PAs MANAGE RELATIONSHIPS
PAs manage from the middle, so they have to pay particular attention to their relationship with their boss(es). Most things happen in relationships: relationship with family, relationship with your team, relationship with your boss.
As the boss’s right hand person, it is essential that PAs understand how to get what they want through win-win negotiation, through influencing and through assertiveness. Getting what you want requires diplomacy. Understanding that there is more than one way to win equips PAs to operate from a position of strength and avoid causing offence to others.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EI)?
Communicating from a position of emotional strength requires the application of emotional intelligence (EI). According to David Coleman (1995) Emotional Intelligence is defined as "the capacity for recognising our own feelings and that of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves as well as others."
PAs can find themselves at the sharp end of an insensitive comment from their boss, so growing a thick skin to maintain a productive working relationship is a good survival strategy. The smart way to deal with these types of bosses is to tactfully let them have your own way without registering that it is your wish and not theirs. Actively developing a high level of emotional intelligence is essential for countering bosses with low EI.
EI vs IQ
EI is not the same as IQ (intelligence quotient). IQ is the rating given to a person’s cognitive ability, such as mathematical, language, memory and spatial ability, when compared to the general population. This includes problem-solving and reasoning abilities. The nature vs nurture debate around IQ is still inconclusive. A high IQ does not pre-dispose an individual to be a good leader. The mark of a good leader is an above average level of emotional intelligence.
Some PAs will have witnessed a situation where a colleague with exceptional technical ability was promoted to a supervisory management position and was quickly found to be beyond their level of competence due to low emotional intelligence. Low EI manifests in low self-awareness and low self-management: essential behaviours for good people management.
Leaders have to understand the mood of their team and know how to get the best from each team member. The benefits of EI are measurable. A study by David McClelland found that managers with high EI outperformed their peers by 20%.
In order to manage yourself you first have to be aware of yourself and what you are projecting to others. An important element of EI is good "self-management". Good self-management is the ability to redirect disruptive influences and control them. It includes competencies such as trustworthiness, initiative, integrity and adaptability. Emotionally intelligent PAs develop good social skills that can be used for successful change management, conflict management and team building.
In addition to self-management, good EI also necessitates good "self-awareness". PAs that have the ability to understand their own moods and emotions, and those of others can channel their self-awareness towards building a strong PA professional brand. They are also socially aware and can quickly identify emotional states in others.
Socially aware people empathise with others and are therefore, good conflict managers. They value diversity, actively build rapport, and have strong social networks that enable them to pay it forward.
ASSESSING YOUR LEVEL OF EI
Identifying levels of EI in the workplace can be achieved through the 360 feedback process. This uses feedback on performance and behaviour, which is obtained from managers, colleagues, direct reports, and customers.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is also used to improve emotional behaviour. NLP is based on the premise that it is the individual’s subjective interpretation that underlies their perception of reality and that individuals have unconscious mental constructs and strategies for dealing with the emotional reactions of others.
The NLP process encourages individuals to think before they speak or react. This helps individuals to own and therefore control their emotional behaviour using rehearsed situations. Eventually, rehearsed behaviours become part of the individual's normal repertoire of behaviours and ultimately teach individuals how to make a point without making an enemy.
good emotional intelligence will only go so far. Beyond that is the
requirement for solid PA skills and strategies, through training and
continuous professional development.
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