Leading for the Future with EI

By April 20, 2016CEO Newsletters

Leading for the Future with EI

April 2016
Author: Mareike Walter-Paschkowski, Regional Manager Middle East & Africa, Logistics Executive Group

Various trends and developments force companies and organizations to rethink and refocus on how to attract and develop talent for the future. Below I would like to highlight 2 trends that will have an impact on most organizations and one fascinating way to approach this.

Industry 4.0 seems to be the current buzzword in the economic world, I mention this as it was a regular theme that was discussed when the top management of the 350 biggest companies around the globe were interviewed by the World Economic Forum in order to analyze the impact of recent developments in industrial automation. This as yet unpublished study predicts that due to increasing use of automation and the proceeding digitization of the working environment and processes the industrialized countries will lose 5 million jobs within the next 5 years. This will mainly affect jobs in offices or administrative positions with highly standardized duties, indicated by the fact that automation changes have already taken place in most factories and manufacturing plants. In contrast the study predicts that only 2 million new jobs will be created and the majority of these will require specialists in the areas of I.T. and technology. What we also see is that many companies still underestimate the importance of certain skills (i.e. change management, project management, communication and conflict management) it is essential to utilize this development in the best possible way. Businesses that are able to meet individual employee expectations will win the battle for talent in the future.

Support current and future employees to gain the hard and soft skills needed to face the changes coming with the Industry 4.0.

Create a comprehensive, forward looking HR strategy that respects the values and strength of individuals in their organization.

A sustainable footprint is more than ever on the agenda for organizations, companies and individuals. Faced with developments such as climate change, shortage of natural resources and a shifted awareness of clients and employees to more sustainable products & services, making a transition to a sustainable business presents significant opportunities. Companies that are ahead of the game, leading the way to embedded sustainability into the very core of their strategy and operations, are the ones most likely to succeed in the face of current and future challenges. In 2005 the World Summit on Social Development identified 3 areas to focus on, including economic and social development as well as environmental protection. What we actually see today is that most companies and organizations still focus more on the economic and environmental aspect of sustainability. The social aspect is largely ignored and the impact widely underestimated. To get the most out of sustainability activities, companies will have to take all 3 areas of sustainability into account, as they are interrelated and as such influence each other.

Implement and integrate a comprehensive sustainability strategy that generates a shift from “nice to have” to “business as usual”.

Focus on the people aspect of sustainability even if its more difficult to calculate the business case behind these activities.

Taking all of the above into account, it can be safely assumed that the 21st century is an era of rapid modernization and change and this pertains to politics, the economy and increasingly towards social systems. Stability and predictability are factors we can no longer rely on in today’s world. From a human resource perspective these developments create the need for urgent and fundamental change in the way we attract, manage and develop people.
Historically, IQ was the most important factor for a successful career. But today people and especially leaders need to develop many additional qualities which will enable them to effectively deal with stress, ever changing work processes and a lack of job security. In this new viral world, personal impressions make a difference, emotions and personal values have increasingly made their way into our professional and business lives.

That’s why it’s even more important to understand the dynamics of how and why some people handle change and challenges more successfully than others.

Many concepts have been evolved to explain what enables certain people to be more successful than others, and today’s understanding is that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is one factor in this. Certainly this is not a new insight as the impact and processes behind EI have been widely examined over the last 20 years but facing Industry 4.0 as well as the trend into a sustainable business it might be the perfect time to have another look at what is really driving successful people.

What is EI?
Following Travis Bradberry and his book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” (2009) there are 3 factors that make a person “tick”. IQ, EI and Personality. According to his findings there is no known connection between IQ and EI and it’s not possible to predict emotional intelligence based on how smart someone is or what kind of personality he has. Another finding is that IQ and personality (for adults) stay stable over a lifetime and doesn’t change. Interestingly for EI there is a uniform understanding that the related skills build up on each other and – independent of age – can be enhanced with suitable training.

A famous theoretical model created by Daniel Goleman includes 4 main aspects of Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness, Social-Awareness, Self-Management and Relationship-Management.

He defined EI as “the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively), and learning how to manage those emotions – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure.”


Is there a link between leadership styles and EI?
Furthermore his consulting firm Hay/McBer analyzed the relationship between EI and leadership styles. They found 6 distinct leadership styles, each springing from different components of emotional intelligence. The research summarized the styles, their origin, when they work best and their impact on an organizations climate.

The main findings were summarized as following:

  • The 6 styles, taken individually, appear to have a direct and unique impact on the working atmosphere of a company (climate), division or team, and in turn, on its financial performance.
  • The research indicates that leaders with the best results do not rely on one leadership style, they use most of them in a given week – seamlessly and in different measure – depending on the business situation.
  • According to report, the visionary leadership style has the most positive effect on working atmosphere of a company, but 3 others Affiliate, Democratic and Coaching, follow close behind. That said, the research indicates that no style should be relied on exclusively and all have at least short term uses.

How to measure your EI?
There are various tools and platforms available that support individuals and organizations to measure and understand Emotional Intelligence. The EQ-I (Bar-On) is a self-report instrument to assess those personal qualities that enable some people to possess better emotional well-being than others. The Emotional Competence Inventory (Goleman) is a 360 degree instrument, where people evaluate the individuals within an organization (Individual Feedback Reports), or the organization as a whole (Work Force Audits). These audits can provide an organizational profile for any size group within the company. In addition there are various training and certification programs available which enable leaders or people in HR related functions to broaden and professionalize their EI skills and expertise. Finally for all employees coaching and mentoring programs can add an incredible value to understand and develop Emotional Intelligence.

What are the Pros and Cons?
When EI found its way into the corporate world various studies and reports have analyzed the impact and significance of EI. Especially in the beginning most research illustrated highly positive outcome for organizations if they focus on EI in their Talent Acquisition and Development programs. Recent examples such as the Global Empathy Index (2015) from the Lady Geek advocacy agency shows that businesses are more profitable and productive when they act ethically, treat their staff well, and communicate better with their customers. The top 10 companies in the Global Empathy Index 2015 increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings. (For more details go to https://hbr.org/2015/11/2015-empathy-index).

Another example is the EI Consortium that publishes various points that build a case for how emotional intelligence contributes to the bottom line in any work organization. In addition they publish latest research findings that support the positive outcome of EI in the business world. One example: For 515 senior executives analyzed by the search firm Egon Zehnder International, those who were primarily strong in emotional intelligence were more likely to succeed than those who were strongest in either relevant previous experience or IQ. In other words, emotional intelligence was a better predictor of success than either relevant previous experience or high IQ. More specifically, the executive was high in emotional intelligence in 74 percent of the successes and only in 24 percent of the failures. For the full details go to http://www.eiconsortium.org/reports/business_case_for_ei.html.

But as it is with all tools and methods: “Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy” (quote Paracelsus).

Said that, critical voices have come up and new studies show the potential downside of EI. Review finds that, in many studies, poor research methodology has exaggerated the significance of EI. A group of Austrian psychologists for example, reported a correlation between EI and narcissism, raising the possibility that narcissists with high EI might use their “charming, interesting, and even seductive” qualities for “malicious purposes,” such as deceiving others. Another study with college students shows, that people with high EI might be more over-credulous due to overconfidence in their ability to read others.

What to take away?

  • Creating Awareness around Emotional intelligence has never been easier. There is no lack of information and no shortage of partners who can help you to develop, implement and audit a business model that will support you in getting it right. There are various tools and services (training programs, mentoring & coaching) available that help individuals and organization to measure EI and to develop and increase required skills such as Self-Awareness, Social-Awareness, Self-Management and Relationship-Management.
  • To be effective, individuals and especially leaders will need more than ever to be able to influence others through gaining their respect and enlisting their passions. And the more EI skills a leader has at his disposal, the more flexible and seamless he can switch styles depending on the situation and in turn the better the outcome will be. A leadership coaching style is the least utilized but it’s also maybe the most effective style to add to your soft skills portfolio.
  • Higher emotional intelligence translates into better performance. Especially in jobs that require extensive attention to emotions (this counts for all jobs with social interaction such as sales, marketing, project management and all leadership or management roles).
  • There’s a fine line between motivation and manipulation in relation to EI. People could use emotional intelligence for nefarious ends, but more often, emotional skills will be simply instrumental tools for goal accomplishment.
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Mareike Walter-Paschkowski
Regional Manager Middle East & Africa, Logistics Executive Group

Mareike is a dynamic and engaging Supply Chain project management professional with more than 12 years professional experience in managing complex logistics and supply chain projects. As Practice Leader of Logistics Executive Group in the Middle East, she delivers whole-of-lifecycle talent management including Corporate Advisory Services, Executive Search and Executive Coaching across the supply chain, logistics, FMCG, retail, resources, industrial, disaster relief and humanitarian sectors. A hands-on Consultant working in a team in Dubai together with their offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and London, Mareike holds a PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) foundation and practitioner certification of APMG International.

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