Emotional Intelligence is a thread that facilitates sustainable capabilities, and within an ever-changing climate, is more important than ever. Reflecting on PSI's "Development from the Inside Out" conference, a day of in-depth learning and real life stories of the power of Emotional Intelligence, here were some of the key themes that are critical to most, if not all, workplaces today:
Authenticity for individuals:
Keynote speaker, Duncan Forbes, Chief People Officer at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, discussed the importance of authenticity in a time when productivity has fallen. It is more important than ever that we bring our “whole selves” to work to ensure teams are more productive as we are “at our best when we bring our whole selves to the workplace.” Organisations need to invest in their leaders and their people to bring more emphasis on authenticity as individuals perform at their best when they are doing what they enjoy. We all have the same worries and bringing a more human element to organisations and leadership is key to raising productivity in a time where we are continuously stretched.
Authenticity is key for collaboration:
Authenticity is also the key to collaboration – something that is difficult to achieve but essential for productivity – but it takes Emotional Intelligence to move from "just talking to collaborating." An analogy from Duncan that stuck with me from the day was that of choosing a new kitchen in your family home. You wouldn’t put a suggestions box in the kitchen to gather feedback from your family, so why do we do this in the workplace? It is this that highlights the importance of bringing authenticity to work through Emotional Intelligence – allowing individuals within organisations to bring their real selves and move away from talking and toward collaboration by exchanging a dialogue of what is important.
2. Change and a culture of inclusivity
In a world of technology and change, organisations need to think completely differently. All sectors are faced with change – the challenges and the benefits – but how organisations approach it is the key to success. Old management techniques are no longer effective, and within an ever-changing climate, more needs to be done to help organisations and their leaders. From smart cities to job automation, Emotional Intelligence is a key element that can help individuals navigate turbulent times.
The construction industry is not immune to change, as SKANSKA’s Head of Leadership and Capability, Paula Lindores, explained. Paula highlights the importance that EI has played at SKANSAK during a time of considerable change: “with these new opportunities, come new responsibilities.” SKANSKA has now placed a focus on ethical leadership and to create a culture of inclusivity that embraces diversity. And, EI is now one of the top 10 competencies for the construction industry, a stark change from 2016, where it didn’t even make the list.
3. Defences in turbulent times
During times of considerable change, it is essential that organisations facilitate learning for individuals to provide a greater understanding of defences. Jo Maddocks, Chief Psychologist at PSI, explains that “under pressure, individuals may revert to 'defensive habits,' or rigid attitudes and behaviours that derail effective performance. Defensive habits often form during childhood in order to protect oneself from painful emotions and feeling threatened.” Defences come to the fore when individuals are facing uncertainty, and this can derail productivity, and is therefore detrimental from a personal and organisational level.
Organisations often fail to recognise how important relationships and jobs are for people, providing a purpose and support. Building EI within an organisation and among leaders is the key to building relationships and it is connections that facilitate transitions through change.
One organisation that has thrived in this turbulent climate is Seasalt. James Hampton, Head of Development and Engagement at Seasalt, has focused on helping individuals find their purpose and personal agenda which, in turn, has led to considerable commercial success. Employees throughout Seasalt are more invested in customers and this is demonstrated all the way to the shop floor. Ultimately, EI helped Seasalt to focus on the human workplace experience, creating the right environment for employees to feel psychologically safe at work and equip leaders to empower others.
PSI’s "Development From the Inside Out" conference showcased the positive impact EI can have at both an individual and organisational level. A common thread was that focusing on individuals within an organisation and investing in development via Emotional Intelligence is what helps drives wider organisational success during turbulent times. Ultimately, when leaders behave authentically during times of change they can shape the future success of an organisation no matter what the challenge it is that they face.