Influencing for Change in a Divided World

March 28, 2017

 

Leaders are role models; people will follow your example. Is that a good thing?

Divisiveness in the external world is impacting organizational culture. When family members question sharing holidays because they don’t want to hear each other’s differing views, it is certain similar impacts are happening in the workplace. This creates a clarion call for leaders to proactively build an environment that supports connection over separation. We are discussing this vital topic in our webinar.

The source of this sharp discord is often based in value differences and that is what makes many so intransigent. For example, if someone believes it’s only right if people are treated X and someone else says no X – 3 is plenty for some people, emotional responses will be triggered. It’s likely both perspectives can be well argued, but they are hard to hear for the person disagreeing. This can lead to cliques and factions just when you need people to spark creativity in one another because they can think differently. What can a leader do?

Leaders need to start with evaluating their workforce and organizational culture. However, before they can evaluate others, leaders must first be personally accountable. Ask yourself how attached you are to your point of view and your opinions – are you open to hearing very different perspectives? When a position is important to you, can you listen and have a coherent discussion with a colleague or staff person who disagrees? Or do you just walk away? Leaders are role models; people will follow your example. Is that a good thing?

Now discern how your workforce is doing by reaching out and actively listening. You might create a task force to lead the effort. Ask questions and take notes in order to respond.

How are you and your team mates getting along?”

Are you having full discussions or do you stop in order to avoid conflict?”

Are there people here you’re avoiding that you used to work well with?”

On a scale of 1-10 where is our trust level riding these days?”

Give them a sense of how you see issues being discussed, and tell them how you feel. “I feel ___ because _____.” Then actively listen and role model how to respond to one another. “It sounds like maybe you feel ___ because ______.”

Talk about what you are learning while using all your smarts – IQ and EQ. if there’s an elephant in the room, expose the discord in a manner that keeps the conversation safe for exploration. That means that above all else everyone is treated with respect. Leaders are responsible for insisting on a safe environment that maintains the value that while disagreements happen, there can also be very solid areas of agreement. You want your staff to be able to move on from the difficult conversation and continue their work together with a willingness to listen and share.

Once understanding is gained on workforce connectivity, leaders need to guide the desired change that can expand collaboration over separation. In doing so, success requires understanding the personalities of leaders and staff related to making changes. Data helps guide strategically targeted interventions. The Change Style Indicator® (CSI) identifies three styles of change. Through this assessment people find they are Conservers (prefer to accept the structure and make incremental change), Pragmatists (will explore the structure and support change that is functional), or Originators (comfortable with challenging the structure and preferring expansive change). These are big differences, and it is quite possible all preferences are represented in your workforce. To implement the change successfully people preferring each of the change approaches need to be brought on board. Without doubt, it’s tempting to say “Just do it!” The problem is that quick dictate can’t change internal states that are leading to the divisiveness. A defined viable path needs to be created. The foundation of change is strengthened with mutually agreed values, such as everyone deserves to be respected. Then use flexibility to gain buy-in and changed behavior from the whole staff through process that influence change and show how with emotional intelligence skills.

Throughout this process leaders are influencing people to change their behavior. No one can make someone else hold different values or communicate differently. What leaders can do is invite changes, demonstrate the inclusive language, hold staff accountable and use many other strategies to influence success. Once again, data helps. The Influence Style Indicator™ guides leaders and staff to understand the approaches they now use and to recognize how to expand their repertoire of influence strategies. Leaders charged with building rapport and engagement need to select influencing approaches that walk their talk. Two orientations are possible – advocating or uniting. Then having chosen the overall approach the specific styles a leader might employ are rationalizing, asserting, negotiating, inspiring and bridging. It is easy to argue that for a change such as building collaboration through improved communications and patience that inspiring and bridging are the best strategies. However, use caution in narrowing your style. Check out the preferences in the workforce. For example, sometimes assertiveness is required to set boundaries for what is acceptable.

Emotional intelligence skills contain the wherewithal to actually make the changes once leaders have selected their change and influence strategies. Making cultural shifts of this importance can well call on all 16 skills of the EQi. The most impactful are:

  • Emotional self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Assertiveness
  • Optimism – and Happiness

These are skills that can be learned, sharpened and tailored to specific circumstances. Many of our books and other articles show you how.

Demonstration of super respect, with reciprocity, makes the fundamental difference. This introduces new awareness and connectivity. Successful leaders will use their skills to understand the diversity of their workforce and how to approach change and influence their staff and co-workers. Then they will apply emotional intelligence skills to accomplish the desired behavioral change.

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Avoid Emotional Intelligence Pitfalls at Work

May 28, 2016

pitfall_guyFrequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Do you agree? Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below.

  • Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.
  • Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

Pitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.

trap-jump-pitfall

  • Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.
  • Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.

people-puzzle

  • Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.
  • Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.

 

  • Pitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.
  • Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. People can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

angry-redhoop

  • Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.
  • Better EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.

 

 


Inside Out for Adults – Mindfulness

July 27, 2015
pixar-pic

Inside Out – Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures

Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness interact in Inside Out, a 2015 American computer-animated comedy-drama film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. The film is set in the mind of an 11 year old girl, Riley, who has been very happy until her parents uproot her as they move from Minnesota to San Francisco. She becomes unhappy in her new world without friends and her emotions go through considerable turbulence before they get it together and help her tell her parents of her troubles. Riley’s parents comfort her and a year later she has friends and a new capacity to hold emotional complexity. Go see the movie; it’s good for all ages!

There’s much more to the story, which does an excellent job of showing how emotions activate our responses, work with memories and can lead us to derail or succeed. Emotions always influence our behavior and our decisions. The question is how to engage with our emotions so we are successful and the movie helps us learn more about how this process works.

One key component in Inside Out is the interplay between the emotions of joy and sadness. Joy has run Riley’s emotions much of her life until the move, and then Sadness begins to have impacts. Joy seeks to prevent Sadness having an influence, but after a fairly difficult adventure they learn of the importance of these two emotions working together. While Joy and Sadness are gone on their learning journey, Fear, Anger and Disgust start guiding Riley’s behavior, which leads to starting to run away and other consequences.

Adults can learn a great deal from this reflection on emotional interaction. We can stop and reflect asking ourselves:

  • “What emotions run my show? What are the consequences?
  • “Would I like to make any changes?”
  • “What one change would I like to inquire about first?”

Personal Inquiry is an opportunity to stop and listen, to reflect, recognize and perhaps reorganize our thoughts or our behavior. It is a key part of being mindful. Mindfulness has many powerful descriptions created by those who coach or teach personal development or personal evolution. It is core to many spiritual practices and is central to many strategies for expanding emotional and social intelligence. Webster defines mindfulness as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” It’s paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the physical environment without judgment. Mindfulness can be a powerful and restful state.

Stopping, breathing and being mindful provides an opportunity to gain perspective, to allow complexity of emotions to develop as they integrate, and then to peacefully choose your next response instead of being at the effect of a situation. This strategy taps into all 16 EI skills; some of the most prominent are emotional self-awareness, reality testing, impulse control, optimism and happiness.

One excellent article, published by Greater Good in Action, on Inside Out, emphasizes four lessons from children from the movie. Joy worked hard to suppress Sadness in the movie and that can be dangerous the author’s point out. Joy drew a circle away from the action board and asked Sadness to just stand in it so she wouldn’t impact Riley. Emotions can be tough, but they need to be experienced in age appropriate ways. Suppressing sadness can lead to anxiety and depression. Trying to reinterpret an event so it isn’t as difficult, sometimes called cognitive reappraisal or reframing, can cause the message of the difficult emotion to be camouflaged but not eliminated – and this can be costly later on as it could lead to emotional explosion or to self-medicating to keep the emotions away.

One of the best ways of managing impulse control can be to find safe ways to know how we feel and to process responses to those feelings. Then those difficult emotions are not lying in wait to jump out when we’re crossed in just the wrong way. Mindfulness, together with personal inquiry, helps us slow down and recognize the complexity of our feelings and then respond thoughtfully. It helps us manage our Resilience Meter™ as we’ve discussed in other articles. Mindfulness practice holds many gifts including the integration of our emotions at a level that allows us to live the purpose inspired life we prefer.


Avoid Emotional Intelligence Pitfalls at Work

October 31, 2014

pitfall_guyFrequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Do you agree? Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below. Listen to our recent webinar on these pitfalls and then let us know your thoughts and additional pitfalls you see on our blog

Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.

Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

Pitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.
Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.

Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.
Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.

Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.

Pitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.

Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. As we described in an earlier article, people can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.

Better EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.


Acting With Collaborative Intelligence: Your 10-Step Guide

May 27, 2014

Acting with Collaborative Intelligence: Your 10 Step Guide

team_hugCollaboration is a result of people working together to reach a mutual answer to a challenge or opportunity. As our world becomes more integrated and boundaries become more blurred the need and desire to collaborate is heightened. We see this on the internet, such as with Wikipedia, in organizations of all sizes and shapes, such as the better efforts at the United Nations and in performance goals for individuals and leaders, such as the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ’s) that leaders in the federal senior executive service are to meet.

Organizations frequently list collaboration as part of their mission or vision statement or as one of their values. With all of these forms of embracing collaboration, we know it’s something good, the key question is how do we collaborate and when is it useful? We’ll answer this question for individuals by exploring 10 steps for individuals to follow in order to act collaboratively and briefly review how teams build collaboration.

Collaborative Growth Team ModelCollaborative Intelligence™ is a key outcome teams can reach as they build their skills. Collaborative intelligence is a result teams profit from when using the seven skills measured by the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey. When teams build their skills in forming a strong team identity, engaging with motivation, building emotional awareness, enhancing communications, supporting one another in work life balance to manage stress, growing their conflict resolution skills so they can benefit when conflict occurs and act with positive mood they will be engaging multiple strengths and acting collaboratively. Developing these seven skills helps team members learn how to be collaborative and to use this outcome wisely.

Collaboration is a communication and problem solving process that is based on a structured engagement style and process. Those who collaborate well pay attention to personality styles, behavioral engagement strategies, and timing of the decision making as well as who is invited into the discussion, often referred to a stakeholders. Individuals and organizations can act in a collaboratively style informally and accomplish a great deal. More formal collaborative process can be deliberately engaged in more challenging situations and may benefit from engaging a facilitator. Because the process can be slow and deliberative it may be the wrong formal process to use in an emergency, when a quick decision is needed or when the stakes are low, such as choosing where to have lunch. Even in these circumstances when individuals act with a demonstration of inclusivity and intentionally listen to others and incorporate their suggestions as appropriate, they can build buy-in and loyalty that expands their base of support. The following 10 steps will help individuals and leaders be successful in their collaborations. These skills can be integrated into one’s natural behaviors so the benefits of collaboration abound with minimal effort.

10 Steps to Act with Collaborative Intelligence

  1. Be aware. Notice what is happening so you can choose how you are involved. Breathe deeply to benefit from adding oxygen to your brain, to your heart and to feel calm and resilient.

  2. Apply Intention and Attention. Form your intention so you know specifically what you want to accomplish and how. Then decide what steps in the process you will pay attention to in order to keep yourself on track. Intend to collaborate, which means intend to work together, to listen and to respond in order to accomplish your goal together. Clarify your own purpose and goals; this is not a process you can accomplish on auto-pilot.

  3. Commit to the process. Collaboration takes time, energy and patience. If you’re hesitant about using the process you’ll hold back, be protective of “your” information or rush through the process. One way or another without commitment you are most likely to minimize the potential for success. You may end up feeling annoyed or antagonizing others or both.

  4. Attend to others. Create a foundation for engagement by creating a personal connection. It’s out of little personal discussions where you find you have things in common that form the basis for trusting one another. You might find you both have daughters who sell Girl Scout cookies or you might both climb 14,000 foot mountains. Continue paying attention to other participants throughout the process. Often there is a valuable message behind the specific words someone is using; paying attention will help you discern the real message.

  5. Mutually establish goals and other criteria. Be sure you are headed in the same direction!

  6. Express your opinions and share your knowledge. If you keep what you know close to your vest you undermine the ability of everyone to make a good decision, you role model that the process isn’t fully trustworthy and neither are the people involved. Remember your actions speak louder than your words.

  7. List commonalities and differences. It’s amazing how often people struggle over principles they already all agree on because they didn’t take time to recognize the agreement. If you clarify where there are differences and where you agree then you can begin gathering information to move towards a mutual solution.

  1. Apply divergent thinking. Be willing to listen to other people’s perspectives even though they may be very different from yours. At attitude of curiosity will be helpful.

  2. Be appreciative. Keep noticing what works and through this positive process explore what seems to be off-center, to just not work. Explore these inconsistencies with curiosity to find points of agreement.

  3. Make decision(s). At this point everyone comes to a convergent answer and agrees to support the one answer. Before you sign off though, apply some hearty reality testing. Future pace by imaging it’s sometime in the future and you’re observing how well the decision works. Is anything askew? Did you take on too much at once? Does anything else need adjusting? If so make the changes now.

The result of collaborative decisions is that you have tapped into everyone’s smarts, built trust and have gained mutual commitment to success. What’s not to like about that scenario!


Manage Your Resilience Meter: Your Guide to Positivity, Productivity and Well-Being

February 1, 2014

resilience_meterppt_rev2Managing resilience in today’s fast paced world of high expectations is tough.  Change and challenge are often the norm whether it comes from a new program being unveiled, a complete reshuffle due to a merger or parents moving into a care facility.  Too often the challenges become just too much and frequently trigger inflexibility, feelings of overwhelm and loss of composure.

You can build your capabilities so challenging times don’t take you out.  Watch your resilience meter grow to full potential! Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills are fundamental to managing these stress points and maintaining health and well-being.  Six EI skills are pivotal to building your reservoir of emotional reserves: emotional self-awareness, self-regard, impulse control, stress tolerance, optimism, and flexibility.  A healthy use of these skills will build your positivity and create the leverage to promote success at the workplace and personally.

Resilience is of growing interest as researchers demonstrate its influence on physical and mental health, well-being, the aging process and overall quality of life.  Additionally there is growing recognition of the benefits to teams and workplace productivity with a resilient workforce.  There is also a connection with the willingness to take on risks and to explore creative options. If we feel more positive about ourselves and life, we have the energy to experiment.

You have many strategies available to help expand your resilience.  This article will provide tips and strategies as well as review some of the key recognitions about resilience and its connection with positivity.  The root for the word “resilience” is “resile,” which means “to bounce or spring back.” Thus a key part of the definition of resilience is to bounce back.  The definition has expanded to include the ability to contain challenges and to develop reserves that can be tapped into when one is faced with environmental pressures and demands.  When we speak of resilience, we are referring to the ability to keep things in perspective so that many potential challenges are simply taken in stride.  When a large challenge surfaces, there is likely to be stress, but the reserve strength built with resilience allows us to contain the issue rather than going down a negative and downward spiral that starts feeding itself.

Assets and resources within us, our lives and our environment facilitate the capacity for adapting and bouncing back when there is adversity.  Our resilience is likely to ebb and flow not only across our lifetime but even across the day or week if there is a lot going on.  Yet, the more habits we have developed to build and maintain our positivity, the less we will give in to negative emotions and the more we will intentionally seek positive emotions that will enhance our capacities.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity, Crown Publishing, (2009) and Love 2.0, Hudson St. Press, (2013), has provided a great deal to help us understand the field of positivity, which is closely related to resilience.  Should you be working as a coach or team facilitator it’s likely you’ll use the two concepts interchangeably.  As a lead scientist in the field of positivity, Fredrickson demonstrates through her research and that of colleagues that living with a high level of positivity has measurably positive results.

Benefits of Positivity / Resilience

•    Psychological benefits include being more optimistic, more open minded and more willing to check out possibilities.  First, being positive feels good!  Being open minded is critical to noticing and considering multiple options to a challenge.  It means that money, resources, or possibilities aren’t left on the table because our vision is too narrow to see them.  Negativity constricts our thinking and our vision.  It’s costly!
•    Mental benefits include expanding awareness and mindfulness.  It opens our thinking capacity to new possibilities. With positivity we can be better at savoring what works instead of being focused on what doesn’t.  Right away you can see the difference in your stress levels and the toll taken when you are focusing on the positive compared to the negative.

•    Social benefits pay out at the individual, team and workplace levels.  With positivity we have more resilience. Emotions are contagious, thus sharing positive emotions and actions creates an upward spiral of expanding relationships, which then creates reserves for getting through hard times and conflict together.  Resilience is indispensable if collaboration is truly going to occur. There is also interesting research showing that when we approach people with an emphasis on positive engagement racial bias is reduced or disappears.  Positivity, p. 67-68. That has amazing potential!
•    Physical benefits include a higher quality of life and a longer one.  As Barbara Fredrickson writes “positivity is now linked to solid and objective biological markers of health.  For instance, people’s positivity predicts lower levels of stress-related hormones and higher levels of growth related and bond related hormones. Positivity also sends out more dopamine and opioids, enhances immune system functioning and diminishes inflammatory responses to stress.  With positivity you are literally steeped in a different biochemical stew.”  Positivity, pp. 93-94. Thus positivity results in lower blood pressure, less pain, fewer colds and better sleep.  Rest assured for this and the many other health benefits she cites, she backs her assertions up with research citations.  There is even research showing the power of hugs, wonderful, feel-good, authentically caring touch.  Now we knew that, didn’t we!
Three studies reported in a 2006 article on resilience and positivity later in life found that daily positive emotions serve to moderate stress reactivity and mediate stress recovery. They found that differences in psychological resilience accounted for meaningful variation in daily emotional responses to stress. Higher resilience predicted that negative emotions wouldn’t be as impactful, particularly on days characterized by heightened stress. Additionally they found that the experience of positive emotions functions to assist high-resilient individuals in their ability to recover effectively from daily stress. “Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life.” By Ong, Anthony D.; Bergeman, C. S.; Bisconti, Toni L.; Wallace, Kimberly A. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 91(4), Oct 2006, 730-749.

Tips and Strategies
Use your emotional intelligence to grow your positivity and be more resilient.  This is an internal strength so the key skills to grow, which are found in the EQi 2.0 are: self-regard, emotional self-awareness, stress tolerance, flexibility, impulse control and optimism.  The key team competencies focused on in the TESI are Positive Mood and Stress Tolerance.

You can expand your individual resilience by:
•    Redefining productivity from working on emails to getting with someone
•    Prioritize meditation, fun and family
•    Recognize that you are a part of something bigger than yourself
•    Embrace your bigger YES!
•    Develop your 2% Solution as I describe in my book, Life’s 2% Solution.

Team resilience can be expanded by:
•    Recognize that positivity and trust go hand in hand because positivity supports deepening relationships.  Develop positivity deliberately.
•    Social connections are at the heart of team success so take time for building connections – and emphasize it even more if you have a virtual team.  Do something fun together, have a pot luck lunch, and start meetings with going around the team and asking everyone to comment on something particularly interesting or important to them.
•    Our sense of connection drives our willingness to be helpful.  This is the heart of collaboration.  Create connections, have team members work in small groups and then take time to reflect on the experience.  Build awareness of the interpersonal connections as well as of the objective details of the project.


Building Emotional Sustainability

June 3, 2013

people_puzzleThe crisis conditions we see in the planetary environment today are a direct reflection of the crisis conditions we find in the workplace. No oil is spilled, no dangerous levels of carbon dioxide are generated, no toxic chemicals are manufactured, no resources are extracted, no investment vehicles are designed except as the result of people working together to get as much value from their efforts as possible. Here’s the problem: our determination of what is valuable has been distorted by our perception of lack and the fear that this occasions in us at the deepest unconscious levels.  The answer is embedded in using all our forms of intelligence.  One of the most powerful is emotional and social intelligence.

Throughout the history of human cooperation there have been a long series of innovative attempts to find new ways to help people work together in a consistently productive manner. Too often these efforts have been less than fully successful because they lacked one critical component – they were not emotionally sustainable. In other words they do not consistently meet and transform the emotional needs of the people whose effort and cooperation was critical to the success of the mission.

Meeting the emotional needs of a project team for instance, means that the members feel safe and supported, and, when tensions arise, there is a user-friendly and effective means of resolving them. Achieving this dynamic is no small accomplishment, and those organizations that do so reap a handsome reward for their efforts. But there’s more. Transforming the emotional needs of a group of coworkers may be even more important, because this process incorporates developing and integrating the skills of emotional communication in such a way that the costs of conflict distrust and disengagement are continually reduced as team members grow more effective individually and the team grows more integrated as a unit.

The sources of the energy we need to work are primarily biological in nature – nutrition, sleep, and exercise, but the management system that we use to engage and direct the energy is emotional. Our emotional evaluation of the environment tells us what direction to move and how rapidly. People who feel deceived, manipulated, intimidated, taken for granted or worried about their future cannot sustain the attention, communication, and cognitive effort it takes to be fully engaged. More and more of their energy is reallocated to defensive strategic behavior as they seek to stay safe and protect themselves. When you’re feeling threatened you cannot innovate and you don’t want to!

Whether or not it is convenient to the 24/7/365 world of business, the fact is our human needs will always get met in Maslow’s order. We cannot override the unconscious, hardwired, instinctual patterns that organize our behavior, but when we understand how these internal processes work and learn how to cooperate with them consciously they can become assets for balancing production and consumption in a sustainable cycle. Our instincts program us to achieve success at two levels, initially on behalf of our individual survival and then in support of the collective survival of the species. As each of us seeks to outgrow our initial conditions of dependency we learn the very best ways we can to satisfy our personal needs and desires, however eventually, if we have the right models and experiences, we realize that just getting our own needs met is insufficient.

We cannot begin to provide ourselves with everything we need to function in the world today, so over time both cognitive and emotional intelligence has taught us that the quality of our life depends on the quality of the lives of those around us. If others are safe and satisfied and creatively challenged, they are better able to cooperate with us in the interdependent processes of family, community, and commerce that make up human civilization. To our detriment our technological success has created a false vision of independence that makes it seem as if each of us can make it more or less “on our own” because our life support system seems to be accessed through a mechanical interface with “society” or “the economy” rather than cultivated as an intimate relationship with our community. Consequently we are not forced to do the reality testing necessary to determine what level of true empathy and care we need to contribute to the real social network that supports us. Our recent technical “success” has allowed us to withdraw, isolate, and exclude others in ways that are eroding the very foundations of our economic security.

The values that underlie the long-term thinking, visioning, planning, and execution that have built civilization thus far have given way to shorter and shorter profit cycles designed to enrich individuals and companies regardless of what effects they may have on the larger system and those who serve in its other functions. Greed, no matter how cocky and well-heeled it may appear, is always the direct expression of one unsustainable emotion: fear – the fear of not having or being enough. Sometimes it is seen in the external environment, but much more often the lack is perceived as an internal, personal inadequacy that must be compensated for by getting more and more with the King of the Mountain mindset that destroys all hope of social, economic, and environmental balance and jeopardizes survival of the species.

This is a call to action. Achieving emotional sustainability in business requires the courage to value team members’ personal feelings about their work and their organization as critical data that must inform all decision-making. Learning how to contribute and incorporate these feelings in the workflow effectively is a skill as new as iPods. Both teams and leaders need education, training, and practice. The pioneers at Collaborative Growth can facilitate your process. The Team Emotional Social Intelligence Survey (TESI) and the EQi 2.0 can measure your progress.  Stay tuned for more examples of the innovative potential for building sustainable organizations when the core skills of the TESI and EQI 2.0 are used together.  These highly effective strategies for developing an emotionally sustainable workplace are available and critical to our success as a civilization.