In today’s business climate, leaders are constantly thinking about two areas: new strategies to help propel growth and how to hire and retain the best people. What I’ve found as an HR professional is that there is one widely effective skill that can be a huge differentiator and set companies apart, and you might be surprised to learn it’s a soft skill: emotional intelligence.
As Daniel Goleman puts it, “Emotional intelligence is the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” This can be understood and strengthened by examining four core competencies:
While the first two competencies focus on emotions of the self, the latter two focus on emotions within a social capacity. A strong understanding of all four is required for navigating and succeeding in today’s workplace. When individuals are highly aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and of those around them, they can use that knowledge and skill to build strong relationships and teams.
Having a good understanding of your own emotions is a precursor to being able to influence the emotions and attitudes of others. Learn your strengths and how to use them to your advantage. Understand your blind spots and internal biases and learn how to change your behavior in these areas.
Understanding your emotions is only half the battle. Being able to regulate and control your emotions will allow you to stay flexible and adapt to an ever-evolving workplace. If you have strong self-management skills, you are less likely to react poorly. You’re able to avoid stereotyping and are more open and mindful. You understand your triggers and have built tools to navigate stressful situations when they arise.
When you’re socially aware, you are tuned in to the needs and attitudes of others. Empathy allows you to connect with employees and communicate effectively, tailoring your messages to the needs of the audience.
When you understand and connect with the emotions of others, your relationships flourish. You’ll have the skills and tools required to build effective teams and influence others. You’ll be trusted with managing conflicts and mentoring and coaching others. Individuals with strong relationship management skills inspire and lead others through challenging times.
In the Workplace
Leaders with emotional intelligence are tuned into their own emotions and understand their impact on others. When you recognize and are aware of how your words, actions and demeanor affects others, you can be deliberate in how you want to show up and influence or drive behavior. It’s also equally as important to relate to how your team is feeling and empathize with them. Doing so will build trust in your organization’s leadership abilities to take on risk and grow.
Having a team with high emotional intelligence can make the day-to-day a breeze. Communication and collaboration occur naturally, and instances of conflict and tension become rare. Team members have the internal tools and mental capacity to adapt to change and overcome obstacles. They’re also more likely to have strong service-orientation and have the confidence required to take the initiative on new projects.
Be Intentional and Don’t Sleep on It
Understanding the neuroscience of emotional intelligence can have a profound impact on human behavior in the workplace. Many are aware of the survival mechanism, fight-or-flight, and understand its importance in protecting humans from physical danger. Studies show our physiological reaction to stress in the workplace is similar. The amygdala takes control and releases hormones into the bloodstream, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, and as a result, many other bodily functions take a back seat during an “amygdala hijack” or “emotional hijack”.
When you have responded to a stimulus that upset or frustrated you, your brain is not operating under normal, stress-free conditions. This can happen from sitting in a meeting where someone constantly interrupts you, from an email criticizing your decisions, or from a colleague who points the blame at you when something goes wrong.
Studies suggest it can take four to six hours for your body to return to its normal state after an emotional hijack. If you’ve had a heated disagreement with someone, it can take 24 hours to recover. Consider the loss in productivity.
The good news is emotional intelligence competencies are learned behaviors and therefore, can be taught. Having a highly emotionally intelligent workforce can give you the edge needed to stand out in today’s hyper-competitive environment. Emotional Intelligence lays the foundation for principles that build strong cultures, boost employee morale and ultimately increase profitability and the bottom line.
This blog post courtesy of member:
HR Consultant and Kathryn Gombos, Senior Compensation Consultant
I’m a fan of Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. It is actually my standard gift for newly engaged couples and I've come to find it highly applicable to business settings as well. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it, as it will help you understand how important the expression of love is regardless of the relationship.
According to Chapman, we like to receive love in one of five formats: acts of service, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, and words of affirmation. Each one of us responds best to "our" type of love. I’ll be candid and share that my love languages are acts of service and physical touch. So, after a tough day managing a conference for one of our clients, a hug from my son makes all the difference for me.
But as we move through February, with its abundance of hearts, flowers, and candy reminding us of Valentine’s Day, I want to focus on this book through a more professional lens. Take a moment and consider the aforementioned love languages as a member of our Northern Virginia business community. More specifically, think of the people with whom you interact on a daily, monthly, or even quarterly basis. How can you professionally communicate with them using their love languages?
Perhaps your CFO’s love language is quality time. To improve your communications and strengthen your working relationship, you should check in with updates via regular phone calls or Skype meetings. She wants to hear from you even if there isn’t much to share. Traveling quarterly to meet with her in person would only strengthen this relationship.
Or perhaps your VP’s love language is receiving gifts. You want to be sure you recognize him with a thoughtful thank-you gift in a public venue. A gift card to a favorite restaurant may not cost much but could have long-term dividends. He may also emphasize performance gifts and thank-you gifts for team member achievements. Don’t fight it; if it’s important to him, it should be important to you.
Even during an intense strategic planning exercise, I see how identifying love languages would help. If the project leader’s love language is words of affirmation, then she’ll look for affirming words during the process. It will be important for her to hear from the rest of the team throughout the process affirming each step and decision. She won’t want to rush to a decision at the end without buy-in along the way. And she won’t want fake affirmations but true ones.
We’ve become accustomed to taking personality assessments such as the Myers-Briggs test to help us understand and better navigate our interactions with family, friends, and professional colleagues, but I hope you’ll consider love languages too. As we say “Happy Valentine’s Day,” take a moment to apply some of them at work — and at home, too.
This Member Blog Post courtesy of:
Amy B. Lotz, CAE
Senior Vice President & Chief of Staff, Association Solutions