When you hire or promote into leadership positions, it's essential to look for high-level traits. They need to know how to motivate people, keep them accountable, and to bring a results-driven approach to everything they do. But these days, simply being a competent professional isn't enough.
In an era of turbulence caused by COVID-19, social movements, and economic instability, our workplace leaders also need to exhibit social-emotional awareness and how to apply it.
As part of a decade long study, social-emotional leadership is a framework for empathetic leadership and the ideology behind "servant leadership." Essentially, social-emotional leadership is the ability of a leader to connect with his subordinates beyond giving direction, similar to mentorship.
A good social-emotional leader needs to influence productivity. But, they also need to impact morale, build trust, and confidence in the workplace. A genuinely successful social-emotional leader can mediate disagreements, reduce workplace tension, settle disputes to help employees feel supported, thus bringing social-emotional attributes to the workplace.
The need for social-emotional leadership in the workplace is paramount. Thankfully, a little goes a long way! Many good leaders are naturally inclined to demonstrate social-emotional awareness, and more traditional leaders need to focus on exploring the human dynamic of their group to make a big impression.
Here are a few examples of social-emotional leadership:
Sit down with each employee one-on-one and chat candidly about how they feel. Ask questions; how is work going for you? Is there anything I can do to support you? Do you have any suggestions? Giving your employees a voice is a big deal!
Adopting people-centric work policies demonstrates social-emotional accountability. Flexible work schedule, work-from-home options, or even the ability to work extra time to make up for unexpected time off shows compassion, and you understand them as people.
Embodying a cause or movement that's important to your employees shows your recognition of their values. Good leaders show support that extends beyond the workplace. Even passive examples of social-emotional leadership make a big difference. Set transparent accountability standards to be upfront about your expectations for employees, or offer to help a struggling employee with an action plan, instead of chastising them about their performance.
The days of superiority leadership are gone. Social-emotional leadership is about connecting human to human. People need to be seen, heard, and appreciated. Your employees need social-emotional leaders now more than ever!
Those organizations that embrace this strategy are the ones that will attract and retain high-quality talent and experience significant growth in turbulent times and beyond.