Ireland

Team Emotional Intelligence – New opportunities for Organisations.

I was delighted to spend time in Dublin last month working with Vanessa Druskat on Team Emotional Intelligence.

The Author (right) with Vanessa Druskat.

The Author (right) with Vanessa Druskat (centre).

Vanessa is a co-developer of the Group Emotional Intelligence concept in 2001 and Geetu Bharwaney of eiworld. We did some intense work on the application of Team Emotional Intelligence for the benefit of organisational teams. Vanessa is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of New Hampshire and I enjoyed working with her and gaining further insights into a topic which I have been very interested in since it was introduced to me back in 2008 when I was lecturing in Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick.

An Emotionally Intelligent team is not the same as a team with emotionally intelligent individuals and brings different if overlapping benefits. The Team is considered as an organism in itself and development is structured on the team being a self organising system – dictating the norms of operation, understanding and co-operation. This is the area of  Team Emotional Intelligence.

No one would dispute the importance of making teams work more effectively. But most research about how to do so has focused on identifying the task processes that distinguish the most successful teams—that is, specifying the need for cooperation, participation, commitment to goals, and so forth – the key tenets of  Team Emotional Intelligence. The assumption seems to be that, once identified, these processes can simply be imitated by other teams, with similar effect. It’s not true.

The real source of a great team’s success lies in the fundamental conditions that allow effective task processes to emerge—and that cause members to engage in them wholeheartedly.

Three conditions are essential to a group’s effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy. When these conditions are absent, going through the motions of cooperating and participating is still possible. But the team will not be as effective as it could be, because members will choose to hold back rather than fully engage. To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms—the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits—that support behaviors for building trust, group identity, and group efficacy.

A model for positive change will always contain the most important types of norms a group can create to enhance its emotional intelligence. Teams, like all groups, operate according to such norms. By working to establish norms for emotional awareness and regulation at all levels of interaction, teams can build the solid foundation of trust, group identity, and group efficacy they need for true cooperation and collaboration—and high performance overall.

As an Emotional Intelligence, Leadership and Teamwork practitioner I have been working with the Druskat and Wolff model for a number of years but this work added clarity and precision to the model and allows Organisations to leverage the performance advantages it brings.  Think of the benefits to Project Teams, Management Teams and Leadership Teams if their performance can be improved 25% above normally functioning teams. Team Emotional Intelligence training would seem to be a no-brainer.

Aidan Higgins

Leading in tough times

Many areas of the business world are in states of turmoil. At such times the need for leadership is paramount argues Nigel Nicholson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour (London Business School)

Many areas of the business world are in states of turmoil, with employees facing increasing pressures, cost cutting, threats to jobs and a climate of high anxiety.  This is amplified by the fact that it is shared – people see the whites of the eyes of uncomfortable bosses, or feel the emotions of others who share their position.  Some feel they are competing for survival.   At such times the need for leadership is paramount.  In fact this is not just a time of need, but a time of opportunity for people to reveal a new and perhaps unseen capability for leadership – people who can act with the wisdom and skill that today’s challenges require.

The history of leadership tells us  that leaders emerge to meet the challenges of their times. Over much of the last decade, we had been living in an era when key attributes need were for leaders with the mindset and skills needed to grow a business in a climate of abundance and opportunity. Of course, there are new growth opportunities in the present climate, but they are currently in small pockets. For many people, today’s economic landscape is bleaker; and, for all, it is uncertain. These times require a different kind of leadership from the expansionist ethos to which we had become accustomed. They call for a much more savvy and psychological style of leadership, one that is emotionally intelligent and visionary in order to lead people beyond their overwhelming immediate concerns.

It is in this spirit that I offer 10 rules for leaders who must step forward and excel in this business climate.

These depend upon a correct understanding of the psychology of threat and uncertainty. It is critical for leaders to comprehend the mindset of followers, especially in turbulent times.
Survival and success

Understand the psychology of pain, fear, threat and anxiety. This is both quite subtle and quite complex. The need is for leaders to understand correctly what people typically do and think in response to such feelings. Many of people’s reactions will not be what we are used to seeing from them.

Steady emotions. Buffer people, as far as possible, from short-term pressures, yet make sure that they have something meaningful to do. If a major part of their role has disappeared, create a project for them around something that needs doing.

Decentre. This means asking “smart” questions of individuals that help you gain deep insights into how they think and feel, so that you feel what it might be like  to see the world through their eyes. This can be extremely affirming. The process goes as follows:

Ask an individual how he or she feels about a specific event.
Listen and ask more questions to get closer to what the person is experiencing.
Paraphrase to them your understanding of their thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge the reality of what people are thinking and feeling, but help them to reframe, to see the situation from other perspectives. Although it feels as if there is no end to uncertainty, the world is changing and a new order will emerge. When it comes, we had better be in a state of readiness. An analogy might be that we have descended into a valley filled with fog. This does not mean we have no direction to go in, but it might mean we have to hold hands until we reach sunnier uplands. People need you to tell them that better times are coming that there cannot be a return to any previous state, and that our best hope is in staying close to each other and working together.
Develop a narrative that connects the past, present and future. This does not mean being a soothsayer  predicting the future. The future is not waiting to be discovered – it is something to be seized and claimed. It presents an opportunity. Knowing that  it will not be like the past doesn’t mean disconnect.  You need to be able to elucidate the golden thread that connects past, present and future; It is the identity of the firm and the people in it. Each company has a unique story, history and cultural DNA. Some of that is going to be reborn in the new order that will emerge.

Make the narrative personal. These tough times are  also part of your story. Leaders should be unafraid to tell people how they forge meaning, hope and belief out of such times. You have to do so with authenticity – speaking about your own feelings, learning, foibles, biases and so on, in a way that reveals enough of your own fallibility to bring you close to them but not so much as to shake their confidence. The formula is V-I-P: vision, identity and passion. You cannot have a personal vision and express it with passion if it does not connect genuinely with who you are, your identity.

Be close-up and immediate. People need to know the best thing for them to be doing right now. Show them how this connects with deeper and wider goals you continue to have as an organisation. Remember, in times of fear and crisis, people need much more communication than normal, and it has to be personal – face-to-face – not a barrage of emails.

Set mileposts. The future may be cloudy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have medium-term goals. Tell people what these are, but don’t tell them how to reach them. It builds confidence for people to feel empowered to work together to solve problems about on how to achieve specific goals.

Sacrifice and celebrate. Show that you are just as much a stakeholder as they are. By doing without certain things, you can show symbolically that your life is not business-as-usual either. Spend much more time than usual telling people when they do something right and celebrating achievements collectively to reinforce the sense that you are a community with a common purpose.

Look after yourself. Don’t be a poor role model by letting yourself succumb to stress, overwork and loss of balance. Show people that it is healthy to go home at 5:30 occasionally in order to take your partner out for dinner or a movie. Indeed, tell them that some days you will work a half day from home to get some serious thinking or project work done, rather than appearing to be continually chasing work in ever-decreasing circles. Finally, here’s a little exercise you can do to accentuate the positive.  First write down all the negatives that you are witnessing during the downturn.  Then write down all the positives.  You will be surprised.  These times are like a forest fire – even as they destroy they create the conditions for new growth.  We can see for example how inflated discretionary payment systems were a poor one-club golfer’s solution to the challenge of staff motivation.  Now we are free to create the kinds of recognition and reward that will really unite and motivate people towards building tomorrow’s capabilities.   It is the leader’s job to connect with people to help them fulfil their goals and those of the business – the present climate offers great prizes to those who can do this.

First Published August 2009

Motivate Yourself First

I recently gave a talk before Cavan County Enterprise Boards recent Awards Dinner on the topic of Motivation, with reference to the current economic climate. The reaction to the talk was extremely positive and also the feedback was particularly interesting.

I told the group that there are times I think when we forget the basics and lose ourselves in worry about things we don’t really need. This leads to suffering on a personal level that is not necessary and totally within our own control. Cutbacks and reductions can have an overly negative effect on us if we do not see that often these are necessary to moving forward. Often we attach meaning to things that causes us grief and worry. The way to address this is to sit down and think about what is really necessary at the end of the day and what of those things we worry about  are supports to our Ego rather than to our well-being and happiness.

Entrepeneurs and Small business owners in particular need to remain motivated and optimistic despite the current travails and to influence and motivate those around them as well. Someone once said “Sincerity is the secret – if you can fake that you can achieve anything!”. Well it can’t be faked, the people around you have a good idea whats going on really. So the feeling of motivation has to be real and come from within. Taking action every morning to bring a positive outlook into play by focusing on the positive things in our life can set the mood for the whole day. And bringing it to work influences those around us particularly small business owners.

The folks from Cavan had an interesting perspective. They reckoned the Celtic tiger hadn’t done much for them and so they didn’t miss it. “We never had too much around here anyway” they said and so we don’t miss it either. And this from as chirpy and cheery bunch of people as I’ve met. You know when you see what some have lost in terms of happiness and clarity in their lives its great to see that some have held on to what matters.

2019-04-10T09:21:37+00:00March 1st, 2012|Discussion, Leadership, Motivation|