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HEALTH | 06.17.2020

Emotional intelligence, an outlook for recovery

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This is probably a good time to stop and think about how to get to know our inner selves and gain wisdom to aid our recovery, build better relationships and lead successfully. This opportunity for emotional intelligence training, with its focus on people, is an intrinsic aspect of MAPFRE’s culture. A window of opportunity has opened to be there for others and their well-being. Better adapting to life’s circumstances, whether positive or negative, expected or unforeseen, offers a valuable opportunity to come together and ask something as basic as “How can I help you?”

Everyday life demands so much from us, and even more so given our current situation.

Where the business environment and its leaders are being asked to apply the “Rs” (Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform) to drive recovery, we need to use tools and skills such as creativity, and emotional intelligence in particular, to strengthen us as individuals. As was noted at the World Economic Forum some time ago, this means in life in general, not just at work.

What is emotional intelligence?

The term arose in the 20th century, when it was observed that using an individual’s level of intelligence quotient fell short when attempting to provide a scientific explanation for how human beings adapt to certain circumstances. Something else enables some individuals to adapt better than others. The intelligence quotient alone does not explain success at work or in life in general, nor does it help people adapt and achieve happiness.

This was just the start of a long journey when scientific communities began to examine the emotional aspect. Perhaps the key moment was in 1985, when Howard Gardner (2011 Prince of Asturias Award) established his theory of 8 multiple intelligences. A person needs other aspects besides a rational intelligence level to be deemed intelligent. He named two of them: interpersonal intelligence, which involves relating with others, and the concept of intrapersonal intelligence, the ability to know yourself.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman, known as the father of emotional intelligence, developed this further based on his own experience and research. This was the year when the concept really took off.

According to Goleman and his mixed model, an individual’s ability to adapt and therefore succeed can differ depending on their ability to acknowledge their emotions, manage them, motivate themselves, recognize others’ emotions, and establish relationships.

One of his main conclusions was that positive emotional management was more decisive for success in life than the intelligence quotient.

His Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI), a measuring tool, includes 20 competences organized into the four main clusters of self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and relationship management.

Thinking about yourself and others

Goleman considers that the pandemic has brought with it a good time to reflect. He explains that our most important lesson and the way to get the most out of these circumstances comes through showing care and helping others.

In a business environment involving remote working, without physical contact or the ability to perceive by seeing the other party and their body language, listening becomes vital, alongside respect and both proactive and warm communication. From now on, a leader needs to understand and manage their workforce’s different emotional states and feelings — just like before, but now remotely.

A virtuous circle with people at its center

In recent years, experts like Cristina Jardón have pointed out that emotionally intelligent organizations obtain better ROIs. Their leaders are better adapted and recognized by their organizations, and are equipped with skills for self-leadership, attracting talent and obtaining the best from their teams.

This pandemic has had devastating consequences for people in particular, bringing them into the focus again. The workplace requires an unusual level of adaptation and a new capacity for reinvention. In order for the workforce to function correctly, organizations have to work on their capacity for adaptability and resilience, as McKinsey points out, meaning emotional intelligence training can be a good strategy.

Empathic Leadership

Reports by Cap Gemini already demonstrate the need for implementing emotional intelligence and McKinsey is calling for Compassionate Leaders. We are going through a paradigm shift as individuals, teams, and organizations, and the leader is involved in all aspects. Today’s leaders will have to work on their emotional competences, as they do with core issues, such as technology or cybersecurity. Clearly very empathic leaders are required at present, people who get to know themselves in order to understand others.

Jardón emphasizes that messages coming from higher up in an organization must be consistent at a departmental level. “In some organizations, I still occasionally see a lot of inconsistency between a president or CEO’s statements, which often sound amazing, and what the employee actually experiences.” Or I see companies with HR departments that do great things but then the CEO’s message is different. I also see that there are a lot of personal agendas, a lot of projects run well by one person, but then that person leaves the organization and everything is lost.

Emotional intelligence training still needs further development in organizations, but it is gradually being rolled out and on becoming increasingly necessary, it is now more commonplace.