In this series of posts we're discussing the qualities of leadership using the acronym L-E-A-D-E-R-S. The second letter, "E” stands for emotional bonding.
Of all the various qualities that cement the loyalty of a group, this is the most powerful, and yet it remains elusive for many who want to lead. Partially this is due to gender stereotypes - it's considered less than masculine to dwell on emotions or even show them.
Partially it's a built-in obstacle. Leaders are mostly drawn from the most competitive people in a group, and having empathy for other people isn't possible if you constantly view them as rivals.
To make you feel less self-conscious, let's erase any bias against "opening up and showing your feelings." If we break emotional bonding down, its components are more objective.
- Using your EQ, or emotional intelligence
- Reducing needless melodrama
- Removing emotional toxicity
- Raising morale
Each component derives from a simple realization: all groups share emotions, and the more positive the emotional tone, the better. But much more is required than pep talks, Christmas bonuses, and team spirit.
Emotional intelligence: You acquire this through the maturing process as you experience what works and what doesn't work at the emotional level.
Doesn't work: creating fear through intimidation, uncontrolled outbursts, humiliation, back-biting, intolerance for emotions in others, treating emotion as weakness.
Does work: showing others that you feel the way they do, sympathy, praise, absence of confrontation, building up another person's confidence, establishing casual rapport.
These aspects of emotional bonding can be learned. In some corporate cultures, especially in the past, using fear and intimidation was an accepted style, and a boss might pride himself on being called an S.O.B. behind his back. The military still operates under this model, but when it comes down to units of soldiers in battle, what counts the most is protecting your buddies, which is an emotional bond.
Protecting your group and instilling in them the desire to protect each other should be emphasized more, and it would be if corporate culture was less directed toward competition inside the culture.
When you give an order that is followed by foot-dragging, under-production, lateness, and the like, that's passive aggression. Outright disobedience or rebellion doesn't occur, but there is underlying hostility nonetheless.
Leaders bring out the best in others, but successful visionaries go even farther: they form lasting emotional bonds. They are the kinds of leaders we hold in our hearts. Deep motivation then develops. When people are emotionally bonded to you, they want to have contact. They want to be of service and share in your vision. True, lasting loyalties are formed.
To create such a bond, you must be willing to build real relationships. Share yourself. Take a personal interest in others and notice their strengths. At the most basic level, you must display healthy emotional energy yourself. Exclude the three toxic As: authoritarian, angry, and aloof.
In every situation make it a habit to ask the key questions of emotional intelligence: How do I feel? How do they feel? What are the hidden stumbling blocks? A leader who can answer these questions will be in a position to create lasting emotional bonds.
In the next post we'll cover the last two skills, removing emotional toxicity and raising morale.
(To be cont.)
Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers. FINS - Wall Street Journal, stated that “The Soul of Leadership”, as one of five best business books to read for your career. Co-author with Rudolph E. Tanzi, their latest New York Times bestseller, Super Brain: Unleashing The Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being (Harmony, November 6, 2012) is a new PBS special.