Most CLOs have mastered the tangible aspects of their work: managing cost, making critical decisions on what needs to be taught (as well as when and to whom) and how to deliver learning so that it is retained and practiced to the best advantage on the job.
But the intangibles — things such as soft skills and emotional intelligence — remain a bit more difficult to handle.
Emotions, or a lack of emotional control, often make the day’s news as company leaders are called out not just for misbehaving but for the business impact of their angry or questionable reactions and behaviors. Emotional intelligence (the ability to recognize and positively manage your emotions, as well as those of others and in groups) can help. There is some speculation on its effectiveness, though — is such a concept really teachable?
Yes, says Jackie Green, American Management Association portfolio manager.
“Emotional intelligence is a flexible skill that can be learned,” Green said. “It’s not like IQ, which we’re born with and once you get to be a certain age, you can’t do anything to develop. Emotional intelligence, you can learn and develop. If we recognize or acknowledge the importance of building relationships, getting along with people and using that to be productive in the workplace, developing emotional intelligence can be the key to being successful.”
Green said emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman estimated emotional intelligence can account for 85 percent or more of effective leaders and individual contributors’ success.
Thus, the more one absorbs the skills of emotional intelligence (e.g., self-awareness or understanding your own emotions, what drives you, gets you excited or incites passion), the better you are able to choose more-effective behaviors.
Often taught using theory and case studies in an instructor-led classroom setting, the development of emotional intelligence might require practicing self-skills via role-play and reflection exercises.
Using theory as a foundation to aid learning is equally important, however — Green said theory-based discussions on how best to channel your emotions to motivate and inspire yourself, take initiative, accept challenges and remain optimistic all begin with self-assessment.
“Some people call it self-management — managing your own personal feelings, being able to express them in appropriate ways, knowing things that would trigger you,” Green said. “For example, if every time someone interrupts you, you get angry, that’s a trigger. When someone interrupts, you need to recognize that is your normal pattern and break that. It’s about knowing your own emotional response to different things. How do you manage and regulate that using good judgment and being positive?”
The second component of emotional intelligence, referred to as social awareness or empathy, examines interactions with others.
CLOs might want to flesh out learning or realizations in this area with action or development planning. Essentially, “Now that you’ve learned this, what are you going to do with the information once you’re back in the office?”
Green said it can help to name concrete examples of intended behavior. She also said using a journal to chronicle ways to adjust or change their current, problematic behaviors can help learners cement their intended commitments.
“It’s interpersonal awareness, situational awareness, tuning in to the feelings and emotions of others, being interested in others and what concerns them,” Green explained. “The other piece is social skills, effective relationship management, managing the emotions of others, influencing, leading, actively listening, building trusting relationships, coaching, de-escalating conflict, managing the whole relationship.
“For the leader of a group or department or division, some of their responsibilities include modeling all of this, certainly demonstrating the skills, and creating the environment that supports emotional intelligence, recognition of emotions and dealing with emotional situations that may evolve in the workplace.”
Green said modern business practices have contributed to a need for emotional intelligence in the marketplace, as well as recognition of its importance and impact.
“There’s acceptance now that people have emotions and that they may demonstrate them in a positive way or a negative way, and the negative way can impact performance. We know people are hired for their IQ or functional expertise and are promoted or are more successful because of their emotional intelligence,” Green said. “We have seen through evaluations from seminar participants that by learning strategies and practicing them, they can go back and comport themselves or do things differently for greater success in working with people and being more productive in their workplaces.”