Emotional intelligence at work – how to make change stick
David Jenkins & Jo Maddocks, JCA Global
We started with an exercise, gazing into the eyes of the person (a stranger!) sat next to us. First, we looked at them as if they had come to us with a problem, then we looked at them as if they were the problem, then we looked at them if they’re full of potential. There was loads more energy when people adopted the 3rd position (at my core, I’m a strengths coach and I’m privileged to spend most of life in this place!).
Emotional Intelligence (EI) was introduced as the ability to manage your personality and has a strong influence on performance. Recent developments in neuroscience are supporting EI and there is a flow from stimulus to attitude to feelings/emotions which then leads to thinking and action (with results). Our limbic brain learns from experience rather than books our courses. If we want to change our attitude at a deep level, we need to get out there and experience things.
We looked at a framework for EI, showing the interplay of Behaviours, Feelings, and Attitude with both Personal and Interpersonal Intelligence. Changing attitudes needs to be done at a deep level, it can’t be done through sheer willpower, and starting to doubt your attitude can be a great start to effective change.
How do we make change stick? We need to work at the deeper level of attitudes which will take longer, but will make a long-lasting impact. Use learning groups so that the learning is experiential and people learn with others. Create a common language so that people have tools to discuss this, and work to integrate this at all levels and create the right climate.
So often, we don’t actually deal with emotions. It is a bit like putting an unpleasant phone call on hold and never actually dealing with it; when you pick up the phone, the problem is still there and is unlikely to have gone away. Leadership climate also has a massive impact on culture. Finance was cited as an industry which is working hard to change, especially from ‘I’ to ‘we’. Experience is that there has been significantly lower self-awareness and authenticity in Finance and so there is work required at a deep level (both individual and collective) in order to drive change that sticks.