Smart use of emotions, says Sue Langley, can improve our capacity to work well with others, engage with our jobs, manage stress and make more effective decisions. Welcome to a world of EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) over IQ.
Sue Langley is one of the thought leaders interviewed in Connected Worlds, a book by Touchline sponsored and launched at London’s iconic BT Tower.
The book brings together a host of international luminaries, including Melinda Gates, Saatchi & Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts and marketing guru Seth Godin to contemplate the landscape of opportunity presented by our hyper-connected world.
The following book chapter excerpt is reprinted with permission.
Sue Langley is the founder and CEO of Emotional Intelligence Worldwide, which provides practical applications of emotional intelligence (EI), positive psychology and neuroscience to help individuals achieve the best possible outcomes for themselves and their organisations. She has worked with companies such as Oracle and Coca-Cola Amatil, and is the author of Positive Relationships at Work in Positive Relationships by Sue Roffey (Springer 2012), and two childrens books based on positive psychology principles. Here she explains why wellbeing, decision-making and leadership should all be informed by intelligent use of emotions.
Q: How do you apply positive psychology and emotional intelligence (EI) to the field of leadership and the business world?
A: We are working in increasingly complex and competitive environments. Organisations and the people in them are trying to achieve more with fewer resources and greater pressure.
Many are challenged with engaging employees and establishing competitive advantage during rapid change and constant uncertainty. Raising productivity, integrating new approaches and succeeding in global markets demands greater flexibility, cultural sensitivity and collaboration.
Those who create and sustain strong business results in this climate engage hearts and minds, managing complex, often competing, agendas with savvy and awareness. EI the intelligent use of emotion underpins our capacity to work well with others, manage stress and make effective decisions. These abilities can be measured and learned. We focus on the practical side of emotions in the sphere of positive psychology. Most of our work is around leadership or culture change, using what we know from a neuroscience or psychological research perspective. We use that research to try to make it real and practical for people in the business world or for their personal lives.
Q: Does this mean there is an urgent need in the business world to change the culture?
A: It is true that most businesses want to change their culture into something much more positive. A lot of organisations run engagement surveys and the cynical view is: Why do we run engagement surveys? We don’t run them because we necessarily want people to be engaged per se, we run them because, if people are more engaged, stakeholders reap the rewards because of higher performance and higher productivity.
Research coming out of neuroscience and positive psychology shows that when people experience more positive emotions at work, they tend to be more engaged. We know that if people experience emotions such as joy, interest, contentment, pride and love it actually has what positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson terms the broaden-and-build effect”, as increasing positive emotions build enduring personal resources, enabling us to manage stressful situations and propelling us in upward spirals towards optimal performance, wellbeing and growth.
Positive emotions also lessen the resonance of negative experience and provide a powerful antidote to anxiety. Additionally, they strengthen our social resources, in that we create new bonds, while bolstering existing ones, which is again useful for businesses.
Many of the organisations we work with want to break down the silo effect