Wednesday, 10 July 2013

My Reflections [Leadership Series: Part III (A)]

Here, in this 'My Reflection Leadership Series', I'll be talking about my leadership
ideas and personal experiences which transformed both my 'self' and my life. 

             My Reflections on LEADERSHIP [Part 3 (A)]

In my previous two blog posts on the same theme, I discussed (in fact, tried to discuss) the idea of ‘Leadership’ with the help of my observations and experiences (personal as well as professional). Here in this present blog, I will be talking about leadership and the role of emotions. 

It could sound a little odd, but the latest studies on behavioral psychology suggest that the leadership ability has much to do with the emotional state of the leader.  The question is if we are mindful of our own moods and emotions or not while we present ourselves to the outside world. As a matter of fact, our mood literally impacts the mood of others. Our mindfulness and self awareness really improve our presence as well as our performance as a leader. And interestingly enough, our emotions do influence others either positively or negatively and set up an emotional chain reaction. We sometimes might think that it’s easy to befool others by covering up our actual emotions but reality is that we cannot befool our own ‘self’. Our tone of voice, our gestures, our facial expressions and even our ‘plastic smile’ are not enough to hide our true feelings. In his book ‘Resonant Leadership’, Professor Richard Boyatzis has really put it so beautifully, “When we are in a position of influence or authority, other people are watching us a little more carefully than we are watching them and we end up being more infectious in a sense that we become more powerful spreader or agents of our own feelings.” 

No doubt, emotions are contagious, both positive and negative. If you are not emotionally intelligent and mindful (i.e., not aware of what others are feeling), you just fail to understand how your emotions are infecting others, nor can you consciously change your impact on others to be more effective. Organisational Psychology puts it into two different terms: PEA & NEA. The Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) and the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA). This terminology could sound a bit strange at the first place. Each is an emotional state. Movement between them occurs when you reach a 'tipping point'. In simple terms, PEA is: feeling positive and hopeful, thinking positively about dreams and possibilities; being optimistic, focusing on one’s strengths; excited about trying something new, experimenting; and being in 'resonant' relationships. While on the other hand, NEA is: feeling negative and fearful; thinking too much about the past or the future, worrying for expectations of others and problems; being pessimistic, focusing more on one’s weaknesses; feeling obligated to things you 'should do' or are 'expected by others to do' and being in 'dissonant' relationships. Psychologists say that we need the NEA to survive and the PEA to thrive. 
Psychologists say that we need the NEA to survive and the PEA to thrive.
What I have observed on the basis of my experiences as a trainer, is that most of the times, individuals when exposed to PEA (Positive Emotional Attractors), show increased amount of interest in a particular task or activity. They use their imaginations as best as possible and come up with creative solutions. They take the assignment as a challenge and put their best efforts. They look completely engaged. They really do their best with a focus to bring some impressive results. No task remains as a liability. They even sometimes complete the given challenge much before the due deadlines. In other words, they do seem to thrive in their response to PEA. And on the other hand, if the same individuals encounter the NEA (Negative Emotional Attractors), look most of the time disinterested [either by changing my approach towards them or the nature of the assignment; and also personally experienced myself]. They show some sort of ‘escapist attitude’ and take the task like a pressure or as a burden. There is a tendency of more of compulsion and less of inclination. They feel like being used and working like a labourer. Sometimes it all appears like a torture both mentally and physically. And then they put their half-hearted efforts and try some short cuts. They also reflect expressions of boredom. Their personal involvement seems missing and they show results with no passion. Again in simple words, they do ‘just the needful’ so that they could at least survive.

When we talk in terms of the 'right' ratio between PEA to NEA (using positive feedback to let people know when they're doing well, or offering constructive comments to help them when they're off track), One might intuitively expect, is that both are important. But the real question is — in what proportion? The new research (conducted by academic Emily Heaphy and consultant Marcial Losada) submits that all leaders should be aware of the ratio of positive and negative comments made by their colleagues in leadership team meetings, and endeavor to move the proportion closer to the ideal of 5.6 to 1 — by their own example. Personally, I don't feel myself ready to subscribe to this result. My answer to this would be, 9 : 1 perhaps; Seems pretty strange and a bit odd. Isn't it ?!! And for this, I have something interesting to share here. You might agree or not. But this is purely on the basis of my own observations. Don’t you think we are already surrounded with so much negativity be it media or the happenings around. Everywhere you get to see the dark shades more and so little of the silver lining. People are more cranky than mindful. They are more inclined to criticism than to creativity. They are more of fault finders than being flawless first. As they say while you point one finger to somebody, rest of the fingers point themselves at you. In other words, people already are quite negative, self critique and victim of inferiority complex (or superiority complex in some other cases; which again is not a sign of mindfulness where you see others small; perhaps that is also a trick to hide one's own inefficiency). And to top it all, criticism from others becomes just more than enough to handle. 

The bites of NEA are much stronger than the bits of PEA.
In today’s world, people are more distant from themselves (or say their true selves) and are quite close to the world around either through social networking sites or some other means. Technology has really played a crucial role to make people feel more depressed as well as less mindful (as per the latest findings).  And then in such a world with more of technology and less of emotions, it’s just natural to play the role of a guilty soul. The point is when glass is already full, then there seems no sense to fill it any more.  Yes, research says that 5.6 : 1 could be the ideal ratio of PEA to NEA. But again considering the ‘glass already full’ situation, I believe, people are hungry for more and more ‘likes’ (appreciation) & ‘shares’ (recognition). In fact, the more you appreciate and recognize them, the more they do feel the need (and accordingly they do the same things over and over again.) The bottom-line is that the people are more self-conscious today and even a little bit of criticism or negative attitude seems enough for them to turn off. 

When I think about the list of things others told me what I should do or how I should change, it was almost like playing on the back foot and being defensive for not being able to be at par. Yes, my heart knows better that they all are saying absolutely right, but when the very same ‘right’ things are said to you by the people around, you just close down and start giving excuses. Even if you do agree with them, you most probably don’t follow their suggestions and advice until and unless you deliberately collect some courage and say to yourself, “enough is enough’ and start doing the needful. (because the bites of NEA are much stronger than the bits of PEA). And when there is the question of the need to survive (for what NEA holds the responsibility), I must admit that human mind is pretty smart to find out the ways. In fact, humans are made to thrive as compared to survive only. I think, survival is the byproduct of the process of thriving. If that be not the case, all the progress, improvements and developments in all the areas would not have been possible. And we would be better off just being an ape if survival was the only agenda.    
Are you merely a Boss or a real Leader?!!
My encounters with different task masters tell me loudly that my performance is generally better when in the PEA. And I am more open to others and new ideas. And this is just the other way round in the case of NEA. At last, I would sum up saying that It's not about the numbers or data or even statistics, It's more about being mindful and understanding others around you, and that's the ability which differentiates one from being merely a boss to a leader in true sense.  

1 comment:

  1. "

    true that sun doesn’t always shine on us. Sometimes life hits you hard
    and lands you a tough deal. And it seems difficult to work your way out.
    Even if you feel down and out, don’t allow yourself to sink like a
    ship. Stay positive and believe in your ability to move through the
    difficult time. When the going gets tough, it’s the tough that get
    going.” "

    Seriously true!! Thanks sir for motivating me once again sir..i am really suffering through a tough time in life.
    I developed an android app and not able to launch it for past 3 months.
    And now its similar versions are available in market.. :'(
    So i got depressed, but after reading above i am trying again to the best i can!