Are You leading in a ”Rain Shadow”

I love mountains. Some how I am drawn to them and am often moved by their sheer majesty and awesomeness! So, recently when I came upon a wonderful article on the topic of mountains, I was ecstatic. It beautifully described the variations in mountains. The different types of mountains and the impact each has on the climate  and culture of surrounding villages.

This too is true for leaders.  Leaders come in all shapes, sizes and varying levels of emotional intelligence.  It is no secret that the leader, according to Daniel Goleman in his book, Primal Leadership: Unleashing the power of Emotional Intelligence, ‘a leader adds the strongest ingredient to the emotional soup’ depending on the leader’s own level of emotional intelligence and grasp on their emotions, will dictate the quality of relationship they directly or indirectly create.

Here’s what I mean.  Leaders who create dissonance and discord inevitably lead those who operate with mistrust, always looking out for number one and of course doing just enough not to get fired.  The leader on the other hand who creates the kind of emotional environment that builds accord and resonance, naturally lead those who are trusting, engaged and look to the benefit of the greater good.

This brings me back to the article about mountains. I learned that certain mountains create what is called a ‘rain shadow’.  A condition where they are so high and expansive that on one side of the mountain the weather condition is wet, with lush vegetation and fertile soil.

On the other side of the very same mountain the weather condition is dry, hot, and desert-like. Soil is poor and very little to no vegetation exist. Examples of such mountain ranges and their effects are seen in the Judean Desert  and the Dead Sea caused by the Judean Mountains.  Or, the Gobi Desert which lies in the ‘rain shadow’ of the Himalayas.

Do you know leaders who fit the conditions of a ‘rain shadow’? Those leaders who, one recent research described as follows: When employees in a certain organization were asked which would they choose? An increase in salary or get a new boss? They all chose get a new boss!  Why would this be their choice?

My gut says these leaders are emotionally unintelligent.  They, like a mountain range that creates a ‘rain shadow’ feed certain employees while starve others. They pour into  employees who are easy to work with and get along with.  These leaders don’t have to expend much energy and effort to affect change in these employees.

The other groups of employees who are not recipients of the fertile soil conditions these leaders are capable of creating, are left to the harsh, sometimes in-human desert-like conditions to work in, meet and exceed goals,and produce!

Luckily for these types of leaders, unlike the mountain ranges that cannot change their inherent purpose; these leaders can change.  If you are such a leader who has the tendency to  according  to Les Brown; give only enough to employees to keep them from quitting, while they in return do just enough to keep from being fired; you may find the following tips to build a more emotionally intelligent you helpful:

  • Get comfortable learning about you. What are your gaps? Blind spots? Strengths?
  • Get to know all your employees stars and dare I use the term ‘dogs’. Do a similar inventory on them as you did on you.
  • Get others to give you feedback on your interaction and overall  leadership style and its impact
  • Get others to give your employees feedback similar to yours
  • Implement an ongoing leadership training and executive coaching and mentoring program to develop you and your team to live and work at your best

These are but a few steps you can take to be more like mountains that actually shape civilization.  Greece comes to mind. I learned that Greece developed the way it did because of its mountainous terrains.  We can’t deny the long reaching impact ancient Greece has had on cultures around the world.

What impact as a leader are you having on your people?

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