Benefits of Emotional Intelligence For Team Leaders and Teams
For over a decade I've been teaching Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills to people in businesses across a broad range of industries.
The participants have held positions ranging from the executive level to administrative staff.
Despite the fact that the challenges and pressures they face at the various organizational levels are quite different, the one common factor they share is "how they feel" or the emotions they experience.
When people become empowered through enhancing their EI skills, they become more internally self-managed and capable of making their greatest contributions.
And the organization ultimately
benefits when its employees work in that zone of peak performance. Following are
some examples of how EI skill development can benefit team leaders and teams.
Team Leaders and Project Managers
Working with diverse and, sometimes, non-local individuals, Team Leaders and Project Managers are accountable for setting and maintaining a positive environment where their team can work together to achieve success on projects of greater magnitude and importance in shorter and shorter time periods. They must eliminate roadblocks and internal and external or organizational barriers so their teams can achieve success. They can experience a great deal of stress brought on by anxiety, frustration, resentment and suspicion as they work in the organization's political environment, deciphering the maze of organizational change. Teams and projects fall behind schedule, and members may leave the team, causing further delays.
As Team Leaders and Project Managers enhance their EI skills, they become more capable of maintaining a positive attitude and eliminating impediments to team success. By improving their own internal motivation and persistence, they motivate their team to high, sustained levels of performance and achievement. They successfully accomplish major projects of significant importance on time and on budget. Critical talented staff are developed and retained.
More and more the responsibility of major organizational initiatives is shouldered by Teams. They are under pressure to work smoothly with people they may never see face-to-face both inside and outside their organization. Deadlines are tight, resources are scarce, technology is rapidly advancing, and team members are constantly changing. As things change and the demands increase, it's easy to feel dejected, overwhelmed and confused. It's normal to feel angry when a team member doesn't deliver, disgusted when resources are taken away, and frustrated when you are still expected to meet tight deadlines. Product introductions are missed and market share can be lost to competitors as team cohesion and effectiveness break down and progress slows to a creep.
The storming phase of team formation can be dramatically shortened when the team enhances its EI skills. With enhanced skills, team members can more efficiently and effectively deal with their own and other member's emotional turmoil, using this bond as a source for developing team cohesion and trust. Esprit de corps is developed with a can-do attitude. Major projects of significant importance to the organization are completed on time and on budget, and the organization gains a reputation as a great place to work and grow.
A True Story
This true story about two team leaders who had a long history of antagonism and unwillingness to work together provides evidence of the power of developing EI skills. Joe and Dan (not their real names) had not supported each other and their respective teams for 17 years. As a result of EI training, Joe and Dan learned how to transform their negative emotions toward each other into more positive emotions and productive behaviors.
After the training, they talked to each other in the hallway and then started listening and talking to each other on a regular basis. During the second coaching a couple of weeks after the training, each one of them, independently, told me that for the first time ever they were inviting the other's staff to their staff meetings as a means to improve communication and work jointly in addressing problems occurring in their departments. By promoting team-to-team coordination, they were able to eliminate the "silo" mentality. They also created a positive trickle-down effect on everyone in the entire organization (about 5000 employees). Of significance is the fact that this change happened within a few days after each had mastered simple EI techniques.
And this example is not unusual. EI training program participants have reported improvements ranging from 15% to 35% increased teamwork, 20% to 35% increase in personal productivity, 20% to 40% reduction in worry and stress, and similar improvements in management of personal motivation, emotional reactiveness, work/life balance, creativity and more. These improvements represent a positive return on investment for the organization.