In 2022, it’s no longer a surprise that emotional intelligence contributes to better work relationships, performance, and collaboration. However, what is surprising are the specific components that make it so successful and its impact on a business end goal.
Emotional intelligence researcher, author, and lecturer Daniel Goleman discovered that a leader’s mood and attendant behaviors were more influential than other elements governing bottom-line performance. Those, in turn, impact a resonance between two or more people and enable people to synchronize signals to act in harmony with each other. The bottom line is that your emotions and how you share them can either align people with you or push them away.
Sincerity is key
Mood, or emotional style, must be sincere to work its magic on teams. The adage “Fake it until you make it” does not work well here. Goleman and his teams found that leaders who were erratic in their moods and behaviors (even if they forced positivity) caused team members to feel mistrustful. On the surface, someone can seem upbeat. Yet those emotions boiling below the surface cannot be entirely hidden. So how can leaders adopt a sincere positivity and mood to bolster employees? Emotional connection is the secret.
The science of connection: What happens in the brain
Adopting an emotional connection perspective does not just infuse an uplifting feeling in those around you. It also alters chemicals in your brain while supercharging your immune system. Specific neural networks that light up when we connect and experience a pleasure. They are aligned with basic emotion management, heart rate, stress relief, and pain reduction, among other things.
An added benefit is the release of feel-good dopamine, courtesy of those neural network triggers. Reassurance of being there for each other and acknowledging emotions can reduce stress and increase positive feelings, all due to the neural navigators already present in our noggin. An added bonus: Leaders who use the emotional connection in their leadership report feeling less burnout and enjoy their work more.
Results of acknowledgment and reassurance on teams
If you think the chemical and biological implications for you are amazing, just think about how they can work for your team! Acknowledging emotions and reassuring your team value provides a similar brain boost. Many companies understand this and offer reward and recognition programs. While those certainly deliver on the occasional brain boost, they do not provide a consistent flush of positivity that consistent emotional nurturance can provide. Dopamine drives pro-social behaviors, fosters camaraderie, and has even been linked to goal accomplishment motivation.
Employees who receive signals of acknowledgment and reassurance have also been shown to be more innovative and efficient. An essential consideration in all of this is to focus on quality over quantity. And ultimately, your efforts at creating a deeper emotional connection will carry over to create a lasting legacy with the power to shape workplace culture.
How to develop habits of acknowledgment and reassurance
How exactly does one go about developing habits of acknowledgment and reassurance? While there are many paths to mastery, being intentional about it will help you to get started:
- Practice recognizing when you and your team feel connected
I really appreciate it when we are all connected. It feels safer and secure.
- Acknowledge the impact you have on each other
You have an impact on me, and I care about what you have to say.
- Look for positive ways to be explicit about how much you care about each person
You, being here, is really important to me. I care about you and your experience.
- Be intentional with how much you value each person’s time and efforts
Thank you for being here. I value the efforts, skills, and knowledge that you bring to this team and project.
- Slow down moments of disconnection to reengage
Can we slow it down? I just want to reassure you that I get how difficult this is for you. Thank you for sharing.
Acknowledgment and Reassurance bring about great benefits
One of the best things about adopting an emotional connection approach is that you can start right now with the simple bulleted list above. Working with a consultant and leveraging research-based tools can get you there faster while creating more meaningful and lasting changes throughout your teams and culture.
Adding consistent acknowledgment and reassurance to your leadership style will positively impact you, your teams, and everyone around you. And it’s never been easier to add to your leadership toolkit. The secret is out! How will you use it?
Looking for more on this subject? Read The 4 Emotional Intelligence Competencies All Leaders Should Develop.
Learn more about EmC Leaders solutions to help you develop your leadership skills for 21st-century business demands and build successful teams who succeed together. Request a free consultation to learn how you can develop a robust organizational culture using emotional connection strategies and skills.