How do you help organizations understand how to elevate the EQ of their teams?

I work for senior leaders. We build their skillset to manage these issues more fluidly. Junior leaders say “why doesn’t my boss get this?” The leaders need to model EQ. We can avoid so much stress and anger. Nobody can work well under these conditions. If you can equip senior leaders, they’re equipped to manage their teams, their workflow, and even virtual meetings. These can all go smoother and gain better results.

There is one exercise that brings this home;

I ask: “What person brought out your best in you? What did they do? What was that like?”

The client might answer: “They were thoughtful they listened and valued what I brought to the table and challenged me. “

“How does it feel to work with them?”

“ I felt empowered, I could try things, not worry about failing, push me further, they had my back.

Suddenly, when you have that conversation, you realize how much of that is their workplace now. If it is not happening now, we need to ask how to get more of this in the workplace. We need to start treating people differently.

What difference does it make when leaders develop emotional intelligence?

One example is a senior tech leader who runs an engineering group. He, very shortly after working on EQ, went into a meeting and was about to launch into a big ask of his group, and he stopped. He took a read of the room and noticed there was a lot of tension and anxiety in the room. And he decided to not run the meeting as planned. He said, “I sense there is a lot of anxiety in the room. Why don’t you just talk about what’s on your mind.” They had a ten minute clearing. People didn’t feel like he understood the implications of the decisions being made. Instead of asking, he was able to say, “O.k., we still need to do this, but let’s talk about how we can make it happen.” Suddenly they were involved. If he hadn’t stopped to see the emotional context in the room, he would have had a lot of resistance. But people felt heard, and they were a part of the solution.

Another area is in the area of empathy. So often we make assumptions and forget there are two people in the relationship. One worker was about to have a difficult conversation. He had a list of what he was going to tell his boss. We role- played the conversation, and played it from a place of curiosity and asking lots of questions. He got the other person’s entire perspective before launching into the things he was thinking. The conversation, when it happened, went far better than it would have had this person went in with a set agenda and monologue. It seems magic. We just aren’t trained to think that way. We’re trained to be so personally assertive, that we forget there is another way to do this.

Another big area where we get lots of feedback: Intrinsic motivation. People run out of steam. They’re frustrated. They have run into a wall. I work with them to reconnect with their strengths, their values, to who they are, and what they’re putting into the world, it’s amazing how much energy that provides. How can we make sure you are using your strength every day at work? They rediscover their reason for being there and start taking initiative again. They feel more empowered and refocused and able to go out and create change.

How and why did you get involved in emotional intelligence?

I had been working in marketing and communications in various companies, large and small, I had worked in a digital startup, so much variety in terms of types of companies. In almost every one they were going through a large transformation. One company went into bankruptcy protection and then did an IPO, another was completely rebranding, and yet another was changing its entire business model. In each case there was major change going on. Along the way I met people who were really solution oriented and ready for change, and then I ran into pockets of resistance to change, the challengers and with them, toxicity.

I was always interested in how organizations worked. While I was trying to have my second child, I decided to leave the corporate world and look for something really different. And because of my interest in leadership and change, I decided to become a certified coach in support of leadership, and there I was exposed to the science of emotional intelligence. I thought, there’s something really big in this because it is actualizing what people really care about. I contacted a number of EQ companies and came upon Six Seconds, and that was it.

I liked that it was a not for profit, and I knew they were about making a difference in the world and their whole focus on learning. There is so much information about what EQ is, but less about how to get good at it, how does one develop these skills, and Six Seconds has a real focus on that. Since then I have been working with senior leaders and teams. It’s helping people access more compassion in their work, helping them get better at change, leading change, and creating environments where people are excited about the work.

There have been times when as a leader I was stuck. The ability to deal with big emotions, and notice your own resistance would have served me well. I think that is another reason why I find this work so phenomenal. On a personal level it has reduced stress in my life, it has made things a lot easier, in terms of being able to handle things that create big emotions. Now I can tell myself “It’s going to be o.k. I can get through this.”

I really see the need for this at work. People are hungry for this.

The work of EQ is foundational. It elevates everything you do.

I teach in the context of a number of schools, Rotman Professional Education. People are on the edge of their seats. They are hungry for it, they know how this will help in their business lives and personal lives. I think it’s one of those things that is for everyone. People don’t understand just how broad EQ is. Often I find that people think EQ is about people not flying off the handle. They think of the reactivity/reaction piece. The big thing they are missing is the power of emotions to inspire and connect with others and build deeper relationships and trust. This is key to getting what you care about done, operating with integrity, with values, consistent with your outlook, you can change the ratio of emotions you are experiencing in any given day, bring more positivity in your life, without ignoring the value of other emotions we are experiencing

Is there a consistent theme you are noticing in your clients?

Innovation, creativity and growth: These are huge things. Businesses are taking on a lot. They have aggressive, ambitious goals. They are moving fast, driving for growth. With that backdrop, EQ becomes even more important. A lot are working virtually. Suddenly your ability to recognize and manage the emotions of work becomes even more important so you can have more productive meetings, more trusting relationships, you can avoid making people angry by accident.


What’s ahead/ What’s exciting?

I love working with “young, dynamic teams”. I love working with people who are passionate and want to make a lot of change happen, people who are committed to making environments where people really want to come to work. It doesn’t happen on its own, you need to plan for it.

One client said in a coaching session said “I never feel stuck. I know whenever I’m in a situation I have tools that can help me get to the other side. “ That is one of the wonderful things about the Six Seconds methodology; teaching them tools and skills, so they can manage through these things.

Learn more about Carolyn’s work on her Preferred Partner page.

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