If you want your company to succeed, investing in emotional intelligence is the way to go says Rajkumari Neogy, founder of iRestart. It’s not enough to take your employees at face value; you must delve deeper into who you are as a person and a leader to truly bring out their potential. Here, Rajkumari shares more on the importance of business leaders investing in emotional intelligence.
Rajkumari, what is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is an ability to notice and witness how one is ‘showing up’ in the moment, and how they can relate to others in the room. It’s the ability to notice what is happening.
It involves elements of self and relationship management. When it comes to self-management, there is a key component called self-regulation. So when emotions are rising, frustrations are happening, and triggers are occurring, being able to turn towards oneself and reflect, notice, and regulate to regain control.
Relationship-management is about noticing what’s happening with the other person, while also staying very present. It also involves engaging with curiosity versus defensively. We’re human, so lots of things are happening simultaneously, but having emotional intelligence, and very high levels of it, really give us tools and capacities to navigate the moment masterfully.
Is everybody’s journey to emotional intelligence different?
If we focus on looking at emotional intelligence through behaviour, what we’ll find is that we are not moving the needle in the same way that diversity and inclusion haven’t moved in the ways that we would have liked in recent years.
The same applies to emotional intelligence; behaviour is not the entryway in. It can happen, for sure, but a much more permanent form of engaging with change is to shift an identity. When we start to look at the human being as a neurochemical algorithm, which we are, then we can begin to shift neurochemically at a permanent embedded place.
Every single feeling is based on a biochemical response. For example, when we experience trust with others, our bodies secrete oxytocin. When we feel seen and heard during meetings, our bodies secrete serotonin. When we feel excluded or shamed, our bodies secrete cortisol.
Should emotional intelligence be company-wide?
Absolutely, it needs to be company-wide. There are lots of ways to implement emotional intelligence. I think the first and foremost is to invite and allow opportunities for humans to be shockingly human. What makes us human is the ability to have emotions, while simultaneously having an executive, functioning capability.
When we allow a workforce to reflect and understand what makes them tick, this is going to enable the entire organisation to up-level both their self-management and relationship management skills and abilities. Anybody can motivate from fear, and anybody can motivate through inspiration; both work.
However, when we motivate through fear, it fizzles out a lot sooner. It’s like doing an intense workout, but just for an incredibly shorter amount of time. Since people are employed for multiple years at a time, it’s always best to have their productivity remain constant and at a high-performance level. You can do that from a nervous system perspective, by motivating through inspiration.
Why should businesses invest in emotional intelligence?
Back in December of 2019, I flew to Los Angeles to do a full day of leadership training for a startup company that had just gotten $97 million in funding. I sat down with the CEO, and the first question that popped out of the CEO’s mouth was: “What’s the point of me being nice to my employees?”.
After taking a deep breath and gathering myself, I responded with the following:
“Every single time that you are mean to someone, interrupt them, or dismiss them in some way, you’re actually shutting down the part of their brain that’s making you money.”
At that moment, the CEO looked down, took a breath, looked back up and asked: “Well, so what do I do now?”.
Which was great, it sounds like a silly question, but it was an opening to step into emotional intelligence because that’s what’s going to get you more money on the table.
Every single time there’s a bullying aspect, if there’s harassment or offensive language, if there’s any way in which any part of your workforce is being dismissed, humiliated, blamed, ignored, in some way, you are leaving dollars on the table. In every meeting, at every hour, of every day, of every week, every month and year.
Not only are you leaving dollars on the table, but you’re also leaving behind creativity, innovation, the ability to problem-solve and rectify, and connect with your clients in ways that you’ve never thought possible. So, having emotional intelligence, at the highest of levels for your organisation, is critical.
How does emotional intelligence strengthen the workforce?
One of the things about being human is that we forget that we are human. I know that sounds crazy, but there’s a simple explanation as to why.
We have two hemispheres in our brain, a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere, the left hemisphere drives the functional aspects of who we are, and it’s the right hemisphere, that drives the relationality pieces. This is all where relationship management happens, whether it’s our self-relationship or relationships to others.
When we build companies, we need both. If I just see my workforce through rose-tinted glasses, I’m not going be able to scale my company. I need to be able to notice what’s wrong; I need to fix the problems that are broken. There are so many opportunities that my left hemisphere offers me in that sense.
When I start to prioritise functionality, over relationships, however, that’s when I lose sight of the big picture. That’s when I start to see humans as just functions. What’s their role? How much are they making? What can they do for me? What did they not do for me?
So, I stop to see them as human beings, and what’s behind their lower productivity, and try to look at why they’re struggling and why they’re behaving this way. When we offer individuals an opportunity to access both parts of our brain, we’re creating a much more holistic experience and a more robust workforce.
What does iRestart offer companies?
What makes me unique is that I call myself an epigenetic coach, which means that I look at the senior leader from a very interesting lens. Epigenetics is a relatively newer science that says that we carry the tragedies, the traits and the traumas, transgenerationally, for over 200 years. That’s mind-blowing.
That drives your relationship style and your leadership style. This is how you show up every single day at work and in your life. Often unbeknownst to you, whether you have imposter syndrome, whether you have bullying tactics, whether you avoid conflict, whether you’re not someone whether you’re someone who doesn’t speak up and share ideas, there are epigenetic reasons of why that is.
What we offer is the ability to uncover your algorithm of what drives you in your life. We create a unique package review and start to look at places that feel less good, are impeding your performance, and creating a place of uncertainty in whatever flavour that is for you, and we start to shift that.