The EQ of Leading Change

When something changes it is human nature to immediately think of how it impacts you.  For example after hearing about the upcoming merger of American Airlines and US Airlines my first thought was “what will happen to my American Airlines miles?”  It was all about me!

Leaders of change can learn from the phenomenon that people tune into WIIFM (What’s In It for Me) when planning change in their organization.  It takes emotional intelligence.  We have all heard about IQ, our Intelligence Quotient, but many believe that EQ, our Emotional Intelligence Quotient, is almost more important for people in leadership roles.

The concept of emotional intelligence was popularized by Daniel Goleman based on his brain and behavioral research and contained in his book Emotional Intelligence (on Amazon #ad).  The theory emphasizes the importance of awareness, control and management of our emotions, and the emotions of other people. 

Here are a few tips for leaders of change that we can learn from emotional intelligence
  1. Self-Awareness - Leaders should examine how they feel about the change.  If the leader expresses one point of view during a change announcement but their body language, voice tone, and facial expression say something completely different, employees will be confused and incredulous.  Remember “it’s not what you say but how you say it” that contributes to the perceived meaning of your message.
  2. Social Awareness – It is important for leaders to understand the personality and values of their employees.  People have different priorities, needs and life circumstances.  An effective leader uses EQ to think about how the change will be viewed by his/her employees.  Questions for leaders to ask are: What are the benefits of this change from my employee’s point of view?  What concerns will my employees have about this change? and What reactions can I expect from my employees when the change is announced?
  3. Relationship Management – Having asked the critical questions the leader is now prepared to communicate the change not from his/her own point of view but from the employee’s point of view.  Communication plans should include an overall announcement and also one-on-one meetings to customize what is communicated to each employee.  Meetings also allow employees to ask questions and express their concerns directly to their manager.
In looking at the announcements American Airlines made about the merger we can see how they looked at the change from various points of view: shareholders, employees, and customers.  Apparently my frequent flyer miles are safe...whew!  

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You're right self-awareness is the most important aspect of being a leader. You need to be able to carry yourself together. He should not be thinking about himself. But he should think for the good of the group. I also have an article about change. Check it out, if you have time. Just follow the link:
positive changes