+Scott Watson

Monday, 4 January 2010

Emotional Intelligence - A Major Factor for UAE Companies Competing In a Downturn Claims Leading Management Expert

One of the UK’s top management experts has warned corporate managers that a lack of “emotional intelligence” in their leadership styles could spell financial disaster during the economic downturn.

Scott Watson, the founder and managing director of Summit Consulting and Training, which has trained more than 10,000 business people in the UK, Europe and Arabian Gulf region, claims that managers without emotional intelligence risk ending up with under-motivated, disengaged staff who lack commitment and whose productivity nosedives.

Unfortunately, emotionally intelligent managers are rare, Watson says. Most highly qualified business managers lack the mature interpersonal skills required to motivate staff through hard times. They often make the false assumption that their technical skills, or dazzling academic records, will make them strong managers.

“Academic institutions and most corporate training programmes don’t promote or teach personal qualities such as resilience, optimism and empathy,” Watson said. “Managers are expected to find their own way, and they can go badly wrong. Academic prowess will not guarantee success. Technical competence needs to be partnered with personal character,” he said.

So what is “emotional intelligence” in a leader and how can it be acquired?

“Our research over 10 years with over 10,000 people shows that nearly all employees value high levels of trust, collaboration, credibility and empathy in their managers,” Watson said.

The survey demonstrates how much employees are motivated towards better performance by credible and engaging bosses. From a manager’s point of view, too, the benefits of emotionally intelligent leadership are enormous.

“Striving to achieve a higher level of personal, team and company effectiveness is far more worthwhile than thinking success or failure is at the mercy of external forces so it’s not worth doing anything but drift into oblivion, or bankruptcy,” Watson said.

While a mature level of emotional intelligence in leaders is always valuable, it is crucial in a downturn when employee motivation tends to flag without regular encouragement.

“Feel-good factors naturally develop when profits are growing and costs are reducing,” Watson said. “But when times are tough, employees are full of fears and anxieties that they won’t meet targets, or that their job is on the line, making it harder to stay focused.”

Strategy aside, companies who have managers with high levels of emotional intelligence are far better equipped to survive the downturn, Watson said.

“When times are hard, that’s when you really find out how effective or ineffective your leaders and managers are,” he said.

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