Home Extraordinary Leaders Needed: The Rebirth of Leadership Effectiveness

Written by Janina Cich

Extraordinary Leaders Needed: The Rebirth of Leadership Effectiveness

Brought to you by Concordia University, St. Paul – Criminal Justice Department

Woman leader raising her arms to the city scape

Janina Cich
By: Janina Cich, MA
College of Human Services & Behavioral Science
Department of Criminal Justice, Chair
Professor of Criminal Justice, Forensic Behavioral Health &
Trauma, Resilience Self-Care Programs

Due to a rise in current-day crises across the Globe, there is seemingly a growing predicament in the workforce, causing mounting pressures and chronic stress leading to fatigue, cynicism, and debilitating dissatisfaction impacting individuals and organizations. We undoubtedly realize an elevated need within organizations to meet the urgency of re-envisioning leadership and identifying ways emotional intelligence delivers a solid approach to Leadership, especially now when many administrators are experiencing unprecedented leadership failures.

Over the past two decades, the topic surrounding the phenomenon of Leadership, who they are, what makes them tick, and how they influence and lead has been a trendy topic among scholars and professionals.

Research suggests that those who have grasped the essence of strong leadership traits and incorporated dimensions of emotional intelligence characteristics realize proven efficacy in serving others and recognizing vast individual, organization, and community benefits. Therefore, it is safe to say that a leader’s ability to influence is a social interaction process where the followers’ behavior can strongly impact performance outcomes and is recognized as a crucial determinant of organizational and societal efficacy in criminal justice organizations (Ramchunder & Martins, 2014).

You may ask why Emotional Intelligence (EI)? EI is “an array of personal-management and social skills that allow one to succeed in the workplace, and life in general” (Sterrett, 2000, Ch. 1 p. 2). Leaders with high EI directly impact leader effectiveness by cultivating their ability to influence others effectively, actively listen, build relationships, empathize, and communicate clearly.

Goleman (2005) expanded the concept by merging neuroscience with the study of emotions, formulating the framework of emotional intelligence rooted in self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and managing relationships (Introduction, para. 34), which translates into leadership success. Therefore, EI understands the interplay of our brain structures that produce those overwhelming feelings (fear, rage, passion, and joy) that can derail rational choice, decision-making, and behavioral responses (Our Journey, para. 2).

The nuts and bolts of emotional Intelligence (EI) are the ability to acknowledge and balance one’s emotional state while simultaneously recognizing the emotions of others, carefully managing interactions, nurturing relationships, and effectively resolving conflict.

There are predominantly four distinct elements associated with emotional intelligence.

  • perceiving emotion (emotionality)
  • reasoning with emotion (self-control)
  • understanding emotion (sociability)
  • managing emotion (well-being)

EI plays a vital role in leadership efficiency at all organizational levels (Ramchunder & Martins, 2014).

There are a host of leadership styles; for this purpose, our focus will be on Servant and Transformational Leadership attributes that provide guidance and inspiration, which resonate with EI soft skills.

First, let’s understand the leadership purposes of these styles. Servant Leadership regards leaders as servants of their followers, empowering personal development, encouraging team engagement, placing others’ interests before self-interest, and focusing on the follower’s needs for growth. A transformational leader’s purpose is to inspire followers toward a shared vision and provide them with resources and support to develop their potential to achieve the vision and goals (Smith et al., 2004).

Next, Servant leaders lead to a spiritual-generative culture where spiritual awareness and growth represent organizational core values best used in a stable environment serving evolutionary development purposes. While in contrast, transformational leaders lead to an empowered-dynamic culture where motivation is to lead first. The focus is on adapting to the organization’s needs to meet external pressures. This approach allows for revolutionary change for business survival, elevating healthy work environments, high retention rates, a culture of accountability, and improved quality outcomes. Research suggests that combining these qualities means combinations are superior for organizational objectives.

Recently, during the global rise in current-day crises, the notion of servant leadership has become more prevalent in reimagining leadership. In 1977, the forefather, Robert K. Greenleaf, conceptualized the Servant leader’s idea. Greenleaf’s theory, ‘servant-leader is servant first” (Greenleaf, 2014, p. 6), is a subtle form of transformational Leadership that emphasizes the importance of a leader’s motivation, not as a position or status, but as an opportunity to serve and develop others to their full potential. Greenleaf (2014) claimed that Leadership is primarily the result of personal characteristics rather than special leadership techniques, instead displaying components in authenticity and sensitivity, non-judgmental active listening, persuading, effectively communicating ideas, providing, and sharing Leadership, influencing followers, and building community (Smith et al., 2004; Meuser & Smallfield, 2022).

Whereas the conceptualized behavioral traits of Transformational Leadership: are effective, persuasive communication, inspirational, motivational characteristics, trustworthiness, encouraging creativity and innovative thinking, problem-solving, and promoting teamwork. Do you recognize similarities between the two styles?

Proponents of Servant and Transformational Leadership suggest that leading others requires emotional and intellectual stimulation in encouragement and affirmation to promote revolutionary (new thinking, out of the box) and evolutionary (improved thinking inside the box) forms of creativity. The difference is that transformational leaders would tolerate mistakes for the sake of endeavor benefits. In contrast, servant leaders allow for errors, encourage followers to learn from their mistakes, and provide opportunities to develop skills (Smith et al., 2004).

What we have learned across decades of research is that Leaders who focus on their own ego-needs struggle to lead successful organizational change, therefore current research indicates that emotional intelligence growth and consideration using a combination of the servant and transformational styles share similar attributes and qualities that lead to role modeling and enforcer of high ethical standards (Meuser & Smallfield, 2022).

Emotional intelligence is key to leadership effectiveness and can promote effectiveness at all organizational levels. Influential leaders with high emotional intelligence could support the people they lead to raise their level of EI, potentially resulting in a more effective organization overall and a better organizational climate; therefore, leadership effectiveness is rooted in managing emotions (Ramchunder & Martins, 2014).

Group of workers congratulating their leader

From Theory to Practice:

Develop a Servant-oriented mindset by developing practical EI growth skills, such as integrating anonymous 360-degree feedback (comments and review feedback from vast stakeholders), engaging in self-reflective journaling, self-guided cognitive behavioral workbooks, emotional intelligence meditations, testing your ability ‘Reading of mind in the eyes of others’ quiz, and being open to information that may disconfirm self-beliefs to gain more accurate self-insights, defeating the natural tendency toward self-serving bias.

It is no surprise that the tone of Leadership is manifested from the very top. Many managers and supervisors don’t praise others because they don’t get praise from their leaders – there is no one role-modeling the behavior.

Are you ready? Do you want to make the most significant impact on performance and morale through EI coaching? You may be wondering, why would I give praise to people for doing what they are paid to do? Well, because it works. Authentic recognition energizes, motivates, and empowers people, equating to self-fulfillment and increased productivity.

Wait for it…Here is the secret sauce.

Praise: Small effort = Huge rewards

Inspiring leaders master consistently and authentically, providing praise and recognition.

  • Pay attention. Be genuine; either catch them doing something extraordinary or simply ask them, “share with me something you did this week that you are proud of (and would like recognition for).”
  • Then, with intent and specifics, deliver frequent and immediate genuine appreciation (verbally or in writing, in private and public) for their contributions to the work and collaborations with the team or stakeholders. Without genuine and specific praise, the attempt may be seen as manipulative or eye-rolling laughable.
  • Avoid non-committal, superficial appreciations, “Great to have you on the team, Bob,” or “Jenny, you’re doing a great job.” Why are you grateful for that person showing up, participating, engaging, and improving the workplace?
  • Avoid sandwiching praise with constructive corrective feedback to make yourself as a leader feel comfortable; this diminishes the authenticity of your heartfelt appreciation.

Develop a style of praise that is natural to your communication style.

This is what it may look like:

  • “Hi, Kevin, I want to talk to you about … performance category.”
    • Alternatively, “Hi Kevin, how have you been doing? Can you share with me something you did this week that you are proud of?
  • “I have observed…behavior performance.”
    • Alternatively, “I understand you did …”
  • “That (performance) impacts…the stakeholder, company, etc.
  • “Keep up the great work; your impact makes a difference.”

(Wall, 2006, p. 131)

Here is your challenge: Make praise, recognition, and plain ole’ simple courtesy the hallmark of your leadership style. A simple “thank you” goes a long way.

About the Author:

Janina Cich, MA, is a retired Law Enforcement Officer with two decades of Criminal Justice experience and serves as the Criminal Justice Department Chair at Concordia University, St. Paul. She is a professor in the Criminal Justice & Forensic Behavior Health & Trauma, Resilience Programs, MN Law Enforcement Skills Program, and has been instructing at local colleges and universities since 2003. Janina is a frequent lecturer for various professional entities. She conducts Crisis Intervention Training and coaching for law enforcement and mental health practitioners, focusing on awareness, assessment, intervention, de-escalation techniques, and prevention approaches for mental health populations in the criminal justice system. She currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS). She has co-authored several Criminal Justice and Forensic Mental Health articles and book chapters. She serves as a peer-review member and editor of the Forensic Mental Health Insider (FMHI). She also serves as a Board Member on many non-profit organization boards.