When emotional intelligence is mentioned, there may be agreement that it’s indeed a great thing for someone to be more relatable, more self- aware and better at controlling impulsive behavior.
But does the emotional intelligence of a team really have bottom-line consequences?
While a strong consensus may not have existed before, that is changing as more companies recognize the value of EQ. Many organizations are now hiring for emotional intelligence (EQ) and evidence is mounting that EQ pays off in higher sales and productivity, and lower turnover.
Consider, for example:
“Emotional intelligence really is the secret sauce,” says James A. Runde, author of “Unequaled: Tips for Building a Successful Career Through Emotional Intelligence,” and a special advisor and a former Vice-Chairman of Morgan Stanley.
Runde says that too many employees don’t realize that “brains and hard work are not enough” to give them a successful career, and too many leaders don’t understand how the lack of team EQ skills hurt performance for the team and for the organization.
“In the era of artificial intelligence and virtual reality and robots and drones – all those things are wonderful and productive, but for people trying to succeed in a solutions business, you’ve got to have people who can relate to other people,” he says.
According to psychologist Daniel Goldman, there are five elements that define EQ:
Marian Ruderman, senior fellow and director of Research Horizons at the Center for Creative Leadership, is also an associate member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence.
“You may have the smartest, best idea, but you won’t be able to execute it if you can’t relate to people,” she says.
Ruderman says that she doesn’t believe leaders pay enough attention to EQ on their teams, partly because they may lack the “vocabulary” to discuss EQ and its implications. She says that as more organizations focus on processes and not just tasks, EQ will become a much more important part of the success equation.
“I think people used to be more homogenous in the way they worked, but now we must all work together and it’s much more diverse and we must all find ways of working together,” she says. “That means teams must embrace EQ.”
It’s also important to realize that just because a team has emotionally intelligent members does not mean it will automatically lead to an emotionally intelligent group, points out research in Harvard Business Review from Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff.
Further, building team EQ can be more complicated because teams interact at more levels, both as a group and individually, they say.
The most effective teams have the “emotional capacity” to face difficult situations and seek feedback on processes, progress and performance and set up norms to respond effectively to the emotional challenges a group confronts daily. They have a “can-do attitude,” they say, and are optimistic, positive and create an affirmative environment.
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Ruderman suggests that any leader trying to get teams to develop greater EQ is to begin with “why it’s important.”
One of the ways to do that is by making the business case of how EQ can bring greater bottom-line results now and in the future, Runde says.
“People might think that books on EQ belong in the psychology section of a bookstore, but they really belong in the business section,” Runde says.
He adds that if organizations don’t prioritize EQ, “then you will be just a run-of-the-mill service provider,” he says. “Sure you’ll get business, but you’ll never become a trusted advisor. You’ll never be the company a client calls before they call anyone else.”
Runde says leaders must help team members understand they have to: