The key to relying on your emotional intelligence is to deploy the right tactics for the right scenarios. As any frustrated employee knows, having your boss sympathize with the frustration of the copier repeatedly breaking down is not the same thing as having your boss defuse conflict with headquarters, get an increase in the office budget, and buy a new one.
One of the best skills a financial advisor has is their emotional intelligence. It can help draw prospective clients. It can also be a secret weapon in handling difficult clients. Those key attributes help discern what a client is concerned about (and how that might be leading to how they treat your staff). Emotional intelligence can also be a key skill in leading your team. Advisors who lead teams or offices, like anyone else in a leadership role right now, may be feeling like their leadership skills have been tapped dry. Read on for how using the right emotional intelligence skills can put you back on track and keep your key employees engaged and more importantly, staying employed with you.
What is emotional intelligence? One article defines it this way “[e]motional intelligence … is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.” It’s a key attribute for any professional in client-facing occupation, especially for financial advisors. As we wrote before, “emotional intelligence has been shown as critical to those who can close the gap between what their clients are saying they need and how the salesperson can deliver on those needs.” When it comes to leadership, “emotionally intelligent folks are seen as having higher levels of commitment as well as optimism.”
The key to relying on your emotional intelligence is to deploy the right tactics in the right scenarios. As any frustrated employee knows, having your boss sympathize with the frustration of the copier repeatedly breaking down is not the same thing as having your boss defuse conflict with headquarters, get an increase in the office budget, and buy a new one. Recently, Harvard Business Review addressed this very topic in an article on leading with compassion. There, co-authors of the book Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way stress the importance of discerning compassion from empathy. They define compassion by it’s two key qualities: “understanding what another is feeling, and the willingness to act to alleviate suffering for another.” Empathy is closely related. “With empathy, we have a close, visceral understanding of the other person’s experience. We feel with the person … [t]hough a noble thing to do, it does not necessarily help the other person, except for possibly making them feel less lonely in their experience.” In other words, having an empathetic boss does not get the copier replaced. Having a sympathetic boss does.
From a leadership standpoint, empathy leads to less effective and efficient decisions. “…[E]mpathy may cloud our judgment, encourage bias, and make us less effective at making wise decisions.” Instead of listening with an empathetic ear leaders should listen with an ear towards solutions. When solutions aren’t clear, asking employees to name specific needs and focusing on the practicalities of them has better results for employees in the long term.
Some experts on emotional intelligence put it a different way. They suggest improving your emotional intelligence by separating the do from the who. When decisions might be clouded by empathy, you can try focusing instead on the specifics at hand. That is, focus on seeing activities as tasks to perform, rather than on the identities involved (including yours). This can help you stay focused on situation, since identity traits (like honesty, loyalty and confidence) don’t change from situation to situation. The goal in leading with this kind of emotional intelligence is that it will allow you to balance concern for your employees with your need to move your office forward and ensure productivity.
These articles are prepared for general purposes and are not intended to provide advice or encourage specific behavior. Before taking any action, Advisors and Plan Sponsors should consult with their compliance, finance and legal teams.
Before leaping into the unknown, we recommend a thorough examination of your plan. Because we are experts in the field, we know the marketplace and know what your existing vendor is capable of offering. Through this examination, we can help you optimize the service you receive.get xpress proposal