With suicide rates among active duty and veterans at an all-time high it is critically important to understand why leaders must have high levels of emotional intelligence and recognize that wellness involves taking care of oneself as well as the individuals they lead.
Peer replies to further the conversation
Student replied to at least two (2) classmates’ posts and each reply includes at least three (3) to four (4) sentences relating the classmate’s post to at least one (1) question/point of the Discussion Prompt.
Responses are substantive and encourage discussion by proposing a different point of view supported by an attribution to a source, personal example, or personal application. All responses include related follow up questions to promote continued discussion.
Topic: Lesson 3
LESSON 3 ISSUE FOR DISCUSSION #1:
Do you believe a leader should have a high level of emotional intelligence and what are the ramifications if he/she does not?
Forum Post 1:
Re: Lesson 3, IFD #1
I am very happy that the subject of emotional intelligence is being discussed in our coursework. I have witnessed the importance of this trait in the success of a leader many times in my career. However, I have also been befuddled when I have seen several leaders, in very important, or powerful levels (whether in the Marine Corps or in the civilian world), that didn’t understand its importance. In an interesting dichotomy, I always expected to see leaders in the military presenting less “emotional intelligence,” while leaders in the civilian world displaying more. In reality, I have seen just the opposite – with many civilian leaders not caring one bit about their subordinates’ feelings, in or out of the workplace, while Marine leaders seeking to know about our home life and emotional state. While some of the Marine Corps’ preoccupation with our well-being is related directly to the past twenty years of war, I saw this “emotional intelligence” even in the early 1990’s, when I first enlisted. In Goleman’s article, “What Makes a Leader,” he writes about some very salient points that hit home for Marine leaders. For example, “know[ing] thyself” is key, as Goleman writes, “people who have a high degree of self-awareness recognize how their feelings affect them, other people, and their job performance.” I thought his analogy of a person who knows that “tight deadlines bring out the worst in him,” extremely relevant. Like this manager, I also believe that I know myself enough to not allow “tight deadlines” to dominate my behavior. Therefore, I am always looking ahead, at least one-week, preparing for meetings/reports or practicing presentations. “A person who lacks self-awareness is apt to make decisions that bring on inner turmoil,” especially since it is human nature to always pick the proverbial “low hanging fruit,” versus doing the tough jobs up front. Another important point by Goleman was his comment about “self-regulation.” For example, I have seen managers not capable of controlling themselves during a meeting/negotiation, by not accepting silence. Instead they will blurt out important bits of information that have weakened our proposal in front of a customer. An emotionally intelligent leader must be able to control their feelings in front of their subordinates, to create “an environment of trust and fairness.”
The others traits that Goleman cites, such as “motivation, empathy, and social skills,” in my opinion, have become a prerequisite to successfully lead (and get ahead) in the corporate environment. They are no longer a differential, such as self-awareness or self-regulation, which I still see being a challenge for several highly ranked executives. At the end of the day, using the tools in the “emotional intelligence” toolbox are much more effective versus using the hammer – of course, situation dependent. As we saw in our video for this section, “Chamberlain’s Prisoners, Colonel Chamberlain certainly could have used the hammer, but instead chose to use his emotional intelligence to “recruit” the mutineers to his side, while not having to use his limited manpower to escort/control them.
What Makes a Leader?, D. Goleman, HBR, 1998
Forum Post 2:
Re: Lesson 3, IFD #1
Well I think it goes without saying that of course any leader ought to have a high degree of emotional intelligence. This is a critical factor of leadership that allows us to not only as leaders, but as human beings, to properly govern ourselves with sensibility and maturity. As I try to imagine a leader without emotional intelligence, the only thing that comes to mind is a child speaking out of turn. Having said that, I suppose the challenge with emotional intelligence could be when a leader finds themselves in a high stress environment. Extending emotional intelligence into a fight or flight situation could be tricky. We all like to imagine and think of ourselves as fighters who will tough it out and struggle through battle honorably, but the truth is that no one really knows what they would do until they find themselves under those kind of circumstances. One reason why I bring this up is because one of the components of emotional intelligence was self-regulation, or “the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods” (Goleman, 88). In other words, self-regulation means being able to think before acting. However, I imagine that in a real combat situation, thinking before acting is not always as prevalent as we would prefer it to be. Sometimes, instinct takes over and gets the better of us. In some cases, it is perhaps necessary because, instinct would drive us to self-preservation and survival. However, a leader who displays emotional intelligence would be able to regulate those instincts and continue to carry out the mission. For this reason, emotional intelligence should not be confused or mistaken as maturity. Emotional intelligence does indeed come with time, just a maturity does, but emotional intelligence differs in that it requires a focused practice at refining oneself and gaining mastery over ones own attributes and impulses. Overall, emotional intelligence is a critical component of leadership, and whether or not a leader has a high degree of emotional intelligence can either make or brake the team. If a leader cannot command themselves, they certainly will not be able to command anyone else.
LESSON 3 ISSUE FOR DISCUSSION #2:
In light of increasing suicide rates amongst current and former military personnel, how has your organization (United States Marine Corps) addressed this issue and what additional steps would you recommend to make wellness programs more effective at curbing this crisis?
Forum Post 1:
Re: Lesson 3, IFD #2
Hello, everyone. To addressed the organizations increasing suicide rates amongst current and former military personnel. The Department of Defense has many programs to help combat this issue with our organization such the OSCR program. Personally I recommend to make wellness programs more effective at curbing this crisis by making the conversation about suicide more spoken about. Most people don’t talk about suicide because it is a sensitive topic but if we bring this conversation to the table and actually have the conversation with those who need to hear it such as those who might not have the skills to help someone thinking about hurting themselves. We become part of the problem when we do not provide easy access to finding these programs as well. Being a leader means you need to look out for the wellbeing for those you lead whether that be mental, physical or emotional. Knowing when something starts to get out of hand is also important, knowing at what point to refer someone to get help can be the difference between someone making it to the next day. A lot of the issues here are rooted from people not looking out for each other. Everyone goes their own way after work is over and people are left alone to their own devices. In the civilian world this is normal but we are Marines and being there for each other when we need someone the most is a sacrifice we have to make. There was this one time when a Marine was having a bad time transitioning into the unit and one night no one could find him and he called at around 0200 and said he needed someone and I went without hesitation. I was asleep and I didn’t want to get out of bed, but he called me asking for counsel. Just being there can save someone’s life.
Forum Post 2:
Re: Lesson 3, IFD #2
At my current command, we just witnessed the passing of a Marine by taking his own life. It is not easy for everyone when an event like this happens, and it is very problematic to solve for every organization. Everyone is affected differently by suicide within one’s command, solutions to the said issue could be completely different depending on the person. The command I am at decided to bring us all out into a base theater to tell us what happened and brought Chaplains, as well as other mental health personnel. They made it clear for the next couple of weeks that everyone should be looking after each other and asking each other how they are and checking on those that knew the person more so than others. Our superiors also made it clear that we could come to anyone in our chain of command that we felt we were more comfortable with, including our Commanding Officer, in my opinion, the command showed a high level of empathy and emotional support when that occurred.
I’m going to be blunt, I do not believe I have enough experience to recommend wellness programs more effective at curbing an issue as big as suicide. I have dealt with it only once in my career so far, and I did not know the person as well as others for it to influence me. However, if I had to recommend programs or such of that nature, I would focus on making it clear that there are programs available to those that feel they are stressed out or struggling through something. I would encourage people to actively talk to those that seem to have had a change in their mood or the way they talk. Especially after the suicide that occurred at my current command, it was easy to tell that most of the command was down, merely noticing that mood regardless of circumstances and asking if someone is okay can go a long way. Solving suicide is a pressing issue in the modern-day, and with everyone’s reaction to such of that nature being different, trying to find the perfect solution would be nearly impossible to do so.
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