When we look at leadership and its history, some leaders emerge with charisma, strategy, and vision as hallmarks of their style.
These are absolute leadership traits, but a newer trait, called “emotional intelligence,” has found its way into the workplace.
People today have a great sense of independence and a need for empowerment. This means leaders must act in a way that promotes authority and management, while also encouraging participation and empowerment.
An emotionally intelligent leader knows when to exercise authority, when to encourage participation, and when to keep his or her own ideas, feelings, and emotions private.
Emotional intelligence is being in tune with the employee when it comes to their needs and expectations in the workplace.
How do you know what your employees really need?
An easy way to figure out what your employees need is to first look at the dark side and ask, “What drives people away from their jobs?”
Employees leave jobs for five main reasons:
- Inadequate salary and benefits
- Limited opportunities for advancement
- Lack of recognition
- Unhappy with management and the way they manage
In my experience as a corporate leader and as an executive coach, I have also identified a pattern of employee needs.
These are the 11 Essential Needs of Employees.
- Reward – Compensation for the work
- Vision – Security in knowing where the company is headed long-term
- Resources – Having the right tools and training
- Loyalty – Leadership that “has your back” as they expect you to have theirs
- Connection – Competent leaders who genuinely care and are supportive of employee success
- Teamwork – Having a culture that supports and encourages teamwork
- Value – Sincere appreciation and recognition of each employee as an individual
- Growth – Programs and paths for growth and career advancement
- Self-Development – Opportunities to be coached, challenged and inspired
- Strengths – Mapping roles and responsibilities to strengths for ultimate fulfillment of potential
- Purpose – Creating opportunities for meaningful contribution to the big-picture goals
In the spirit of emotional intelligence, let’s also take a moment to look at an American psychologist and leading proponent of human psychology, Abraham Maslow. During the period of 1943-1954, Abraham Maslow developed his Hierarchy of Needs motivation theory. It is arguably the most popular and most read motivation theory. His theory suggests that within each person, there is a hierarchy of needs that the individual must satisfy before they move onto the next.
There are five levels in the Hierarchy of Needs.
- Physiological – The need for food, shelter, and other elements for basic survival.
- Safety – The need to feel safe within your environment. This also refers to emotional and physical safety.
- Social – The need for love, friendship, and a sense of belonging.
- Esteem – The need for self-respect, status, and recognition from others.
- Self-actualization – The need to reach one’s full potential.
The effect of all these variables is summarized in the Emotional Intelligence Matrix below.
It shows how addressing the 11 Essential Needs of Employees can fulfill Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the workplace. Not only does this lower attrition rates; it also has a profound and positive impact on the bottom line.
Traditional leaders may be tempted to brush the idea of emotional intelligence under the proverbial rug, dismissing it as a passing fad. The fact is, emotional intelligence has always been part of the fabric of society. Ignoring it won’t make it go away – but ignoring it may be causing your employees to go away.
Though emotional intelligence may be a bit of an intangible factor for many leaders, the payoff for incorporating it shows up at all levels of the company – from the corner office to the bottom line.
Not only does it lower costs related to attrition, it also translates to bottom line income. An employee whose hierarchal needs are met is a happy employee. And happy employees create happy customers.
As a leader, the payoff for addressing emotional intelligence is exponential.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. To learn more about leading with emotional intelligence, “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.