed internet, cloud computing, and AI-powered automation. These technological advancements have revolutionised our work processes, enabling us to accomplish tasks at a speed that would have been unimaginable in the past. Yet, despite this quantum leap in productivity, it seems we are perpetually racing against the clock. In our relentless pursuit of progress, we still don't have enough time. It's a modern paradox that despite our increased efficiency and the powerful machinery at our disposal, we still find ourselves grappling with the age-old dilemma - there simply aren't enough hours in the day.

In this fast-paced world, the ability to delegate effectively has become more critical than ever. Delegation is not about surrendering control; it's about empowering team members to take ownership of their tasks and responsibilities. It's a strategic move that not only lightens the leader's workload but also instills a sense of trust and responsibility in team members.

Imagine a leader, let's call her Sarah. Sarah's day is packed with meetings, decision-making, and problem-solving. She realises that she can't do it all, so she starts delegating tasks to her team. She clearly defines roles and responsibilities, sets achievable yet challenging expectations, and provides the necessary support and resources. This process is transparent and collaborative, involving the team members in decision-making and ensuring they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

On the flip side, coaching is about facilitating growth and development. It's a leadership style that goes beyond task allocation to involve and develop team members. Through coaching, effective leaders guide their teams to discover their potential, develop their skills, and continuously learn and adapt. It’s a crucial step on the path to delegation, through the use of open-ended questions that test for understanding, stimulate critical thinking, and foster an environment of continuous and collaborative learning. This approach helps team members feel valued and supported, which significantly boosts their motivation and job satisfaction.

In the grand scheme of things, effective delegation and coaching are not just skills but strategic tools that leaders can leverage to empower their teams, drive productivity, and foster a positive work environment. By mastering these skills, leaders can transform their teams into motivated, high-performing units that are equipped to navigate the challenges of the modern workplace.

In this era of rapid technological advancement, the dynamics of leadership and team management are continuously evolving. The leaders who will thrive are those who can adapt to these changes, empowering their teams to not just keep up with the times, but to stay ahead.

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