Leadership Essentials: Driving Results in an EQ Environment

Author By Steve Brechter

In our Leadership Essentials blog series, I’ve focused primarily on the EQ side of leadership.

After all, “connection” is what most members of today’s workforce are crying out for—and, for the most part, not getting.

The ability to connect with your people in a genuine and authentic way is a hallmark of the greatest leaders.

But let’s not forget that leaders are appointed to get results.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important characteristic of a high performing leader, but in the end, leadership is all about driving results.

I’m not saying that “the ends justify the means,” because they never do.

But, as Larry the Cable Guy would say, you’ve got to be able to “get ‘er done” and achieve the results in your aviation operation that are expected by the parent company.

But how do you do that?

How do you achieve results with EQ and without having to resort to 1980s “Attila the Hun” tactics?

Below, you’ll find five ways to make it happen.

Driving Results in an EQ Environment

1.  Be Real

Nobody likes a phony. And nobody will rally around one. So the first thing you might need to do is to drop the façade and be real.

Remember, there are only two motivators in life: fear and interest.

Less effective leaders try to use fear in an attempt to get results. But fear always produces short-term results, which are never sustainable.

The use of fear always leaves an underlying sentiment in the minds of employees; one that says “I’ll get back, in some way.”

The far more effective way to get the attention of your people is through interest.

Communicate with your people. Tell them why something needs to be done and what you need them to do to produce the desired outcome.

Tell them you can’t do it by yourself and that you need everyone to pitch in and work together. Share the specific rationale and truly make them “insiders” in the process.

What a concept—honesty! Telling your people the “what” and “why” will make them owners in producing the desired outcome.

Don’t ever put genuineness and authenticity in jeopardy; if lost, it’s almost impossible to get back.

Tip – Never use fear in an attempt to get organizational results. Your people deserve better than that. If you use fear, you’ll always lose in the end.

2.  Be a Visionary

Leaders do three things and three things only. They set direction, break down barriers and provide resources.

You’ve got to be a visionary and set the direction.

Picture Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Mall in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963, in front of millions of people, holding his arms out and proclaiming, “I have a dream!”

You’ve got to follow his example and inspire your team to make them want to follow you. You need to paint a picture of the future and help them to visualize their place in it. If you don’t paint the picture for your people, nobody will.

People always want to be part of a larger-than-life objective. They want to feel a part of something that takes them from the limited scope of their day-to-day activities and connects them with a larger-than-life superordinate goal or purpose.

For example, your parent company might be increasing its business in China. The way to get your team to go above and beyond and ready themselves to provide the business aviation support necessary is likely not to begin by telling them they need to produce X number of trips to the Far East over the next Y number of months, “or else.”

Rather, it’s about connecting them with attaining the overarching business objective of the parent company. Find out what it is and tell them. Instead of the “or else,” you might say, “We’re going to enable the company to increase revenue by such-and-such percent by efficiently getting our executives to the Chinese market.” That’s a lot more inspirational, and a much better way to get their “buy-in.”

Remember the story of the bricklayer. Is he simply building a wall or is he building a cathedral?

Tip – In the words of Warren Bennis, former President of the University of Cincinnati, “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

3.  Lead from Behind

In a companion blog in the Leadership Essentials series, I noted Nelson Mandela’s philosophy on leadership, as explained in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.

Mandela likens leadership to shepherding.

He writes that the astute leader, “stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

Since we published that blog, I’ve gotten many comments from readers lamenting that their leaders were in the wrong position, at least according to Mr. Mandela’s viewpoint.

Many are unfortunately out in the front of the flock, grandstanding, getting all the action and grabbing all the attention.

What a waste of time and talent!

Once you’ve painted the picture of the future and set the direction, there’s only one thing that you (as the leader) need to do: get out of the way!

Let your people run with the ball! Clarify responsibilities and assign them to the emerging leaders in the flight department as collateral duties.

Your job is to lead, not do, and you need to empower your people to get the results that you want. If you’re spending your days doing, you’re not leading.

Tip – Let go. Period!

4.  Provide Follow-up and Support

Once you’ve set the direction and let the emerging leaders run with the ball, your main objective is to keep things on track and provide the support or resources required.

Create a tracking methodology to show a simple but visually effective project status. A stoplight chart works well. Red indicates that a project element is “not started,” yellow means an element is “in process” and green says it is “completed.”

The objective is to stay the course.

Show the organization that the project has sustainability and it’s not the “program du jour.” Stick with the plan. Showing successful completion is a motivator to the team, and the more “pelts you can nail to the wall,” the better.

On a regular basis, place the project plan (stoplight chart) on the agenda for your flight department Leadership Team meeting and review progress.

Is the plan on-track or not? Are there any barriers that need to be broken down? Are there any resources that need to be brought to the table?

There’s nothing more valuable that you, as a leader, can provide.

Tip – Give your collateral duty team leaders every opportunity to step into the spotlight and strut their stuff.

5.Celebrate Accomplishment

One of the most significant things you can do as a leader—one that’s almost universally overlooked—is to celebrate accomplishment.

Do you really want to connect with your people? If so, take the time to single out extraordinary individual and team performance.

If asked, people will tell you that recognition is not something they need or value. But I’m telling you to do it anyway!

Have you ever walked through an open office area in your corporate headquarters and checked out what people have on the walls of their cubicles?

You’ve likely seen recognition of all types: certificates, citations, team photos—you name it.

The military knows this well and does a terrific job with recognition. If you ever have the opportunity to visit a military base, look carefully at what’s on the walls. There are plaques and other forms of accolades everywhere.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Sometimes a pizza lunch or a spontaneous hangar stand-up recognition fits the bill perfectly

Don’t overthink it. Just do it.

Tip – Take it from Dale Carnegie: A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound they can hear. This is especially true when their name is attached to a well-deserved recognition.

Your Turn

How have you driven results without compromising your EQ competencies as a leader? Let us know and we’ll share it in a future blog.