Crossing the Gap: From Science to Practice

eq-implement-gapSurveying almost 1000 leaders and team members, we found that emotional intelligence is rated at 90% in importance… yet only 52% on implementation (Workplace Issues Report). 

Only 22.8% of respondents said that emotional intelligence is an organizational priority.  Yet these few organizations with high ratings on emotional intelligence also earn a 32% advantage on scores for leadership effectiveness.

In other words, awareness of emotional intelligence is high, and while many perceive the value, it’s under-utilized at an organizational level.


At the NexusEQ Conference (Harvard Medical School Conference Center, June 24-26 2013), we heard about 50 different cases presented showing that the science and practice of emotional intelligence isn’t just “nice to have.” We’re talking about a validated, practical skillset that is transforming lives, businesses, and institutions. 

I recently wrote that now, in the third decade of emotional intelligence, the challenge is application.  The concept is clear.  The value is established.  Now:  How do we actually use it?

What does it look like to create organizational value (in business as well as in education and government organizations)?

What is the “missing link” to move emotional intelligence from a “nice” to a “need to have”?


Creating Organizational Value

Recently, a member of our network said that while it’s now easy to talk about emotional intelligence at an individual level, the challenge is linking to a financial motivation:  “How do we actually create bottom-line value from emotional intelligence?”

Maybe it’s worth going back to those 22.8%:  They said their organizations are committed for 3 primary reasons: 

  1. Alignment. 
  2. Climate. 
  3. Relationships. 

Here’s why these matter:

rowing-crew-team1. These skills create alignment between people, departments, roles. 

A focus on emotional intelligence brings people together. 

  • As we saw in the US Navy Case, EQ training helps people bring others on board.
  • At NexusEQ in June, Ed Woodd presented the case of his charter school fully integrating EQ to build a shared vocabulary with students, families, teachers, and board.
  • The Sheraton Case showed that this kind of alignment of people also impacts market share.

2. Emotional intelligence improves climate. 

Leaders who are “smarter with feelings” use that insight and skill to build better workplaces.

  • In the Amadori Case, it’s a massive factor in building a healthy, high performing workplace.  In that case, 78% of the variation in employee engagement is predicated by manager EQ.
  • At NexusEQ, Ray Phoon & Jon Low presented the case of using emotional intelligence to improve team and organizational climate in sales organization showing that EQ is highly predictive of sales performance.
  • As Barbara Fatum wrote last week in her article about neuroscience and social-emotional learning, the skills of emotional intelligence improve classroom and school climate as well.

3. Increasing emotional intelligence improves relationships. 

Emotions serve as a barometer of the health of interpersonal connections; people who can read and manage this dynamic build stronger relationships.

  • At Harvard in June, we heard about the FedEx case showing how emotional intelligence drives “people-first” leadership to create strong teams.
  • We also heard the Sanofi case, detailing how EI skills improve customer relationships to increase revenue by millions of dollars a year.
  •  The Shell Case shows that the skills of emotional intelligence create an enduring ability to strengthen teams.

The bottom line is that these skills allow people to connect.


From Nice to Need

Recently I was speaking with Carolyn Meacher, a principal at one of Six Seconds’ Preferred Partner consulting firms.  Using her expertise in the intersection of design thinking and emotional intelligence, Carolyn helped me create a page for our website on the Models and Methods we use for implementing organizational change.

lead-changeCarolyn helped me see that from a design perspective, at Six Seconds our effectiveness comes not just from people, not just from tools, but from a robust methodology that allows these elements to work effectively.  Of course we need high EQ people to spread these skills.  Of course we need great tools to measure what matters — but these won’t create real, scalable value unless we also have a solid, effective process to put them into action.

The point is, it’s not enough to know what emotional intelligence means (though we better).  It’s not enough to know our individual EQ strengths and weakness (though this certainly helps).

We need a process. A framework.  A systematic process for moving from awareness to action.  This is why we developed the Change MAP (INSIDE Change).  The Change MAP provides this kind of robust system, but more importantly, as change agents we need to understand how to apply this kind of methodology.  In the book, it’s good.  But to put it into action takes more.

This is we are focused on implementation.  As people committed to co-creating a more emotionally intelligent world, we need to understand what actually WORKS.  The NexusEQ Conference was so powerful because people from around the world, from many sectors, using many different assessments and models, and came together to create the next stage of this bridge from science to practice.

About the author - Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.

View more posts from Joshua Freedman

Comments for this article (9)

  • I’m not surprised by the gap between what leaders “say” they value and what actions they take. My experience tells me that what is needed is more left brain data to support why EQ matters and how it DOES impact the bottom line. Profits over people still prevail.

  • Great article Joshua,
    The gap between science and practice in my personal opinion is because the organisation has not analysed the impact of EQ correctly, or invested in developing a practical approach to EQ. A lot of very large organisations still see this as a tick box exercise rather than a developmental change.

  • Dear Joshua,
    As you asked me to anwser on this mailing I am very willing to do so.

    I am just back from teaching Emotional Intelligence to adult people in Greece. With fine results.
    Those adults are direct examples of people that are hundred percent motivated to practicaly experience about this way of ‘Learning by doing’. I feel sorry to not have been able to follow the recent internet webinars.

    There is a point Joshua to think about your question in my opinion:

    The understanding is there in many people if you or I explain the idea and the principles that it will have an efficient result if they step into ‘the learning by doing’ 6Seconds themselves in their organization.

    But I think / experienced there is the threshold in many adults yet that they come to their fear / shame of meeting themselves, espacially in a group connective way in workshop / seminar setting.
    Because it will show the emotional sides of people to eachother.

    For instance in my groups with male and female participants the females are more at ease with expressing and dealing with emotions compared to males in the same group.
    When I speak about my erxperiences with this issue with professional collegues they see more or less the same phenomenon in their groups.
    In only male-groups or only female groups goes much easier, is my experince.

    Nowherdays there are more and more people that accept Psychotherapy in a one to one setting with a therapist. That feels more safe to share emotions. There is only one person to trust. Not 14 or 21 in a work setting..
    Only people who have obstructive dificulties in life in psychological ways it can be different, Finally they could be advised to follow a grouptherapy with males and females in the group. But EI / 6Seconds is not advertised as a therapy.

    The way I see this is that in a business organization the members don’t feel safe enough. They might feel it as a therapy situation. The will not tell this so easely. There they will enter the unsafe area!
    Only when the boss puts them in an obligation as a team-building issue, then maybe there will happen some groupsessions with a positive result. Maybe somtimes better without the boss participating.

    One example:
    When I propose a whole team of teachers of a primary school to offer a groupsession, It often doesn’t work if the boss doesn’t implement this session on a clear way to all teachers.
    Mostly only one teacher that I know personaly, who has this conciousness will organize the session in her own class with children.
    But still then mostly this teacher will be with me in the classroom while I teach the chidren.
    These chidren will all experince it as drinking a cup of fresh water. But the teacher mostly only looks around to the children without having any own experince. Only rarely a teacher works him or herself.
    In the movie on YouTube ‘The Timeless Hour’ you can see one exemple that the teacher is sitting there on the floor like all children and do the exercise as his children do also. That is rare in my professional career.

    This is why I changed the target of my method / workbook ‘The Timeless Hour’ from adult teaching in groups to children education (schoolclasse) and healthcare (therapies).

    The conciousness is not yet that far in spite of 3 decates of offering EI or/and SEI.

    Extra info: Sometimes I succeed to offer then a group session without the need to pay me.
    That sometimes covers the bridge to practicaly start ‘learning by doing EQ/EI inner experiences.
    It can be sometimes at least a way to create new experiences for people.

    Try to reach schools and privat groups of parents with children aswell to implement EI / 6Seconds.
    I don’t mean to not approach business organizations. Just keep the courage to reach them but start schoolprogramms with children. Maybe offer them (the team) one experince without paying and in the contract that if they are positive afterwards the school will still pay this session or/and make a followup with maybe three or 6 more sessions with the team and later with the children. The stepping stone theory isn’t it.
    I hope to at least contribute to the amazing idea of 6Seconds from my experiences.

    Michiel Czn. Dhont from Amsterdam – Holland / Europe.
    author, visual artist / tutor and musician in jazz & improvised music.


    I was also not aware of EI until i came across it in one of my training ‘Supportive Interventions for children problems in schools.’ Since then, i had been advocating it. I also happened to read posts of 6 seconds by Joshua. I read about it and found to be useful in upgrading self. The fact is no one knows about EI in schools/ organisations. Awareness about it is req. I came across Self Science chapter and realized its significance. your posts are valuable.

  • Any knowledge becomes valuable when it is applicable, alive and when it is brought into action. Same as with EQ/EI; When emotional intelligence comes into action the great value is added into it. People actually start experiencing the fruits in their daily lives.

    I met with a person who wants to pursue her career as a remedial educator, initially she was having a very vague idea about it, but when I gave her SEI Adult and also a combination of sessions on vision coaching and SEI coaching, She actually could speak, draw, express her thoughts on it with tremendous clarity and she said she wants to do it with touching the life of every child. I was actually amazed.

    The other person who wanted to complete her career in finance, after working with emotional intelligence with consequential thinking; which is one of the important skills, she chose to complete and taken a hard step actually to complete her education in accounts as a C.A. and then she will be having a post grad degree in finance. which has a lot more value in the world. Moreover that, I just really had a pleasant surprise when she said, she wants to work with happiness and positivity.

    The person who wanted to diversify from denstitry because she said it’s not her passion actually; after SEI and Vision coaching program she found that she can still go with it and she can also continue with her own passion in dancing.

    Being an educator, researcher and consultant I found Emotioanl Intelligence has a very close and deep relation with life.

    The other person he said, he first wants to become a good person that’s it, and then he will pursue in Medicals.

    The point is having emotinal intelligence and applying emotional intelligence is the way of life. And that adds a lot of value in our life and with us in other’s lives as well. It transforms us, changes us, connects us, and that leads success. Not just success but prosporous success. With grand linkage to many fields, many people and many diverse ways to become prosprous with Head+Heart+Hands together. Which is also a core topic of Nexus Conference. Thank you 6seconds for this Way Of Life. :)

  • Peggy says:

    If we could get institutions to begin to teach and accept emotional intelligence everyone would benefit. So many good people want to help but the pathway to doing it is limited unless it is thru a financial donation. We really have to try to get people on the right path in other ways.

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