Developing Emotional Intelligence in Landscape Leadership - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Developing Emotional Intelligence in Landscape Leadership

As a leader, it’s important to adopt the use of emotional intelligence to retain good employees. Without a positive work environment, production and efficiency can be low.

Angie Carignan

“In today’s work environment, people want to be heard and understood,” says Angie Carignan, human resources manager for Belknap Landscape Company. “It’s one thing to nod and smile, it’s another to actually engage with employees and have the ability to connect at a level that builds trust and respect. It’s been said time and time again, employees leave companies due to poor leadership over any other factor.”

Carignan will be teaching attendees about practicing emotional intelligence (EQ) in her session “Beyond IQ: Developing EQ in Landscape Leadership” during LANDSCAPES 2021 on Friday, Oct. 22 at 10:15 a.m. ET. During this session, she’ll cover how to manage your own emotions, cultivate empathy at work and encourage meaningful communication.

“Empathy is definitely a skill that can be practiced and improved,” Carignan says. “The best part is anyone can develop this skill and do so fairly quickly when applying emotional intelligence to everyday interactions.”

Carignan recently developed a four-part course on emotional intelligence and delivered it to their staff at all levels of the organization.

“I remember when I first started the EQ training at Belknap Landscape – I got a few raised eyebrows and a little skepticism,” she says. “People may think that you have to be super nice all the time. Or that you have to go around hugging everyone who is sad. Neither is the case. Instead, it’s measuring your own emotional barometer in tough situations so that you can continue to effectively communicate while minimizing tension and hostile reactions.”                 

As the HR manager, she works to foster professional, positive relationships at the company. Carignan believes the key to success and growth lies in teamwork, collaboration and transparency between a company and its employees.

So why does emotional intelligence matter? Employees are human beings and want to be treated as such.

“No one wants to come to work to be a number or part of the man-hours on a budget,” Carignan says. “When an employee feels that we truly care for who they are as a person, they’re more likely to work more efficiently, volunteer for Saturdays, and recruit their family and friends to come work for us.”

You might be frustrated and not understand why people can’t just do what they are told, but emotional intelligence opens the door to connecting with your employees. You can discover how they learn, what they’re passionate about and how to motivate them.

As for measuring your emotional intelligence, Carignan says it’s not easy and this is because you have to be 100 percent honest about yourself.

“We often look at ourselves through rose-colored lenses as a way to protect our fragile egos,” she says.

While you can take some simple quizzes online, these are pretty easy to provide fake answers and protect your ego. Carignan instead suggests asking your brutally honest friends and family about how you interact with people.

“This takes some courage and thick skin,” she says. “You have to remember people are answering the questions from their perspective, which could challenge your ego’s identity. It’s an interesting exercise, but worth the effort. Recently, I asked several of my closest friends to participate in this exercise with me – only one was brave enough to volunteer. That in itself spoke volumes about how I may be perceived among my friend group.” 

This session is worth 1 CEU credit. You can earn up to 13 CEU credits by attending sessions at LANDSCAPES 2021.

Want more information about improving your emotional intelligence? Register for LANDSCAPES 2021 and we’ll see you in Louisville!

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.