According to recruiters, this is the time of year when people are most likely to consider applying for a new job. It could be you don’t feel valued by your boss, or the prospect of returning to the same old job after the Christmas break has made you think about your career or that the burst of energy and optimism that comes with a new year has caused you to look around for a new exciting challenge.
Whatever the reason, alongside an impressive CV and good interview technic, you will need emotional intelligence.
‘Emotional intelligence isn’t about having a big heart, coming over as genuinely sympathetic or even demonstrating empathy’
These days candidates for senior management posts need more than an impressive track record, strong analytical skills, excellent communication skills, political sensitivity and financial acumen: they need emotional intelligence.
While we expect a degree of passion from our leaders, we don’t usually want them to get emotional. But emotional intelligence isn’t about having a big heart, coming over as genuinely sympathetic or even demonstrating empathy for the staff you are about to make redundant. It is the ability to see yourself as others see you, to recognise the effect your behaviour has on other people and to use this insight to adapt your management style to different audiences.
The point being that what works with colleagues won’t necessarily work with partner agencies, and how you get support from politicians is different to how you handle the trade unions or win over service users.
It’s not hard to see why a transformation agenda would require senior managers with emotional intelligence as well as the traditional management skills. So how do you demonstrate this in your application and interview? The key is your willingness to seek feedback and to learn from it.
Most managers will have experience of “360 degree feedback”, but what did you do differently as a result? Did you change the way you chaired your senior management team meetings? Stop using certain expressions? Decide to make less use of emails and do more face to face work?
‘I was impressed by candidates who could give me examples of how they had sought feedback and how they adapted as a result’
Have you experience of executive coaching where the coach observes you in a range of management activities and gives you confidential feedback on your performance, as well as help to change some of the unhelpful things you do? Have you a mentor some one you trust to tell you how it really is as opposed to those around you who tell you what they think you want to here?
As a manager who takes responsibility for their own development, you can arrange these learning opportunities for yourself.
When I was director who oversaw a lot of senior management recruitment, I was very impressed by candidates who could give me examples of how they had sought feedback on their behaviour and how they adapted their management style as a result. I would be sufficiently impressed to give them the job over a candidate with more experience but less insight.