Emotional Intelligence – Building the currency of trust in business
Knowing me knowing you, aha – Abba
‘There is nothing we can do.’ So went the lines of the Abba song. Cheesy? Genius? That is according to your taste, your perspective…
Here are some further lines to the song we ‘hear’ all the time in our work:
‘There is nothing we can do,
cuz we need to be right – or blue!
We won’t look at our part in the messy pile.
‘It’s not my fault’ – we say with pride.
‘They keep doing what they do and don’t try’.
Same old same old. They ain’t changin’, nor am I.’
Sound familiar? We all want to be right – often even if it makes us unhappy, or perpetuates a situation. “THEY” need to change, not I!
Actually, if we are involved in a situation, there is almost always plenty we and they could have done to make it better. We just choose not to.
Abba did get it right with ‘Knowing me, knowing you’. If you boil it down, this is the essence of emotional intelligence (EQ). Today, EQ is increasingly recognized as indispensable to relationship building everywhere in our lives. Modern business and organizational leadership and stewardship are increasingly aware of EQ as a core competency for sustainable success in our diverse and fast-paced world.
Most of us growing up in the western world develop a shaky relationship with our emotions. We’re praised for our intellect, humor, or sports capability; and judged on our academic achievements and exam results. Our emotions, on the other hand, were (and mostly still are) aspects of our growth that we simply did not learn how to identify, manage or use to our advantage. There’s no spreadsheet we can put emotions in to make them add up. No formula that renders a predictable result. Emotion can be joyous, for sure – and that is usually acceptable. Other emotions like anger, sadness, and shame can often be embarrassing, uncomfortable and confusing. No wonder, then, that some of us prefer to tune out our emotions or shut them down, occasionally being caught by surprise when we lose emotional control over a minor issue. Others live with their emotions closer to the surface, buffeted and tossed by them and unleashing their emotions haphazardly – and often painfully – on the world.
Here’s the irony. The challenge in business is that it is the emotional side of us that develops loyalty and commitment, that builds trust, that leads, inspires and creates connection. Emotional connection is what engages and is ‘engaged with’. EQ is a crucial factor (often THE crucial factor!) in individual and business performance. Yet we are told to simply leave emotion to chance, at home, or to sweep our feelings under the table.
Emotional denial might work when we first start off in business. After all, it is a time when we are focused on ourselves, on building and proving our technical competence and showing what we can do – and how we can blend in.
As we move upward in an organization, things change. It becomes our responsibility to lead and manage people and teams, who may themselves be managing people and teams. As we operate in this space, it is not our own delivery of tasks that is measured or important. We increasingly need to deliver performance and results through inspiring and engaging our people and teams. Our ability to relate and communicate with others, to get the best from them, to motivate in times of uncertainty and change, to influence, to facilitate collaboration, to master ourselves under the glare and pressure, these are what become increasingly important to our success. These deliver engagement – and business performance results. This means applying our EQ to understand and manage the emotional side of ourselves and others.
In my 35 years in business I have always trusted my emotions. I’ve always believed that by touching emotion you get the best people to work with you, the best clients to inspire you, the best partners and most devoted customers – Kevin Roberts, CEO Saatchi & Saatchi
When emotional intelligence and engagement don’t occur, the consequences are visible – and toxic. At ThirdLEVEL, we often see fracture and strain within senior teams, visible patterns of poor communication and interaction creating an environment where people do not trust each other, where perceptions have been formed about the negative motives and behaviors of others. Worse, those perceptions are treated as the truth…
…there is resistance and evasion, and while conversations about task, progress and actions are held, the important conversations, those that request and offer support, those that seek new and better ways, those that enable innovation under pressure, those that get the issues on the table and chart a joint way forward, those conversations are not held.
When was the last time you had a conversation about how you felt at work?
About how others were feeling?
About the effect of someone’s behavior on the morale of the team?
We watched as one company tried to bring together heads of countries to form a joined-up approach. They saw their dream undermined by the old guard, who didn’t want change, and shot in the foot by the new guard, who relied on statistics and spreadsheets to make their case. It was not working. It took months of EQ, facilitated interactions, and trust building through sharing much more openly and vulnerably, to turn the team from literally worst to first in performance.
Whether we like it or not, feelings and moods affect our attitudes, behaviors and interactions with others around us virtually all our waking hours. They impact our workplace behaviors, performance and results. Little wonder that Daniel Goleman’s book on Emotional Intelligence sold millions when it came out in the ‘90s – and is the best selling social science book in history. Little wonder that companies are realizing that Emotional Intelligence – understanding it, enhancing it and applying it – is key to building trust, the hard currency of business.
Click here to download our newest white paper on engagement, its profound impact on business performance, and the role of EQ in enhancing engagement in your business.
How do you feel about using your emotional intelligence at work? How much do you trust your feelings when making a decision?
How might you do things differently if you did? If you have, how did it affect your outcomes?