4 emotionally intelligent phrases leaders should use in 2022

As organizations adapt to a hybrid workplace, leaders must prioritize emotional intelligence. Consider these four key phrases to help foster a strong, positive culture
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The world of work has changed significantly over the past two years. Senior managers’ expectations have shifted, and emotional intelligence has never been more important. According to a Businessolver survey, 83 percent of Gen Z employees (one-third of the global workforce) would choose an employer with a strong culture of empathy over one offering a higher salary. The same survey found that 79 percent of respondents would choose an empathetic employer even if it meant going to the trouble of changing their role, industry, or chosen career path.

Vibrant workplace cultures value emotionally intelligent leadership above all else. Self-aware leaders recognize the importance of creating and maintaining psychological safety and model behavior and work ethics that lead to collective success. These leaders are approachable and productive, and they set expectations clearly and bring out the best in others.

4 phrases emotionally intelligent leaders use

Here are four phrases you’ll hear emotionally intelligent leaders say in 2022 and beyond:

"I trust you"

2022 will see the continued rise of hybrid work, and central to its success is trust. This doesn’t mean trust that has to be earned over a period of time, but rather confidence in the ability of another human to do the right thing. When leaders think the best of others, that’s what will shine through. If they think the worst, they’ll always be disappointed. Trust is the glue that holds high-performing teams together and it should be given freely.

[ Want more advice on leading hybrid work? Read What is a hybrid work model? and Hybrid work model: 5 advantages. ]

"I'm listening"

The effects of COVID-19 will linger into 2022 and many employees may be nervous about returning to an in-person environment. In these scenarios, leaders should make themselves available to listen to their concerns. They should consider how people may be feeling, respond with empathy and compassion, and provide reassurance. In a world full of distractions, a leader who listens will build connections like no other.

"I appreciate you"

This doesn’t mean you should emulate Ted Lasso, but “I appreciate you” can be a simple but powerful demonstration of gratitude for the effort that someone has made on behalf of the team. It’s also a way of expressing respect for another’s humanity that goes beyond a simple “thank you.”

"I'm sorry"

This should be on the list every year! No one – leader or otherwise – has the answers to every question or can get every decision 100 percent correct every time. Leaders need to ensure that decisions and actions are based on the information on hand at that time. If they prove to be incorrect, then vulnerability and humility need to come to the fore with the phrase “I’m sorry.” Apologizing is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.

Emotionally intelligent leadership will continue to enrich the lives of employees around the world in 2022 and beyond. What phrases and actions will you use to elevate those around you?

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Colin D. Ellis is a culture change expert, an award-winning international speaker and a best-selling author. His latest book, "Culture Fix: How to Create a Great Place to Work" (Wiley), has seen him travel all over the world to help IT departments transform the way they work.

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