Why you can’t develop Emotionally Intelligent Leaders in a day

May 27 2022 | Tags: Leadership Development, Emotional Intelligence

Why you can’t develop Emotionally Intelligent Leaders in a day

Every so often, we receive a recurring call from a HR leader or L&D professional looking for Emotional Intelligence (EQ) training.

“Can you give a talk on Emotional Intelligence?” they ask.

“And what’s the objective of the day?” we ask.

What follows, often, is a revealing moment of naivety.

“We’ve heard that EQ is important and we’d like to ‘get it done’.”

That single response reveals a common lack of understanding about what it takes to ‘cover off’ Emotional Intelligence.

Without a sustained commitment to changing behaviours, it is impossible to develop emotionally intelligent leaders. Getting a good grasp of the foundations of EQ, understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, developing a personalised training plan and seeing that through to a fruitful conclusion simply cannot be done in a single day.

In this article, you’ll find out everything you need to know about how to deploy EQ and the necessary length of any investment to see a true impact that transforms both your leaders’ and your organisation’s performance.

Busting the biggest myths about Emotional Intelligence

First, let’s start by addressing some common misconceptions about EQ.

  • EQ is not a magic bullet. It will not solve all your business’s problems in a stroke. What it can do is give you the skills to solve problems, build better relationships, and strengthen both individual and group-wide performance. But simply learning about EQ does not make your organisation’s issues disappear.
  • You cannot learn it in a day. Developing robust EQ skills takes time and practice. It is not something that can simply be absorbed in an afternoon’s seminar.
  • Presentations or workshops alone are not enough. Group workshops hold incredible value. We often provide these as part of an ongoing EQ training plan. But considerable support, practice and mentoring is required to achieve sustained success. This takes time. Attending a workshop is a hugely worthwhile exercise, but it is not the whole exercise.

Understanding the complexity of EQ

Many of the HR leaders we speak to often believe that Emotional Intelligence is a relatively simple concept. That’s why they start their conversation thinking they can ‘do’ EQ in a day’s training. But that belief doesn’t reflect the reality of EQ.

Emotional Intelligence is not a soft, undefined concept with no tangible means of measurement. Instead, the concept of EQ and our understanding of it are built on decades of scientific and academic research from some of the world’s most acclaimed minds.

RocheMartin has spent years analysing that research in detail. And as a result of that analysis, our Emotional Capital concept is one of the most effective leadership and management toolkits for the modern workplace.

It outlines how effective leaders need to improve 10 core EQ competencies: self-knowing, self-control, self-confidence, self-reliance, empathy, relationship skills, straightforwardness, adaptability, optimism, and self-actualisation.

Clearly, it is not realistic to take on board all that information, process it, store it, change your long-term habits, and strengthen all of your EQ skills in a single day. That fact leads us to one huge question:

What kind of timeframe is needed for effective EQ training?

Changing behaviours and habits is not a simple task. Neuroscience tells us it takes at least three months to rewire the brain and build new neural pathways that underpin changed behaviours and habits. Yet most training also operates on a 'massed practice' model (i.e. one-off workshops).

We know that EQ skills are best acquired through 'distributed practice' -- that is, breaking down the skills into smaller units and repeating our efforts over a longer period of time. That's why RocheMartin's model of 10 core competencies is so powerful. It enables EQ skills to be acquired sequentially, with executives (such as those at Boeing) following and measuring each of the steps involved. 

When we distil all the scientific literature around changing behaviours, seven factors for success emerge. Our EQ training processes are built around this model:

  1. Engagement
  2. Benchmarking
  3. Creating and sharing manageable and measurable goals
  4. Modelling skills
  5. Practising new skills and providing feedback
  6. Providing follow-up support
  7. Evaluating change

In general, we recommend a minimum EQ training commitment of three to six months to see effective and enduring changes. We would also suggest an organisation completes at least three workshops during this time. This helps to maximise the chances of knowledge being retained and behaviours changing.

The results of this approach have been proven. In 2019, for example, global enterprise software company Oracle launched an Emotional Capital programme. More than 1,200 salespeople undertook six EQ workshops, where they were given practical, actionable tips and practices. Afterwards, 92% had a more positive attitude towards their job and 89% felt more confident.

A similar initiative at British media giant Sky saw more than 200 leaders engage in EQ training over an 18-month period. Due to the initial impact of the programme, Sky invested in EQ training for 800 leaders across the organisation. The result was a huge cultural change that correlated with Sky achieving 20 consecutive quarters of growth and eventually securing a buyout worth more than £40bn.

What EQ training options are available?

RocheMartin’s Emotional Intelligence training is delivered in four different formats. Organisations can choose the teaching methods that best suit their specific circumstances.

  • Workshops and keynotes are the fastest way to give a broad introduction to EQ principles to large teams. They allow an organisation to get started in the process of building self-awareness.
  • ECR/ECR 360 assessments and feedback provide specific insights and benchmarks into the Emotional Intelligence of individual members of your team.
  • SmartCoach online coaching makes EQ training available to even the busiest leaders, giving them the chance to learn at their convenience through on-demand webinars and videos.
  • One-to-one coaching sessions help to maintain momentum and progress by providing bespoke guidance, assessments, tasks and reassurance for your organisation’s key leaders.

The key is to remember one simple rule:

Securing and maintaining any meaningful change takes time

It is not easy, quick, or straightforward to achieve the kind of deep change needed to develop advanced EQ skills.

First, you must tackle the biggest challenge of all: if you’re a coach or training professional, and you want to help someone reach their potential or change difficult behaviours that are limiting their performance, then the fundamental place to start is by changing the story they hold about themselves and their world.

This is not easy. The stories we construct about ourselves and our experience of the world are stories that we develop over many years. They help us make sense of our life experiences and they are incredibly important to our day-to-day perceptions of both ourselves and others.

The ECR enables people to revise or deconstruct the story they hold about themselves. Its insights can provide the springboard for people to make radical changes to their behaviour. And because the results of the ECR are there in black and white, enthusiasm is quickly generated and those changes happen much faster than through coaching alone.

The results of EQ training are worth the effort

Successful EQ training has been proven to have a transformative effect on businesses around the world, whatever their size, location, or market. Its benefits include:

  • Higher levels of productivity, helping your business to maximise its resources at every level of the organisation.
  • Better morale, fuelling a healthier, happier workplace and a team spirit that bonds employees together.
  • More creativity, so your organisation can find innovative answers to its biggest problems and cement its place as a market leader.
  • Enhanced inclusivity, enabling you to build a workplace that recognises and meets the needs of an increasingly diverse, multi-generational workforce.
  • Longer attention spans, so you can maintain effective working for longer periods and solve your major challenges more quickly and cheaply than before.
  • Improved mental health, helping you to retain employees for longer and reducing your associated recruitment costs.

Ready to take your organisation to the next level?

For more than two decades, RocheMartin has been at the forefront of Emotional Intelligence training.

Contact us today for a free consultation and discover the best EQ solution for your specific needs.

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