The blueprint for emotional success
Renowned psychologist and international best selling author Daniel Goleman says, “emotional intelligence accounts for 80 percent of career success.” Why is it then that many business leaders fail to embrace their emotional intelligence or even their empat
Business First speaks with accelerated behavioural consultant and founder of EPS – Eclat People Solutions, John LaneSmith about how leaders can use emotional intelligence to get the best out of their people.
IIf we can indulge in one more quote by Daniel Goleman, he says: “people’s emotions are rarely put into words, far more often they are expressed through other cues. The key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels, tone of voice, gesture, facial expression and the like.”
That doesn’t come easily, but it is a truism of today’s workplace that emotional intelligence is a vital part of successful leadership.
Enter John Lane-Smith, a man who has spent his lifetime studying leaders and managers, but found a disturbing trend: “there are some seemingly brilliant people, academically and technically, who have little idea about motivating or bringing the best out of individuals or teams. In fact, in the worst cases, they can be the key reason why good people choose to leave.”
Lane-Smith has spent the last 30 years analysing behaviour and using the world’s leading profiling systems to identify what makes people tick. He has studied over 13,0000 people to learn their uniqueness, and seek to make sense of their drivers.
Yet, before you can start learning about other people, you have to discover your own drivers.
“It’s often said it’s not until you lose, or nearly lose something, you start to appreciate it” Lane-Smith says.
Thirty-two years ago, Lane-Smith almost lost his life.
“I was striving to be the best executive I could be, but I nearly lost it all falling asleep whilst driving.”
Lane-Smith careered into a power pole in excess of 100km/h, with no airbags. The pole drove the steering wheel into his face and the engine compacted his thigh into 5cm pieces. The seat belt then collapsed his lung.
“A message delivered to my home from a policeman was that my deceased body had been taken to the local hospital. However, that was not the case as miraculously the rescuers, surgeons and nurses managed to save and rebuild me.
“The experience was a major wake up call. It gave me an urgency to appreciate life and make every second count.”
Following the accident, Lane-Smith was asked to tell his story and share his newfound insights as a keynote speaker at major conferences and conventions around the world.
His book, SOS Secrets of Success, promoting positive change that enhances personal and business success, became an international best seller. It drew on his nine-day recovery, defying the three to four months that had initially been predicted.
Meanwhile, through word of mouth, EPS was building a reputation as the go-to counsel to create team cohesion.
EPS advises businesses on everything from identifying the right senior professionals for strategic hires, to getting the best out of existing executive teams.
So much of this work comes down to emotional intelligence (EI), an ability to recognise and be aware of ones emotions, and those of the people around you. By understanding these emotional drivers, one can guide thinking and behavior to best match these to motivate and engage with other people more effectively. EPS strives to identify these personal drivers and predict where people will be naturally disposed to EI and also know where their gaps lie.
The business was founded on the back of Lane-Smith’s frustration with traditional management practices that lack an awareness and sensitivity of people’s emotions in a professional context.
“Managers who lack emotional intelligence tend think the only way of achieving progress if their staff are underperforming, is to just bark louder. The difference between being a good manager or leader is the ability to generate what I often refer to as ‘follow-ability’.”
According to Lane-Smith, ‘follow-ability’ is developed through learning how to communicate with empathy. The most powerful way of doing this is to identify the language that will cause people to quickly understand, want to cooperate and be influenced and motivated by. This is the unique advantage EPS achieves for its clients.
EPS was founded to help managers find their own emotional intelligence, so that they can then help their staff be the best employees they can be and future leaders in the process.
The programs employed by EPS “can predict, with certainty, what their drivers are going to be, and what their areas of enhancement should be.”
The programs help organisations face their biggest challenges when it comes to finding the best talent to help build on their foundations.
“A key challenge companies face is knowing how well a person is going to gel with the team and whether they will, as a manager, enhance the team’s productivity” Lane-Smith says.
“Senior, well qualified candidates bring experience that can be identified and verified. However, how can you find out how they are going to perform after they start? Who’s going to actually turn up to do the job? How do you know they will be the best fit? And how do you know how to best engage with them to realise their full potential?”
These are the most important questions a business can ask itself when searching for the right candidate. EPS takes businesses and their employees and works with them in a way that brings about these answers, identifying the right language that will attract the best people.
“It’s not just about finding the right people, it’s knowing the best onboarding techniques that will work uniquely for that candidate. Most would find it difficult to tell the employer specifically how they would like to be treated. The best people are people who are confident and aware of their strengths. However, are also aware of their weaknesses and need for development and know the areas where they need to be supported.”
“Obviously, experience is important, as are qualifications. However, when you can identify the key attributes that are needed, the correct wording will automatically discount the majority of candidates that are not driven in the way the company requires.”
It is not just new hires that should hit the right emotional intelligence notes. Just as importantly, if not more importantly, senior management must be in a position to develop and utilise its own EI.
“A great article I read the other day interviewed 40 CEOs and asked what was the one question they would always ask a candidate. Time and time again, it came down to trying to find out if they could demonstrate passion. Passion to research and show interest in the company they’re applying to; ultimately passion to contribute to the success of the company. Just passion, generally. So, you have to ask yourself, why is that important? And it’s often said it’s hard, if not impossible, to enthuse others if you, yourself, cannot demonstrate enthusiasm and cannot inspire others to greatness, or at least lift from mediocrity.
“The motivation to develop and succeed varies vastly from one person to the next. Some people continually ask themselves, ‘What am I doing here, what am I trying to achieve?’ And others seem to drift through life seemingly asleep, letting life happen to them. The
greater amount of people look for recognition that they are at least on track, that their input and ideas are appreciated, and that they’re working on the right priorities. The more enlightened people want to know that their efforts are making a difference.”
EPS focuses on leaders and educates them on precisely how to create critical conversation with their employees to help them understand how they are making a difference.
A key benefit that well informed, critical conversations can achieve, is the answer to the conundrum ‘if only I could get Jacob to be more motivated’, ‘if only Sam would get on with Lucy’.”
“There are many intelligences, however, EI would have to be one of the most powerful. Can you imagine taming a hurricane, directing a tsunami, controlling a volcano?
“Emotional Intelligence is the most uniquely misunderstood, multifaceted powerhouse of the human system. Just like a raging, out of control bush fire that can be started by a smouldering cigarette butt, emotions can be generated from a mere smell, a facial expression, a misunderstood tonality. It sparks an emotive memory, or exquisite joy or deep despair, and can bring the emotion to life in the now.”
Getting emotional intelligence right is the challenge. It can save time, build higher productivity and generate cohesive teams that harness human endeavour, creativity and innovation.
“Gone are the days of piecework where something has been made time and time again. It’s not any more about building a skill and working on it for the rest of your life. It’s now all about what I call ‘intelligence farming’: identifying and harnessing the uniqueness of employees, and making them passionate about succeeding in their business. When people are working for their passion, they become extremely productive. Whatever they’re good at, not just what’s in their job description, not just to make money, but using group intelligence to achieve a shared goal.
“When an executive is able to harness their own intelligence and other people’s true potential, it’s like super charging their endeavours. And the more senior the executive, the more powerful the influence.”
Lane-Smith says organisations gain value right across the board, from the lower levels of the organisation all the way up to CEO, by understanding how to successfully communicate and engage with each other in a unique way.
Ergo, successful organisations are those that know in which capacity someone will be naturally motivated to work, how long an individual will be happy in a role before they need to change or how to position a work type to play to team member’s strengths.
It all comes back to emotional intelligence and the ability to recognise signs for change by helping people understand their own unique strengths and abilities.