Emotional Intelligence: An Organizational Superpower

Friday, July 14 2017

In spite of decades of research and discussion about emotional intelligence, we have yet to settle the debate about how awareness of one’s emotions impacts the way we “show up” and perform in the workplace. Part of the challenge is determining causal links rather than meaningless correlations between emotional intelligence levels and organizational performance – soft measures and hard outcomes. The question persists: if leaders and workplaces have low emotional intelligence, what impact does that have in the workplace?

Using Data to Understand Feelings

When clients engage us in strategic planning projects, one of the early activities we undertake is a CORE Strengths survey, so we can gauge employee perceptions about the level of emotional intelligence in the workplace. We believe the data helps bridge the link between soft measurements and hard outcomes. All employees and leaders are asked to rate dozens of factors on a scale of 1 – 10. The examples below are some of those statements and the numbers in brackets represent the average of all participants who have submitted responses to our assessment:

  • I feel that my manager cares about me. (7.4)
  • The organization gives employees support and guidance (rather than blaming) when things go wrong. (6.7)
  • Others listen to me. My thoughts are valued and considered. (7.0)
  • During team discussions and decision-making, everyone on the team feels safe in offering their point of view. (7.2)
  • Members of my team trust each other to keep their commitments and support each other in getting the job accomplished. (7.7)
  • Any areas of conflict or potential disagreement are resolved and dealt with quickly. (6.5)
  • I have a voice regarding the direction of the company. (5.3)

Opportunities to Strengthen Emotional Intelligence

We use this survey as a starting point to identify areas of strength because it also uncovers chinks in the organization’s armour. Where are they vulnerable? Quite often, it’s these “soft” areas, such as “my leader doesn’t care enough about me” that surface.

If an employee believes they are treated like a 6, will they perform like a 9? Very often, leaders focus on underperforming employees.  They already may feel unmotivated and not sufficiently nurtured by the organization. Leadership development, communication, as well as leader and employee coaching should be central strategies because attention to improving organizational emotional intelligence can improve results.