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In 2004 when I got the “Best People Manager” award from Azim Premji, there was a request from the HR team to all the recipients of the award, to share their best practices in the upcoming Leadership Programs. When my turn came I put together few slides which were well received and I became a regular speaker in those sessions. My involvement with HR increased after I got the award for the second time in 2006 and in 2009 I moved into Human Resources department full time leading a team of leadership trainers. Since I came from a business background with no formal qualification on HR or Psychology I started enrolling myself in courses on Psychology, Organizational Development, Psychometric Assessments and Train the Trainer Certifications to equip myself to lead the team. During that period, some of the courses required me to go through a research on Emotional Intelligence. I could relate my Best People Manager practices, to the deep work done by renowned psychologists like Richard Boyatzis, Annie Mckee and many others including Daniel Goldman who is well known to many of us in this space.
On one hand, I was fascinated by the importance of this critical skill for every leader and on the other hand I was worried about the ignorance of most of the organizations on imbibing/embedding this in their systems/curriculum. So when I quit Wipro and started Crossover Leadership Partners, I made Emotional Intelligence as our foundation program. To all the 24 customers that we are serving, I personally requested them to do the Emotional Intelligence workshop as the first program for any leadership journey. Since Crossover is now offering Emotional Intelligence as an Open Program, I thought it would be good to share some details of Emotional Intelligence through this blog to help those people who do not get an opportunity in their organization to be part of the workshop. I am sure this blog will help more and more people become aware of this important skill which has not got its due importance yet in corporate as well as academics. While I know that this topic is not a binary topic and is best understood/experienced in a classroom/conversation format, I am still making an attempt through this blog.
Past and Future (Psychology) : Let me begin by sharing how our past can impact our current and future performances. Each one of us take actions based on our past experiences and it is very natural to do so but our past gives us limited options to choose from. Many times it discourages us from taking an action if our past experiences have not given us any success. It is in these moments and situations that Emotional Intelligence helps us to get deeper, and get an access as to why we were unsuccessful and what new actions we can try. Rejection and fear no longer drives our actions but new possibilities and hope helps us create a new future.
Unreal Thoughts : Our mind constantly creates thoughts and many of the thoughts are not based on reality. For many years Wipro’s tagline was “Applying Thought” and I always used to think how sure are Wipro’s leaders about their Thought Before Applying it. Taking actions based on our past is so natural to most of us but the issue is if we don’t spend enough time validating the thought, it may not give us the desired results. Emotional Intelligence helps us to take a pause, analyze the data behind those thoughts, do an inquiry about the stakes involved and only then apply the thought.
Automatic Stories : These thoughts also constantly create perceptions (automatic stories) about people around us and we respond based on those perceptions. The other party then responds based on what was said and possibly the other party also may have their own perception. Gradually it reaches a point where it is difficult to backtrack on where the core issue of the differences started. Emotional Intelligence helps us to learn the art of making a distinction between perception and reality by understanding the neuroscience of how our brain works (biology) and our past experience (psychology).
Shifting Intentions : Our intentions can shift without us even knowing it. You would have experienced that in many conversations you begin with the intention of coming to a common ground on an issue but the conversation does not end as planned because the intention shifted. When I say the intention shifted is that we give up too early in the conversation and not stay till the other party comes to the common ground. Emotional Intelligence helps in staying focused on achieving that common ground.
Brain Power (Biology) : The last important piece that I would like to share is the function of amygdala and prefrontal cortex which are two important parts of our brain. They have an important role to play on how we handle ourselves in situations where we get upset and angry. All of us have experienced a situation when we blew up on someone and after a few hours we realized and wished we had not reacted so wildly. Emotional Intelligence helps us in not blowing up by becoming responsive and not reactive. This pivotal skill then helps us get the results that we wanted and not destroy relationships with our irrational reactions.
Hope you are able to resonate with the above points and I look forward to meeting you at the workshop.