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Posted by on Oct 26, 2015

Building an Emotionally Intelligent Team

Building an Emotionally Intelligent Team

Why is emotional intelligence so important for teams? Quite frankly, organizations need teams to get the work done. Historically, the most consistent and effective efforts come from groups of people who over time developed trust, group identity, and efficacy to become teams.

Who has the responsibility of building the emotionally intelligent team? One might argue the responsibility rests with individuals with the positional authority and influence to translate the organizational vision into goals and objectives for the team to achieve. Why then, is such disproportionate effort placed on getting the “right individuals” on the team? Despite best efforts – including a thorough vetting process with specific criteria, a comprehensive list of qualifications, responsibilities, and the validation of an internal interview board, hiring managers select new hires that on paper appear to be the best candidate, yet often don’t work out as originally planned. Anyone can look good in a party of one, but the proving ground of emotional intelligence can best be validated within the context of interpersonal relationships. An individual effectively modeling emotional intelligence has the powerful combination of self-management and the ability to relate to others. They figure out how to strike just the right balance of independence and interdependence within a team. Numerous studies indicate teams are more effective when they are able to foster participation, cooperation, and collaboration among team members.

Given what we know about the importance of high performing teams and the investment of time, energy, and commitment it takes to sustain them, the nature of efforts used to source new team members could substantially shift. What if hiring managers, continued their due diligence during the hiring process, but added the focus of long term team impact to the list of criteria? The shift of perspective has the potential to affirm the value of the existing team, and challenge the new hire to deliver individual achievement and viable team contribution.

Here are a few questions, managers can consider as they build and sustain an emotionally intelligent team:

  • Does the new team member model confidence (self-awareness) as an individual contributor?
  • Would the presence of the new team member likely foster interpersonal understanding (social awareness) within the existing team?
  • Is there evidence to support the new hire would initiate a transparent and collaborative (self-management) work style?
  • What examples does the new hire provide to describe scenarios when they were able to work through conflict (relationship management) as part of a team?

Managers can advance the cause of emotional intelligent teams, with thoughtful consideration, one team member at a time.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. This is tough. When I think of someone who is emotionally intelligent, it’s a lot like other traits we look for in good employees/team members (i.e., someone who takes initiative and takes on new tasks without being directed to do so; someone who is confident with strong levels of self-esteem; someone ambitious; someone with impeccable integrity, etc.). How do you inspire someone to embody something that has so much to do with innate abilities? It isn’t easy to each someone to become emotionally intelligent just like you can’t teach them to be all those other things I listed. Encouraging employees and being a good model and helping locate classes and seminars are a great start; however, like the old adage, you can lead a horse to water but the horse will only drink when he’s ready. I recently had a colleague identify some shortcomings and I encouraged this person to work on improving them, and I even indicated some classes and workshops that address it. It’s a fairly common problem that many people face. Unfortunately, the colleague thought those shortcomings would always be present and it would be pointless to go to any classes or seminars. We are what we believe. If a person doesn’t believe they can get better and overcome problems that are holding them back, what good can their leader be? I guess there will always be at least one employee who can’t see beyond the place where they are. But, like you say in this article, we can tackle this problem one employee at a time. If person “A” isn’t responsive, no worries. Spend the energy on person “B” or person “F” or whomever is open to change and self-improvement. Good managers and leaders will recognize this rather than spend wasted time on people who are unwilling to change.

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