In the post-pandemic hybrid world, people are craving reconnection. They are looking to rebuild trust in organizations that look and function differently than they did just a few years ago. Leaders of teams know they must foster new ways of connection among their teams. Growing your leadership team’s emotional intelligence is key to building a connection and managing the increasingly diverse needs of employees, while creating a healthy and engaged organization.
This quote now holds meaning for teams at work:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead, Cultural anthropologist
For the thoughtful, committed teams I have worked with recently, I have observed them having a tremendous experience with each other when they focused on identifying their own level of emotional intelligence, and working to gain an understanding of their own trust-growth opportunities. Then they can leverage trust to have conversations that strengthen their commitment on the team.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how well we:
- Perceive and express ourselves
- Develop and maintain social relationships
- Cope with challenges
- Use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way (2012, Multi-Health Systems Inc.)
To learn more about emotional intelligence, and the importance of it to leaders, please see my previous article: Emotional Intelligence: How Leaders Can Use it to Their Advantage
5 Benefits to Growing Your Team’s Emotional Effectiveness
In the Queen’s IRC custom “Building Team Trust with Emotional Intelligence” program, leadership teams learn about emotional intelligence, and they explore how that relates to different levels of trust from individual, team, and organizational perspectives.
Below are 5 benefits to teams experiencing this program together. They are highlighted with some of the emotional intelligences:
- Understanding Emotional Reactions and Triggers as a Team
There is value in the group learning together about emotional intelligence when they realize that they aren’t alone in learning how to become more emotionally effective. For example, Emotional Self-Awareness is one of the emotional intelligences that the team benefits from talking about. If a team is able to understand emotional reactions and triggers, then they can benefit from sharpening this understanding. If there is any tension in the team, it could be because there are moments of unawareness of how emotions are impacting the group. The team could put these emotions to positive use instead of being derailed by them.
“We are similar in our journeys, but sometimes you can feel alone at work.” – team member
- Leveraging Empathy
Training all leaders together creates space for people to step out of their departmental box. All levels of leadership participate including supervisors, managers and the CEO. This program is a customized way to promote open communication and collaboration, which often results in them getting to know each other better. One of the best emotional intelligences to leverage is Empathy, where they get to spend time understanding and appreciating how each other feels. For teams that have a lower score for empathy, it may be beneficial to think about how to ensure group consensus is reached before carrying out a decision; this is especially helpful during times where individuals’ worries or concerns take over instead of gaining an understanding of how decisions can be made that would beneficial everyone. Trust is strengthened in the team as they use empathy as a regular tool to be gaining insights into each other’s perspectives.
“I experienced growth as a collective and individually… Helped me to not just think of me, but to think of the team.” – team member
- Using Reality Testing
By experiencing the build of a Trust Fit Plan, the team co-creates solutions to using emotional intelligence to their collective advantage. Reality Testing is one of the emotional intelligences used by teams who want to honestly rebuild and repair trust. Reality testing is about remaining objective and seeing things as they really are, versus seeing things the way you want to see them. (2012, Multi-Health Systems Inc.) Teams that can view situations from an objective stay point do strengthen their decision-making ability; however, during stressful times, emotions can impact how realistic they are in approaching challenges. When teams focus on accurately assessing a situation and understanding why the reasons occurred, trust becomes a stronger characteristic of the team.
“There are opportunities to rebuild together now.” – team member
- Building Confidence and Trust
Team members say they have more confidence in the group after sharing and participating in the discussions. They express feeling ready to do the work that needs to be done by making trust a part of their regular conversations – in other words, this program helps teams to look forward. By doing this work together, it helps teams to identify how to be more emotionally effective with each other, which can result in them finding new ways to do the work. Optimism is an emotional intelligence that teams leverage in order to see the best in people, and it helps to remain hopeful about the future despite challenges and issues. Conflict can be a natural result of diversity, so teams that leverage diversity make better decisions and create more trustworthy workplaces.
“So much wisdom in this group. Now, I would trust you all in a decision. Ready to embrace a new way of working with each other.” – team member
- Developing Interpersonal Trust
One participant said that this opportunity to be vulnerable in the group during the program was key to her learning experience. During the program, there are many small group break out discussions where team members can openly explore how the organization facilitates trust with their stakeholders too – the program looks outside of the organization’s walls so that teams can see themselves as a collective group who are co-creating for their customers, clients and the public in general. The emotional intelligence at play here is interpersonal relationships which is about creating relationships based on mutual respect and trust. This takes time. This 2-day program fully dedicates the time to learn way more about each other than a normal work environment permits; this is one of the most common elements teams build into their Trust Fit Plans: time and space to stay connected.
“Free of judgement to learn in this space that is fully dedicated to team trust”. – team member
Building Team Trust with Emotional Intelligence
This two-day custom program is based on our open enrollment Building Trust in the Workplace program. While many parts of the open program are also included when running in-house training, running custom training for your internal leadership team provides the opportunity for building trust and learning together as a team. Some of the highlights of the program are:
- Prior to the program, each team member completes a confidential self-assessment online survey.
- During the program, we explore the different emotional intelligences and participants receive their Individual EI Leadership Self-Assessment report.
- We share a Group Profile – this provides a lens through which to interpret emotional intelligence (EI) results in a team or group setting. (It combines scores of individual self-assessments which is helpful to learn how they contribute to the collective EI of the team.)
- Participants diagnose their organization’s current state, and collaborate to design a “Trust Fitness Plan” for their team by using the emotional intelligences.
Phases of Strengthening Team Emotional Effectiveness
As teams work together to strengthen their emotional effectiveness, they will follow these phases:
- They learn the Concept of emotional intelligence.
- They start to Experiment with the concepts by imaging saying or doing something differently.
- After the program, they have an Experience by trying it out and actually saying or do something differently.
- They Reflect and think about what it was like having that experience: How did you feel? What did you notice in the other person? Impact? Outcome?
- Repeat the phases like a fitness rep. The phases of learning constantly repeat, just like our actions for healthy living, like taking a fitness class. We don’t check off the fitness box and say “well, I exercised, so I am done doing that forever.” The analogy to fitness is the foundation of the Trust Fit Plan where the team EI repetitions are embedded into how they work together.
About the Author
Linda Allen-Hardisty is an organizational development professional (Queens IRC OD Certificate), an executive coach (ICF PCC professional designation), a team coach (EMCC Global Accreditation), and a Forbes Coaches Council contributing member. She’s built a reputation as a vibrant, contemporary voice in the business world by blending her grounding in OD with a practical approach to addressing organizational challenges and opportunities. With a Masters of Education from the University of Regina, Linda’s uniqueness is that, prior to private practice, she fulfilled corporate leadership roles including the Director of Organizational Development in a company listed on the Hewitt Top 50 Employers in Canada and became the first Manager of Strategy and Performance for a municipal government undertaking cultural transformation. Over her 20-year OD career, she has helped many leaders – from corporate executives to entrepreneurs – improve their personal and professional success. She is a sought-after facilitator and advisor for executive development, strategy and change, team effectiveness, and emotional intelligence.
Linda is the lead facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Building Trust in the Workplace program, which runs in cities across Canada and virtually. She facilitates custom programs with a wide variety of organizations, including union groups, government organizations and private companies.