Daniel Goleman explains how once the survival response has been triggered, the mind gets obsessed with the thoughts linked to negative emotions, such as fear and anger. Negative thoughts shrink the cognitive ability to make sound decisions and to tackle the work at hand. Unchecked negative emotions limit the capacity to think.
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Viewpoint on the Impact of Negative Emotions in the Workplace
A big part of executive coaching is about developing the self-mastery of leaders, helping them increase their self-awareness about emotions, self-management when they have been triggered into negative emotions, and also developing empathy to be able to recognize when others have been triggered.
This is an important part of helping organizations be more successful by developing the emotional intelligence of their leaders.
When working with groups, the development of emotional intelligence is more difficult although it is also necessary to resolve conflicts, increase collaboration and unleash initiative. Individual coaching may not be an option because of the number of individuals involved. Also, teams often need to accelerate their ability to handle negative emotions and moods in order to meet the challenges they confront in their work. Finally, groups need to practice together rather than not in isolation. Beside executive coaching, we focus in coaching the team in action.
Once we work with a struggling team, the team members quickly realize that the solutions to their problems were always among them. They were just not able to access them because too much of their individual energy was invested in ruminating on what others had done wrong, the unfair treatment they received, etc. Individuals also did not know how to manage their emotions sufficiently in order to risk having open discussions. Fear of confrontation paralyzes people.
When a group is dealing with a crisis, there is no time to develop the self-mastery of each individual participant. It is, however, possible to help the group move to open discussions where cognitive issues and emotional hang-ups can be progressively addressed. Once the group takes on the collective responsibility to manage disagreements, individuals can feel free to speak up.
The process is surprisingly effective. In a few hours, groups can experience the benefit of speaking openly about how they feel about the situation. Once the group can actually talk openly, it is able to rapidly develop its own road map to resolve issues– the very issues that have stumped them until then. (Also see Solutions Come from Inside.)
Our approach to change relies on enhancing a group’s ability to develop emotional intelligence by practicing it together in their work. Click on the link to read more about our approach to increasing Collaboration and Initiative.
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