Sunday, May 29, 2005

Emotional Intelligence-II

Date: Wed May 18, 2005 3:54 pm Subject: Understanding Emotional Intelligence-II
Here's an interview with Daniel Goleman which i had posted sometime back on this group.I am reposting the same for the benefit of new members.
Hope it proves useful.

Ajit Chouhan

Interview with Daniel Goleman

In 1999, Katherine Adams interviewed Daniel Goleman for Competency & Emotional Intelligence, talking to him about his theory of emotional intelligence, its relevance to the workplace and whether or not organisations themselves might be emotionally intelligent.
Probably more than one other single person, Daniel Goleman is responsible for bringing the concept of emotional intelligence into everyday life and, in particular, to the world of work. When Katherine Adams interviewed him, he was visiting the United Kingdom to promote the launch of his second book on emotional intelligence, in which he relates his ideas to the workplace.
Published in 1995, Emotional intelligence1 was an overnight bestseller. Goleman’s idea that there was another kind of intelligence, just as important as IQ but based on feelings rather than rationality, struck a chord around the world, and the book was translated into 25 languages.
The book began with the insight that people who had high IQ could nevertheless fail – at school, at work, and in relationships. Goleman’s idea was that success in life depends just as much on abilities like self-awareness, self-control and empathy, which are rooted in the “emotional brain”. If this view has a familiar ring to readers of this journal, it is not really surprising. At Harvard, Goleman studied psychology under the late David McClelland, who is widely regarded as the founding father of the competency movement.
At the start of his career in the early 1970s, Goleman worked for the McBer consultancy (now known as Hay/McBer) which McClelland had founded in 1963 and which carried out some of the first competency work for US organisations. Managing emotions at work Goleman’s latest book, Working with emotional intelligence2, draws on work from the burgeoning competency industry which began in those pioneering days, and those influences are clear to see.
The book is, at least in part, an attempt to describe those “essential human competencies” that can really make a difference to someone’s success in life. What Goleman’s work also “brings to the party”, though, is an explanation of just why abilities like self-awareness and empathy should be so important – an explanation that is rooted in biological science.
As a journalist covering the behavioural and brain sciences for the New York Times, Goleman had become aware of several new areas of neurological research. These showed that the parts of the brain responsible for the emotions functioned separately, but in parallel to, those parts responsible for rational thought.
This research allowed Goleman to argue that the emotions have the power either to sabotage or enhance rational thought. Crucial to the well-balanced person’s success in life, he argues, is the ability to manage emotions so that they work in harmony with rationality. And this is what Goleman calls “emotional intelligence” or EQ.
Goleman’s latest book brings the notion of “emotional competence” right back to McClelland’s starting-point: the workplace. When Goleman came to London recently to promote the book, I talked to him about this latest attempt to codify the competencies of what he calls “star performers”, and about his claim that organisations as a whole should be trying to become more emotionally intelligent.
Tidal wave In his latest book, Goleman describes the reaction of business people to the idea of emotional intelligence as a “tidal wave”. I began by asking him why he felt his ideas should have met with such an eager response, and why this should have happened now. He told me: “I was shocked, actually, by the worldwide receptiveness to this message. When I wrote the first book, it was full of American examples; it wasn’t written with a worldwide audience in mind.”
He thinks there are two reasons why emotional intelligence should have hit such a nerve: “One is that people everywhere are struggling with the same problems and human issues. I think that the ratcheting up of global competitiveness, and the resulting demands for adaptability, for managing stress, for teamwork, for collaboration, are escalating, and in the workplace people are feeling this.” The second reason, he thinks, is the fact that his ideas are based on scientific research: “Emotional intelligence is based on a new understanding of neurology and of brain function, and I think this gives it a lot of credibility. Working for the New York Times I saw, emerging from 10 years of data, new insights into the nature of human abilities, and some very profound implications for personal development, and for business and for education.”
Emotional competencies Goleman’s latest book draws on research into competency frameworks in nearly 500 organisations which, he says, showed a remarkable degree of similarity. In fact, he believes the ubiquity of competency headings like “self-awareness”, “interpersonal skills”, and so on provides independent confirmation of the importance of emotional intelligence. He told me: “It’s encouraging to me that people using different methodologies, operating from different assumptive systems, and working in very different organisational cultures all come up with the same ingredients.”
The book argues that emotional intelligence matters twice as much as IQ or technical expertise when it comes to distinguishing “star performers” from the merely average employee. And the fact that so many employers are including “emotional competencies” in their frameworks, Goleman says, “gives me more confidence in saying that this is true for jobs of all kinds”.
The book suggests its own “emotional competence framework” consisting of 25 competencies listed under five “domains”: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.
Goleman told me he thought that organisations could use the model to check their own frameworks and make sure they had not overlooked any crucial emotional competencies. But was he really suggesting, I wondered, that every employee in every organisation across the globe needed the same 25 competencies? He replied: “No. I think you have to understand that this is a generic model. Every organisation in the world is like every other organisation in some respects.” He realises, he says, that organisations are also unique, and he thinks that competency models “can get increasingly precise: you can come up with one that is unique to that company.” However, he argues that “the fact that there is such a large shared variance at the general level makes me feel that it is very useful methodologically and practically to have a general model.” This may be especially true, he feels, for the most senior people in an organisation.
He said: “As you go up the organisational ladder, the ratio of excellence that’s attributable to emotional intelligence is larger – at the top levels, it’s about 85% to 90%. And I think – though this is just a theoretical speculation – that there may be greater similarity between companies in terms of what’s needed for outstanding leadership.” The subject of leadership is one that has exercised Goleman a good deal. As well as covering it in depth in his latest book, he has also recently published an article on the subject
3. Goleman told me: “I was very interested in McClelland’s data in the PepsiCo study, which has also been replicated in some other companies. He found that the outstanding leaders had a critical mass of strengths that came from all of the emotional intelligence domains.” He went on: “If you don’t have self-management skills, you’ll be Bill Clinton – you may be fabulous at empathy and have incredible social skills, but the fact that you can’t control your impulses is going to sabotage you. The PepsiCo study offers good evidence of the catalytic interaction that occurs when you have skills across the domains – that’s where you find the really exceptional people.
And that suggests a very strong business case for grooming people for these abilities, or selecting people with these abilities, particularly for top leadership.” As this line of thought had led us on to the issue of selection, I questioned Goleman as to whether, in fact, he saw this as a suitable use for his emotional competence model. Does the model – with its list of competencies like “self-confidence”, “adaptability”, “initiative”, “service orientation” and “change catalyst” – lend itself to translation into application forms, interview questions and so forth? As his answer shows, Goleman has some reservations about this.
He told me: “I think people have to be very careful. On the one hand, it makes good sense. You do want to do a systematic interview and listen for whether people have these abilities or not. I think that the really good executive recruiters, for instance, are people who have emotional intelligence and who recognise it in others. But I don’t think you should use the model for any kind of selection test.” In fact, he is scathing about “so-called EQ tests”.
He argued: “There are several self-report tools that are being sold as tests of emotional intelligence, but I think it would be a big mistake to use any of them for selection, if only because the first domain of emotional intelligence is self-awareness.
If someone is low on that ability, how are you going to trust any of their other self-assessments, just for one? And for another: if you ask someone how empathic they are and then correlate that with an objective measure, the correlation is about zero. If you ask people who know that person well, you get a very high correlation, but you can’t do that when you’re hiring people because you don’t get straight responses.” Nor is he happy with the idea of using his emotional competence model for pay.
He said: “If you use a competence model for reward, you’re making a leap of faith. I think people too often have a naïve understanding of competence models. Whether a person does well or not depends on many factors, one of the most powerful of which is whether they have the critical mass of competencies. What that critical mass looks like may differ from person to person, and someone may be quite outstanding but draw on a competence you don’t even have in your model.
So, I think that performance alone should be the criterion for reward.” Influences: McClelland, Boyatzis Much of the data about competency frameworks which Goleman uses in his latest book comes from the work of Hay/McBer, the consulting firm David McClelland set up. Goleman told me: “Partly, that was because of my ongoing friendship with David, who was still sharing data with me 25 years after I’d left McBer.” He added: “What appealed to me about David McClelland’s work, when I came back to it, was that there was a methodology, and one I was familiar with.”
This was the “behavioural event interview” technique pioneered by McClelland. In a further link with his early career, Goleman’s new consulting firm, Emotional Intelligence Services, has formed a partnership with the Hay Group to deliver programmes to assess and develop emotional intelligence. Also participating in this venture is Richard Boyatzis, another former student of McClelland’s – and against whose celebrated model of managerial competence5 Goleman told me he had cross-checked his own emotional competence model.
When I interviewed Boyatzis recently for this journal, he was very concerned to emphasise that competency’s roots lay in the idea of developing people. I wondered whether Goleman shared this focus. Surely, when it comes to something as fundamental as the emotions, there is a limited amount anyone can do to change them? Development – “worst practice” I found, however, that Goleman was just as passionate about development as Boyatzis had been.
He told me: “Emotional intelligence, unlike IQ, tends to increase in every decade of life. It’s learned.” “You can be a person who, as an infant, is very prone to tantrums, but because of the way you were raised, the experiences you had at school and along the way, you learn to manage that very well, and you won’t be the one who blows up in anger on the job.
I think it’s extremely important to understand a) that these are learnable abilities, and b) that it’s a different mode of learning than that which pertains to rational thought, because it’s a different part of the brain which is learning.” He feels that employers have been slow to realise the implications of this. He said: “I think a lot of efforts in training in this area are poorly designed, ineffective and a waste of time and money.” Towards the end of his new book, Goleman has a chapter that itemises some of the ways in which organisations can help individuals to develop their emotional competencies.
He told me: “One of the most common worst practices is failing to pay any attention to whether people want to be there or not. In this area, people have to be highly motivated in order to sustain the ongoing period of effort it’s going to take to learn.” As a corollary of this, he told me, “learning in this domain is better if people have a tailored learning plan, one that they have some say in designing. But companies typically put people through ‘cookie-mould’ programmes where it’s assumed that the same strategy for learning is going to help everybody.”
The emotional brain, he argues, “learns through repetition and practice”. So, in order to learn emotional intelligence at work, “you need both a supportive climate and someone to help you, a coach perhaps, maybe a learning partner, maybe a learning team. You need someone you can talk to regularly, to discuss what to do at those times when you blow it, you relapse and go back to your old behaviour.
How do you turn that around into an experience that you can learn from, to prepare yourself so that next time around you’ll do better?” Because our experiences actually help to shape our brains, Goleman argues, unlearning our existing behaviour patterns and learning new ones “takes a couple of months at least”. But, he told me: “Companies so often just won’t support people through that. Even now, companies come to me and say: ‘We think that’s a really great model but, you know, we’ve only got two days’. HR people are slow to realise that we really need to rethink how we’re spending our money here if we’re going to get a return on investment.” And Goleman is clear that return on training investment is what all this is about: “It is worth organisations’ time and money to have people go through a training that will improve their performance, if only because of the immense difference in effectiveness those people will then bring to the jobs they’re doing.”
In his view, though, most companies “don’t even think about return on investment”. Nevertheless, he told me that: “More and more people in HR tell me that they’re being asked to justify their expenditures. Evaluation is one of the things I think ought to be done routinely – but a tough evaluation. There should be some objective measure of performance, to see if there was enhancement, as well as a direct assessment of the competencies that you originally assessed people on.” Of course, many of these concepts – self-managed learning, tailored programmes, coaching and learning teams, evaluating the return on training investment – have been around for some time. Was there anything distinctive, I asked Goleman, that emotional intelligence added to them?
He replied: “I think that the main contribution of emotional intelligence is in making the argument for going to the trouble of putting all these elements together. What’s new is the rationale. The idea of emotional intelligence is based on an understanding from neuroscience, and that brings something very new to the discussion of competence and of development. Because it’s been easy before to say ‘We know that would help, but it doesn’t really matter’ or ‘We don’t have the time’. I think it’s harder and harder to make those excuses now.” “550-degree feedback”
Another issue that Goleman thinks is crucial to the development of emotional competencies is to give people “a very honest assessment of their strengths and weaknesses”. He said: “I think that the feedback should be confidential to the person being assessed, not to the company. Otherwise, you get skewed responses or you get unfortunate consequences.”
Some of the American organisations he works with have taken the idea of 360-degree feedback a step further. So-called “550-degree feedback” not only asks customers and people at work to comment on the person’s competencies, but even their families. Goleman told me: “Assessment from people’s private lives is often the most powerful data for them in wanting to improve, but it won’t work in every culture.” The idea of appealing to people’s most personal motivations is a theme that runs through Goleman’s thinking. He told me that helping people to develop their emotional competencies is not only good for business, but for individuals too.
He said: “I think there’s a huge payoff for the individual in this kind of training because, guess what, these competencies also apply at home, how you handle your kids, how you handle your relationships.” At this point in our discussion, it struck me that some people might feel uneasy about this blurring of the lines between one’s private and work lives. And, in fact, that this might be an objection to using the notion of “emotional intelligence” in the workplace at all. Is it really any business of my employer’s what I am like, at this deep emotional level? When I put these points to him, Goleman said he thought that my uneasiness might be “culture-specific”. He said: “For Americans, it’s a big inducement.”
And he strongly defended the idea that organisations must link their development programmes to what people are like. He told me: “Organisations often fail to tie the development effort to a person’s own values, their sense of what matters to them. There is a temptation to assume that, just because there’s a gap between a person’s profile and some generic competency model, they’ll want to change. But change is driven most powerfully when people believe that what they’re going to do matters for them. If you can’t sell the person on it, if they haven’t bought into the need for change, they’re not going to make the effort.” The emotionally intelligent organisation The final issue that I wanted to discuss with Goleman was the idea in his latest book of the “emotionally intelligent organisation”. He told me: “I believe that emotional intelligence operates at the individual level, the small group level, and the organisational level. I think it’s a rather new idea to consider the emotional intelligence of an organisation. It’s not there in the literature.” What is there in the literature, of course, and what seems on the face of it a similar idea, is the “core competence of the organisation”.
As outlined by thinkers like C K Prahalad, Gary Hamel and Jerry Porras7, core competence is a set of corporate skills, knowledge, technologies and systems that gives an organisation its unique competitive advantage. When I asked Goleman about the links between this idea and the “emotionally intelligent organisation”, he replied: “I think the notion of the ‘core competence of the organisation’ makes lots of sense, but the way it’s usually implemented is blind to emotional competence.
I don’t think that core competence is usually taken to mean how human assets are leveraged, that is, the ability of people to collaborate or communicate within a company, to read the customer base with a high level of empathy, to be nimble and adaptable. It tends to be MBA-think.” Goleman told me: “My own sense is that, in the increasingly competitive global marketplace, emotional intelligence at the organisational level will emerge as one of the key factors determining which companies survive and thrive and which companies die. I think it’s always been the case – we’ve just never noticed that this was a malady that companies died of.” He went on: “Microsoft is in trouble because it lacked political awareness, it had a deficiency in understanding how it was perceived outside the technology world and outside its market. It got into big trouble and it finally saw that it was naïve about a whole range of ability in the emotional intelligence domain.” It was clear from our discussion that the idea of organisational emotional intelligence is one that Goleman is still worrying about. He told me: “I’m interested in the challenge of assessing emotional intelligence at the organisational level. It would be interesting to get the organisational profile – collectively, what are our strong points and our weak points – and then to implement some development around those.”
And in a pointer, perhaps, to the way in which his research might go in the future, he told me: “I think you can look at organisational emotional intelligence at two levels. One is the aggregate of individual excellence and weakness. But I also think that at the collective level there are emergent properties, that this domain exhibits itself in a way which is more than the simple sum total of the emotional intelligence of each person. Exactly how it manifests itself is a very interesting empirical question. I don’t know the answers, and I’m intrigued by it.”
References 1. Emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, Bloomsbury, 1996. 2. Working with emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, Bloomsbury, 1998. 3. “What makes a leader”, Daniel Goleman, Harvard Business Review, November–December 1998, pp.93–102, reprint no.98606. 4. “Behavioural event interviews as an alternative to traditional ability tests as a way to identify personal competencies associated with top executive success”, David C McClelland, Psychological Science, vol. 9 no.5, September 1998. 5. The competent manager: a model for effective performance, Richard E Boyatzis, McBer and Co, Wiley, 1982. 6. “Interview with Richard Boyatzis”, Katherine Adams, Competency: The Annual Benchmarking Survey, 1998/99. 7. See, for example, Competing for the future, Gary Hamel and C K Prahalad, Harvard Business School Press, 1994; Built to last: successful habits of visionary companies, James C Collins and Jerry I Porras, Century, Random House, 1995; and Intelligent enterprise: a knowledge- and service-based paradigm for industry, James Brian Quinn, Free Press, Macmillan, 1992. Note: this interview was originally published in Competency, vol. 6 no.4, Summer 1999, pp.33–38.

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