Every day, every month, company owners and industry leaders are served up with significant amounts of financial data to make prudent business decisions.
We delve into balance sheets, profit and loss statements and movements in financial position so we are well-armed to reposition and make change where we need to.
This is called good management.
Imagine for a minute then if you were served up with emotional data that enabled you to make prudent business and relationship decisions.
Would we give it the same emphasis?
I’m going to take a punt here and say NO!
There are many reasons why we don’t use emotional data as effectively and analytically as financial data, however one of the primary ones is that we have not learned the skills to use our emotions intelligently. And yes, emotional intelligence (EI) is an ability, like intellectual ability that many of us need to spend more time developing.
At Everest Group we’ve recently been privileged to be taught the science of emotional intelligence by one of the masters in this field – Sue Langley from the Langley Group in Australia. According to Sue “aligning emotions with information, and learning what that information is telling you, relieves that sense of failure at feeling an emotion, and can help leaders know how to deal with other people’s emotional responses”.
What Sue means here; is that the smart use of emotions can improve our capacity to work well with others, engage with our jobs, manage stress, handle conflict and make fast, effective and informed decisions. Overall, once we become familiar or skilled in understanding what our emotional data is telling us, we can then make good decisions about what to do with that information.
Sue also states that “people with high EI are described as “aware, authentic, empathic, expansive, resilient, empowering and centred” rather than “disconnected, guarded, insensitive, limited, temperamental, indifferent and reactive”. With insight into themselves and others, they recognise the emotions that drive thinking and behaviour, and use that understanding to generate positive outcomes and mood. Attuned to emotions that can disrupt engagement and productivity, they are more able to convert fears and concerns into opportunity and frame challenges constructively.
While some people naturally tune into what others feel and put them at ease, the good news is that EI can be taught and developed.
When you first started on your leadership journey what steps did you take to improve your financial literacy? Did you persevere and hope you got the figures right every month? Did you learn from someone else? Did you go on a course or receive training from a professional? Or were you just great with numbers at school or at university? Whatever path you took, I would like to suggest that over your career you have taken steps to “understand the numbers”. Will 2017 be the year where you take steps to understand the “emotional data” that you are receiving or that’s already happening around you but perhaps without your knowledge?