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Davis Journal

Changing company culture through emotionally intelligent leadership

Jun 09, 2022 10:34AM ● By Becky Ginos

KAYSVILLE— Great leaders are those who know their people and move them to action by understanding their needs. Connecting with them on an emotional level through empathy and service. That’s what it means to have emotionally intelligent leadership. 

“Emotional intelligence is the number one trait of a good leader,” said Lorin Jeppsen, a leadership expert who was the keynote speaker at a recent Davis Chamber luncheon. “It can take a poor leader and make them into a great leader.”

 Jeppsen’s concept of emotional intelligence centers around creating a team and knowing how they will react to a given situation by understanding their emotions. He used his military experience as an example of how to make that connection in a business setting.

“I flew in a B-52,” he said. “It’s an ugly, smelly bomber. Its first test flight was in 1948. It’s not as cool as you might think.”

There’s not a lot of room, most of the space is left for the bombs, said Jeppsen. “The five of us sat in a 12x4x4 space. The only place you could stand up or walk was up a little ladder. It was very cramped and we’d fly for 24 hours. It was dark but when we put on the night goggles we could see the world through green screens.”

One night they took off and ran into a thunderstorm over Texas, he said. “It was getting bumpy and we heard a big boom and the sky lights up. It was a little adventure. Our team leader checked to make sure we were good. He knew the crew because we had flown with each other. He knew our training and how we’d react. He knew our emotions.”

Jeppsen shared three steps that he called the three Es. “Step one is empathy embraces emotion. You take two flying instructors and one is yelling and screaming telling you that you’re doing everything wrong. He’s just regurgitating information. My instructor was calm. He basically removed all those things that give you problems and just taught me how to fly the airplane. He puts you in a place where you can succeed.”

The next step is “social competence is the human factor,” he said. “As a leader you should know your people and find a way you can inspire and motivate them. People are the mission. If they get yelled at they’ll shut down and put up a wall and just do the minimum. You’re like an umbrella over your people, blocking the bad stuff and giving them the tools so they can succeed.”

Sincere service spreads emotional intelligence is the third step. “It is your job to take care of everyone and to serve them,” said Jeppsen. “If your company has a lot of distrust can you fix this? The best thing to do is to serve. One CEO I know started taking out the trash. He had to bridge that gap.”

It’s all about serving and being with those teams, he said. “He learned what they do and they started listening to him. It was nothing big, it was just little things. When they asked him to be the director he rolled up his sleeves and started serving. It changed the whole company culture. Every day you should walk in and have the mindset ‘I am here to serve’ then do it.”

Life and leadership is like a jungle, said Jeppsen. “It’s dark and you might get lost. Turn back and help people get where you are – create leaders.”

 “Good people make good leaders,” said Angie Osguthorpe, Chamber president and CEO. “Live by example. Lead with passion and love others.” λ