Stan is a solid employee. He’s cheerful, does his job with attention to detail, and gets along with everyone. It came as a surprise then, to see this change in attitude when the company started working on their turnaround plan. In meetings, he started shooting down people’s ideas, calling them negative, and taking personal offense at their suggestions. It eventually got to the point that no one on his team wanted to volunteer ideas and team morale plummeted. Leadership worried that the morale in Stan’s team would infect the others in the company. What went wrong?
Transformation is hard. It requires a strong sense of vision, determination, vulnerability, and a willingness to change. All of these traits may not come naturally, but science has shown that they are strong indicators of success for top performers. Another word for these traits? Emotional Intelligence.
Understanding exactly how emotional intelligence supports the transformation of a team or organization can be helpful in identifying and cultivating these traits in yourself and your team. Below, we’ll break down the three traits your team should embrace in order to excel in their roles as well as move forward with the organization.
The first step any organization needs to take when they are looking to change their vision is to boldly take stock of what’s working and what’s not. This Elephant Conversation™ is essential, but it requires leaders and organization members to be able to say out loud the things they disagree with within the organization. In order for this process to be productive, those involved must be open to hearing the negative without shutting down those around them or shutting down the process. You have undoubtedly worked with these types of low emotional intelligence players before. They thrive in organizations where the status quo is good enough and the most important quality in an employee is the ability to be liked, regardless of whether that employee contributes to the growth of the organization.
People with high emotional intelligence, however, possess qualities that invite constructive feedback and turn it into meaningful change. Be on the lookout for people who…
- Are difficult to offend: A trait of the emotionally intelligent is that they have are confident and have a pretty thick skin. When someone challenges an idea or process in the organization, they are open enough not to take it personally but to see the possibilities for growth.
- Know their strengths and weaknesses: When someone knows and is ok with their weaknesses, it’s much harder to push their buttons (or even find buttons to try to push). This allows for an open conversation without worrying about saying the wrong thing; instead the focus is on pinpointing the problem and finding a solution.
- Know how to say no: As important as it is to be open to conversations about how to move the company forward, it is just as important to know how to stay on track. An emotionally intelligent person is not prone to impulsive action and is much less susceptible to burnout. Instead, they are able to be open to others while still maintaining healthy boundaries.
Once the Elephant Conversation™ has happened, your organization will start to implement new ways of thinking and doing things through the Momentum Accelerator™. In other words: change is coming. For some, this is enough to cause a paralyzing fear that could lead to friction within the organization. You might find that those who are afraid of change lash out or only see the negative in a proposed plan. This negative feeling can change the way a team functions, affect other team members and slowing down the plan. A fear of change may even be enough to hold the company back, particularly if it manifests within organizational leaders. Instead, encourage your team members to be
- Flexible: Flexibility is the opposite of fear of change. Those who lack emotional intelligence may be more comfortable when their role is clearly defined and rigid. Help those around you to become comfortable with adapting to new situations.
- Planners: The image of an ostrich with its head in the sand is a cliche for a reason. Our instinct is to avoid difficult and challenging changes. However, emotionally intelligent people know that change is unavoidable and when they see if coming down the pipeline, they create a plan of action to help them through it. Have a conversation with those who may be feeling fear about the company’s transition and help them create a plan for their future within the organization.
Embrace Forward Momentum
The last thing you want for your vision is for it to stagnate after the planning stage. Execution is key and is often the most difficult stage in any organizational change. In order to move forward and truly transform what you do and how you do it, you need people who are excited for the next step, and the next, and the next, all the way to the Value Multiplier™. Excitement, however, is difficult to maintain, particularly for those who are not self-aware enough to take inventory of their emotional health and enact good habits to maintain it. Those that are able to walk this tightrope are able to
- Let go of mistakes: Letting go of mistakes in no way means forgetting them. Having access to and learning from past mistakes is an important way to grow. It does mean, though, that wallowing in past mistakes is not an option. The key to maintaining a balance between remembering and learning is the resilience to get back up when you fall down.
- Avoid seeking perfection: While we might all know that perfection doesn’t exist, for some it is incredibly difficult to embrace that idea. But, if all we seek is perfection, we’ll never be able to move forward. All our attention will be stuck on how we can make one small piece of the puzzle match up to our ideals, instead of looking at how that piece fits into the larger picture. Focusing on the excitement of what you have achieved, regardless of perfection, will allow you to become excited about what you will achieve in the future.
- Disconnect: Those with high emotional intelligence are constantly checking in with their mood, stress level, and physical health. When any of these are out of whack, they understand the importance of taking time away from their stressors (which, yes, can include work) in order to recharge and maintain their well-being.
If you can cultivate these qualities in your team, you will be well on your way to achieving your goals.
Looking for help developing emotional intelligence in your team? Contact Nexecute® today!