Helping Your People Develop Emotional Intelligence

Creating a Positive, Balanced Team

Helping Your People Develop EI

Improve working relationships by helping team members develop emotional intelligence.

© iStockphoto/aldomurillo

Imagine that you've just hired a new team member to work on an important project. Jim was a star employee in his last organization, and now he's joined your team.

Unfortunately, he is having a hard time learning some of the new skills he needs. He's used to being able to do his job perfectly, and starting from the ground up in some areas is making him uncomfortable.

Instead of becoming irritated or shutting him out, your people step up and increase their efforts to support him. They slow their pace to match his, they encourage questions, and they even stay late to help him finish some of his work on time. As a result, Jim's morale goes up, and he quickly becomes a high-performing member of the team.

For some leaders, this situation might sound too good to be true. But, if you're leading people with high emotional intelligence, this may sound like a natural and obvious way for people to behave.

By focusing on increasing your people's emotional intelligence, you can reap many benefits from improved teamwork. In this article, we'll look at what you can do to help your team members develop this important quality.

The Many Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence  , also called EI, is partly the ability to recognize and control your own emotions, and understand what those emotions are telling you. EI also means that you can recognize the emotional wants and needs of others and respond appropriately. Put simply, EI determines your self-awareness and your people skills.

EI is necessary for building trust, creating a sense of identity and efficacy, solving problems with others, cooperating, and participating productively in a group.

When emotionally intelligent people work together, they have the ability to sweep aside minor conflicts in order to focus on the team's interests. They can deal well with more serious conflicts, and they can grow from any disagreements that may arise.

While it's possible for people without emotional intelligence to "go through the motions" and experience some of these benefits, they ultimately lack the trust that comes with high EI. This means that they can't realize their full potential as individuals, or work well within a group.

Research suggests that there are many important benefits of EI. For example, a study published in The Leadership Quarterly shows that people who have high EI perform better and experience more job satisfaction than those with lower EI.

Furthermore, when people with high EI come together as a group, there are numerous benefits. A study published in The International Journal of Organizational Analysis found, as you might expect, that EI competencies were positively correlated with team cohesiveness. Another study, published in the Human Resources Management Review, found that teams with higher EI perform better, quicker, than teams with lower EI. EI really matters!

Building Emotional Intelligence

EI might sound as if it's something you're born with. However, research shows that you can develop your team's emotional intelligence, even in just a few hours.

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