In any organization, people usually have to work together to assure success.
But as complexity and uncertainty increase, workers and even leaders can let their emotions interfere with their ability to contribute to success. Leaders who learn about about emotions and how they affect thought and action can make better decisions and do a better job of motivating others to really succeed.
That’s the premise of The Non-obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence by Kerry Goyette, CEO and Founder of Aperio Consulting Group. The book aims to help readers use emotional intelligence to connect with people, earn more money, and help businesses grow.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part, about decision-making, introduces emotional intelligence and stresses that it more than just empathy or self-awareness: it’s also about connecting to those around you. It also explains the way the brain reacts to fear and threats, and suggests ways that leaders can think about human emotions and human brains in their own organizations.
The second part, about agility, implores leaders to assess the environment, and introduces a US military term from the cold war that Goyette says applies to the business world. It’s VUCA, or volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, and it’s not something human brains like. When confronted with VUCA situations, the human brain will try to take shortcuts, trying to solve the easiest problems while ignoring the larger picture. Leaders employing agility in their emotional intelligence can mitigate some of the problems that come from VUCA, Goyette says.
There’s an example in this part about a CEO who was emotionally upset that his company was struggling. The CEO was lashing out at employees at meetings, burning bridges with them. When Goyette encouraged him to reach out to his peer groups and see what issues they were experiencing, he was able to see that others had similar dilemmas and was able to calm himself because he wasn’t the only one experiencing difficulty.
The CEO started working more calmly with his teams, asking them to come up with ideas. He talked to them about internal failures and said that instead of yelling about them, he was going to focus on learning and experimentation.
He gave teams the freedom to experiment and make decisions, and said a failure on those teams wouldn’t be punished. That increased the company’s creativity and agility, and they were able to capitalize on new market opportunities and increase their revenue.
The third part of the book, about relationships, goes deeper into emotional intelligence by examining how teams work can be thwarted by what Goyette calls “derailers” – the limbic brain impluses that served humanity well when it needed to run from lions on a regular basis, but don’t lead to great business decisions.
These derailers — conflict avoidance, impulsiveness, blame-shifting, control, perfectionism and power hunger, are easier to spot in others, but can be more difficult to identify in one’s self, Goyette says.
There’s a chapter in this section devoted to what really motivates workers on a team, noting that it’s more complex than carrots and sticks: intrinsic motivators make work fulfilling. Leaders who understand how to engage their employees’ intrinsic motivators can connect these motivators to the company’s greater purpose.
There’s also a chapter about taking emotional intelligence from self-awareness to group awareness and finally to purpose, or from me to we to why. This chapter follows the journey of Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic, a medical technology company, as he increases his emotional intelligence over time.
Whether you’re a business owner or leader, or an employee looking to change your organization for the better, there’s plenty to learn about people and their brains in this book. Useful diagrams and creative use of text drive home important points, and copious footnotes provide jumping-off points for topics that your brain decides it needs to read more about.
The Non-obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence
(You Can Actually Use)
By Kerry Goyette
Ideapress Publishing. 210 pages. $price goes here.