“When this is over – and it will be over – we want to look back on this moment and remember the small acts of kindness, done by us, and to us” (Rishi Sunak March 2020)
You’ll no doubt recognise this extract from the Chancellor’s recent speech on the COVID-19 crisis. I guess we’ll see what happens, and how we, as human beings, choose to behave, because it is a choice. Listening to Rishi I was mindful of how human levels of Emotional Intelligence (E.I) will play a part in all this, and the responsibility we all have to dig deep, manage our emotions, and our behaviour.
Most often, we discuss E.I in the context of business, due to its critical nature; indeed, it is argued that an organisations’ competitive edge will be determined by its level of emotional intelligence. For example, E.I is estimated to account for between 27% and 45% of job success, regardless of job role or function; it is clearly critical in leadership, and in sales functions, as just two obvious examples.
But of course, it goes beyond the domains and boundaries of commerce; emotional intelligence is defined as a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how well we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. E.I has huge significance then, in every aspect of life.
Consider some of the behaviours seen recently on the news and social media, shopping trollies filled with toilet roll, empty supermarket shelves, and government advice around social distancing being flagrantly ignored by some. These behaviours bring to my mind three acutely relevant elements of emotional intelligence, which will be critical in determining how we navigate through this crisis,
1. Social Responsibility: summarised as…
The desire and ability to willingly contribute to society and generally the welfare of others, upholding social rules, and acting is a responsible manner, even though you might not benefit personally.
2. Empathy: summarised as…
The ability to be aware of, understand and appreciate the feelings and thoughts of others. Empathy is the skill that allows you to see and experience the world from another person’s perspective.
3. Impulse Control: summarised as…
The ability to resist or delay an impulse or temptation. It means avoiding rash behaviours and decision making, being composed and able to put the brakes on irresponsible behaviour.
To be frank, based on these three elements and their descriptions, it would seem that those involved in the unhelpful behaviours mentioned above have experienced an emotional intelligence bypass.
Now consider the correlation between these behaviours and some that are equally unhelpful in a workplace context, and it isn’t difficult to understand why some leadership teams are dysfunctional and some organisations are less successful than they could be.
Whether it’s in a business context, or the wider aspects of our everyday lives, the point is we are all responsible for managing our emotions, our behaviour, and for developing our emotional intelligence. The good news is, that unlike I.Q, emotional intelligence can be developed, it can be learned through development programmes, self-directed learning and through coaching, as examples.
With this responsibility in mind, I recalled the following passage, cited in Challenging Coaching, by John Blakey and Ian Day.
Though some say it is useless to accept responsibility for the calamities and toxicities of the world, taking such responsibility might put us on the road to the Way. (Tao Te Ching, Verse 78)
When this current human crisis is over, whether or not we look back and remember those “small acts of kindness” mentioned by Rishi Sunak, will largely depend on our collective motivation to take responsibility for our behaviour, and manage our emotional intelligence. We all have a choice; we all need to make the right choice.
The Multi-Health Systems (MHS) Model of Emotional Intelligence:
If you would like further guidance or support in developing emotional intelligence, reach out to us for a conversation.