Need for Emotional Intelligence (EI) in organizations
The term Organization itself embodies why modern executives must embrace EI as a core skill in their leadership repertoire!
An organization is a system of two or more people intentionally combining forces with the goal of realizing common outcomes. Anytime two or more things integrate, the element of diversity automatically emerges; employees have different backgrounds, income status, experiences, gender, knowledge, skill sets, job descriptions, cognition, personality, goals, beliefs, attitudes, mindset, education, lifestyles etc. So how does a leader successfully build unity of purpose and direction in people superseding all their differences? Technically, the solution lies in instilling a strong sense of shared value but at personal or human level, the best answer lies in Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Leadership is the executive function of influencing people to strive willingly in pursuing common goals. A true leader seeks to forge a functional relation between an individual and a group around some common interest. This is not an easy task because it demands for one to continuously engage people who by natural design wear emotions on their sleeves. The only time emotions don’t play a role in a person is during sleep! Emotions influence the type of behavior and attitude people generate towards a specific task assigned thus greatly impacting their productivity, performance, effectiveness and efficiency. A leader’s ability to identify, measure, understand and manipulate emotions is a fundamental key to unlocking and maximizing organizational potential.
What are emotions?
In essence, they are strong feelings derived from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships. They are manifested internally as instincts or intuition and expressed outwardly as actions. An emotion is a conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity releasing a degree of pleasure or displeasure in a person. Similarity in human beings is that we all manifest five core emotions: Happiness, sadness, anger, fear and shame; our difference lies in their degree of expression. Type of emotional conditioning a person has experienced over a long period of time eventually transforms into a cognitive program called a mindset. A mindset is the settled way of thinking about something embodied in a person forming who they are or become and why the do what they do. To a leader, a mindset is the underlying mental blueprint already established from an employee’s past governing each and every action, behavior or attitude displayed at present.
Leadership is not just about dealing with physical people; it is a continuous emotional battle against hardened mental predispositions of employees precipitated over years of continued programming from multiple child to adulthood experiences. Application of intelligence in managing employee emotions by a today’s leaders is not optional; it is the only way to successfully handle innate cognitive habits of the worforce.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?
EI is the X factor differentiating success among people in their daily pursuit of life. It is the reason why 3% of population controls 97% of total world’s wealth; it is the cause why people who are supposedly brilliant and well educated struggle while others with fewer competencies thrive. By definition, it is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in oneself and others, and use that awareness to manage inner self behavior and build positive external relationships. EI is the ability to first learn how to manage yourself internally before trying to influence or control the behavior of others externally.
Traditionally, organizations relied upon IQ (academic abilities) as the core yardstick for measuring workplace success. In recent times, research has proven that performance and productivity has a direct correlation to a person’s EI competency especially as one climbs up the corporate ladder. People with diminished ability to perceive, evaluate, control and positively express emotions rarely lead others effectively.
How does Emotional Intelligence (EI) form?
In a human mind, their is always a continuous battle between “Feelings/Emotions” and “Logic/Reasoning”. The battle occurs when two brains collide i.e. the “Limbic System”i.e. feeling brain and “Neocortex” i.e. reasoning brain. Biologically, human beings are wired to first “feel” before “reasoning”. The type of EI competence in a person solely depends on which brain is usually dominant in propelling action against every trigger propagated by the external environment. EI is the seesaw battle between feeling and reasoning in trying to control behavior.
By observing a leaders reaction to external triggers one can easily tell their EI competency level. Impulsiveness and erratic behavior symbolizes low EI i.e. the limbic brain is dominant while a calm and laid back demeanor in moments of discomfort evidences application of reasoning in influencing behavior i.e. the neocortex pacifies the limbic brain demands.
Qualities of High and Low EI in leaders
High Emotional Intelligence
High level of: Self awareness (Know their strengths and weaknesses), high degree of mindfulness (ability to recognize one’s emotions and mental predisposition as it forms), empathy (putting yourself in someone else’s shoes before acting), natural charisma and charm, mental balance (slow to act), focus and concentration, cognition (collecting, processing and acting on information received), visionary (don’t dwell on the past i.e. they learn fast and move on), positive thinkers, objective (set boundaries in executing daily tasks), self disciplined (not influenced by mood but goals), open mindedness, articulate and confident, self motivated, active listeners, transparent (not vindictive), supportive (mentoring and coaching others), social etiquette (get along with others effortlessly), influence (leading by example), positive non verbal communication skill, logic, optimism, resilience, etc.
Low Emotional Intelligence
Inability to: Control personal emotions, personal feelings, maintain friendships or good relationship with others, cope with negative situations, be sympathetic, listen or reason with others, not fight or constantly argue with others, have empathy, be sensitive, accept fault i,e, constantly blaming others, manage stress and anger, make decisions or be assertive, reason first before making conclusions, let go of mistakes, not hold grudge, not get offended easily, manage conflicts, understand the impact of your actions on others, take responsibility, make decisions, be flexible, not feel intimidated i.e. secure, not victimize others, connect socially etc.
Levels of Emotional Intelligence
EI starts with “You”, then transforms into “We” before settling down as “Us”. Emotional Intelligence is developed first at personal level and if successful, is then transferred to group level before being institutionalized across the organization. The process highlights that a leader must first build EI competency within self before expecting the team or organization to embody it cumulatively.
Building an emotionally intelligent organization is one of the greatest intellectual assets a company can leverage on. Having people who are emotionally competent is in itself a great source of sustainable competitive advantage.
Chose to become the modern leader who consciously makes a positive difference in your organization by mastering and institutionalizing this powerful skill.