South West Training Blog

Articles, tips, guides and blogs around business skills, training, professional courses and development in addition to South West relevant news.

Contagious Leadership – Emotional Intelligence and its impact on Team Performance

Contagious Leadership – Emotional Intelligence and its impact on Team Performance

In today’s business world, hard skills are no longer seen as the sole key to success. While in the past there was no room for emotions in the workplace and the importance of soft skills was largely underestimated, they have come to be considered as indispensable and well worth striving for – and rightly so, I believe.


Just think about your own experiences. Wouldn’t you agree that your emotional state greatly influences your thoughts, attitude and behaviour and consequently, your personal wellbeing, your relationships and your performance both at work and in your private life?


This is why Emotional Intelligence (EI), the ability to identify, assess, and manage emotions in a positive way, is extremely valuable for every individual. EI not only includes being able to “read” others’ emotions, and react accordingly. It is equally, if not more important, to understand and control one’s own emotions. And self-awareness doesn’t stop there. It is also essential to understand in what way and to which extent your own emotions impact others, especially if you find yourself in the role of a leader.


Neuroscientific research has proven that emotions, positive and negative likewise, can “rub off“ on others. This phenomenon is called emotional contagion. The psychotherapist Elaine Hatfield, PhD, and her colleagues discovered that “all of us imitate facial expressions, postures, and voices of the people around us. Those expressions trigger certain emotions - the same ones experienced by the person we mimic. But the process happens so fast, we're completely unaware of it”.

Hence, the emotions conveyed by one person can spread like a virus and infect others. Think about your own experience as an employee: Doesn’t it lift your mood and don’t you feel much more appreciated and motivated if your boss has a positive attitude and encourages you, rather than constantly focusing on what you did wrong? Did you ever notice that your colleague’s anxiety started to make you shift from one foot to the other, because you were starting to grow nervous yourself? – Now, judging from your answers, what implications should these findings have on your behavior as a leader?


As a leader you need to be even more aware of the contagious effect of emotions, because your team will look towards you, and your emotions are likely to spread quicker and more persistently than others’. Making derogatory or negative comments and having an unwelcoming attitude can get down the whole team, leaving each team member feeling drained, unmotivated, or even reluctant.


However, when talking about emotions, their viral nature can actually be something very positive and useful. If you learn to harness and emit positive energy as a leader, you can foster enthusiasm, put your team members at ease and make them feel appreciated and encouraged. By doing so, one person can positively influence each individual team member and improve the dynamics and the performance of the team as a whole.
Mastering EI and harnessing the forces of positivity will lead to enhanced results and greater business success and it will make you a highly valued leader in any business sector.

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What makes for the Perfect Training Centre?

What makes for the Perfect Training Centre?


Proximity

For a business it is good to have local facilities that avoids to go too far to find the right place. It saves time and money. This is the reason why we think that our training facilities can help regional businesses to develop.

Comfort

To learn, you need to be in the right conditions. Our rooms are spacious and comfortable. We want them to be right environment for you to bring away as much as you can, in the right conditions.
The training centre also includes a lounge. Perfect to have a break with some refreshments, it is also a good place to talk with the other attendees. It is available all day.

Adaptability

According to needs and expectations you would not need the same room organisation. Therefore we chose to have a room that can have different arrangements to set up the optimal lay out for the training.
The rooms can host up to 15 people. We also have also 2 smaller rooms (up to 8 people).

Experience

When you have no experience, you can make mistakes easily. We have got a 10 year experience in the field of trainings. It enables us to deliver high standard trainings.

Quality trainers

A training is totally useless if the trainer has nothing to learn to you. Our trainings are delivered by first class trainers. We only work with trainers have many years of expertise in various business sector as well as on the subject matter.

Attention to people

We think that respect is an essential value in life. If you come at our trainings you will find professionals that are passionate about how you learn and that make customer service their priority.

 

Written for Bob by training intern Elorn Causer.

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Developing Soft Skills as a Manager Today

Developing Soft Skills as a Manager Today

Management and leadership as we know it have undergone a significant shift in recent years due to globalisation and the increasing need to work virtually and across time zone and cultures. Previously, a manager was seen as someone with largely specific technical/hard skills, today that perception of the role has largely developed.


In last decade, and as the world is becoming an increasing ‘global marketplace’ (Lane 1997), human resource development has also taken on a more international outlook which means that the global talent search has focused increasingly on finding, developing and retaining those individuals with a specific skillset: self-efficacy, interpersonal skills and perceptual skills (Harris and Brewster 1999) amongst others.  


In addition, it has been found that good management/leadership skills at home, does not necessarily mean success abroad (Jokinen 2005). Although there has been very little research done in this area,  it is now a rapidly growing field which with an increased hunger to decipher and gain a better understanding of the competencies required to manage/lead effectively and successfully on a global level.


So what are the characteristics that make managers and leaders successful in the global marketplace? Interestingly, the research points to broadly soft skills:


•    ‘Social, creativity/resourcefulness, positive outlook, responsiveness, self-knowledge, cultural sensitivity’ (Brownwell 2006)
•    ‘Knowledge of how to use their personal influence, strong character, knowledge of how to motivate others, act like entrepreneurs (…) (Connon 2000)
•    ‘Relationship, cognition, organising expertise, visioning (…) (Mendenhall and Osland 2002).

Even Learning & Development professionals in companies tend to focus less on producing programmes for hard/technical skills because these often need specialised knowledge and some can be via blended learning programmes, reading or other methods. The challenge for today’s Learning & Development professionals is developing people skills or ‘soft skills’ especially at the global level in order to get things done.


So you may be asking yourself, what’s next? How can I start improving my soft skills? Here are a few practical suggestions:


1)    Build positive relationships with your employees
a.    Spend time with your employees, give them your full attention and develop trust
b.    Understand who they are and what motivates them
c.    Be fair and resolve conflicts in a respectful and sensitive manner


2)    Develop self-awareness of your preferred working, communication and management style
a.    Try and read between the lines and gauge the effect you have on other people
b.    Listen actively and show real interest
c.    Practice speaking and writing clearly. Do not be afraid to ask for constructive feedback and in return practice giving feedback too.
d.    Be flexible in your management style – different people respond differently to different styles – find what works


3)    Inspire
a.    Practice what you preach to demonstrate that goals are achievable
b.    Celebrate success
c.    Learn from mistakes


Effective management and leadership today requires an addition ‘touch’ as expectations of what it means to be a good leader has changed. Generally speaking, employees today expect their leaders to have the necessary soft skills to build positive relationships, be self-aware and inspire others to get things done.


As Steve Denning summarises in a recent Forbes article, managers today are capacity building instigators: “Management is not simply a menial set of technical directives. At its best, it clarifies and magnifies human capacity. By opening those pathways by which human beings become productive, it brings an increase in existence for those doing work and those for whom the work is done. Through creating the space where we can live mindfully and wholeheartedly, it enlarges what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.”

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What is the Meaning behind our Body Language?

In the workplace, it is often challenging to communicate effectively and to avoid misunderstandings. Unconsciously, we interpret each other’s ‘social signals’ whilst speaking in order interpret what somebody is saying. As a matter of fact, these non-verbal ways of communicating, influence our communication to a greater extent than anything we say. Actually, more than half of our communication depends on the how you we say things, rather than what we say.


This applies to all situations in our daily life, and also at the workplace. It also essentially shapes our relationships with our colleagues, managers, and subordinates, and also to clients. The features shaping the way we come across are the tone of the voice, gesture and facial expressions, body language and posture, appearance and eye contact.


The reaction to your words changes accordingly to the ‘social signals’, which you send when speaking. It is up to the hearer how your message is interpreted, either in a positive or negative way. This forms the basis for any (business) relationship, which influences all future encounters. This is reason why it is crucial to be aware of the huge influence of non-verbal communication, and to use it in your favour. In general, when you know how your social signals are perceived in negotiations, in team meetings, or at presentations you are more likely to be successful in your job because you can avoid pitfalls.


What does this mean for success in the workplace?


Having said that the largest part of our daily conversations depends on implicit, non-verbal features and tone of voice there is always room for misunderstandings. On the one hand, often people are unaware about the way they are perceived by their colleagues. On the other hand, colleagues or co-workers might not feel entitled to comment on someone’s behaviour.

Further, there are often tight deadlines at work and people need to work under pressure. As a consequence, people do not have the time to worry about how they say things in order to get their job done. All these factors play an important role when it comes to how we communicate, and can potentially create conflict at the work place. However, to be able to work together productively, hardships or misunderstandings should be kept at a minimum. This is why it is worth paying close attention to the way we have conversations in order to maintain a positive and productive atmosphere at work.


Some practical tips for the workplace:


•    Be aware of your own body language and non-verbal signals whilst speaking or giving presentations.  You also ask for feedback on how you are perceived by others.
•    You can train yourself in ‘interpreting’ social signals by developing a greater ‘emotional intelligence’ to enhance your soft skills.
•    Try to be empathetic to and to see the situation from the other person’s perspective.
•    If you feel like someone did not communicate according to your standards of ‘good communication’, focus on the message and what has been said instead of how it came across.
•    Do not take offence when people don’t communicate according to your personal expectations.
•    If the situation does not change, try to speak to people individually and tell them you feel about their way of communicating with you Try to give feedback  in an calm and open way in order to clearly state what is irritating you and why.
•    You could also establish ground rules for good communication for your team so that everyone is aware of each other’s expectations.


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