The average level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) within an organization or team has a direct impact on the success of that group. The higher the EQ skills of a team the better they relate, the more candid they are, the less conflict they have and the health of relationships is stronger. All of these contribute to greater cooperation, more innovative thinking, cooperation and lack of infighting and politics. This also applies to boards and in the church world to congregations.
There are five EQ skills that can literally transform a team or organization if leadership will focus on them, train their staff and communicate these skills regularly. These five skills can be learned but we must also unlearn some unhelpful habits to get to a place of health.
The first skill is that of self definition. Self defined individuals think for themselves rather than simply taking the party line, verbalize their views even when it may be lonely and do not worry what others might think of them. They are secure in who they are and what they believe. Innovation experts say that this skill along with a culture that invites it is one of the most significant keys to innovation.
The second skill follows from the first. It is the ability of a team to engage in robust dialogue where any issue can be put on the table with the exception of personal attacks or hidden agendas. Where this does not happen it is almost exclusively the fault of leaders who are threatened by direct dialogue that might rock the boat. The ability to engage in robust dialogue invites ideas, observations, and innovation while the inability kills both ideas and innovation.
A third skill is essential to the first two and that is a non defensive attitude on the part of all team members. It is an attitude of "nothing to prove and nothing to lose" where we do not have to be right and where we approach our work with open rather than closed minds. Defensiveness shuts down conversation whereas non-defensiveness invites conversation, ideas, dreams, innovation and the ability to look at situations with new eyes.
The fourth skill comes into play when we don't do the first three as well as we could: conflict resolution: the ability to quickly address conflict, de-escalate the issue, look for a win-win solution and normalize the relationship. Conflict is not bad. Unaddressed conflict, however, is toxic. Think of the mental and emotional energy that is spent in unresolved conflict. People can be taught how to resolve conflict and to think of it in three steps: address it, look for a win/win solution and normalize the relationship.
The fifth EQ skill that can transform a team or organization is the simple agreement to ban gossip. Gossip is the transmission of second or third hand information to others that is prejudicial or first hand information that is harmful and which need not be shared. All gossip is toxic to relationships, teams and organizations so a concerted effort should be made to eradicate it.
Take a moment and think about what your team or organization would look like with these five skills being lived out by all members. They can be taught and practiced and over time they will transform your team or organization.