Ultimately, individual managers working to improve their own personal emotional intelligence is not going to be as effective as a whole organisation that strives to utilise and improve the emotional intelligence of all its workers. But shifting an organisational culture to properly value emotional intelligence can be challenging. Here we outline how to get your organisation on board.
An emotionally intelligent workplace is one that prioritises practices of listening, observing, self-awareness, social awareness, and emotional management. To ensure organisational support for emotional intelligence efforts you need to create a trusting workplace, and bring others along with you.
Create a trusting workplace
Demonstrate to your employees and co-workers that you trust them by allowing for an appropriate amount of freedom and autonomy in their work.
Show that you understand that employees don’t simply leave their emotions at home – emotions can be hidden or suppressed but not completely disregarded.
Make space in your workplace for a variety of emotional expressions – remember that that different cultures have varying ideas about the appropriate expression of emotions. Similarly, don’t fall into the trap of viewing some emotions as the right response and others as ‘wrong’. Recognise that that emotions are highly context-dependent and the way you would have responded to a certain scenario is not the only appropriate reaction.
- Show some emotion. This does not mean engaging in teary break downs in meetings or inappropriate physical affection. But it does mean that managers should apply their general leadership role of setting an example of honest communication about their feelings. Speak frankly and clearly about feelings of disappointment and frustration, or simply acknowledge when you’re having a bad day.
Bring others along with you
The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations (accessible through Leadership Direct) recommends that managers create a link in co-workers’ and employees’ minds between emotional intelligence and a business need. “Support for training and development in emotional intelligence will increase if it is clearly linked to a business need. People in the organization need to see it not as just a “nice” thing to do that makes people “feel good,” though this may be important and desirable. In order to gain the level of support needed for successful implementation, emotional intelligence must be viewed as something that makes good business sense.”
The consortium also suggests that managers engage an influentional internal ‘sponsor’ for any emotional intelligence program they initiate: “Organizations tend to be political entities. The support of an influential executive thus is vital for a new, unconventional initiative such as emotional intelligence training. Finding a powerful sponsor who can provide political protection and financial backing can make the difference between success and failure.”