The nexus: Where organizational excellence and emotional intelligence meet.

Being a Psychologist… or as I was recently humorously coined a “Corporate Psychologist,” I have been asked a number of times what I focus on the most when working with executives and/or organizations. While I have used intelligence tests, personality inventories, general organizational scales and ability scales, the reality is that my intuition takes these smaller snapshots into account as I look towards the underlying emotional intelligence. So what is emotional intelligence? To begin with, let me clarify by saying that I have heard a variety of folks interpret the definition of emotional intelligence to fit whatever they believe an organization (or individual) would look like if he/she/it were emotionally intelligent… In other words the meaning has been diluted by its popularity as a catchy “coach” phrase. However, at it’s core, emotional intelligence is: a) the ability to be self-aware of your feelings/emotions, b) the ability to manage/control/use those feelings and emotions, c) the ability to read other’s feelings/emotions, and d) the ability to manage/use/lead by using emotionally intelligent strategies in assisting others with their feelings/emotions when it comes to thoughts and behavior – especially leadership.

Interestingly, these are skill sets that we in the psychological arena have explored in the footsteps of thinkers like Carl Rogers and Irving Yalom. And so it is that the foundations of business and psychology find a nexus. However, not surprisingly the nexus, if we consider the heart of any business being the configuration of people involved. Groups, teams, sections, divisions, departments, executives – call each part what you will – are not only dependent on their group emotional intelligence (and the emotional intelligence of each individual in their respective groups), but play a significant roll in the organization being something greater than simply the sum of its parts.

Which is why the art of targeting and tailoring emotional intelligence within an organization through a psychological lens is our mission here at Prosperity. This can include work with executives who are committed to increasing their emotional intelligence or work with an executive team who knows that their overall contribution to the organization will be greater with increased team emotional intelligence. The same applies to staff at any level, and the group or department irrespective of function (ie., HR, IT, Operations, Finance). Let’s not forget the Board of Directors! Yes, I know boards are many times composed of volunteer or appointed members, but they, too, benefit greatly from emotional intelligence that will lead to valuable decision making when hiring the next chief executive officer or while developing their strategic plan for the future of the organization.

Is your interest piqued yet? You don’t have to take my word for it. Forbes magazine online quoted Terry Bradberry of Talentsmart as saying their studies discovered, “alongside 33 other important workplace skills, emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining 58% of success in all types of jobs.” Let’s put emotional intelligence to work for you and your organization!

Until next time,
Dr. Todd

Where it begins: emotional intelligence for leadership.

EI flowchart

When I started out in one of my first positions in an organization as a Psychologist, it wasn’t long before the chief exec asked me for a favor.  “I have two people on my management team who I’m concerned about.  They joined my team about a year ago – and their enthusiasm for the job seems to have changed.  Dr. Helvig – I’m not sure what it is, but I was wondering if you could just spend some time with them figuring out what’s going on?”  Of course I agreed.  Without going into detail, both team members were having some personal issues that complicated their involvement on the job.  After some discussion – meeting with each of them individually a few times – things improved significantly both on and off the job.  The exec who called me in pulled me aside sometime later and thanked me.  She said, “You know how you just get that feeling when something’s not quite right?  I just didn’t know what to say to them, and it didn’t even feel like it was my place.  It was so much easier to leave it up to you!”

Kudos aside, what I heard the chief exec saying was that in management it can be very difficult to help people navigate their work and personal lives.  However, the two go hand in hand.  Whether you’re the boss or a colleague, you likely need your staff and peers to be on top of their game for things to run smoothly.  In the case above, personal and emotional issues were impacting leaders’  behavior – and when 2 out of 6 leaders at the top of an organization are not on their “A” game there can be some damaging turbulence in the environment.

Now, you’re probably wondering what worked with those 2 leaders who had fallen off track?  A few of my posts in the coming months will provide more insight, but the short answer is that we developed their skill set in the area of Emotional Intelligence.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Leading business thinkers have spent decades examining factors that impact leadership:   Overall IQ (intelligence quotient), cognitive processing, cognitive flexibility & adaptability, ability to navigate new and/or complex situations, managing ambiguity, personality traits, etc.  And while we know that pieces of all of these factors affect leadership and the ability to lead, emotional intelligence has emerged in recent years as an essential aspect of effective leadership.  Not to be a spoiler, but emotional intelligence (unlike other traits that are more static) can be be learned and significantly improved with willingness and commitment to skill development.

Let’s talk more about emotional intelligence and leadership.  It can be the one thing that boosts you (or someone on your leadership team) from being an average leader to becoming an outstanding executive!

Whether you are a board of directors hiring a new chief exec – or a chief exec hiring new leadership – know your candidate’s skill set in the area of emotional intelligence.  It’s essential.  Remember how costly a poorly-fit new hire can be (see earlier posts)?


Until next time,

Dr. Todd