The Power of Relational Intelligence
Zoom in on the Post-Covid period
The real talents in leadership are revealed when times are tough. That’s when the leader is observed, tested and judged by those around him – his employees, his partners and sometimes his shareholders. The pandemic tested the ability of leaders around the world to stay close to their teams when everyone was telecommuting. During the year of the pandemic, I had the opportunity to coach hundreds of leaders who had to reinvent their leadership with teams that had not set foot in the company for almost 12 months. Most had to find creative ways to maintain a sense of belonging despite the distance. For some it was a nightmare, for others a real joy.
The research on Relational Intelligence that I have been conducting for more than 10 years has been partly fueled by these coaching sessions, which allowed me to observe and listen to many leaders from different backgrounds. Indeed, I have been able to meet both juniors and seniors, coming from SMEs and also from Multinational Groups, in the luxury and consumer sectors.
The purpose of this research is to answer the question: what are the qualities and talents that a manager must develop to strengthen the links within his ecosystem, namely between his employees, his company and his customers?
This article highlights the facets of a leader who inspires and makes a difference, in a turbulent period such as Covid’s. When you need to know how to win back and rally teams that have experienced an injury or breakup, what are the skills to implement to overcome a period of crisis? Here are some key elements to better understand the stakes of Relational Intelligence.
What is Relational Intelligence?
Relational intelligence is the art of detecting, analyzing and connecting people within an ecosystem. This skill can be put to use for customers, brands and also for leadership. Relational intelligence is based on a range of emotions and allows the creation of a community of people in osmosis with the company and its leader, who is its emblem.
The objective of relational intelligence is to strengthen human relations by connecting people with the company to such an extent that they will transform themselves into true brand ambassadors. These ambassadors will, for example, talk about the company in a positive way on social networks or recommend it to their friends and family. These brand ambassadors are not limited to B2C, as they can also be found in B2B.
The 5 Keys to Relational Intelligence
It is quite possible to learn relational intelligence, provided that the person is ready to do so. Indeed, this training requires the acceptance of opening up and surrendering oneself in order to learn about oneself. It is a learning process that takes place over time, ideally through a coaching approach in small groups, around 5 key skills.
This ability to identify with the other person in what he or she is feeling relies heavily on active listening to identify the different types of people. Of course, everyone is different, but there are nevertheless groups and tendencies. Being aware of them and knowing how to recognize them allows you to adjust your interactions with others.
This facet is extremely important, especially because it plays a big role in the first impressions we make of someone.
This is the ability to transmit your passion to others. If there is one thing you should never do, it is to keep your enthusiasm for the business to yourself. Passion is a powerful emotion that requires inspirational communication.
Pride is a form of “authentic pride”. Authenticity is crucial in relational intelligence. We will work on values and collective competitiveness to create a company that goes forward and dares to be a pioneer.
Or in other words, the famous “thank you“. Leaders who thank their teams more easily trigger a feeling of gratitude in their employees. Their teams are happier, more satisfied, and as a result, they develop behaviors that go beyond what is expected of them. Leaders’ ability to say thank you translates into extraordinary commitment from their people, but that’s not the only benefit of the word “thank you. A lot of research shows that gratitude influences well-being, and leaders’ well-being is fundamental to their ability to motivate their teams.
Relational, Emotional Intelligence & Leadership ?
Relational and emotional intelligence have a strong impact on leadership. Emotional intelligence starts with the leader’s self-awareness, i.e. his ability to analyze his own emotions and values. Many people are unable to identify their emotions and do not know the values they hold because they have never taken the time to reflect on them. A good leader is someone who knows himself very well. If they don’t, they will have a very difficult time projecting themselves to others. Emotional intelligence is the starting point for relational intelligence, which comes on top. It is the art of connecting and interacting with others. In the specific case of leadership, this implies knowing how to influence and inspire your teams. Leaders, or rather, memorable personalities in leadership, are for the most part excellent speakers. They are energy boosters who know how to gather around them. Leaders are people with ideas and an incredible ability to share them. This ability is completely linked to relational intelligence.
I work with leaders on speaking. Generally speaking, they write their speeches in an extremely factual manner, citing figures and market studies. Of course, these speeches are very detailed in fact, but no one remembers them. If you ask your employees to summarize their manager’s speech an hour later, most of them will have forgotten everything.
On the other hand, if the leader expresses himself by appealing to the emotions, by using this relational intelligence and by showing empathy and benevolence, the employees retain almost 90% of the message.
Relational intelligence completely changes the deal since the leader is no longer a passing manager: he becomes memorable. Such a positioning ensures that he convinces his employees of the accuracy of his opinions.
This ability to convince is even more important when times are difficult, especially during major business transformation projects. Most people are afraid of change and need a leader who knows how to reassure them and influence them in an encouraging way. Relational intelligence is at the heart of all these issues.
How does relational intelligence improve relationships with employees?
Employees are also customers. They have expectations that must be met if they are to be retained. An essential need to increase the relationship between boss and employees is to give them the feeling of being recognized as a unique person. This is even more true in times of uncertainty, stress, transformation as during this pandemic that forced the majority of people to get used to telecommuting.
We all have different needs. Therefore, a personalized approach is the most effective when it comes to communication. Employees want to be seen as individuals with their own desires, talents and needs. A leader who practices relational intelligence is more likely to provide individualized attention to each employee than someone who uses a standard message. Also, these leaders easily detect weak signals from non-verbal communication, representing more than 93% of the entire exchange. Bottom line: You have to know how to identify and interpret the unspoken.
At the moment, many companies are looking towards a post-Covid future and developing their 2022 vision. Customer experience seems to be an essential focus. However, to succeed in this focus, you must first start with your own employees, who were so distant, torn, disconnected from their companies, colleagues and bosses. There is a real urgency: as soon as possible, bring them together, motivate them, encourage them, congratulate them and reward them for their considerable efforts made during more than a year of physical absence.
At the same time, companies have every interest in implementing a policy focused on the employee, the company’s first customer. The world is now more aware that we cannot survive without human relations. There is a real need to be recognized, to be well served and even to be pampered. In short, everyone in the business ecosystem is in demand of strong, authentic relationships, and companies can capitalize on this need.
It is now, during this fragile post-Covid period, that leaders can considerably gain points by integrating Relational Intelligence in all their strategic and operational decisions. This will give them the power to win back their teams where they must prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the new post-Covid world.
Training: Emotional and Relational Intelligence
What do we learn?
My Emotional and Relational Intelligence Training takes place over 1 or 2 days – depending on the request, and covers the following points :
- Knowing the secrets of successful leadership – impactful and inspiring
- Sharpening your Leadership Personality
- Using Emotional and Relational Intelligence in your Leadership
- Strengthen the links between your collaborators
- Adapt your communication by identifying the different types of employees
- Reassure and encourage your employees
- Develop a thirst for winning as a team
- Gathering & Motivating
- Become Resilient after Failures
- Bring positive energy to your teams
- Become Influential and Charismatic
- Lead your company in difficult times
- Turn your employees into Brand Ambassadors
- Be happy and fulfilled as a Leader & Manager
Feedbacks about the training – Jean-Louis Roblin, International Training Director @Dior.