Cultivating Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: A key to becoming SUPERHUMAIN™?
by - Alan Caugant, CEO SUPERHUMAIN™
“Don't show your emotions, be strong!” is what I, and many other children like me, often heard growing up.
But when I started out as a leader, I discovered that our emotions are essential in our lives: they enable us to flee in the face of danger, they make us happy when we get a promotion, and so on. The word ‘emotion’ comes from the Latin locution ex-movere‘to move out from’: emotions set us in motion and in relation. It is worth noting that this was mentioned by the World Economic Forum. According to forecasts, the top 10 skills required by organizations in 2020 are ‘coordinating with others, managing people – and emotional intelligence’. But what is emotional intelligence, and above all, how can it be developed in companies?
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence has been defined by American psychologists Peter Salovey and Jack Meyer as “the ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others accurately; the ability to use emotions to facilitate thinking; and the ability to understand emotions, emotional language, and the signals conveyed by emotions.”
In other words, it is possible to define and summarize the concept of emotional intelligence through four main angles, namely:
- Awareness of self : it allows one to perceive one's own emotions and, by extension, to understand and assimilate them;
- Empathy : like self-awareness, it helps one identify other people’s emotions, and consequentially helps one make decisions taking the former into account;
- Self-control : it helps one master and control one’s emotions once they have been understood;
- Interpersonal skills : they help one develop healthy and long-lasting relationships with others.
Every step of the way, you need to reflect on the situation and analyze your employees’ emotions from an open-minded and dialogue-oriented perspectiverather than an unconsidered, impulsive one.
Emotional Intelligence at the service of Human Management
A culture based on emotional intelligence must be implemented at every level of a given organization, starting with a strong commitment to follow and foster same from top management. Leaders are often insufficiently aware of their key role in creating an emotional culture, notably through leading by example: “do not underestimate the importance of setting an example on a daily basis”. Large and highly symbolic emotional gestures are effective only when aligned with everyday behavior. Behavioral patterns, especially of executives, are what shape the emotional culture of a company.
Lastly, it is important to link emotional culture to operations and processes in human and performance management systems.As part of our corporate coaching process, we integrate the culture of pleasure into the annual performance review; in other words, we assess the ability of each employee to include pleasure into his or her work environment, and we conduct a regular evaluation of whether the organization as a whole is, or not, supportive of this approach, such as being human, open-minded, welcoming, accessible, and positive.
I believe that organizations have an emotional pulse, and that managers need to attune themselves to it in order to motivate their teams and achieve their goals. Emotional culture stems from the daily behavior of all employees, at all levels.But it is the experienced leaders’ role to determine which emotions will help the organization thrive, to express their emotions, and to reward others for doing so too. The companies whose executives do this have a lot to gain.
Emotional intelligence is a vector of professional success and performance.This is why one speaks of emotional skills as the applications and abilities that an employee demonstrates in his or her work, depending on their initial EQ and job requirements. Studies show that those who display emotional intelligence, in its varying forms, tend to be more successful individually and more efficient in teams whose elements also demonstrate EQ qualities. They are particularly useful to companies in the ‘knowledge workers’ age whose employees mostly operate in teams, and whose excellence and performance are measured by the team’s collective IQ. The good news is, developing these managerial skills is now possible,provided the said emotional intelligence and correlated skills are acknowledged, approved, valued, and developed by a given company’s emotional culture. One might think that, as far as people are concerned, the more emotionally intelligent, the more collectively intelligent.
Indeed, just as emotional culture arises from combined individual and collective behavior, the latter also shapes the former. Not to mention that this whole process is first and foremost triggered by our individual relationship with our own emotions, our knowledge of them, and our self-awareness. And since emotional intelligence within the workplace is learned over time and emotional culture is partly dependent on internal behavior, how can neuroleadership coaching individually and collectively help to improve emotional awareness and control towards achieving higher performance levels?
As previously mentioned, the interactions between our emotions and rational thoughts stimulate the expression of human intelligence and fuel our inner life.
SUPERHUMAIN’s neuroleadership coaching sessions over the last few months have shown that this process is often triggered in the workplace by a dissatisfaction with the present, a sense of unhappiness and/or suffering.
Requests such as ‘developing leadership in the face of change’ and ‘learning to manage conflict’ often conceal emotional issues that the neuroleadership coach should welcome. Hence, our primary role as a coach is to identify our client’s emotions and to make him/her verbalize them through a questioning process: “When you say (...), how do you feel (...)? What do you feel (...)?”
Our goal is for our clients to evaluate the importance and intensity of their emotion(s) so that they become fully aware of them. Indeed, relief comes once the emotional tension has been expressed, and thus released. Such emotional relief is sought by the coach for it raises a form of awareness in the client. If the coaching leads to the construction of a profitable future as defined by the client, then it is important to explore the emotion contextually.
Once the emotion has been verbalized and the context clarified, the coach focuses on helping the client understand the thoughts and behaviors associated with it in order to understand the correlated causes, needs, values, and drivers.
From this point of view, working on one's emotions can lead to reassessing certain cognitive biases, to encouraging certain values and needs, to setting some limits, and to working on one's own parasitic thoughts. As mentioned previously, failure to fulfil an emotional, relational, intellectual, or spiritual need in the workplace can fuel energy-consuming emotions such as anger or sadness. Likewise, a corporate emotional culture that advocates values such as very high standards and performance without taking the human dimension into consideration can trigger fear in an individual.
As you can see, to grow and thrive your emotional intelligence needs to start with yourself. You cannot help others feel self-aware and fulfilled without first understanding how your own brain and emotions work. Of course, emotional intelligence has a positive impact on many work-related factors such as productivity, management, team cohesion, and happiness. Your employees will be inspired by your SUPERHUMAIN™ attitude and ability to express what truly matters to you. The requisite condition for a collective well-being is for everyone to feel respected as a person, individually.