Leading with Self: Emotional Intelligence

What it was

A one-day session on what it means to “lead self” in the context of a changing civil service, through being present and leading with emotional intelligence. Part of the Deputy Director Leadership Programme. Held in London on 28 January 2020.

What I learned

Emotional intelligence

The Emotional intelligence Framework – drawn from (Goldman, D. “Working with emotional intelligence”) – gives ways in which people can be emotionally intelligent and suggests areas to develop.

A similar model is the diagram here: https://hbr.org/2017/02/emotional-intelligence-has-12-elements-which-do-you-need-to-work-on

This model considers Self Vs Others and Awareness Vs Action

  • Awareness / self
    • Self awareness: Emotional self awareness
  • Awareness/ others
    • Social awareness: empathy, organisational awareness
  • Action /self
    • Self management: achievement orientation, adaptability, emotional self control, positive outlook
  • Action / others
    • Relationship management: conflict management, coach and mentor, influence, inspirational leadership, teamwork

Social Motivations

People typically have a combination of three social motivations:

  • Power motive: Primary test: Have an influence or make an impact on others
  • Achievement motive: Primary test: Meeting or exceeding a standard of excellence and or improving ones performance
  • Affiliation motive: Primary test: Maintaining or avoiding disruption of close friendly relations with people

People are often uncomfortable talking about power as a motivation!

Where things can go wrong:

  • Communication problems, including inability to listen or failure to speak up
  • Poor decision making processes, individual and group
  • Experienced experts can make poor choices and commit fundamental decisions making errors, especially under pressure

As a leader you need to be able to see when the team’s emotional engagement is blinding them to reality, for example failing to challenge assumptions, and leading to poor decisions.

Overall reflections on the day:

  • I find this subject hard to “do in the abstract” – I need to revisit this often and see how it can be applied at work.
  • I need to be braver and unafraid to challenge assumptions – especially from senior leadership.

What I will aim to do differently as a result

  • Get closer to the different teams and people – make more visits.
  • Understand what senior leaders want and worry about, talk to them.
  • Think about people’s motivations and how I can help them.
  • I will figure out a way of getting actions from these learning write ups into my task-tracking system
  • I will make time in my diary for leadership and reflection, and for follwing up on the actions from this course
  • Reflect on my social motives (impact and influence) and not to see it as bad, and reflect on the motives of others
  • I will aim to research how to develop greater focus, attention and self control (e.g. Pomodoro technique?)
  • Challenge assumptions and groupthink, have courage

Reasonable Challenge

What it was:

Short workshop on ‘Reasonable challenge’ in London on 26 September 2018.

What I learned:

  • The Chilcot report, which examined Government decision-making in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, warned against the dangers of ‘group-think’.
  • Challenge is a key way of fighting group-think.
  • Challenge is difficult in a hierarchical organisation like defence. We can get swept up in ‘senior narratives’ and find ourselves working within these without necessarily challenging them.
  • Being on the receiving end of challenge is difficult for leaders. The instinct can be fight or flight.
  • The MOD has developed a simple Reasonable Challenge guide that helps people to direct challenge in the right way, and helps leaders to encourage and harness challenge.
  • The language we use to introduce a reasonable challenge is important, make sure to phrase it as a helpful suggestion
  • The role of leaders is to create a context in which everyone can make a reasonable challenge.
  • Reasonable challenge is now being baked into training across government.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Apply reasonable challenge lessons at work
  • Publicise the reasonable challenge guide in my team
  • Conduct a workshop to explore how we apply challenge in our team
  • Consider recognising or rewarding team members for making good use of challenge