Every time I’ve checked in the UK’s state-of-affairs over the last couple of weeks, it just seems like one endless capitulation after another. First, it was the rejection of the Sunday evening “televised event” that turned into the dampest squib ever, preceded by the Scottish, Northern Ireland and Welsh governments having already rejected any suggestions of re-opening schools on June 1st, and let’s not even mention the “stay alert” slogan change.
As if that wasn’t enough, it was followed up this week with the about-face on whether non-UK cleaners and porters were to be included in the bereavement scheme and whether non-UK NHS staff did or didn’t have to pay the NHS surcharge. As I was checking in to see what was happening, each about-face was leaving a stronger and stronger impression on me that nobody was following Boris. Not only was nobody following him anymore, but it seemed to me that they were actually telling him what to do and he was obliging.
Emotional Intelligence – Independence
It’s rare to publicly see such a constant rejection of direction from the leader of a country, so the fact that it was happening with such regularity got me thinking about emotional intelligence and its role in leadership. One element of emotional intelligence is the concept of Independence. Someone with high Independence is someone who is able to think for themselves, while low Independence indicates someone who tends to take on the thoughts, ideas and emotions of others. Independence also includes the ability to remain emotionally independent of other people’s emotions. This doesn’t mean someone with high Independence doesn’t have emotions. They have plenty of their own emotions. It means that if someone else has issues with another person, a person with high independence won’t take on that person’s emotions as their own. It’s very subtle but many of us can be swayed by someone else’s emotions towards another.
Emotional Intelligence – Flexibility
So, someone with low Independence is likely to take on other people’s views, thoughts, ideas and yes, even emotions. Couple that with high flexibility and we get a very interesting dynamic. In emotional intelligence terms, Flexibility is the ability to adjust feelings, thoughts and actions to changing conditions. It’s not just around the ability to adjust, it’s how quickly we can adjust. Some people adjust but it might take them a few weeks or month. Someone with high Flexibility is able to quickly adjust to the changing conditions. So, the noticeable behaviour of someone who has low Independence and high Flexibility would be that of taking onboard other people’s ideas and thoughts while doing so, very quickly, depending on the last person you spoke to. I describe this as someone who’s “blowing in the wind” – whatever way the wind blows, they blow that way too.
Emotional Intelligence – Optimism & Reality Testing
Another interesting interplay of elements of emotional intelligence is that of Optimism and Reality Testing. Reality Testing is the ability to see things how they are and not how we would like things to be or how we fear them to be. Optimism is the ability to maintain a realistically positive attitude, particularly in the face of adversity. How I like to describe the combination of low Reality Testing with high Optimism is Walter-Mittyland. Seeing things how we want them to be combined with a high dose of optimism results in expecting everything to turn out tickityboo, regardless of the evidence.
Behavioural Dynamics of Emotional Intelligence
Pull these particular 4 elements of emotional intelligence together and we get someone who is convinced everything will turn out just the way they want it to while constantly changing their story, depending on the last person they spoke too. This might be fine for Walter Mitty but its not a great look for a leader. Obviously, I don’t know Boris or what his emotional intelligence levels actually are. Watching the various about-turns just got me thinking of the dynamics of certain combinations of emotional intelligence. Not sure how things are going to work out for the latest chapter in about-facing. I’m all agog, to see if Dom does or doesn’t survive the current lockdown furore…will Boris follow the way the wind is blowing or does he keep Dom around for his ideas? Choices, choices, how will the Reality Testing see things?
On the bright side, emotional intelligence isn’t fixed. With a bit of effort, we can actively change our behavioural dynamics and enhance our emotional intelligence. Contact me today, if you’re interested in assessing your own level of emotional intelligence and understanding your own behavioural pattern dynamics.
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