This article is part of the Grow Through Hierarchy series, which explores a framework to develop key influencers in 14 core competencies of leadership and management. The framework includes four key areas 9rather than the traditional 5 areas as outlined by Daniel Goleman etc) of emotional intelligence, or EQ, which sits as the foundation of the Grow Through Hierarchy model. Our previous article explores what we think is the most important element of EQ: self-awareness. This article moves on to look at the next element in our model: self-motivation and self-management.

For leaders and managers, a big part of EQ is about how we control our emotions at work; of course it incorporates many other elements but this can help to put some context around how we look at EQ in the workplace. But EQ is not just about being nice, it’s not just about warmth and empathy and being the boss that everybody likes. Whilst those things are really important it is also about effectively generating results for ourselves and for our teams.


What type of manager or leader are you really?

Are you self-aware enough to know what kind of manager you are? Whether you have many years’ experience in management or leadership roles or have been recently promoted, hopefully if you’re reading this article you’re open and reflective enough to at least be starting to consider your own self-awareness. Even if you haven’t always possessed the self-awareness to know your style in the past, you are starting to think about what kind of manager or leader you are currently, and what you aspire to be in the future.

Let’s explore some extreme behaviours or traits we undoubtedly will have come into contact with in the workplace at one time or another demonstrated by others managers or leaders we have known, or perhaps even that we may sometimes recognise in ourselves.


When it comes to opinions, the two extremes we could see would be either dogmatic – someone who is certain about their own opinions without being open to different ideas – or inconclusive – someone who spends a lot of time reflecting but never coming to a decision. A manager or leader of either of these types will get a result, but it won’t necessarily be the right result.


What about when it comes to how you manage rapport with your team when managing performance? One extreme style would be harsh – focusing on enforcing the rules without sufficient empathy and rapport, while at the other end of the spectrum you would see someone who is permissive – being warm and empathetic without combining it with accountability. Again, you’ll get results, but they won’t necessarily be the right results.


And what about when it comes to managers or leaders getting the job done, asserting their needs, whilst helping others? You may have experienced a boss who is overly assertive regarding their own wants and needs without considering those of the team. On the other hand a self-sacrificing leader or manager would be too helpful – and end up doing the teams work as well as – or instead of – their own!

Do you recognise any of those characters? Do you recognise any elements within yourself from time to time?

EQ, self-management and self-motivation is about generating results by leveraging yourself and being able to leverage others. It’s about understanding the knowledge, skills & behaviours that you need to progress as a good manager or leader. As we’ve mentioned before by paraphrasing Marshall Goldsmith – ‘what got you to this point, isn’t necessarily going to get you to the next level’.


It’s a balancing act

Two of the key functions of a good manager or leader are managing relationships and managing performance. You can’t encourage good performance without building good relationships and rapport with your team members. You can’t build good relationships and rapport with your team members without being able to manage yourself and your emotions. A lack of self-management can cause stress to build, can cause negative responses and reactions to triggers and situations, and will not enable you to be successful in achieving the required results for your role.

It’s about managing those traits which are out of balance, and understanding what we need to do in order to bring the balance needed for a successful leadership or management style. Through the Grow Through Hierarchy framework and the 14 behavioural competencies which support this, we talk about dynamic traits and gentle traits.

When we read around the topic of EQ, much of the focus can tend to be around developing the more gentle traits. However as we said above, EQ is not just about being nice, we also need to incorporate those dynamic traits to get the results that we are looking for – but always in balance.

And this is what links self-awareness with self-management; we need to be able to understand the behaviours we are exhibiting and modify them accordingly to suit the scenario. We need to be able to have the flexibility to do that and to get that balance of those dynamic and gentle elements of management and leadership.

This is then where self-motivation comes in…


What do we mean by self-motivation?

In the behavioural competency we use to explore this for an individual, self-motivation and self-management is defined according to the following traits and behaviours:

  • Strives to achieve excellence
  • Takes action to benefit from opportunities, has a positive mindset to pursue challenging goals
  • Is adaptive to change whilst staying focused on intended goals

You can see that from these statements that there is emphasis on excellence, on moving forwards. The language is aspirational and is focused around positive progressive actions. These may be things a manager or leader who displays the more extreme traits such as dogmatism, harshness and assertiveness is aiming for, but we can see they are framed in a much more positive, emotionally intelligent way.

By balancing these positive dynamic elements of EQ, management and leadership with the gentler, softer skills such as building rapport, effective listening and collaboration skills you will be able to more successfully generate the results you want for yourself and for your team.


3 things to consider for self-motivation & self-management

1. It always starts with you as an individual. Self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation; Understand your current type or style. How would you describe it? Are you achieving the results you want to achieve? Ask yourself the question, what kind of a manager and leader am I? What type of manager or leader do I want to be? The more you can define that, the clearer what the next step needs to be…

2. Look at what needs to change. Ask yourself, what am I going to change to get myself in balance? How can I balance the dynamic and the gentle elements of management, leadership?

3. How are you going to effect that change? What are you going to do on a routine basis to make sure that you can be more in balance with the dynamic and gentle elements of management and leadership? Once you know which elements you want to improve on you could start a journal to monitor your progress. Use a feedback loop and check what results you get.


So… EQ is not just about being nice – obviously we’ve said that for a bit of provocation against some of the emotional intelligence conversations that you may hear or be reading around. It can sometimes be seen to focus too much on the softer management and leadership skills.

Bringing it into practice, it’s not just about being nice. It’s about controlling our emotions at work. It’s about being able to achieve results – but in the right way. It’s about achieving those results with the team and enabling you to leverage your team and yourself in every scenario possible. You can reflect on the work you’ve done in improving your self-awareness and start thinking about self-motivation and self-management.

What type of manager or leader are you? How do you look to achieve performance and excellence? How do you take action to benefit from opportunities? Do you have a positive mindset about achieving challenging goals? And can you adapt to change while remaining focused on your intended goals? And how can you bring all that to the team to achieve results effectively?

Thanks for reading!


Stay tuned, after the Christmas break we will be focusing on Relationship Leadership; influence, collaboration and managing interpersonal conflict to increase productivity, trust and group synergy.

The Leadership and Management Grow Through Hierarchy model and programme is based around a defined set of measurable behavioural competencies specific to managers and leaders, which guide the development journey, and include the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for management execution and the more strategic elements required for leaders. These competencies are powered by Harrison Assessments talent analytics.

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Peak Performance Partnership Ltd (3P) is a Business Performance Consultancy specialising in Talent Management. ASPIRE by 3P is our talent management solution which supports the talent life cycle of Acquisition, Succession Planning, Improvement and Retention & Engagement.


Co-authored by Lindsay McGhie and Michelle Manning