Teuvo Perätalo, CEO of OP Kainuu, says that they wanted to include emotional leadership training in last year’s strategic plan. “All management is about leading people: skills must always be developed and refreshed. The time was right to participate in emotional leadership training for our leadership team and myself,” says Perätalo.
Perätalo had already read about emotional leadership and the other members of the leadership team were also familiar with the topic. “When choosing the training provider, we tried to analyze what each company offers. It was important for us that Emergy® is actively involved in university level research and development projects. All their training has an academic basis and the trainers have also written non-fiction books on the subject.”
According to Perätalo, the five-module training program was inspiring and well facilitated – everyone had the courage to get involved. The training left participants with an increased awareness on how big impact the emotions have, and gave them many useful everyday tools.
“It was great to see how emotional skills had been conceptualized as clear, teachable skills. For example, techniques such as self-disclosure and mine sweeping, learning to be quiet, giving power thank you and practicing 100% presence, all translated emotional skills into concrete skills that can be applied in everyday life.”
In Perätalo’s opinion, self-disclosure is a great way to lighten the atmosphere in various meetings. “The atmosphere becomes more human-centered and warmer. People are more interested when you also talk about feelings,” he says. Mine sweeping, on the other hand, can be used when faced with a difficult situation. The technique helps prepare the other party for a potentially challenging situation.
Perätalo believes that the training has changed the way their leadership team works. People feel more honest and relaxed, the discussion is more open and respectful of others, and they also dare to make suggestions for improvement more than before.
“The atmosphere has a significant impact on everyone’s decision making. Everyone has the courage to express their ideas, even if they are not particularly familiar with the subject“, Perätalo sums up.
Perätalo recommends emotional skills training to all organizations with people to lead.
“Emotional skills should be developed at all levels of staff – not just at managerial level. These techniques can be used not only in leadership but also in life outside of work.”
A leader does not always have to be vocal
In Perätalo’s experience, the most challenging aspect of leadership is the diversity of people, relationships and situations. Over the years, he has learned that rationality alone is not enough to be a good manager or leader.
“When I was young, I relied quite a lot on knowledge and reason. Since then, I have realized that logical communication and thinking alone are not enough. You need a multitude of dimensions to translate leadership into practice,” he says.
Perätalo is constantly seeking feedback on his own leadership style. In their organization they have regular short audits and staff surveys for its staff, which are then debriefed through discussion. Perätalo also has a policy of asking for feedback directly in one-to-one meetings. In his career, he has been particularly impressed by the positive feedback he has received from the training of his managers.
“It has been great to see how the managers I have trained in their first managerial roles have progressed in their careers.”
According to Perätalo, the most important lesson you can teach a manager is to invest in being present and listening.
“You don’t always have to be the one who speaks. There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth.”