Tamara Rosier is Principal at Acorn Leadership in Grand Rapids. She will be speaking for GRAPE, Thursday, October 23rd – 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the ITT Technical Institute.
I looked around the room at the people that were before me. I have led diverse groups in the past, but this group was quite unique. At the table were several people with different personalities, contrasting missions, dissimilar goals, and opposing viewpoints. Before the meeting even began, they argued about what our task should be. My goal, as their leader, was to create one functional team – to be an emulsifying leader.
Collections of people do not automatically constitute a team — Teams are more than just a group of people working together. Although a group may have mutual interaction and reciprocal influence, teams add to that a strong sense of identity and a common goal or task. Leaders need to be emulsifiers.
Emulsifiers are used to make non-compatible components, such as oil and water, blend smoothly rather than remain separate. For example, mayonnaise is essentially oil and water. Emulsifying is done by slowly adding one ingredient (such as oil) to another (water) while simultaneously mixing rapidly. This disperses and temporarily suspends tiny droplets of the oil through the water.
Our oil and water, however, would quickly separate again if an emulsifier were not added. Emulsifiers are liaisons between the two liquids and serve to stabilize the mixture. When an egg, an emulsifier, is added to the oil and water mixture, tiny droplets of oil are suspended in water –- creating the thick creamy sauce you had on your sandwich at lunch.
Good leaders use their social intelligence to act as an emulsifier. They create a place for assorted ideas and values to be discussed. Like emulsifiers, these leaders facilitate teams that remain blended, distinct from their separate oil and water parts. They cause teams to be willing to think critically and to learn to get along, even when they don’t agree with each other, for the sake of the vision and the team. Their social intelligence skills are the egg that binds the mixture together.
Emulsifying leaders understand the basics of social intelligence. Socially intelligent leaders must be able to —
“Read” individuals’ “nonverbals”;
Understand how individuals in their team may be feeling;
Understand how to “read” and manage the affective element in their team;
Understand how to affect the behaviors of individuals;
Show genuine concern for members of their team;
Create a sense of team membership for each person.
Like eggs in mayonnaise, leaders use their social intelligence to bind their teams together in order to accomplish the tasks set before them.
“Social Intelligence: What It Is and Why It Matters”
Thursday, October 23, 2014
ITT Technical Institute
1980 Metro Ct Wyoming, MI