I am by no means perfect and have learned many hard leadership lessons over the years. I have learned many of those lessons as a Navy SEAL in combat and even more over the past ten years helping run our digital marketing agency. One of the most impactful things I have learned is that a leader's behavior has a direct economic impact on the organizations they run.
As a leader, continually developing our emotional intelligence is critical to moving people in a desired direction and taking collective action towards achieving common goals. A few months ago I wrote an article about five aspects of emotional intelligence required for effective leadership. Now I would like to expand on this subject and talk more specifically about how our behavior as leaders impacts the ultimate success of our organizations.
Here are eight ways that a leader's behavior impacts the bottom line.
Calm is contagious. As is panic. Staying calm under pressure is an absolute requirement for effective leadership. The team responds to the behavior of its leadership. If managers and leaders fold under pressure so will everyone else. If you can't stay calm, you won't think or communicate clearly. Panic leads to misinformation, reactive behavior and poor decision-making which has a direct impact on efficiency and profitability. When we stay calm, we can project confidence and make the necessary adjustments with the best information at hand.
Integrity as a guiding principle. It's quite common to see integrity as a core value or guiding principle for an organization. Living it every day is a different story and requires constant self-reflection. Integrity won't exist in any organization or team unless it is blatantly and consistently practiced at the top. Every transaction, decision, strategy and communication must be laced with integrity in order for it to become a cultural foundation. When a leader does not act with integrity, neither will the team, which puts the company at financial risk.
Consistency is key. This may be one of the toughest aspects of leadership. Everything we do is under the close watchful eye of our teams. Communication must be consistent. We have to follow the policies we put in place more closely than anyone. If we run around acting like we have multiple personality disorder, the entire structure of the organization becomes fragile which inhibits forward progress.
Trust is a must. Studies show that productivity, income and profits are directly negatively or positively impacted dependent on the levels of trust within a company. Studies also show that only 49% of employees feel that senior management have their best interests in mind and only 28% believe that CEOs are a credible source of information. When trust is low, it places a hidden tax on every transaction, communication and decision bringing speed down and costs up. By contract, high-trust organization operate on a dividend. A performance multiplier that increases speed and decreases cost.
Empathy shows compassion. As leaders, we have to learn to control our emotions but also have a balance of compassion for people at all levels. This goes back to having good emotional intelligence and showing our human side every now and then. It's a delicate balance. Emotional competencies are not innate talents but rather learned capabilities that must be developed and practiced to achieve higher levels of performance. When the team feels protected, they will be more connected which leads to greater self-discipline, collaboration, insight and collective action toward common goals.
Be the example. Don't just lead by example, be the example. Inside and outside of the office. Great leaders live the vision and values of the company on a daily basis.
Protect the team. A great general once said, "You cannot manage people into combat, they must be led." Sometimes our teams need more leadership than management. It's our responsibility to make the team feel safe and supported, stay calm under pressure, provide resources and remove obstacles. When the team feels protected, they will stay calm and focused on the mission.
Communication is like oxygen. Like Navy SEALs, any high performance team must have exemplary communication to be successful. Good communication is the cornerstone for any relationship to flourish, overcome adversity and ultimately to survive long-term. Don't be afraid to over-communicate. Redundancy is imperative. When an organization's internal communications are poor, it erodes trust which impacts performance.
As leaders, we make a conscious decision to lead well or not. To pursue perfection or not. To always be improving or not. Our behavior does impact our companies' bottom line. It's up to us whether that impact is positive or negative.