Emotional Intelligence – Smarter than IQ!

You don’t need to have done Algebra at school to be able to work out the relationship between Emotional Quotient (EQ), known also as Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Employee Engagement (EE). Very simply, if you can’t demonstrate that you care, in the way that your employees relate (which is kinda the point by the way), then whether or not you not care is irrelevant to the truth of employee experience (ee).

To us employees, if we don’t feel it, you don’t care. So, where does that leave you as the manager, leader? What is the impact of low EI in our leaders on EE and ee, and subsequently on the business bottom line? How emotionally smart do we need to be? Do we really care? Can we afford not to? So many questions, because it really is that important!

The old-school… not so happy, playground

‘We’re just mollycoddling them!’

‘I’m not here to be liked.’

‘It’s not about the environment, it’s about the numbers.’

So, says the boss with the low EI. I honestly don’t know why it is so challenging for some people to appreciate that happy employees are more productive and will go above and beyond their contractual conditions to deliver their results. And for those leaders and managers who do know it and then don’t deliver it, my heart sinks! I think the belief comes from the old-school thought: if people are having fun then they can’t be working hard enough. And, I’ve heard that one said more times than I care to repeat.

Let me just put it out there – having fun at work is not equal to under-performing! There, that feels better. On the contrary, not having fun at work does lead to sub-optimal performance, and worse still – can lead to mental and other health problems. The environment really does matter. Think of it as the air that breathes life into us; that fuels our creative endeavours, that provides clarity to our thinking, and stimulates and inspires us to persist in the face of adversity. Contrast that with feeling the life sucked out of you, in a toxic environment.

As I said, you don’t need to know Algebra to work out that a happy workforce will deliver exceptional results. We call it ‘thriving’, rather than ‘surviving’. And that environment is created by the leaders. Yes, teams can work hard to thrive in poor leadership, but soon they shift to surviving and then life isn’t sustainable for very long – there’s only so much energy we have for pushing dung up a hill (and there’s more dung where we are going – nicked that one from Ice Age 2 by the way!).

So, what does Emotional Intelligence have to do with the price of…

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of the people around you. People high in EI are fully aware of their own emotions and what they mean, they are able to control their emotional responses in order to manage their impact on others, and they demonstrate empathy for others. They are optimistic, no matter what problems they face. They work objectively and calmly in the face of challenges.

On the other hand, leaders who project their anger, frustration and stress onto others create an environment that is bound by fear and aggression, and that will always limit performance, leaving employees reacting defensively, and covering their backs. Communication reduces to platitudes and/or avoiding conversation for fear of a reaction from the boss. Interaction is reduced likewise, and employees withdraw, often forming sub-teams in order to self-support and deliver their social and emotional needs.

But… there’s more!

The sea can look calm on the surface, but the undercurrent can drown you!

The same is true for leaders who on the surface appear to deal with things calmly, and yet deep down they are boiling inside. This is an example of passive-aggressive behaviour (repressed anger), and it impacts the environment negatively in the same way as the overt barking beast! In fact, passive-aggressive behaviours can be more difficult to handle, and almost impossible to manage, because – on the surface – it appears that the leader is in good shape. They aren’t!

Developing Emotional Intelligence requires proactive action. It’s not going to happen by swallowing down the frustration and stress. It’s not going to happen whilst you look at your employees as if their having fun is costing your business money, and it’s not going to happen whilst you drive your business through the old school principles of tying them to their PC and monitoring their every move, oblivious to the emotional dynamic you are creating.

The question is a simple one. Do you care enough to do something about it? If the answer is yes, then we can help. In the first instance, you need a measure of where you are at. In that way, real progress can be documented (as you do with your financial targets). As you work on increasing your EI, you will feel it in yourself, strange at first – as if something is missing – but very soon, you too will be having fun with your employees on your side. Together you will move mountains, and the old-school days will be long since forgotten.

Do something today that you can only benefit from!

I’m guessing you already know if your EI needs a little brushing up, but if you’re unsure, start by looking carefully at how people respond and react to you. Does the tone of the communication change when you speak to people? Does the energy in the room shift when you walk in? Do you find it hard to feel like you relate to your employees? If the answer is probably, or yes, then you have your answer.

Your leadership style and culture might be affecting your staff acquisition and retention. And, you already know there is an impact on the bottom line – how could you not?

Employee Engagement is the key to happy employees as well as unlocking the best results for your company. Get in touch with us today to learn how to transform your organisation, call us at +44 (0) 1442 818005.

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Attract, Develop and Retain, Leadership, Talent Insight