Tag Archives: eq and teams

Renew EQ to Drive a Culture of Continuous Improvement

EQandCI2Continuing our theme of how Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Continuous Improvement are a powerful combination, we share some results from work done by Richard E. Boyatzis, pioneering researcher into leadership and emotional intelligence.

Among his findings is the fact that EQ is applied extensively by leaders who want to effect positive change and to institute a culture of Continuous Improvement.

In other words, implementing an improvement or two can be accomplished with an engineer; but creating a culture of continuous improvement requires a resonant leader who can:

  • Communicate a vision
  • Inspire action
  • Drive out fear
  • Motivate truth-telling
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Create a safe place for people to exercise a passion for high quality, highly efficient work

Because of their ability to align and motivate people around a common vision and plan, emotionally intelligent leaders are very valuable in organizations desiring to create continuous steady improvement.

In his class at Case Western Reserve University Boyatzis teaches that it is not sufficient to simply have Emotional Intelligence. Even leaders who are naturally gifted with a great deal of EQ can deplete their reserves through the stress of their roles and responsibilities.

Boyatzis maintains that leaders must renew themselves, and that research indicates four methods that can restore a leader’s emotional strength and ability to resonate with an organization:

  • Compassion – often by becoming involved in empathetic and supportive activities that are unconnected with work responsibilities
  • Mindfulness – some form of conscious mediation on a daily basis
  • Playfulness – regular doses of fun, laughter and enjoyable activities
  • Hope – finding time each day for optimistic thought, encouragement, and positive communication that promotes a belief on the part of the leader as well as the team that positive change can, in fact, be achieved



EQandCI400As you may well be aware, emotional intelligence (EQ) is the phrase used to describe a person’s ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways. It has been identified as a means to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.

There are several competencies that are sometimes grouped into four major components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

Research shows that organizations led by people with high emotional intelligence tend to have climates in which information sharing, trust, healthy risk-taking, and learning flourish.

Conversely, organizations led by people with low levels of EQ create climates rife with fear and anxiety. While fearful employees may produce well in the short term, over the long run quality and productivity suffer.

The same principles hold true for Continuous Improvement (CI) teams. The level of EQ on a process improvement team affects how much information sharing, how much inquiry, and even how creatively the team will exercise.

A low level of EQ on an improvement team causes operational problems. Silo mentality and lack of inquiry and listening create sub-optimal processes and impaired results.

On the other hand, a team that is emotionally in step has more drive, more commitment, and tends to achieve greater things. High EQ leads to better listening, and thus to better learning, to new insights and better solutions as well.

We will look more closely at the concept of emotional intelligence over the next few posts, and will share ways to increase one’s EQ level and also how to leverage higher levels of EQ in our continuous improvement efforts.