What’s the impact of adding emotional intelligence in organizations? How do we know? How do you convey the value to decision-makers? Here, our panel of experts from North America’s EQ CON 2018 share with us how they determine and convey the importance of emotional intelligence in business.
In this lively discussion, EQ experts from EQ CON (the reunion of emotional intelligence practitioners in June in San Diego) offer their expertise and real life stories of communicating the value of EQ. The recording of the panel is below, as well as the transcript.
Four key points from the discussion for you and your organization to consider:
EQ improves the bottom line by enhancing leadership, collaboration, and decision making.
Organizational purpose clarifies mission, direction, and strategy. When people are committed to a shared purpose, they become aligned to work effectively together.
Emotional intelligence and organizational drivers can be measured and increased.
Organizations reap the benefits of EQ when they go beyond “training” and integrate the competencies into operations and use it to shape culture.
What Does Emotional Intelligence Mean to Your Organization?
Joshua Freedman, CEO, Six Seconds: We’re going to talk today about the value of emotional intelligence and how to convey that value when it comes to organizations, whether those are businesses or other kinds of organizations. How do we get people to understand the bottom-line value of emotional intelligence so that we can do more of this work?
We have a panel today of people from our EQ-CON team. EQ-CON is our emotional intelligence experience that’s coming up in San Diego on June 5th and 6th. Bret, let’s start with you. Could you tell us from an organizational perspective, when you talk about emotional intelligence in an organization, what does that mean to an organization?
Bret Wells, Missional Wisdom Foundation: I like Six Seconds’ very brief description of emotional intelligence as “being smarter with feelings.” From an organizational standpoint, it’s really one of those things where we start seeing the “soft skills” as really the more tangible things that they actually are.
When we are able to see how people really work and relate effectively, life works. Obviously, if we don’t work well together, that’s going to have a very big impact on an organizational structure. Emotional intelligence helps us navigate those relationships.
Organizational relationships are complex. Emotional intelligence is the skillset we need to navigate and build effective teams.
Josh: Jim, you have been in business for many years, you’ve owned and run quite a few businesses. First of all, tell us from an organizational perspective, what emotional intelligence means?
Jim Vaive, Six Seconds’ Co-Regional Network Director, North America: From an organizational standpoint, emotional intelligence is that missing spice that goes into the soup of understanding. We’re very good about laying out the structure, what somebody can expect inside their business life. We don’t do such a great job of telling people, “This is how you react when you’re angry, this is how you react when you’re happy, this is how you react when you’re uncertain.” I think that emotional intelligence training for businesses is without a doubt the most important thing you can do.
Josh: Lynette, would you tell us if you think that’s important and why?
Lynette Vaive, Six Seconds’ Co-Regional Network Director, North America: It’s not just in business, but also in our personal lives because we’re making decisions and navigating our feelings no matter where we are. In our workplaces, in our homes, in our relationships, even with people we meet in a grocery store, we need these skills to function well.
What Inhibits Organizations from Succeeding on the People-Side of Performance?
Josh: What are you seeing for organizations that’s preventing them from achieving the results they really want to achieve?
Bret: I call them FAILs in my coaching work:
F for false narratives
A for assumptions
I for interpretations, and
L for limiting beliefs.
I see this a lot in terms of how organizational culture gets formed. When we allow some of these assumptions, everyone knows that’s not going to work and those things become so ingrained in our culture that they are no longer even acknowledged, let alone questioned.
Michelle Royan, Principal, Integrity Partners: I see a big disconnect from the leadership on the top all the way down to that front-line person on the bottom. We can train top leaders in emotional intelligence but then, if they’re not living that in the way they’re managing their people, the front-line person is disconnected.
Josh: That disconnection then fuels itself. The neuroscience is that as we become more stressed, as we become more reactive, our brains have an inbuilt tendency to lock into the things that we know. Even though it’s not real control, the illusion of control feels super important to us when we are feeling really out of control.
Jim: People think they need to work harder, faster to see more results… and that just leads to burn out.
Josh: Right – and in this escalating cycle, people are feeling like they are overwhelmed and start shutting down… then wellbeing suffers, communication suffers, problem-solving suffers, innovation, creativity suffers, and relationships suffer… and people feel even MORE out of control.
When people are overwhelmed and volatile, wellbeing suffers. So does communication, problem-solving, creativity, relationships… which cause even more overwhelm in a destructive cycle
So Lynette, if emotions drive people and people drive performance, what are you hearing about these barriers to performance?
Lynette: If we could connect with what people are feeling when they encounter these barriers, recognize the feelings and their resistance, then we can push through and help organizations be more successful.
Organizations are Trapped by 18th Century Performance Metrics
Josh: One of the challenges we face in organizations and in societies is that we’ve created depersonalized organizations. They are entities made up of people, yet ignoring that fact.
Bret: I think we’ve inherited this from the enlightenment and the industrial revolution. We seem to think that anything can be known and understood if it’s simply broken down into its smallest components. Then it can be reverse engineered and put back together, as long as we have all those parts in place, and the machine is going to work. We forget that not everything is a machine.
Josh: Given this mechanistic notion of business, Michelle, tell us what you’re seeing when organizations remember that human beings are the center of their work?
Michelle: I’m having a great time helping companies slow down a little bit and give themselves permission to look at the wellbeing of their employees and how that will not only further engagement and the culture of their organizations, it will increase the bottom line.
Josh: My take on that is that we’re using a 18th century set of management principles to try to manage in the 21st century. We measure individual performance when we need collaboration. We measure short-term results when we actually create value through the long term. We’re disincentivizing people from actually connecting and collaborating, and then it’s no surprise when organizations say, “Why are we having trouble getting rubber on the road to move forward in new directions?” We’re using an old playbook. That seems like a real opportunity.
Bret: So probably it’s time to push back against the old metrics. We need better ways of measuring performance.
Jim: Even with all the training that’s provided to leaders and managers, if results are not being measured the right way, we have a problem. Most of the time what managers are being measured against has nothing to do with EQ.
Emotional Intelligence Unlocks the Power of People-Leadership
Josh: In one of our previous vital organization surveys across 90 countries, we asked the question, “Looking at the challenges in your organization, how important is EQ, being smarter with feelings, for solving issues that you’re facing?” We got 4.5 out of 5. But later we asked, “Is EQ a priority for your organization?” and we got 2.6 out of 5. That is a big, fat gap.
Bret, tell us about a success. What’s an example of an organizational leader, where you’ve had this conversation, you’ve connected these dots, and then they’ve said, “Okay, I get it.” It’s not about training, it’s not about a little workshop, we’re going to really look at what creates value, and how we create value, and we’re going to make that part of our DNA.
Bret: Just thinking about this one organization, what was really interesting was the shift in the conversation that took place from, “How do we save our struggling organization?” to “How do we actually use whatever we have left, whatever time or whatever resources we have left, to be a positive presence in our community?”
Josh: In other words, moving out of survival mode and reactivity into the purpose.
Bret: They were very much a “needs focus,” rather than an “asset focus.” When they shifted the conversation to, “What do we have to contribute to our community?” then, by necessity, the focus within the organization began to shift to, “What did the people that are part of this organization have to offer?” The difference that that made was really interesting because I don’t think you can fake it. It doesn’t work if you just change your rhetoric.
Josh: Michelle, what is an example of an organization or organizational leader where the dots have connected, the penny dropped, and they began to see that this emotion stuff is where value is?
Michelle: These organizations are popping out all over the place right now, where leadership has committed from the top down to marinate the organization in emotional intelligence. Infusing it through repetition, including everybody in the whole organization, giving people input into what would increase engagement.
More and more organizations are becoming committed to an emotionally intelligent culture. Where people have the skills and commitment to work well together.
In one case I’m sharing at EQ-CON, following this process of infusing EQ, their overall engagement went from 31% to 71% in a year. It was very intentional. Everyone participated in the workshops, the whole organization practiced the skills of EQ. They felt really proud; they owned the hard work that they did.
Using Purpose as a Fulcrum for a Thriving Organization
Josh: Lynette, what’s purpose have to do with that?
Lynette: Purpose is the clarifying factor that weeds out all the extraneous stuff. While other things may appear to be equally important, when we keep bringing it back to that yardstick of “does this fulfill our purpose,” we can see what really matters. Purpose serves as a filter to check if we are headed in the right direction.
Josh: In other words, as we have this very noisy environment, purpose reminds us, “Wait a minute, what’s actually important?” I’ve seen that first hand.
A few years ago, we adopted a vision for Six Seconds of a billion people practicing emotional intelligence. At first, that was just an idea… “Wow. That sounds cool.” Then, as we started talking about it more and more, it was resonating with many of us that, “Actually, that’s the world I want to contribute to, that’s why I’m here.”
Adopting that vision completely changed our business strategy, our organizational structure. We closed all our for-profit offices, we transformed the way we do business as an organization. It’s what happens when purpose becomes clear and you just say, “What if we make our decisions based on this purpose?”
Lynette: It’s incredibly powerful when the individual’s purpose aligns with the organization’s purpose. Then you get the clarity from your personal Noble Goal and can connect it with the shared work.
Josh: Jim, let’s discuss that. For some organizational leaders, this idea of “pursuing noble goals” is a little scary. At the very same time, many leaders acknowledge, “Yeah, I am looking for something deeper.” You’ve said that pursuing a noble goal is the purpose of emotional intelligence – why?
Jim: If you pursue a noble goal as an organization, you can clear up a lot of ambiguity and have a clear direction. You don’t have to have everybody in the organization completely overlapped on your noble goal, but you need transparency and you need to see where you’re on the same page. As long as the individual and organizational noble goals are going in same direction, you have an organization of people that want to be a community.
When the organization’s noble goal and the people’s noble goals are going toward the same direction, you have a powerful community
Josh: Michelle, how are your potential clients reacting when you start talking about Pursue Noble Goals? How comfortable are you now standing in front of a business audience and saying, “Let’s talk about noble goals”?
Michelle: I welcome it. Working with the military, you can talk about your mission statement, but we can go further. Talking about pursuing noble goal with leaders and asking them questions to help them dig deeper have been transformative. I see many people are curios and want to live more purposefully, but are uncertain about how to proceed.
Leadership Measuring the Drivers of a Vital Organization
Josh: So how do we measure this? Again, if we want a quantitatively oriented decision maker and a quantitatively oriented culture to embrace an idea, maybe we need to give them data or the kind of data that they can relate to.
Lynette: That’s what makes the Organizational Vital Signs tools so effective. Leaders need that rational data to zero in and say, “Okay, now I’m open to a conversation. I can see in black and white that we’ve got some kind of an issue.”
Josh: I just grabbed this graph from the Siemens Healthineers case that was just published on 6seconds.org. I think it’s an amazing case. You can see how much changed in terms of the factors of organizational and team climate over the course of this group working on using emotional intelligence skills. Particularly, they build trust, build relationship, and focus on purpose. How does this kind of data fit into the conversation about creating a focus on emotional intelligence?
Michelle: I was recently working with an international team where we this Vital Signs measure. Being able to see the drivers of motivation, teamwork, execution, and change, all built on trust, that predict the outcomes of satisfaction, results, agility, and sustainability helped them see what direction they should go. When you can provide the metrics and the training in a short period of time and show that kind of positive change, it’s really pretty compelling for leaders to want more of that in their organization.
It’s a trap to think, ‘either we can focus on tangible metrics or fluffy emotions.’ Feelings are a critical component of performance, and they’re measurable.
Bret: I think, so often, we get caught in this trap of thinking, “Okay, we can either focus on tangible metrics, business metrics, business outcomes, or fluffy emotions, and that sort of not tangible thing.” Part of the value here is in showing that you have three quarters of people saying, “These are the kinds of issues we’re facing.”
When we talk about what are we facing in our organization, the first thing that comes to mind is going to be toxic work environments. It’s going to be employee retention. Do people like being here or hate being here, and what kind of problems do that cause? These emotional competencies are very much tangible business metrics, they’re just not classic traditional business metrics.
Josh: As my co-author, Max Ghini, often says, “You get what you measure so measure what matters.”
Emotional & Practical Work Together in June
Let’s just wrap up here by talking about EQ-Con in June. EQ-CON is an experience for people to dive in and get tools, grow their own emotional intelligence, and experience how these different tools and methods can work. Michelle, would you just share a little bit about what you’re going to be focusing on in the case you’re sharing?
Michelle: The case I’ll be sharing at EQ-Con is about a client of mine for over three years now. We’re going to talk about where you’re starting and where you would like to be in the action plan, what are the actionable steps and measurable steps you can use to make positive change and progress, what that looks like, and how you can introduce that to leadership as a potential plan for your own organizations.
Josh: Super important, Michelle, people need to know how to make it actionable. Bret, what’s something you want to focus on sharing, learning, doing at EQ-Con?
Bret: I’m going to talk about is a case study I’m working on and what’s happening before we even thought we would see results. We introduced the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment and the Leadership Vital Signs assessments as pretest, post-test measures in our two-year curriculum that trains people to start new communities. We were only one year into this and we had some unexpected results that have come about just from introducing those assessments on the front-end.
Josh: Jim, Lynette, do you want to share what you’re looking forward to?
Jim: I’m looking forward to the community – the powerful “sparks” that emerge when the EQ community connects.
Lynette: I would echo that. I’m also looking forward to the diversity that we’ll have in the room. It’s so energizing to me to see all the different ways that we’re able to put this stuff into practice and then to share with each other. Part of that way that we put it into practice is through community and the commonality of purpose in getting this stuff out there after we’ve had our own personal transformations.
Josh: For me, I see this stuff as intensely practical and I recognize that in a lot of places in the world, people don’t know how to create value with emotional intelligence. EQ is seen as something “nice to have.” I see it as something you need to have. So I’m looking forward to seeing these practical applications.
At EQ-CON, people will experience the value of EQ themselves. Then they’ll connect with people who are really making this practical and tangible in organizations of all kinds. I’m looking forward to people gaining awareness and then the pathway that we can follow to say, “I could apply that.”