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.

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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.
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