EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: AN ASSET IN TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY
By Paula Cardenau, Co-founder and Director of Arbusta
In the current context in which we are called to face together the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, we want to share a process of transformation that we, as an organization, have been developing for two years and today represents a very important asset, an essential tool to become closer, connected and taking care of one another: the development of emotional intelligence as part of our organizational culture.
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 strengths and weaknesses. And emotions play a mediating role in our bonds, inform us about what affects us and what matters to us and put us in touch with others, with ourselves and with the life that flows 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 by top performers – focus on results, ability to influence, conceptual thinking, analytical ability, initiative in 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 have experienced first-hand that the future of work is unpredictable and are aware that the only thing that will be constant is change. Technical skills that are relevant today may become obsolete in 5 years. To face and enjoy impermanence and constant change, we need to cultivate 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 we share our learning from this process:
- Emotions tell us something about ourselves, what happens to us and what matters to us. Emotions play a mediating role in our bonds. Emotions are neither good nor bad. They all – even fear, anger, envy and above all the essential ones such as love, gratitude, appreciation – bring us a gift and encourage us to take action. One of the great lessons of life is to dare get in touch with emotions – neither be overtaken by them, nor repress them.
- To implement an emotional intelligence program in the company it is essential to start with a pilot. At Arbusta we started two years ago and a small group of arbusters tried to learn through experience and understand what worked for us and what did not. We had to find answers to many questions: * If it was about workshops, if it was about having coaches, whether it was a question of meditation or mindfulness. * Which format was more appropriate for a team mostly composed of centennials. * Which of the many emotions are particularly at stake at work; even more in a first job, as is the case with most of Arbusta’s centennial and millennial collaborators. * How to overcome resistance 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 pilot program iteration, we measured results and finally designed an emotional intelligence strategy that allows us to reach the entire Arbusta team – 300 people in 4 cities/3 countries -, and combines face-to-face workshops, strong virtual support and a network of experts in emotional intelligence.
- We built internal capacity to implement such strategy. At the beginning, we sought advice from 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 and train ourselves for program in-house implementation. All this provided us with: (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 to the exact extent required by the different teams and the organization at each moment.
- We started to build a network of experts in Emotional Intelligence. Beyond 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. For the program itself, experts contribute to the capillarity of the program since through them we get closer; on the other hand, they are the ones who feed the program with new ideas, new formats – for example, we are developing an emotional intelligence at work app, an idea proposed by a group of experts. And for the Arbusta team, this is one of the many opportunities the organization offers us to be able to train and deploy ourselves in an area that relates to our interests. Above all, it increasingly enables us to have a look of possibility over the other.
“Breathing exercises helped me loosen up in the calls with clients.”
“I learned that in the world of work not only productivity 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 to perform better.”
“It allowed me to put a name to what I feel.”
If we learn to get in touch with our emotions in order to be full and integrated people in our work, we take the opportunity to release an enormous potential. We all have small barriers for not recognizing our anger, fears or shame, for not knowing ourselves more deeply, for not being grateful enough, or for not wanting or not being able to express and appreciate what the other does well or for not reacting correctly to what makes us feel bad or bothers us.
For us, addressing this strategy was not a luxury or “an option” but a necessity. To grow as individuals and grow in our business. We are a service company where our main asset is ourselves. We, integrated people.