As promised yesterday, here’s a video in which we outline some of the tips and tricks successful remote team leaders have employed to increase or sharpen their Emotional Intelligence fast. We talk about the connection between Psychologically Safe teams and the Empathic, EQ-ed leader often but here are a few things to do right away to bring you up to speed:
Start with understanding basic emotions. We mention it in the video that seeing the movie “Inside Out” is a good method but any other way in which you can brush up on basic Psychology constructs works, just make sure you remind yourself what emotions are, and what are the ways in which they may manifest in this new digital paradigm and then be mindful of them in both yourself and the team as you go along.
Create a solid dialogue. This one sounds evident, but it’s actually the crux of the issue as to why it’s hard. Even in teams where it feels like there are good channels both between the team members as a unit, and individually between the team leader and team members, the depth and character of that dialogue needs to change. In the absence of body language and situational queues, the dialogue needs a lot more care and intentionality.
Be considerate and protective of everyone’s natural workflow. We said this last week, it’s imperative for the long term success of remote teams that everyone is responsible enough to understand and communicate their work limits at the very least as they concern meetings. Encourage every member of the team to find their rhythm and then protect it by mapping the intersection to find those magic moments when everyone brings their best selves to the table.
Architect your own rhythm between team meetings and 1-on-1s and start evaluating them both by emotional content and whether they have added to the bond or not.
Be forensic about the 1-on-1’s and take notes or journal. Forgetting preciously emotionally charged content is inexcusable and it would be sapping any of your previous efforts, so as part of your EQ growth journey write what you learned about others and yourself once a day. Don’t put it off as not important, remember this IS your day-job now.
Be vulnerable - The hardest one of them all is to model vulnerability and openness. Be prepared to be creative about being silly and authentic. Let people in emotionally and visually or informationally, bring them on a journey of discovering you as a person. Some of the teams we work with do online happy-hours once a week, others use HouseParty, others even take turns to do an old school MTV-Cribs-like tour of their home. Whatever breaks down barriers and opens up the connection but whatever it is you choose, be prepared to dive right in yourself first.
Police impression management (not speaking up for fear of appearing ignorant, incompetent, intrusive or negative). If you’re going to police anything, don’t let it be hours worked, code checked in, tickets moved or Slack conversations but impression management. In other words, always be tuned into the underlying context of what is being said and avoid fear-based reactions at all cost. Do this for yourself too - you won’t be able to avoid appearing like you are prying, so you may as well communicate clearly that you will ask many questions, and then not worry about it! And of course, be vigilant about the team not impression managing towards you or each other as well, so if you see them fearing to appear ignorant, negative, incompetent or intrusive, try to find ways to help them out of that behaviour and gently coax them to place where they freely speak up again.
We know this is extraordinarily hard but we hope that there’s a way to see the blessings in disguise and that the “commonality of suffering” we have in sharing these experiences will give team leaders the upper hand in their ability to construct and uphold human moments fast and therefore work on the most important "to do" they have, which is: “Become and stay Psychologically Safe and therefore highly performant”.
Stay safe, stay sane and grow that EQ.