The other day I met with Ellen for lunch. Ellen holds the position of manager of human resources and training for a healthcare organization serving several area counties. Recent Medicare cutbacks in reimbursements to healthcare organizations for various services have caused financial difficulties for Ellen's organization. The organization has been in the red for several months due to the Medicare changes as well as a decreasing census.
The CEO, Catherine, implemented several initiatives to help balance the financials. Those steps have been helpful but more needs to be done. When I met Catherine over a year ago both I was impressed with her vision. During our meeting Catherine indicated that she felt emotional intelligence played a significant role in organizational success. When I talked to Ellen at lunch, she mentioned that she felt her CEO was quite skilled in emotional intelligence. Based on my observations, I agreed with Ellen. The CEO was not one of those people who hide negative emotions on the inside while appearing calm on the outside.
At lunch, Ellen indicated that people were feeling the pressures brought on by the financial problems and where starting to display signs of increased stress. She had observed some of the leaders being confrontational and critical of the CEO while others were generally defensive, indecisive and pessimistic.
The leaders were not finding fault with the CEO's actions. They were upset that she seemed so calm while faced with the current financial problems. They expected her to be more frustrated, anxious and worried, just as they were! This situation astonished me. These leaders were upset because the CEO was skilled at managing her emotions which enabled her to think clearly and focus on critical issues – something they, as leaders, should be modeling, especially during these troubling times.
This situation made me think that an action the CEO could take that might help in the sort-term is to empathize (an emotional intelligence skill) with people as she talked to them, When you show that you are aware of others feelings, it demonstrates that you understand their concerns and are making decisions with their best interest in mind.
Of course the best solution would be to help people develop their emotional intelligence skills so that they could manage the emotional roller coaster brought on by changes both at work and at home. Emotional intelligence training has helped improve performance, relationships and health. The key to selecting a successful training program is to make sure that the program delivers measured results consistently. To help themselves and others successfully weather these challenging times, leaders at all levels can demonstrate empathy and enhance their emotional intelligence skills.