In a recent conversation, a good friend raved about the CEO in his global consulting firm. He said that the CEO had always been rather cold and aloof and rarely shared personal information, but everything had changed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Now, that CEO sends weekly emails to all employees, not only updating them on the state of the business, but also expressing uncharacteristic vulnerability about how he is feeling and dealing personally with the virus and sudden change to the company. The CEO shared that journaling has helped relieve his stress and even shared a few of his journal entries with employees.
In addition, during video meetings, he invites associates to show others around their home or office. The start of meetings has replaced the old perfunctory “How ya doing?” with a sincere checking-in about “How are you really doing?” which provides the space for people to express how they, too, are feeling and dealing with their experience.
“People will not forget how he has stepped up and allowed himself to be emotional and vulnerable,” our friend said. “He is like a new leader and making big deposits into the emotional bank account!”
Stephen R. Covey first wrote about the notion of the “emotional bank account,” which is not about money, but about the quality of relationship trust and genuineness.
The 2nd Vital Question is: “How are you relating to others, your experience, and yourself? Are you relating in ways that produce or perpetuate drama or in ways that empower others and yourself to be more resourceful, resilient, and innovative?”
The importance of this question has only grown as we, individually and collectively, navigate through the uncharted pandemic era.
How you relate to others determines the health of your emotional bank account.
It is an “account” based on how safe you feel with another person. Every time you interact with another, you are either making a “deposit,” through caring, vulnerability, and relationship-affirming actions OR you are making a “withdrawal” when there is blaming, insensitivity, or any other relationship-damaging deed.
What our friend’s CEO is doing, and modeling for others, is making emotional bank account deposits. In the course of our conversation, we projected that these deposits are – and will continue to – “pay dividends” in the company culture and relationships through how everyone works together as a team, as well as with clients and other stakeholders.
We are seeing and hearing other examples of this kind of genuine ways of relating in some surprising situations.
For instance, David recently heard an interaction on our local National Public Radio station that caught his attention. The radio host had just run a national story on how some people are finding joy in these troubling times, then turned to the traffic reporter for an update. But first, he paused and asked the reporter, “What brings you joy?” She paused, replied and, in turn, asked the host the same question. It was a genuine moment of human interaction and the making of a deposit.
At the same time as we are witnessing such interactions, there is no denying that victimization during this stressful time is on the rise. Statistics indicate an escalation in domestic violence incidents and, in locations where lock-downs have been lifted, there appears to be an increase in divorce filings. In these situations, the emotional bank account is bankrupt.
Statistics are not tallied on the expressions of vulnerability, extra doses of kindness, and extending patience and love to others.
As you go through the coming days, we encourage you to be a “depositor” in the emotional bank accounts of yourself and others. It WILL pay dividends as we, together, co-create the way forward through this uncharted human experience.