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How emotional intelligence builds effective teams

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Dr. Lori LaCivita, program director for the MSand PhD in Industrial and Organizational (I-O) Psychology programs at Walden University, analyses team efficacy.

Employees are at the core of every successful business. However, there is often so much emphasis on hiring “talented individuals” that understanding how these people will work effectively as a team often gets lost in the process. Organisations that can identify individuals with high emotional intelligence (EI) are likely to have more positive results than those unable to see the big picture.

EI has had a transformational effect on the business world since its rise to popularity in the 1990s. It has led to more successful hiring, higher levels of productivity and success, greater individual performance, and better leaders and managers. In the workforce, EIallows for the ability to work harmoniously in teams and build relationships and networks that benefit the organisation in the long term.

Dr. Lori LaCivita
Dr. Lori LaCivita

Today’s workforce now spans several generations,with each bringing different characteristics, work habits, leadership styles and motivators. These varying values and beliefs can sometimes lead to challenges among the generations forfinding common ground and working effectively together. EI is the key to successfully bridging these gaps and merging the oft-considered traditional styles of leadership and teamwork of older professionals with the softer skills of the younger generations.

Althoughpeople are born with an IQ, or thinking potential,EI can be enhanced and developed over time and has been shown to be highly significant in the development of human potential, teamwork, leadership, stress reduction, creativity and innovation.Working in teams can lead to great outcomes, but it can also come with challenges that can lead to issues that include miscommunication, conflict and loss of work productivity.

Those with high EI are self-aware and can recognise theirown emotions; they self-regulate and manage those emotions, motivate by having clear goals and a positive attitude, empathise and recognise the emotions of others, and have social skills that allow them to interact with others. In addition, current studies suggest that EI allows people to validate, understandand work with others – regardless of their ageor position–and develop better problem-solving skills and outcomes.Individuals with this understanding will generallyremain calm under pressure and resolve conflict effectively. Once they are in touch with themselves, branching out to understand the needs of others is the next step–and vital when working in a team environment.

Not only is it important to have individuals with high EI on a team, it’s equally important to understand that the team also has its own group identity and EI. There should be a level of trust, and individual members should value the group’s efficacy. Open communication creates opportunity to build relationships with one another while strengthening the team’s overall performance. Having those internal relationships then allows the team to build external relationships with other individuals and teams at the company(and elsewhere), essentially creating a strong foundation to address various issues and challenges that may arise while maintaining focus on the company’s overall goals.

EI workforces are not limited to certain business sectors or geographies; in fact, they’re crucial for local and international contemporary companies with a global reach.Companies often employ industrial and organisational (I-O) psychologists who work alongside human resource managers to cultivate an optimal workforce. At the intersection of business and psychology, I-O psychologists strategically use scientific research to better understand human behaviour and recommend ways in which companies can increase their EI.

Organisations that want to positively impact their bottom lineshould focus on building a healthy and collaborative environment that promotes team efficacy and enables employees to continuously enhance their EI. Successful companies owe it to their employees to reinvest in those who helped makethem so prosperous.


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