What is emotional intelligence and why is it important for productive teamwork?

Would you be surprised to learn that people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time? This fact certainly flies in the face of traditional thinking.

What is it that makes the difference? Emotional intelligence, that’s what – a critical, if rather intangible factor which exists in each of us to a greater or lesser extent. And there’s the rub; we are not all blessed with innate EQ. However, thankfully, it can be learned.

Emotional intelligence affects our behaviour management, social skills and personal decision-making.  That is on the personal competence side, looking at you as an individual. When it comes to social competence, managing relationships and being socially aware, EQ is a measure of how well we pick up signals from others and really understand what is going on with them.

It is easy to understand then, why a high level of emotional intelligence can make such a difference to performance in the workplace, as it smooths interactions and also focuses our energy, with great results.

Based on these findings, today’s leaders will be well advised to factor the idea of emotional intelligence into their team-building decisions, since only with a very high level of empathy and a strong emotional component can a team improve their performance and overcome obstacles. Seeking the right people is part of the task – but creating the conditions in the workplace for an emotionally intelligent team to flourish is the goal of a leader who has fully grasped this concept. The objective should be for the team to enjoy mutual trust, a strong sense of identity and belonging and solid self-esteem.

In order to motivate your team and enable them to give of their best, here are seven golden rules to follow:

  1. Work on yourself  Be a point of reference by leading by example. Key factors here are managing your own emotions and sharpening your communication and listening skills. Welcome open speaking by the team and give frequent feedback. Moreover, avoid looking for excuses yourself so as to encourage team members to take responsibility for their actions and decisions.
  2. Transfer enthusiasm  Stay positive to keep your team motivated as well. Get everybody involved with the objectives so that each team member feels like an integral part of the project. Congratulate your staff often, even on small achievements – the idea is to maintain an aura of optimism and positivity.
  3. Give the team a voice  Help the team to share ideas and express their opinions. A good manager knows how to enable their staff to communicate and ensures that each member’s voice is heard. Your own listening skills are vital here.
  4. Analyse the team  Ensure that you really know what your team members are capable of doing. In this way, you can be certain to make the most of their individual talents, to help them to shine and add value to the team and your company as a whole. Genuinely being seen helps to maintain motivation levels all round.
  5. Keep stress levels low  Encourage proper planning on the part of your team. There will always be deadlines to meet but these should not be unrealistic. Discourage multi-tasking; rather show the way by concentrating on one item at a time, maintaining the discipline needed to get the job done. Stress can be catching, so nip it in the bud when you see signs of it! The idea is to avoid accumulations of work and resolve conflicts quickly, before they can cause any damage to morale.
  6. Set some rules…  but not just any rules. The guiding principles which set the framework for your working lives should be shared and discussed with the team. First get everybody on board with your ideas and it will be plain sailing from then on. When everybody is pulling in the same direction but each team member has a specific role to fulfil, the tasks before you are far more manageable.
  7. Facilitate team-building  The simplest way to consolidate the bonding of team members is to organise time away from the office for entertainment and leisure activities outside working hours. Getting the team to relax together strengthens harmony and cohesion and helps them to get to know each other at another emotional level. This then has a positive impact on the teamwork in the office, creating a virtuous cycle of mutual understanding.

Not yet convinced? Studies have shown that 90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence, whereas only 20% of the lowest performers have this attribute – and clearly, those at the top are also the highest earners. The findings were valid across industries and all over the world.

The key to emotional intelligence is improving communication between the part of the brain which generates emotions and its rational centres and the ability to do this can be developed with the right knowledge and practice. Worth bearing in mind, given that a whole host of critical skills are based on your level of emotional intelligence, which impacts pretty much everything you say and do.



The original article which provided some material for the above is at: