Just what is Emotional Intelligence? According to the experts it refers to the capacity to deal effectively with one's own and others emotions. When applied to the workplace, emotional intelligence is about thinking intelligently with emotions, perceiving, expressing, understanding and managing emotions in a professional and effective manner at work.
Emotional Intelligence is not just about the "fluffy stuff" that can't be measured by data. According to research, EI can have significant affect on an individual's ability to achieve his/her professional and personal goals. EI accounts for as much as 36% of the variance in leadership success.
The seven competencies of Emotional Intelligence helps change stick. I think EI can be a strong change management tool. So what are these competencies? Is your staff emotionally competent? Lets take a look....
One of the speakers told our group that he starts most sessions by simply asking, "What kind of thoughts are you entertaining?" Now, being in a corporate setting I can just imagine executives taking a step back and laughing uneasily at this question. Perhaps even crossing their arms out of defense. So why ask this question to your staff? Why is it important to know what kind of thoughts are running through their minds? Because thoughts lead to emotions which lead to action. For example, your organization might be going through a large change initiative and you need the support of your leaders. But half way into an implementation you notice that your staff isn't willing to put in the required hours to make the implementation a success. Their action they are portraying is ambivalence to the project and ignoring the work that needs to be done. They are also talking very negatively about the project to their co-workers. How did these executives get there? What led them to that action? Take a step back. Most likely it all started with a thought. Maybe they feared learning the new software. Maybe they felt unappreciated for their work. That thought led to an emotion. A negative emotion towards the company and the initiative which led to the action. Now you are stuck. You don't know what to do, all you know is that this group better shape up or your implementation can ultimately fail. The solution is simple. People want to be listened to. Ask your staff in a safe environment, "What kind of thoughts are you thinking?" But most importantly this is a question that we should all be asking ourselves. Positive thoughts lead to positive emotions which lead to positive actions.
One of my favorite quotes that express this sentiment is from Buddha "All that we are is a result of what we have thought"
Express Your Emotions (Appropriately) And Be Transparent
This is the ability to express your feeling and emotional state appropriately to others. You need to accurately understand your own emotions and effectively communicate it to your coworkers and your peers. Sometimes we get so caught up in the negative and what we are missing. How many times have you started a thought with, "If only I had..." How about an alternative. Why not start your sentence with "I have...." This simple change can be powerful.
Understanding Others Emotions:
This is the ability to identify and understand the emotions of others- especially the ones that end up coming up in response to the workplace, staff meetings, and towards leaders of the organization.
The most important thing that you can do as a leader is to validate the feelings of an individual. This doesn't mean you have to agree with them. You are just validating their feelings. "Of course you feel angry given the situation you are faced with..." and let the conversation go from there. Remember, most people are more willing to listen to you speak if they feel they were listened to when they spoke. This might be hard, but just sit back and listen, without interrupting with your point of view or your thoughts.
You must appreciate individuals needs and recognize their individual talents and their weaknesses.
Emotional Decision Making
It's silly to set aside emotions completely from decision making. Some profound business decisions will be made by emotions. Of course there should be appropriate boundaries. A great book to read is "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell. It focuses on the power of trusting your instincts when making decisions in your personal and professional life.
This is the ability to manage both positive and negative emotions in your teams. Take into account effective stress management, positive attitude and reinforcement, direct communication, motivating others and coaching.
Manage Yourself In Teams
The thing that most people fear is how they are perceived by others. So take the fear out. Ask yourself, "How do I want to be perceived by others?" Being aware of this will make all the difference. Compare how you want to be perceived to the actions you are portraying.
This is what the speakers called "blowing up". You have to understand how destructive your power can be if not controlled. Set your limits.
In conclusion, no matter how great of a strategy or implementation a group of consultants come up with for your organization, it will not work unless you have a healthy business culture that fosters positive emotions. Evaluate your emotional competency and help others embrace theirs. Build Emotional Intelligent competancies to your management plans.