Andy Kanefield – Why how you feel and act matters so much in the workplace

Andy Kanefield, founder, Dialect Inc.

Andy Kanefield, founder, Dialect Inc.

Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.

■ Roger Ebert, film critic

The 2012 State of St. Louis Workforce Report says that the No. 1 shortcoming of recent hires is the “lack of communication or interpersonal skills.” Also in the top 10 were a “lack of teamwork and collaboration” and “lack of willingness and ability to learn.”

Commissioned by Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College and conducted in partnership with the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the report seems to suggest that elements of what we often call emotional intelligence are valued but lacking in recent hires.

Why is this important to leaders? There are several reasons.

First, it should give us pause to examine how well we as leaders stack up. Are we exhibiting the qualities we deem lacking in others?

Secondly, it suggests that we should seriously think about whether or not these are the talent deficits we see in our business. If these are the deficits, what will we do about them? How do our attraction efforts need to change? How do our employee development initiatives need to change?

What is emotional intelligence?

In “Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, the authors’ definition of “how leaders handle themselves and their relationships” is expanded through the explanation of four domains of emotional intelligence and their associated competencies.

At this point, some leaders may think that while this is interesting, they still just need to hire smart leaders who want to work hard.

Fair enough, as we certainly need to do that. But, the authors suggest that emotional intelligence “contributes 80 to 90 percent of the competencies that distinguish outstanding from average leaders — and sometimes more.”

They admit that this is a “rule of thumb” and a precise measure is dependent on many factors. But we know, as leaders, that we’ve seen great ideas flounder or die because advocates weren’t aware of how they were coming across or hadn’t built up the people capital necessary to support the idea.

Regardless of the ratios involved, the authors are onto something: Emotional intelligence is a significant aspect of leadership.

So, how does one incorporate recognition of the importance of emotional intelligence into leadership development efforts? If a leader needs to develop an aspect of emotional intelligence, is it even possible for that person to change?

What are emotional styles?

Dr. Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley, authors of “The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live — and How You Can Change Them,” suggest that it is possible for people to adapt certain emotional patterns.

Using his 30 years of research in affective neuroscience, Davidson has identified six “emotional styles.”

Resilience: How rapidly or slowly does one recover from adversity?

Outlook: How long does positive emotion persist following a joyful event?

Social Intuition:  How accurate is one in detecting the non-verbal social cues of others?

Context: How well do you regulate your emotions to take your context into account?

Self-Awareness: How aware are you of bodily signals that constitute emotion?

Attention: How focused are you?

Even a cursory review of the six emotional styles will lead one to see connections to important dimensions of emotional intelligence. What if you could help your team members bounce back more quickly from setbacks? What if you could keep a positive attitude that helps keep the troops motivated and promotes creativity? How could you become either more focused or less single-minded? Each point should have relevance to you. Would that be worth some time and effort for you to explore?

Andy Kanefield is the founder of Dialect Inc. and co-author of “Uncommon Sense: One CEO’s Tale of Getting in Sync.” Dialect helps organizations improve alignment and translation of organizational identity. To explore how to use the principles of neuroscience to promote better organizational alignment, you may reach Andy at (314) 863-4400 or [email protected]

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