How can emotional intelligence improve team dynamics?
Emotional intelligence (Ei) has become an essential mechanism for gauging team dynamics. If you are unsure what emotional intelligence means, simply put they are social and emotional skills and strengths that enable you to be successful both personally and professionally.
Emotionally intelligent managers and leaders have the ability to recognise and understand emotions and the skill to use this awareness to manage themselves and their relationships with others.
Ei has been around under various names since the 70s, but the focus on group development has lagged behind its growth as an individual competency. As the business world becomes increasingly connected, the complex systems require a collaborative group effort instead of individual support. Group dynamics, a personal connection to purpose, culture, emotion and behaviour are proving to be the key to engagement, longevity, and success.
Collaborative team leaders and members who are emotionally intelligent are essential to developing a working climate where employees are encouraged to perform to the best of their ability. Collaboration, though, requires more than directing a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.
Developing a strong team is much easier said than done. You need to go beyond drinks together after work or team bonding away days!
How can Ei help leaders improve team dynamics?
Leadership cannot exist without strong relationships. An emotionally intelligent leader can develop and maintain relationships that are built on trust. They appreciate how other people feel and they know and understand their team’s hidden strengths. Skills that enable them to motivate and engage with others, driving performance and profit.
If you’re in a leadership position, you might be reading this thinking…
“I’m not the best people-person, but I have great technical knowledge, so therefore I am the most qualified for this leadership position.”
I challenge you to think again. Think about any boss you’ve had that was cold. The one that quickly became irritated and made life difficult for the staff under them. Were you willing to give your maximum effort to them?
Coaching is the most effective method for improving in areas of EI deficit. Having expert support during your ups and downs as you practice operating in a new way is invaluable.
If your leader is not in control of his or her emotions, it’s understandable to lose confidence and support for them. Alternatively, if you notice your boss has no understanding or consideration of staff feelings, they will also be less effective in maintaining cohesion and team effectiveness. Is that the kind of boss you want to be?
Employees need to have faith in their leader. As trust slips, so do relationships, and consequently any potential for successful collaboration.
A leader high in emotional intelligence, therefore, can accurately gauge how their followers feel, using that information to deliver directives in a way that will resonate with the team. The result – a team who are receptive and supportive of the goals and objectives of the organisation.
Why is Ei important for your team to improve team dynamics?
The motivations of each person on a team contribute to the team dynamic and its decisions by influencing patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. These factors affect the team’s performance by their approach to task completion and how they interact with each other.
In a perfect world, each person would naturally contribute their strengths for the betterment of the team but when the group lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate, the decision-making quality and speed suffers. Unfortunately, people often see the world through their own filter.
By developing intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, employees will be able to move beyond typical disagreements and distractions that are a part of working within a team and complete tasks more efficiently and effectively.
Assessing situations from other points of view contributes to improved comradery, trust, and confidence in the capabilities of the collaborative team and more goals can be accomplished.
Knowing that Dave is motivated by a concern for task completion and so is quick to challenge indecisiveness, you know to start with the goal and get to the point quickly, without wasting time or engaging in overly social matters.
If Dave knows that Steve prefers taking time to consider his decisions before moving forward on the most logical path, he can be prepared to present supportable facts calmly and methodically, without jumping to conclusions, rushing him, or trivialising the need for structure and a plan.
If Steve knows Sarah is motivated by the welfare of others and a desire to helps others succeed, he knows to show particular regard and appreciation for her and others, linking the benefits of the task completion to the positive effect it will have on others. He also knows to avoid being aloof and distant, which he tends to do when considering all the possible options.
So what can staff do to improve team dynamics? What can leaders encourage staff to do?
The good news is that teams can develop greater emotional intelligence to increase their empathy and boost their performance. By educating the individuals within a team to understand and utilise their emotional intelligence, a more cohesive and productive workgroup can emerge.
One of the ways teams can create better self-awareness is through the use of assessments to understand themselves and others. Assessments can show individuals how they have natural preferences or focus towards taking in information, organising their work, communicating, and making decisions.
A better understanding of their own style leads to acceptance and understanding of how team members are different – not better or worse, just different in the ways they organise their work and their world – and how they all contribute to the team dynamic.
Without Ei, teams can continue through the motions of participation and cooperation, but the team will not be as effective as it could be because members will hold back rather than fully engage.
Everyone has emotions, and business can bring out the best and worst of those feelings. Having resources for allowing emotion to factor into work is much healthier for team attitude than pretending that big, frustrated elephant isn’t in the room.
Ultimately, raising an employee’s Ei awareness will benefit the individual, the department, the team, and the company.