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Women in leadership: To Women and Emotional Intelligence: Honouring Female Business Excellence
Posted Fri, 11 Nov 2005

Moderator: Ms Nthobi Angel

Speaker: Ms Evelyn Mungai

Ms Evelyn Mungai posed the question if there is room for emotions in business - if organisations are not still part of a macho environment focusing on competitive individualism - presupposing a win-lose relationship - ending with tall stories in the bar.

The environment still encourages longer hours and hard guys doing hard things. She feels that emotions do not fit into this environment and are seen to interfere with efficiency and waste time, prevent hard decisions and are not effective.

21st century realities advocate a results tyranny of profits, profits and more profits. In addition to that constant change and uncertainty creates overworked, undervalued workers suffering from impotence, fear, anger, frustration and stress. All compounded by reduced trust, commitment and loyalty.

Trust is a very important ingredient in companies - with trust one can engender loyalty and as a consequence committed employees who will give back in return for the trust placed in them.

How can we cope? Ms Mungai proposes joining hands with the folk from Mars and to push even harder. Recognise the squeeze for increasingly tight profits but counter the negative effects of it by developing soft skills, by adding feminine Venus qualities. It is not necessary to lose feminine qualities but create buy-in into ideas based on feelings and intuition and rationalise and justify the Martians feelings based on facts and figures.

One can be assertive without being aggressive and at the same time use emotions to inspire and enlighten. Use humour, speak to people like equals - in other words use assertiveness in the right way by applying emotional intelligence.

Many women still conform to the hard and fast results driven culture and in a sense sell a part of their soul.

Soft skills proposed include: coaching and mentoring, teambuilding, facilitating, nurturing and confidence. Soft skills depend on values like trust, support and care, openness and honesty, recognition, low ego and listening and understanding. It has to be mentioned that if top management is sensitive to emotional intelligence one does not have to be extremely brave to use one's own.

Make sure you understand the value of the knowledge worker and display trust, loyalty and respect (as consequences of emotional intelligence) to coach, lead and mentor and keep the valuable employees at the company. Emotional intelligent leaders are coaches, build teams around them, remove obstacles and do not crush self esteem.

High emotional intelligence transactions include: win-win scenarios, an I'm ok, you're ok mindset, assumes adult-adult interactions and as a result form strong relationships. Low emotional intelligence however creates parent-child relationships and win-lose or lose-lose situations.

Emotions fuel energy, creativity, drive, passion, buy-in and even intellect. Listen to followers for valuable input - ignore them at your peril. Interestingly Dr Robert Rosenthal did a survey which showed that if people administering IQ tests treated test subjects more warmly it resulted in higher scores.

Without acknowledging emotions we cannot fulfil our potential - without emotional intelligence one will be left behind, make sure you add compassion to your strengths.

Importantly though women need to understand how to utilise femininity and charm - without succumbing to flirtatiousness. Find the middle ground, use a light touch.

Talk to younger women and make the road less rocky for them. Some women will keep on complying with the macho culture and others will defy it.

The good news is that whereas IQ maybe untouchable, emotional intelligence can be developed. Operate with emotional intelligence otherwise employees will leave. One cannot always blame chauvinism for the glass ceiling.

Develop and use emotional intelligence for a win-win environment.

Speaker: Dr Namane Magau Women Leaders Defining Business and Political Environments

What defines success? Gary Silverman describes Shelly Lazarus as a frog with amphibious qualities who can move with confidence in the swamps of business world. A parent with emotional intelligence charting a course admired by others.

Women bring unique strengths to business. In addition to that the economic environment suits women's strengths in the following way:

  • They have the ability to manage uncertainty and flexibility
  • They can display results orientation and focus
  • They admirably build relationships and optimise impact
  • They contribute to the shift in management paradigms requiring both leadership and management at the same time
  • They display solution orientation and entrepreneurship

Organisations are increasingly coming to appreciate these strengths.

To succeed in the corporate world one needs to understand the environment. Humility is extremely important but can be misinterpreted. Setting goals and tracking progress form essential building blocks of corporate leadership. "Women bring a positive humanising quality to the corporate environment" as stated by a survey of male CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.

In some developed countries more women than men qualify in Colleges - in South Africa we are experiencing the same trend.

Because of emotional intelligence women are becoming more successful. Research in the UK and the Bahamas indicate that men are also becoming more fragile - caused by the increasing focus on empowering women.

It is important to relate emotional intelligence not only to the corporate environment but also to broader society for upliftment and empowerment of as many people as possible.