EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: AN ASSET IN TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY
By Paula Cardenau, Co-founder and Director of Arbusta
In today’s context, with all of us facing the spread of COVID-19, we would like to share a process of transformation that we have been developing as an organization over the past two years, and which today represents a very important important asset, an essential tool to become closer, connected, and for taking care of one another: the development of emotional intelligence as part of our organizational culture.
Arbusta – Emotions Workshop
At Arbusta we connect with our emotions, first of all because we want to be increasingly full, integrated people, and become experts on ourselves, on our lights and shadows. We are aware that emotions play a mediating role in our relationships, they inform us about what affects us and what matters to us, and they put us in touch with others, with ourselves and with the life flowing within us.
Secondly, at Arbusta we develop talent, and it is proven that emotional intelligence builds exceptional leadership. Emotional competencies are twice as important in contributing to excellence, as pure intellect and expertise. Of the 6 competencies considered to be the most important for top performers – focus on results, ability to influence, conceptual thinking, analytical ability, initiative and taking on challenges, and self-confidence – only conceptual thinking and analytical ability are intellectual competencies. The rest, are emotional ones.
It is proven that emotional intelligence builds exceptional leadership.
Thirdly, as a tech company we experience first-hand that the future of work is unpredictable, and the only thing we know will be constant, is change. Technical skills relevant today may become obsolete in 5 years. In order to face and enjoy impermanence and constant change, we need to cultivate our emotional intelligence.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN THE COMPANY: WHAT DID WE LEARN?
What started as a program, became an essential part of our organizational culture. Here are some things we learned from this process:
- Emotions tell us something about ourselves, about what happens to us and what matters to us. Theyplay a mediating role in our relationships. And there is not such thing as a good or bad emotion. They all – even fear, anger, envy, and above all the essential ones such as love, gratitude, appreciation – come with a gift, encouraging us to take action. In fact, one of the great lessons in life is daring to get in touch with emotions – neither be overtaken by them, nor repress them.
- The key to implementing an emotional intelligence program within the company, is to start off with a pilot. At Arbusta, two years ago a small group of arbusters began experimenting, discovering what worked for us and what did not. We had to find answers to many questions: * Would it require workshops, or having coaches, or practicing meditation, or mindfulness. * Which format was the most relevant for a team composed mostly of centennials. * Which of the many emotions are particularly at stake at work; even more so in a first job, as is the case with most of Arbusta’s centennial and millennial collaborators. * How to overcome resistances such as: “are you inviting me to the emotions workshop because you think I am not all right?” and move to the idea that getting in touch with our emotions is a path to personal self-knowledge, and a tool to become a fulfilled professional. * How to bring scientific information to a topic that is considered “softer”.
- After iterating our pilot program, we measured results and ultimately designed an emotional intelligence strategy, allowing us to reach our entire Arbusta team – 300 people, in 4 cities, across 3 countries -, which combines face-to-face workshops, strong virtual support and a network of experts in emotional intelligence.
- We built internal capacity to implement this strategy. From the start, we relied on the advice of Fabiana Fondevilla, an expert on the subject, who provided us with wise and kind support all the way through. At the same time, we knew that we needed to build capacity within the Arbusta team, to train ourselves for internal implementation of our program. This way, we would guarantee for ourselves: (a) internal strengths, new knowledge and organizational skills, (b) the possibility of disseminating the program, with the same vision, throughout the organization, (c) the ability to share knowledge and build experience around emotional intelligence, through the precise means required at each moment by the different teams and the organization as a whole.
- We started to build a network of experts in Emotional Intelligence. Apart from their formal role and specific work at Arbusta, we invited people interested in emotional intelligence to get involved in the program. This strategy brings multiple benefits for Arbusta. Experts contribute to the capillarity of the program itself, bringing us closer through them; on the other hand, they are the ones who nourish the program with new ideas and formats – for example, we are developing an app on emotional intelligence at work, an idea proposed by a group of experts. And for the Arbusta team, this is another of the opportunities the organization offers, to be able to train and deploy ourselves in an area that relates to our interests. Above all, it increasingly enables us to have an outlook of possibility over someone else.
How to manage emotions during COVID-19?
“Breathing exercises helped me loosen up during calls with clients.”
“I learned that in the workplace it is not just productivity that matters, but also the person, and that as a group we need to support each other, recognize our strengths and weaknesses, and help each other in order to achieve a better performance.”
“It allowed me to give a name to what I feel.”
If we learn to get in touch with our emotions, so as to be full and integrated people at work, we seize an opportunity to release enormous potential. We all have small blockages that result from not recognizing our anger, fears or shame, from not knowing ourselves more deeply, from not being grateful enough, from being either unwilling or incapable of pointing-out our appreciation for what someone else does right, or to react appropriately to what we find hurtful or unsettling.
For us, taking-on this strategy was not a luxury or “an option”, but a necessity. To grow as individuals, and grow in our business. We are a company that provides services, where our main asset is ourselves. We, integrated people.
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