Emotional intelligence in leadership goes beyond being "nice" or "empathetic"; it's a science-based skill that can inspire teams, foster a thriving work culture, and lead to remarkable results.
In the 70th episode of Ticket Volume, our host and InvGate Product Specialist, Matt Beran, delves into an engaging conversation with Deborah Monroe, the 'people person' of IT. She emphasizes the profound importance of emotional intelligence in leadership and how this often underestimated trait can yield remarkable results.
Explore the key takeaways from this thought-provoking episode below – and remember that you can join our monthly live recordings to become an active part of our community!
From software ninja to emotional intelligence advocate
The conversation begins with Deborah's professional experience in the technology industry. She fondly recalls her early days as a software trainer, where colleagues affectionately called her the "Software Ninja Queen" for her uncanny ability to understand complex software systems.
Her stories from those early days played a pivotal role in shaping her perspective on the importance of emotional intelligence, a field that would become her lifelong passion.
As she learned, emotional intelligence involves understanding one's intentions and how they affect others. She recognized the importance of self-awareness, empathy, and fostering positive emotions in the workplace.
Soft skills: are they as "soft" as they seem?
Deborah stresses the importance of soft skills, emphasizing that they are not "warm and fuzzy" but essential for success in the IT industry. She explores the misconception of the term and explains that these skills can be measured and quantified. They are the building blocks of effective communication and collaboration in the workplace.
"I feel like I'm constantly fighting the battle of “soft skills are warm and fuzzy”. And the misnomer is soft skills, right? They're not soft. The reason that we did call them soft is because we did not think that we could quantify and measure them. And yet, we have been able to do so since, I want to say the late 90s, early 2000s. (...) So they are not soft anymore. They are essential skills."
Soft skills are rooted in neuroscience, understanding the chemical basis of emotions and how they affect trust, love, and relationships.
The neglected asset: People
Monroe raises a fundamental question: Why do organizations often neglect their most significant asset – their people? While metrics and data are meticulously measured, the workforce is often overlooked. Employee engagement surveys are conducted infrequently, producing results often too late to make a difference. The lack of attention to people leads to jaded employees and a lack of trust in the system.
In an industry built on four pillars - people, process, technology, and knowledge - people are the cornerstone. Their influence permeates processes, technology, and knowledge bases. Yet there's a glaring discrepancy in the attention and care given to the human aspect of the IT ecosystem.
The significance of employee involvement
The conversation continues delving into the significance of involving employees in the decision-making processes of an organization. Deborah introduces the balanced scorecard (BSC), a valuable tool for assessing various aspects of an organization, including employee growth and learning.
Involving employees in decision-making isn't just an idealistic notion; it's a strategic imperative. Research and real-world examples have shown that employees who are involved in shaping the direction of their organization are more engaged, more committed, and more likely to contribute innovative ideas. They take ownership of their roles, their teams, and the overall success of the company. And when employees are engaged, customer experience improves, which has a direct impact on business performance.
Emotional intelligence in leadership
The conversation takes a closer look at the critical role of emotional intelligence in leadership. Deborah explains that leadership isn't merely about making decisions, setting goals, and overseeing operations. It's about connecting with and inspiring people to achieve a common vision. A leader's emotional intelligence can make or break employee trust and engagement, which are cornerstones of successful leadership.
"What we've found in emotional intelligence, in our research, is that there is a direct correlation between the customer's experience and the management's emotional intelligence. If the management's emotional intelligence is this way, if you see my thumb, [thumb down] the employees are having not so good of an experience, and that is going to reflect as the key (...) indicating result of a customer experience not being healthy."
Leaders who are emotionally intelligent understand their own emotions and the emotions of their team. They can motivate, communicate effectively, and provide support when needed. She emphasizes that the effectiveness of a leader can be quantified, and it has a direct impact on the overall health and performance of the organization.
HDI training and standards
Monroe highlights a crucial aspect of HDI's contribution to the tech support industry – the International Standards Committee. Comprising industry veterans who've worked across various support roles, they define the knowledge and skills necessary for support analysts. These standards span six key domains:
- Strategy Policy.
- People management.
- Process and procedures.
- Performance results.
These standards precede courseware and certification exams and lay the foundation for industry best practices. They're on par with renowned practices like KCS, IT Service Management (ITSM), ITIL, COBIT, and ISO standards.
Measuring employee satisfaction
Monroe advocates measuring employee satisfaction and well-being in tech support teams. She emphasizes simple, low-cost methods for assessing employee satisfaction, stress levels, and engagement. Here are two different methods she mentioned to do it:
- Survey method - Deborah underscores the value of understanding your employees' sentiments and their impact on the team's dynamics. To facilitate this, she suggests using a straightforward approach like a five-question survey. The key, she says, is to make the survey anonymous, ensuring that employees feel comfortable sharing their genuine thoughts.
- Horsepower System - Deborah introduces a specific tool called the "Horsepower Assessment Survey," developed by Paul Herr. This survey comprises five questions designed to measure intrinsic motivators such as mastery, purpose, autonomy, and significance among employees.
This is just a sneak peek of the enriching discussion with Deborah Monroe on Ticket Volume. The complete episode is a treasure trove of gems! You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or your favorite podcast platform.
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