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Emotionally Intelligent Cultures

More leaders are embracing the importance and competitive advantage of emotional intelligence.  As more leaders shift their own behaviors, they begin to create conditions for others around them to grow into their own emotional intelligence. This is leading to a rise in cultural transformation and hopefully a new and more fulfilling way to work!

Emotional Intelligence Model

                   Elements of Emotional Intelligence

Let’s start with a quick review on the fundamental elements of emotional intelligence. While not totally linear, emotional intelligence is rooted in awareness.  Once we are deeply aware of ourselves, we are able to more openly observe others and better manage ourselves and our relationships. Awareness is the most complex and most rewarding part of developing and maintaining emotional intelligence.  The ‘Z’ represents the pathway to developing each element of emotional intelligence.

With these elements in mind, InSight believes these six important characteristics are fundamental in emotionally intelligent cultures:

  1. Deeply values-driven.  Every decision, process and structure within the system reflects the organization’s and the individual’s values. Values are an integral part of our personal operating system and a foundation to purpose – purpose of our organization and purpose of our work within an organization. Purpose (also referred to as “the why”) has been repeatedly shown as a leading predictor of employee energy and engagement. It takes a commitment to self-awareness for values and purpose to come to life.
  2. A diminishing hierarchy. A strict hierarchy is not needed in emotionally intelligent organizations as processes are embedded into smaller teams supported by trust and effective conflict management. As organizations become more complex, it is more difficult for leaders to control and monitor every important decision while at the same time move fast in this ever changing environment. Emotionally intelligent cultures can push important decision-making out into smaller teams of colleagues and thus move faster and more effectively.
  3. Coaching & support skills outweigh “management” skills. In an emotionally intelligent culture, people are more apt to listen deeply, seek advice of others and thus more thoughtful and dispersed decision-making happens throughout the organization. There is very little “telling”. Coaching and support requires a high degree of social awareness (empathy, etc). This approach allows people to bring their best thinking and ideas to the table every day.
  4. An inexorable pursuit of learning & feedback.  All processes, teams and structures have a deep commitment to continuous learning and active feedback loops in emotionally intelligent cultures. Individuals understand there is always more to learn and feedback loops are woven into all projects, processes and team initiatives. Continuous learning takes confidence and grit.  Quality feedback loops require empathy and emotional self-control.
  5. Employees are able to bring their whole self to work. The whole self is composed of deeply held values, strengths and a balance of masculine and feminine energies. People working in emotionally intelligent cultures have the courage and the support to bring this entire part of their being to work.  This requires deep self-awareness and creates a thriving environment.
  6. People are conflict-management experts.Conflict will happen in all organizations. In order for an organization to thrive without a strict hierarchy and without directive management, people must be able to openly, efficiently and fairly debate.  Good conflict requires courage, trust, empathy and deep listening – all key emotional intelligence competencies.

If culture is important to your growth strategy (and I really hope it is!), emotional intelligence is the place to start.

“A nation’s (organization’s) culture resides in the hearts and souls of its people.”
– Mahatma Gandhi