Grumpy Leader? Emotional Management is here

Written on: October 31, 2017

In: Motivation by Elisa Coleclough

emotional management

Grumpy leader? No! Emotional Management is here…


Before I start, have you ever worked with a “grumpy” leader? The one that does not foster communication and does not know how to set limits?  The one that people respect out of fear but not out of inspiration? If you are one of those, or have worked with one of them as direct report or a supervisor you may want to continue reading.


As I started working about 14 years ago, I was lucky enough to have had great leaders, not only bosses, but true inspiring leaders. They were an example talked the talk and walked the walk.


They were respectful and heard everyone, fostered ideas, had a clear communication and gave everyone a fair chance to participate.  They were never loud and have a single rule:


Praise in public, preach in private.


When I started evolving in my career in Mexico, leaders tended to be like that. If they are no natural-born leaders, we would take leadership courses or trainings, usually big companies seek that their leaders are true and find coaches and internal programs to help them grow in that aspect.


The opposite.


However, when I moved to Argentina, I saw there was a big difference in leadership roles.  First things first, many people in an organization knew each other personally from school or prior works, and though it is good to have people recommended from employees. I believe that practice should be something that has to be handled with care.


Additionally, to that, leaders are more like bosses. They tend to be loud and boss people around, with lack contempt and hardness. The fact is that employees grow an incisive dislike for a person that does small talk every morning but does not actually care of they have the tools technical or soft skills they need to perform the job. In Mexico, people does look up to the leader and see them a good role, but it is because they have trained themselves to acquire managerial skills.


In Buenos Aires, I also saw that middle managers of supervisors are a lot more approachable than managers. They tend to grow an image of far-way, distant, cold persona, unapproachable to the rest of the team. At some points managers would it in different floors and they do not even get to see their teams daily.


I was surprised to see all this, because, as I said, I was used to a different working culture. However, I see every situation as an opportunity. I also realized there were many people who attended couching sessions, but they were not examples. They simply did not put their knowledge into action for fear of being different to the other “boss-like” managers. Result was that, however hard they tried, their people were not inspired by them, because they said one thing with good intention and they acted in a completely different form.


Be coherent.


After having seen many people in different positions in two different countries with similar backgrounds I decided to analyze them.


Example. I remember one time I overheard a conversation of two people comparing two supervisors. One employee said: “I like him, he is hands on, is with us, helping us, listening and when closing comes is the first one to list down the issues and see who can help with what. Anyone is overloaded, then another comes by to help”. This conversation made me confirm one thing. People see and feel when they are supported, bosses that put themselves on their place and on their feet, who are facilitators, motivators and inspirers, become leaders who are more effective, because they are an example to follow.


Engagement: the levels of engagement of people depend on how the relationship is, and I do not mean about small talk, I am talking about hearing each person, what they need to perform better the job, what things can be done better. Because if you are the leader does not mean you need to know everything, the operational best improvement ideas come from bottom to the top. People in front line know what they need.


Influence thru the influencers. In my personal experience, I have been a lot more effective when I am able to achieve results thru my middle managers than thru myself.  If you feel there is a big fear of you not getting recognized and people stepping over your position, then you are insecure. Confident people know that you need to influence people so that they bring the results. You also need to recognize those results, because it is their effort. As a manager, you are a guide, and you do not need to be recognized for those results. Your people will immediately recognize you as an effective leader and…


Actions speak louder than words


Happiness. Some leaders look at this word with disdain, don’t be one of them. Happy people will do their jobs more efficiently, have less absenteeism, and be more likely to engage in further activities and bring about efficiencies and improvements. I like to look up to Richard Branson, the way that man INSPIRES, is amazing. He seems to make everyone happy around him. So it does not mean you are not going to set the objectives loud and clear and demand results, it only means that you need to convey all the right traits to make people taken into account and respected.


You are not the smartest person in the room. I am going to tell you one very important thing. The days of the bosses working with their teams and being the most super smart person in the room is over. If you want to buy engagement, you need to listen actively be a facilitator and get to know the team’s abilities and be able to fit them with the right set of activities. The fact is that if you become a 40% talker and 60% listener, you will make a great improvement. Remember, you may be the smartest person in the room, but if you are a leader you are basically being paid to bring about others peoples talents to harvest them and grow them and have a solid team. Goal: to have the smartest team, not be the smartest person in the room.


Am I breaking your barriers down? Oh, well, if I am, that is great, you have a great opportunity to become a more charismatic leader than you currently are.


You are not a friend. Some bosses believe that if they HAVE to become friends with everyone to be leaders. That you need to be smiling all the time and say that is ok to everything. The point is that you need to be respectful and respected, treat people equally, not make friends. I have seen great leaders shatter their image because of making friends with their employees and then not being taken seriously. Remember who you are so be respectful, be present but nor invasive, grow interest in each member but know your limits. If you become eventually friends with your team, make clear that you are a person outside the office hours (you can play football, be on the same basketball team, etc.) but within the office hours you have a role of authority for a reason and guidelines and etiquette need to be complied.


Neither a father nor a mother. I am going to give you a personal example, one of the managers I had the opportunity to work with, was not such an effective leader, but it was not because he was not following some of the above. He was “fathering” and “mothering” everyone around. At the beginning I did not notice, but there was something that he said that made me feel uneasy. I quickly realized that he dealt with me and with the rest of the team with words you use for your children like: pigeon or bumblebee. Yes, I know, you are laughing, well don’t. We all need to be well aware not to do those kind of things, he did not do this to patronize us, but it was unnerving anyway.


Personal space. This topic varies from country to country and from culture to culture. It is aware that you know what are the term of personal space wherever you do. I am going to give two examples of don’ts. I had one supervisor who when physically approached me to talk or to reach for me, she stood too far away and even when she offered her hand to shake (fishy shake, read my other article on body postures) ,she seemed like she was uncertain whether she wanted to talk to me or not. And as she talked to me she looked somewhere else.  The opposite case was, that I had this middle supervisee that I had, he was a leader, had a team of 10 people. Some people loved him but the girls felt their personal space was being taken. As I was talking to him, he sat too close, he touched me for not reason on my hand, not in a sexual way though, but I realized that was his area of opportunity. He came across as friendly within his male peers, because they kind of touch in that way. To female staff he was not an effective communicator though.


Finally, you will be wondering and what Eli did? Well, in some cases I coached the people that were under my scope of responsibility so that they grew aware of all those nonverbals and eventually change them for the better and with that their image. In some other cases, the leaders were my supervisors, and I also gave them feedback. Some grew aware of the fact that actually no one has told them before and immediately looked for coaching sessions, become more effective. Other, did not do anything about it, because they simply thought it was not relevant.


I will continue this week with another two more deliverables on this micromanagement topic. Please tell me if you would like any special topic to be written about. Looking forward to your comments in the box below. Have a great week/day, Eli.