EI and leadership - Articles

EI & Leadership - Categories


« 7. Emotional profiling uncovers Stakeholder drivers »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. Author of "How to develop emotional resilience and manage your emotions".

The levels of emotional intelligence that a leader has affects her or his abilities to engage people, including stakeholders. Being able to accurately read and predict stakeholders' emotions, motivations and responses is an important emotional intelligence skill for optimal stakeholder engagement.

Using your information on stakeholder emotions to decide how best to communicate with them and persuade them to your way of thinking is a second vital emotional intelligence skill.

This is the second article in a three part series on emotional intelligence for leaders applied to stakeholder management. 

  1. A previous article has examined the range of feelings and emotions that stakeholders may have about particular projects you are working on, and why these matter.
  2. This article will outline the practical steps you can take during your meeting preparation to guage your stakeholders' emotional drivers and motivations. When you do this accurately it can help you to predict how they will respond and to be ready to handle any objections from the beginning.
  3. A third article: Practical EI skills in stakeholder negotiations shows how to use this emotional profile during stakeholder meetings and negotiations, so that you gain better buy-in.

Want to improve your skills as an emotionally intelligent leader? Then book into our smart leadership coaching package.

Emotional intelligence and the problem stakeholder

Let's presume you have a meeting due with a key stakeholder and that you find this stakeholder difficult. The last time you met he opposed your plans and presented a series of counter arguments to them.

You are having to return again to try and win him over and have amassed a new set of information to present to him. However, you are unsure as to how successful you'll be and think he is being deliberately difficult.

Emotional intelligence: Emotional profile principles

I recommend you prepare an emotional profile on this Stakeholder. It is important that you do this ...

  • Before you meet with him and before it's too late, e.g. when you are already in conflict.
  • As accurately as possible. Imagining the wrong emotions will not help.
  • Without confusing your own feelings towards the person with how this person may be feeling about the project.
  • As comprehensively as possible so you don't just look for one feeling but a range of feelings.
  • By suspending your own feelings towards the person and adopting a stance of compassion towards the stakeholder.

(I probably lost you at this point; trying to be compassionate towards a stakeholder who is obstructing your project isn't easy. That's why you need high emotional intelligence as a leader.)

Emotional intelligence: Emotional profiling steps

The stakeholder will have a range of emotions. Twelve different possible areas of stakeholder feelings were highlighted in the article: "Do stakeholders' emotions matter?".

Consider each of these twelve areas, and others of direct relevance, when preparing your emotional profile.

Ask yourself "How does he feel when ... " and come up with a list of possible emotions.

Want to improve your skills as an emotionally intelligent leader who can manage stakeholder emotions productively? Then book into our smart leadership coaching package.

Emotional intelligence: Emotional profile case study

Let's look at just one of the ten emotional areas and examine that in depth. For example, let's ask how does the stakeholder feel inside right now?

When you ask this you might realise that he is under a lot of pressure to perform.

Let's say he is a senior public servant and his key stakeholder is his Government minister. You might also, therefore, ask:

  • What kind of pressure is he under from his minister?
  • What pressures is his minister under?
  • What promises has his minister made recently that he has to satisfy?
  • What does he need to do to keep his minister onside and happy?
  • What kind of minister is he dealing with?

As you detail these it may become obvious that you are dealing with someone who is feeling:

  • Tense and pressured.
  • Overworked.
  • Exasperated and frustrated.
  • Vulnerable and under attack.
  • Keen to gain the minister's approval.

Emotional intelligence: Interpreting the profile

What does this mean?

There is no definitive set of rules to follow as each stakeholder relationship is unique. However, it means that you could start by communicating, in an empathetic way, your understanding of his position.

It could mean that you use this information to choose how you communicate your ideas and you keep his minister in mind when you do.

It could mean that his obstructionism, as you had previously called it, was nothing to do with you at all, but to do with his need to gain his minister's approval.

Emotional intelligence: Emotional profiling so what?

Having gone through all ten areas in this way, you can gain a comprehensive emotional profile on your stakeholder.

Providing you have high emotional intelligence that is. Being able to predict and understand others' emotions does require emotional intelligence to a high level, if you are to be accurate.

Accuracy is a key in using emotional profiling successfully.

However, whatever your level of emotional intelligence, just starting to think about the stakeholder's emotions in this way will mean you are already ahead of the pack.

The third article "Practical EI skills in stakeholder negotiations" will consider how to use this information in the actual stakeholder meeting so as to increase your chance of getting better buy-in.

Be a high EI leader and develop your emotional intelligence now.

Want to improve your skills as an emotionally intelligent leader who can manage stakeholder emotions productively? Then book into our smart leadership coaching package.

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.

Develop your emotional intelligence now.