As leaders around the world have learned about emotional intelligence, many have immediately seen how these concepts could improve critical areas of people-performance. World-leading organizations from American Express to Federal Express, from the US Air Force to Sheraton are experimenting with emotional intelligence as a component of competitive advantage.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR), one of the most prestigious sources of business-best-practice, has released several articles on emotional intelligence. Their 1997 article by psychologist and author Daniel Goleman ranks as their most requested article ever. This popularity led the HBR to re-examine the data on emotional intelligence again in 2003. Their conclusion:
“In hard times, the soft stuff often goes away. But certification DISC emotional intelligence, it turns out, isn’t so soft. If emotional obliviousness jeopardizes your ability to perform, fend off aggressors, or be compassionate in a crisis, no amount of attention to the bottom line will protect your career. Emotional intelligence isn’t a luxury you can dispense with in tough times. It’s a basic tool that, deployed with finesse, is the key to professional success.”[i]
Your organization is made of people, processes, and property. For a long time, “common wisdom” has been that returns come from investing in the latter two. Yet, in the last decades, new research has challenged that assumption and is increasingly proving that a company’s people are the differentiating factor.
In fact, for most businesses, products and property yield little competitive advantage. You develop a new process, and in a week your competitor replicates it. You increase efficiency and lower product cost, and next month a better version is being produced more cheaply in another country. You invest in specialized equipment – and so does the guy down the street.
So where can today’s businesses find competitive advantage? With a mobile workforce, globalization, and on-demand information, products and property are not enough. Exceptional organizations are investing in their relationships with customers, employees, and leaders – and over the next decades the people side will increasingly become the only meaningful competitive advantage. And if emotional intelligence helps build customer and employee loyalty, helps people innovate and perform, helps leaders build value, then these competencies are essential for world-class performance.
Emotional intelligence affects employee performance in multiple avenues. The employee’s own EQ, the interaction between the employee, and the emotional tone – or climate – all significantly affect the way employees feel about work, and the effectiveness of the work they do.
The Six Seconds team and I worked with the Sheraton Studio City in Orlando in a very challenging business situation. They had experienced very high levels of executive turnover, their guest satisfaction scores were suffering, and they were losing market share. A new General Manager, Grant Bannen, came in, and we engaged in a year-long project to improve performance. As Grant said, employees needed more “bounce in their step,” so we used the Organizational Vital Signs measure ( [http://www.EQperformance.com/ovs.php] ) to identify specific areas where the climate was not conducive. Then we conducted a series of emotional intelligence trainings to foster dialogue, increase awareness of the emotional drivers of performance, and increase the team’s competence in managing the emotional-side of staff. In total the executive team had just over 20 hours of training, selected individuals had a combined total of under 20 hours of coaching, and the line staff had between 2 and 8 hours of EQ training