In the recent VITALITY REPORT we learned one of the top issues blocking organizational performance is that people & process is not aligned with the strategy. How can emotional intelligence help clarify vision and get people on the same page?

How does the science and practice of emotional intelligence address this challenge? The video and transcript are below, here are several KEY POINTS:

Edited Transcript: Using Emotional Intelligence to Increase Alignment & Vision

Joshua Freedman: Welcome everyone to our third webinar with panelists from the World EQ summit and we’re delighted to have you here. Jayne, what are we talking about?

Jayne Morrison: We are going to discuss one of the issues that was raised in the vitality report in 2017 and that’s about vision and alignment. This appears to be really challenging in organizations. I’d like us to pause for a moment and just ask the panelists to introduce themselves and, in one sentence, say: What is challenging in this area of vision and aligning people towards the vision?

John Dare: I think the biggest issue is that organizations are often ill equipped. They are running so fast trying to manage the speed of change that’s happening inside their businesses. People do not have the skillset to navigate this change, they don’t have processes in place to align the organization on a continuous basis, there is no alignment of purpose most, but not all, but most of them do not have a clear purpose in the organization.

Joshua: Liana introduce yourself and tell us, what’s challenging about this?

Liana Bagworth: Sure. Good evening! I’m Liana, from Dynamic Learning in Dubai. In addition to everything that John said, one thing that really strikes me is a lack of clarity around values. People’s personal values as well as the organization’s values. That’s one of the things I find the most challenging as to why their purpose and alignment don’t mix, it’s the lack of understanding of values.

Joshua: One of the things that I see a lot of clients struggling with: there is vision, but somehow that vision isn’t translating to people.

Liana: Josh, there’s two things that come to mind for me when I hear you. One is the lack of connection – connections on lots of different levels. Number one, their inability to connect with what this vision really means and again that ties back to values as well. What do those individuals value in the organization? If they’re not similar or aligned the vision will sound like a joke.

Second thing that came to mind is an expression that I like to use, everything comes to life through language . What I experience across the board, not just with clients but in everyday life, is we often assume that people understand what we’re actually saying. We use expressions, we use words, and we think that’s understood. Certainly here in the Middle East it can be challenge as its so multinational here.

John: I’m from the US and I live in Australia and I say: we’re separated by a common language. What I’ve seen, especially larger organizations, is that the core of the organization (especially if the founder is still there) is they are always very clear about what the purpose of the organization is. They’re typically passionate about it. But the further you go out of the organization the further the gap becomes because you’ve got people that are hiring people that are hiring people.

Then the communications component. A lot of times a CEO will feel like, “Well, I did the company meeting and I told them this,” and they think they’ve checked the box but the truth is that communication isn’t one way. Communication actually needs to be thought of more like a strategy.


What happens when you align passion and purpose?

Joshua: A quote from Bill George, somebody who has an incredible depth of insight. Talking about power and what happens when people’s passion, which is that personal power and purpose, are in sync with each other:


Joshua: In this state of alignment we are in flow. We’re bringing more to the table than we can at other times. There’s something here about unleashing people’s energy. Somehow vision isn’t just about purpose, isn’t just about what we’re trying to accomplish, but there’s something that unlocks something deeper in people. Liana you want to add to that?

Liana: When I have been personally aligned with a vision and purpose it certainly ignites my passion. It also allows me to take risks and feel comfortable with taking those risks. It allows me to express and use my emotional literacy and really use a whole range of all those emotions that being in that situation invokes, because it’s not just about how great it feels, it’s also about the, “Okay, because it feels this great, what else can we try? What other limits can we push?”

I know for me it helps me to investigate criticism, and other darker spaces that normally maybe I wouldn’t. Sometimes it’s not entirely comfortable going to those places, but it’s easier to do when you have that psychological safety of feeling aligned and empowered.

John: When we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — belonging is really core. When you’re aligned with an organization, when the shared purpose aligns to your purpose, it unleashes unbelievable power, engagement and therefore productivity and passion. To me, that’s the secret sauce. That’s the key. We’re social animals, we need to belong, it unlocks intrinsic motivation.


Why is the engagement in organizations so low?

Joshua: We need to belong to something worthwhile. Unfortunately, in the 2017 organizational vitality research, we found that less than a third of people in this survey were engaged. This is senior leaders, middle managers, frontline employees, over a dozen different industrial sectors in 95 countries. What does that mean to each of you? 

John: Unfortunately, I see this is typical. I’ve been working in this space for a lot of years now. This is very typical and it’s why I’ve got a job. It is always about the same things.

We’re going through an evolution where command and control authority-based leadership is shifting to authentic leadership or collaborative leadership. We’re seeing more of a hybrid structure that’s much more collaborative. It’s going to be a painful journey because many of the people that are currently leading are baby boomers. They grew up in a command-and-control-through-authoritative-leadership environment. Especially when things get tough, people go to what they know under stress, and what they know is and old, and not very effective, use of power.

Jayne: Well, it’s quite scary when you think about it. It means there’s 67% who aren’t engaged. And that’s just from the people who did respond, but, what about the people who don’t respond? They just do not care at all. Here in the Middle East and Africa, the stats are worse. The Engagement Index there was 9%. What on earth is happening for people in these situations?

The question to ask is, “What if we just double that?” What impact would it have on those economies? It would be phenomenal.

Liana: It is what I’m seeing in the world. We were talking about this before we started this panel. So many people are disenfranchised, unhappy, disgruntled, lost, disconnected. What do we need to change? 

That speaks to what John said about the traditional generations prior. The hope and the future is that as the next generation are going to grow up in a more emotionally intelligent world. “Where we express” “where we communicate” “where we work on connection in different ways.” 

This can change. It can also change with simple things organizations can do.

What this speaks to is the lack of activation of will versus skill. You can have tremendously skilled people sitting in that organization and you’ll never know it if they don’t have the will. If their will is inactivated, if they’re not feeling connected to that organization through their values, through understanding the purpose etc., they aren’t fully participating. 

Joshua: I look at the economic cost of this and I also think about the human cost of this. Liana, you started to talk about it: how does that feel to go to work every day and loathe your job and feel it’s meaningless

The value chain: organizational climate is driving engagement which is driving performance.

What we found in this study is that there was a huge percentage of organizations where the organizational climate is toxic, and people do not feel safe, they do not want to be there, they do not feel trust, they do not feel belonging, they do not have a sense of meaning.

On good days, they’re just putting in the time. That’s a betrayal. It’s not just the leader responsibility, it’s not just the CEO’s or board’s responsibility, it’s a shared responsibility. But collectively in those organizations, we are betraying the purpose of the organization and we are betraying the employees in that organization.

I think in our society right now we have tremendous levels of disconnection and it’s going to make this harder and harder to create organizations where people actually want to come and belong and connect and do meaningful work. Leadership is going to be harder in an environment that’s increasingly hostile.

Liana: As I’m listening to you Josh, I’m thinking that in the UAE, maybe all of the Middle East, 70% of the population is under 30. Think about that, right? How do we ensure we don’t create the next generation to be disconnected, to feel isolated, to feel that they don’t belong? In this region, 70% of this entire population is in this next generation coming up. 

John: There is a tremendous opportunity.

Liana: There is a huge opportunity, a pivotal moment to help people connect with understanding how vision and purpose and connection are important; that purpose brings meaning, and connecting with meaning brings safety and wellbeing. Employees should demand that their organizations act with purpose, and employees likewise should be active in creating these workplaces.

It’s going to take a different way of communicating and communicating about different things, not just communicating in different ways but communicating about different things: about the fact that how people feel when they come to work is important, as how they feel will determine how they behave. In turn, their behaviour helps determine the environment they help create. 

Josh: Let’s come back to the survey data about our vision. This is one of the outputs from one of our semantic analysis tools and you can see this blue cluster is the cluster that we’ve identified as the topic of this webinar:

You can see the word lack is the biggest, and then vision and resource, goal, direction, accountability, decisions, focus, motivation. What’s going on in this picture?

What are you seeing in this picture about the challenge of vision and alignment?

John: If you think about larger, publicly traded organizations — they have to answer to the shareholder, and so they focus on creating shareholder value. Upper management are hired on that basis and they are judged on their ability to increase the bottom line. Good leaders, authentic leaders, are able to take hold of that and attach the organization to a purpose, and align the organization with that purpose and manage that side.

Yet the management and survey after survey is showing that the technical and financial results strategy is not getting them where they want to go. That’s why this movement is starting to happen now. 

Liana: The thing that smacked me right in the face was that word: lack. We’ve talked a lot already about what is lacking. If we could flip that around — if we could meet some of those needs that are lacking, what would that look like? I think those other bubbles would start shifting.


Emotions drive people and people drive performance

John: At the end of the day, purpose engages people and performance goes up . Therefore, the economic shift, and leadership, and the shareholders win. Everybody can win but it’s about showing them and validating that this is the path to the future.

Jayne: It’s not surprising based on what John and Liana are saying that people at work are feeling this huge sense of frustration. This is a visualization of our data:

You can see that frustration is big. It’s more than twice as big as the other words that were identified. The second one was anxiety. How do feelings such as frustration, anxiety, anger, fear, and stress, and a bit of excitement and happiness — how do they impact vision and alignment, that commitment and that feeling of purpose?

Liana: I look at frustration and anxiety, and I look at stress… this is occurring everywhere in society. It’s occurring in schools, it’s occurring in churches, in community institutions, in families. I wonder:

As we know, we’re not different emotionally or personality when we’re at home versus when we’re at work. If we step into the workplace with a certain amount of frustration and anxiety anyway, that’s not necessarily a bonus for organizations. Then what’s the multiplying factor? Is it really the things that the organization does and doesn’t do? Or is it people’s lack of ability to manage themselves emotionally? It becomes an interesting chicken and egg situation.

Joshua: It goes back to what I said earlier about the context that we’re in. Organizations are not operating in a vacuum and I think a lot of leaders forget that. Go way back in time to Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis: we’ve got this vision, we have the strategy, we’re trying to move things in this direction… but there are other forces. Some of them are market forces but some of them are societal forces.

Liana: I agree.

Joshua: I think if you have people coming into work and you have customers coming into your business with this context that surrounds you, that’s what so much frustration and pain, so much disconnection. Stress has gone up 25% in the last 30 years. Isolation is increasing, loneliness is increasing. We’re seeing it in the headlines every day. We talked about this before we started the recording that it’s just this onslaught. That’s the environment that people are in. If you say, “Okay, let’s just leave that out of the workplace and we’ll just do our work,” you are lying to yourself.

Liana: Joshua to that point, and to answer Jayne’s question, when I think about that much frustration and its impact on vision and alignment, if I’m not equipped with emotional intelligence skills and I’m totally frustrated, why would I want to be aligned? Why would I want to be trying everything I can to show up fully and engaged? If I don’t understand what my intrinsic motivation is and where it’s coming from, if I don’t know how to exercise some empathy with myself and with others to seek, to find out why certain things are happening the way they are that are frustrating me, I have no ability to reach alignment.

This frustration, if it’s that big, it’s going to require a lot of emotionally intelligent people.

Jayne: That goes back to connecting with vision and having leaders who are able to articulate the vision clearly and to execute the vision. Because:

John: There’s real challenges around this. I think it’s absolutely true that you’ve got to look at the whole person’s life as they come into the organization. Whether it’s right or wrong, a lot of responsibility does fall on the organization to do something about it because they have to motivate people to actually do work. They want people to actually enjoy what they do because it’s better for everybody including the shareholders.


Make time for the people stuff

Joshua: I’m just thinking about all of these organizational leaders I’ve met over the years who said, “I don’t have time for all the people stuff.” What do we do about that? It just seems like there is a redefinition that’s needed.

Jayne: Absolutely. It’s also about understanding your own direction purpose and essence. Once you have that you start working on managing this frustration. It aligns a little bit with my thinking and that the organizations have a responsibility but as an individual, I also have a responsibility.

The organization sets the context, but as an individual, I need to take responsibility for managing my emotions . I have to stand up and be counted.

I have a daughter who’s in a very frustrating work environment and I’m constantly coaching her through WhatsApp as I was when she came off a 12-hour shift tonight and saying to her, “You’ve got to stand up and you’ve got to manage that frustration. You cannot just lie down and say it’s their fault and then blame the organization.”

Joshua: There is a reciprocity, we have choice as individuals, we have choice as individual contributors, we have choices as managers. I think that part of what’s happening here is that organization leaders are underestimating this problem. I think organization leaders are still thinking it’s 1950 in some ways. We need to confront this reality and say, “wow, we’re in a very difficult environment right now. For humans.”

Joshua: The number one demand from CEOs is collaboration skills. But in this emotional environment, collaboration diminishes. We know from our State of the Heart research that empathy and collaboration were the biggest losers last year – they are declining. In that context, it’s like, “Okay, well I don’t have time for this people stuff.” Maybe the answer is if you don’t deal with the people stuff you are not a manager. That is your job. Leadership is a people business; when it’s tough for your people, you’ve got to equip them to deal with that.

Jayne: That matches another finding in the Vitality research. Leaders say that the people-side issues are two times more difficult to deal with than the rational / financial / technical.


The Change Map

Joshua: In one of our studies, eight percent of our managers said that they had the skills they needed to deal with the problems they were facing. Well, let’s talk about one way we can address that and of course, you panelists are very familiar with this model. This is the Change MAP:

In blue, we see the phases of change, in grey and black we see the emotions that either block change in the middle or drive change on the outside.

The red arrows are a critical component. We’ve been talking a lot about frustration. As Jayne said, number one was frustration, number two was anxiety which goes with fear. Fear of judgment was high up in there. The question is: How do we bring people across the red lines?

Liana: The first thing that strikes me is shifting from judgment to curiosity. In the experience that I’ve had with several coaching clients going through a massive transformation, the shift from judgment to curiosity is giving us the biggest leverage point.

I’m thinking of this one company in particular because it’s happening right now, the judgment has been there because of lack of understanding, lack of knowledge, feeling insecure, feeling unsafe. The shift to curiosity comes when people feel safer, when there is more alignment, there is more understanding, there is more connection to purpose. For me, that is a huge shift.

That’s exactly what we’ve been talking about tonight, right? It is finding that purpose and finding that vision, and being able to align with it. When people are a little charged up and are encouraged to find out and try, and who cares if it doesn’t exactly work, we’ll figure it out on the next iteration. That movement to curiosity happens and people are much more generous with their curiosity, whereas they used to be very generous with their judgment.

The difference of being generous with your curiosity is exponential on performance and moving in the high performance as an organization. The generosity with judgment just drives things further and further down and creates more of that toxicity and then you start seeing it in things like retention, short-term disability, long-term disability, turnover, all kinds of things. Then the expense is exponential with that.

John: We use the map itself to provide a context for people and what they are going to go through. Inevitably you got to create a common understanding of where everyone’s at. Typically we’ll start at engage and we’ll run the organization through the profile. We’ll roll up some of that information and really try to give them a good understanding, we’ll get a lot of external information as well.

We’ll bring it in so they get a common view of what reality is, of confront reality, then we come back to the purpose that you had talked about earlier and really outline what is the purpose. What do we want to go do together? It’s the difference between that. How do we get from here to here? There’s a focus now together that we can move them through.

To address this issues, that typically takes focusing with the team leaders, supervisor level, middle management level to give them the tools to work with people, to be able to move them from that area of judgement into, “You know what, actually this might be okay. I might actually be able to do this.” You have to get there before you get them into curiosity.

It is alignment, with what Jayne said earlier, that people are actually responsible for their own purpose, and that it aligns to the organization’s purpose because they have a choice. That’s how we use it.

Joshua: I love the comment that Irene typed about Hope. I think hope has a place on the red lines. In some way, hope is the doorway that has to open to say, okay yes there’s a possibility that we could step out of this cycle of disengagement in the middle.

Jayne: Well, hope is a possibility that gives us wings, isn’t it?

Liana: What is that moment or that tipping point that activates that hope. That’s the magic moment, right?


At the center is TRUST

Jayne: I think that the magic, Liana, lies in trust. Because you can’t start to make those emotional transitions which is what those red lines are. You know, change is a state. Whereas the emotional bit is the transition, that red line work, and that red line work can’t happen unless there’s trust. Take a look at the Vital Signs Model:

Within those five drivers (motivation, change, execution and teamwork), trust is pivotal. It holds all the others together. Yet, trust earned the lowest score in our vitality report across 95 countries. Trust was the lowest driver of performance and yet it’s the highest predictor of performance. It earned the lowest score across 95 countries but its the highest predictor of performance. That aligns with that pie chart of engagement that we showed earlier. 

John: I agree, trust is a starting point for everything. That is actually the reason we, in any of our engagements, we start with the organization profile. Then we do one-on-one debriefs with all the leadership team in a very deep level. Through these open discussions, trust starts to build.

That is the process of engaging people. The organization is investing in people. Trust starts to build. Then you create more communication, and build more trust.

Jayne: Trust is a two way street. It starts with self trust but it also requires leaders trusting their people enough. Leaders need to allow people the ability to move with the vision and people need to trust their leaders that the vision they paint is a vision of possibility.


The Power of Data

Joshua: A questions that came up in the chat: “Is there a vital signs assessment I can use for an organization?”

Liana: Yes, there is. Organizational Vital Signs is an amazing tool that provides such rich data. It really is a game changer for organizations when they realize, a) this data is available b) and, with the debrief what it actually means.  

Jayne: I was just going to compliment Liana because there’s a great question she uses in her consulting process.  When she get’s to a certain point in discussion with a client she’ll say, “Would it be helpful to have some data?” and they always say “yes” because we live in an era of big data, and leaders need facts and figures.

Joshua: Data about the emotions.

The other point I wanted to address from the chat was: “Do we need to redefine leadership?” I think Liana and John and Jayne, I think all of you have had the experience of taking this model and saying to an organization, what if we define leadership like this:

“Leadership is creating a context of trust, where people are motivated, adaptable, they work together and they get the important things done.

This is what leadership is and we can measure it.” What happens if we define leadership like this?

Liana: I think a very large percentage of the current leaders in the world are out of a job.

That makes more room for emotional intelligence. I think it goes back to a comment I think Jayne made, and John you’ve probably had this experience– Josh, I am sure you’ve had this experience too. When I  first talk to leaders about emotional intelligence and what it is and why it is so important — I can tell in a split second who are the leaders who get it because they truly align with it, and understand it, and who are the ones who don’t. Because they say, “Where am I going to find the time during my day to do this?”

They view it as a task.

And if that’s all you ever have to do, is create that environment of trust where people are so motivated and engaged so that things can get done, then you’re doing an amazing job at being a leader.

John: I actually think it aligns well. The challenge to me is really more in getting leaders to look at leadership as leadership, not management if that makes sense. Management is very different. Leadership is leading people since providing direction, inspiring them to their own greatness. With a tool like this, I think you actually can measure that. To me, you can certainly unlock leadership.

Liana: I think we would have more balanced and healthier individuals which would create a much greater impact, not just in the workplace, but in society. Then the ripple effect of that, through schools, through communities, through governments, I think it would help a lot with this global condition. Bringing out the piece of the human condition that is about being unwell.

Jayne: It’s been a great chat, and I’d love to hear from each of you. John, I know you’re going to be there with Angela. What is one key now that people can expect to hear more about, or take away from your presentation at the 2017 World EQ Summit?

John: Well, our objective is around leadership and organizational alignment. We’re going to share as much as we possibly can about what we have found, and provide tools that they can actually leave with. Insights and tools that they can actually leave with around organizational leadership, alignment, transformation– Which would take it into teamwork, and those kinds of things as well.

Liana: We’re looking at the organizational level the team level and the individual level of emotionally intelligent organizations teams and people. The nugget is where are the opportunities for you and your organization to be emotionally intelligent and to start using some methodologies and tools and start designing your own template as to how you can start bit by bit throughout the whole people management stream. Culture, vision, start looking at ways that you can start building a more emotionally intelligent organization.

Joshua Freedman: Next week, we have another webinar along the same lines but focused on education. We are talking next week about the climate that would create a great place to learn. I hope you will join us then. I hope, you’ll join us at the World EQ Summit in November.

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