By enhancing the Emotional Intelligence (EI) of its employees, an organization can successfully leverage two key trends identified in Patricia Aburdene's Megatrends 2010: "The Wave of Conscious Solutions" and "Spirituality in Business." As we enter this new era welcoming the widespread application of conscious techniques in business, ensure that your organization is an early adopter, reaping the benefits over your competitors who lag behind bogged down with traditional business beliefs.
Emotional Intelligence, a conscious solution to knee-jerk reactionary emotional habits, is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge from your emotions and the emotions of others. The information about what you're feeling helps you make effective decisions about what to say or do (or not say or do). It enables you to use your emotions to help you make better choices in-the-moment and have more effective control over yourself and your impact on others.
The concept of Emotional Intelligence is based on brain research showing that these skills are different from technical and purely cognitive abilities because they involve a different part of the brain - the emotional center, the limbic system, rather than the neocortex. Emotional Intelligence is comprised of five basic competencies. The first is knowing what you're feeling. The second is managing your feelings, especially distressing feelings. The third is self-motivation, the fourth is empathy, and the fifth is managing relationships. (1)
The Business Case
Emotional Intelligence abilities have been shown to be critical to individual and organizational success. (2,3) Research on Emotional Intelligence has revealed that the effects are profound, impacting a multitude of business/people issues, including increased creativity and innovation, increased productivity, improved decision-making, and increased profits. The business case for developing emotional intelligence becomes clear when we recognize that the emotions leaders, employees, and customers feel impact decision-making, mental clarity, and the bottom line of companies and the effectiveness of government and non-profit organizations.
The emotions that leaders experience impact the climate and culture of an organization as a whole. More specifically, leaders' emotions impact what employees feel, how satisfied they are, how loyal they are, and how productive and efficient they are. In turn, how employees feel and perform their work impact how customers feel, how satisfied they are with both products and services, and ultimately how loyal a customer is to the company or organization. And how loyal customers are has a direct impact on the bottom line and profitability of an organization.
Notice that the foundation element in this set of relationships is leadership. Leaders are not just the CEO or Executive Vice President or Director. The in-charge person in every work team, every manager, and every individual in the organization is a leader. Self-leadership is one of the most important factors we focus on in skill development. Self-leadership is the internal ability to lead yourself to make the best choices and decisions moment-to-moment throughout the day, whether at work or at home.
Negative Impact on Business
Examining the impact of unmanaged emotional reactions and lack of emotional intelligence skills reveals the significant, negative impact on business. Unmanaged emotional reactions or lack of emotional intelligence skills by executives and employees at all levels can lead to...
* lack of innovation and creativity
* unsuccessful reengineering and process improvement initiatives
* slow development of high potential talent
* decreased productivity
* decreased customer satisfaction and customer loyalty
* career derailment
* high turnover
* stalled change initiatives
* declines in revenue
* increases in stress and healthcare costs
* negative organizational climate/culture
* workplace violence
Developing Emotional Intelligence Skills
The good news is Emotional Intelligence skills can be learned. However, there is a caveat: when we apply the typical training approach targeted for enhancing analytical or technical skills, we are doomed to fail. Conventional programs do not include the factors by which the limbic system (emotional center of the brain) learns best: motivation, extended practice, and feedback. Developing emotional intelligence skills requires that individuals eliminate old behaviors and embrace new ones. And this requires practice and self-reflection on the impact of using the new skills.
1. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, 1995
2. Daniel Goleman, "What Makes A Leader?" HBR, 1998.
3. Goleman, et. al., Primal Leadership, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2002.
About the Author
Tailoring the art and science of emotional intelligence skill-building to your needs, Byron Stock offers high-energy, emotional intelligence training, speaking, coaching and testing programs that focus on results. Visit his site to download a free excerpt of his book.