So far, this module should have helped you understand the ways in which an appreciation of emotional intelligence can strengthen your impact as a Senior Practitioner and change leader. It may also have opened up further insights into the underlying factors shaping workplace culture and practice in your organisation, and helped to identify potential levers – and obstacles – on the path to effective change.
You will certainly have recognised the importance of emotional intelligence at senior team and line management levels, and the need to harness it in support of your change initiative. A single senior team member with low EI can have an extraordinarily negative impact on any attempt to change; on the other hand, a senior team that is aware and actively working to improve its individual and collective EI can be one of the most important assets available to support successful transformation.
- The first step is to raise awareness amongst key stakeholders, especially senior team members, of how behaviour affects the performance, engagement and wellbeing of others. In many cases, an introductory Emotional Intelligence workshop will in itself make a significant impact on how people act and behave.
You can also instigate other conversations on EI, for example at team or departmental meetings and time-outs, gradually raising awareness across the whole organisation. This may include exploration with individual teams about how they experience leadership and management, and how this is reflected in, for example, their Diagnostic scores or performance. Your tutor can also signpost you to specific tools that help to build team-wide emotional intelligence.
- You may well find that some people initially reject the idea of emotional intelligence, and will be in denial about their impact on others, perhaps because they find it difficult to take responsibility for the culture of their team or organisation. EI invites people to challenge their own mindsets and behaviours, in some cases throwing an unwelcome light on their styles of leadership and management.
Identifying those resistant to change at an early stage can enable you to minimise their ability to spread negativity. As a Senior Practitioner, you may find that arranging a one-to-one conversation is an effective way of helping individuals to reflect on their own behaviour, perhaps linking it to the Diagnostic results, performance data or other sources of employee feedback. One potential starting point for discussion is to explore the experiences that individuals have had with their managers in the past, and how these have influenced their current style of leadership. Depending on the position in the organisation of the person involved, you may also wish to involve a sympathetic member of the senior team in this conversation. Your tutor can also provide further support whenever necessary.
Ultimately difficult decisions may be required when individuals are unwilling to change despite every assistance in helping them to do so. The person involved may have specific talents of value to the organisation that can be better used in positions not involving leading or managing people directly (take a look at The Fluid Organisation section in the Structures, Management & Processes module); their re-allocation to roles that better reflect their actual aptitudes could represent a positive bonus both to them and to the organisation as a whole.
If, on the other hand, it is clear that the person concerned no longer fits within the organisation, the difficult decision to remove them may, in the long run, prove easier than dealing with the consequences of retaining them.
- The relationship between EI, flexibility and adaptiveness to change has been a consistent theme throughout this module. People demonstrating high levels of emotional intelligence are less susceptible to stress and its physiological responses (Schneider, Lyons & Khazon, 2013; see also a study of EI and stress amongst mental health workers). We can think of this as resilience – not just the ability to withstand the disruption of change but welcoming it as an opportunity for learning and growth. In this sense, resilience lies at the heart of workplace innovation and people-centred change.
As a Senior Practitioner, an important part of your role is to lead your organisation and its people towards win-win outcomes: enhanced performance for your organisation and, for its employees, opportunities for personal development leading to enhanced job satisfaction and wellbeing. In the People-Centred Change section of the Practitioner Programme, we emphasise the need for openness, trust and reassurance as preconditions for engaging employees in workplace innovation – in short, Senior Practitioners must build a climate of psychological safety (see the Understanding the impact of emotional intelligence across your organisation section of this module) for all those involved in change.
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