It is highly recognised that emotional skills are central to the success of organisations. Emotional skills are sometimes brushed aside as soft skills. Soft skills are sometimes broken down into personal attributes, such as: optimism, common sense, responsibility, a sense of humour, integrity, time-management, motivation. In addition, interpersonal abilities, such as empathy, leadership, communication, the ability to teach, good manners and sociability are included.
It's often said that hard skills will get you an interview but you need soft skills to get (and keep) the job.
In the current climate of lockdown and reducing financial deficits, all organisations will be looking to increase their effectiveness and efficiency. This requires star performance from all employees. Martyn Newman concedes that Emotional Capitalists are the New Leaders.1
So how does leadership contribute to star performance?
The research relating to star performance has consistently shown that people who outperform their peers score significantly higher on emotional self-knowing, self-actualisation, empathy, inter-personal relationships, adaptability, problem-solving and stress management.2
What differentiates star performance from the rest?
A study cited in Emotional Intelligence and Your Success3 highlighted that the United States Air Force identified a problem with its recruitment and retention. Approximately 50% of recruiters were leaving employment within a short period time. The Air Force followed up by participating in a large study that examined the role of emotional intelligence and the impact on recruitment and retention.
The research compared self-reported emotional intelligence data and actual performance data with other data. The results showed that many of the same components were correlated.
The five factors that were most likely to be translated into success were: assertiveness, empathy, happiness, self-awareness and problem-solving. Focus on the recruitment and retention of new employees involved a follow-up study after one year. The study consisted of the use of emotional intelligence testing in conjunction with specifically developed emotional intelligence interviews with the aim to improve the retention. Worldwide retention improved by 92%, at a cost savings to the Air Force of an estimated $2.7M.4
Star performance is influenced by both organisational culture and a sense of well-being and reduction of stress.
How many organisations are taking notice of a person’s ability to cope with stress?
In 1992 the CBI calculated that in the UK, 360 million working days were lost annually through sickness at a cost to organisations of £8 billion.5 By 2003 the CBI estimate was closer to £11.6 billion and in 2004 reached £12.25 billion. The CBI puts the total cost to the economy of mental health and stress problems at £5bn per year6. In 2018 OECD report indicated that mental health illness costs UK £94bn per year. The ability to withstand adverse events and stressful situations without developing physical or emotional symptoms by actively coping with stress is a necessary requirement for leaders and employees. This ability is based on three competencies:
Martyn Newman explains that in creating optimism, one needs to look on the brighter side of life as well as sensing opportunities. Even in the face of adversity, it is imperative
to have a sense of positivity and well-being. Treating yourself kindly, or simply trusting that you can eventually achieve your goals, are all optimism strategies. Other ways to become more optimistic include:
Kate Cannon’s work at American Express Financial Services9 saying emotional skills can be improved in the work environment – is well documented. Kate designed a programme to improve Emotional Intelligence. The outcome of the programme was that sales staff showed improvement in their performance at work and that many of the same staff reported greater success in dealing with situations that arose in their personal lives. Within the aforementioned study group, the Emotional Intelligence factors that showed the most change, especially among those who initially scored low, were assertiveness, empathy, reality testing, self-actualisation, self-regard and optimism.
Dr Neslyn invites people and organisations to improve their star performance. She offers a menu of strategies and tools developed by RocheMartin to improve your leadership and star performance in a particular focus with the use of:
1 Martyn Newman, Emotional Capitalists: The New Leaders. Jossey-Bass 2010 2 D. Rosete and J. Ciarrochi, “Emotional Intelligence and Its Relationship to
Workplace Performance Outcomes in Leadership Effectiveness,” Leadership and
Organizational Development Journal, 26 (2005): 388-399
3 Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, Steven J Stein and Howard E. Book.
Josey Bass 2006, Chapter 18
4 United States General Accounting Office, Testimony before the Subcommittee on
Military Personnel, committee on National Security, House of Representatives, Military Attrition: DOD Needs to Better Analyse Reasons for Separation and Improving Recruiting Systems, March 12, 1998, (GAO/T-NSIAD-98-117)
5 Stress Prevention in the Workplace - Assessing the Costs and Benefits to Organisation" by Prof. Cary L Cooper and Dr. Susan Cartwright (both of Manchester School of Management, UMIST); Prof. Paula Liukkonen, Department of Economics, University of Stockholm, Sweden. Published by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
7 Definition adapted from R. Bar-On. BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory Technical
Manual (Toronto: Multi-Health Systems 1997), p.18-19
8 Martyn Newman ibid
9 Kate Cannon, personal communication, 1998: G. Sitarenios Pre-Analysis: American
Express Co. Employees (Toronto: Multi-Health systems, 1998. See also Tony Schwartz, “How Do You Feel?” Fast Company, 35 (June 2000) p.29