In the midst of the Coronavirus flooding the media, I took a break from reading about the pandemic and read the recent article published by the New York Times about the Wing. I encourage you to read it, but in a nutshell, several Wing employees told their story about how the feminine, women empowerment-focused mission contradicted how they were really being treated by the company.
After reading the article in its entirety, there was a part of me that felt like I’ve read this story before. It seemed so familiar. Then I thought, oh wait that’s because I have read it before! Here, here, and here. And not only have I read it, I’ve lived it as an employee myself.
Although every business and leader story I linked to above is a bit different (from inclusion to toxic environment to age discrimination), I found a correlation: the lack of emotional intelligence.
And quite honestly, I’ve had it. These business stories need to stop. And leaders need to be kept accountable for actions like these.
Here’s my employee story:
When I started at my first full-time job after college, I was excited to learn and grow professionally. But what came next was so unexpected. I ended up working at a small creative agency and reporting to the founder of the company. Although intelligent, creatively gifted, and driven, he was hard to work with. His mood would change instantly and he’d walk up to my desk unexpectedly throughout the day with a new idea that he’d always expect me to execute on ASAP — which ultimately triggered my anxiety, killed my creativity, and left me feeling burnt out quickly.
I left work at an appropriate time while he continued to send impulsive emails throughout the night and early in the morning. Not only was I receiving these emails outside work hours, the emails were mean and vicious. In retrospect, I believe he was coming down from nights of no sleep and major sugar crashes when he’d be writing these emails. (Hence the tower of Mountain Dew cans collecting in his smelly office).
As a young employee just starting my career (and battling my own mental illness), this experience left a scar. And although time truly does heals wounds, it was my own experience in learning empathy and compassion that I found a way to forgive.
Just recently, I had pre-ordered founder of ban.do Jen Gotch’s book, The Upside of Being Down, because something had drawn me to it and I devoured it. After decades of battling a mental illness, then later starting her own business and managing employees, she spoke a lot about emotional intelligence and how practicing self-awareness was a game-changer for her.
Now, I’ve never met Jen in real life, but after reading her story, I wished that it was me by her side emotionally helping her along the way. Luckily, there are plenty more Jen’s with different stories and businesses that could benefit from an emotional intelligence coach. And as happy as I was to see a real-life case study of how emotional intelligence matters as a leader, I felt a burning desire in me to help more female leaders find this clarity.
Having a mental illness as a leader doesn’t mean you get a free pass either. There are so many things you can learn from an emotional intelligence coach. I truly believe that if more leaders invested in emotional intelligence, companies would thrive, employees would be happier, innovation would skyrocket, and America’s depression rate would decline. I’m serious.
Organizational consulting is also a great way to invest in the future of your company and your employees, but it oftentimes lacks the emotional work needed to lead. YES! YOU CANNOT LEAD BY SUPPRESSING EMOTIONS IN THE WORKPLACE. You are human, your employees are human, we are human. We need to talk about emotions.
In many cases, emotional intelligence is just the type of consulting your business needs to grow. You may check all the boxes in financials, innovation, operations, creativity, and other business skills you and your team need to grow a successful business, but if you’re struggling with people management, self-awareness and management, emotional balance, and the sorts — it may be time to put an emotional intelligence coach on retainer.
Think of an emotional intelligence coach as your professional BFF. Although you may talk to your best friend about relationships, family, kids, and your deepest darkest secrets, a professional BFF can be the person you talk to about how you feel your employees judge you, or you have a hard time relating to your business partner, or you’re having trouble with time management.
That’s where an emotional intelligence coach can come in; they can help you feel more to confident to lead, connect with your employees on a more personable level, and build a positive and emotionally healthy work environment that people enjoy coming to every day.