Imagine impacting the lives of over 95,000 students, with hundreds more waiting on your doorstep to get into the program. That’s life for the leadership team of the School. The School makes a deep, long-term investment in students’ 10-year journey from elementary school to college. Their holistic model serves students year-round, after school, with dance, academic, college/career readiness, and family support programs, free of charge. Over the years, shifting changes in the demands and complexities of dealing with so many “students” wore on the organization, and disconnection in the leadership team culture started to appear.
“It was evident to me that something was not working,” observed the CEO. “We would find ourselves in meetings where leaders were not as engaged as before. They would appear to agree in meetings but had opposing views after the meetings.”
CEO also observed an absence of trust, lack of communication, and avoidance of accountability. Disconnections hindered collaboration between teams. “People would do workarounds,” she said. “It created boundaries that caused many of us to be ineffective because we needed each other to accomplish our objectives.”
For example, the communication process would hit a snag when sharing the progress needed to come from the creative and development teams. They seem to miss their communication about needs and urgencies. CEO says that the community was indirectly impacted by these mishaps. Tasks were missed or not completed smoothly, creating stress and a lack of accountability.
“The idea that we needed a new approach but was not sure what that new approach is,” says the CEO.
CEO reviewed the problem with her outside consultant who quickly proposed that Emotional Connection training may be the way to unite the leadership team and improve accountability. “Based on the consultant’s experience, I started to have hope and clear direction that we could address our immediate issue and empower the leadership team to take them to the next level,” CEO explained.
The content appealed to the CEO because it showed the leadership team how to understand each other better and be there for each other in moments of stress, sharing vulnerabilities and providing a clear direction on the type of support they needed. She also liked the skills and tools they learned, which allowed them to create deeper conversations in a variety of ways, and allowed for a stronger connection with their peers and staff.
In the midst of learning the process, the COVID pandemic hit, and the CEO immediately integrated the EmC process into their daily calls and meetings. It allowed the team to share their fears without feeling inadequate and weak, asking for input and gaining the confidence they needed to get through the tough times together.
The Dance Art School's leadership team is excited about the dialogue and openness they have been able to create within their team and between their respective teams. They can be better at helping each other be more accountable, leading to better results, and feel supported.
“We are using the Emotional Connection skills to approach one another safely and collaboratively. It helps us to get our common goals accomplished,” the CEO said, “Our bond began to gradually get stronger. The team feels more empowered and connected.”
"Our bond began to gradually getstronger. The team feels more empowered and connected."
The members of the leadership team now speak up when they feel hurt and are able to courageously share their vulnerabilities in what they need to feel safe and connected. The program has given them a common language that makes discussions more comfortable and safe, consequently increasing accountability across the organization.
One manager reports, “I really appreciated the safety in our conversation. Before, I was afraid to bring up an issue
or share a concern, but now, I feel like we are on the same page to address the concerns and issues together.”
Another says, “Increasing our emotional connection provided us with a better method of working through conflicts, particularly with peers and staff. It’s also useful in our communication with parents and students. I now can be more emotionally attuned and responsive to the needs of others.”
"Increasing our emotional connection provided us with a better method of working through conflicts, particularly with peers and staff."
The time during the pandemic was difficult and scary. Integrating the Process helped the team to adopt a new way of reaching, responding, and engaging with their priorities, goals, and objectives. As a result, instead of waiting for the progress, people were proactively sharing the information regularly so that everyone felt included and abreast of the development and progress. The Emotional Connection not only helped them to be united but also be resilient and agile. It helped them to stay engaged with the community and support the families throughout the pandemic. A movement arose to create additional support groups, which united not only their organization but their community.
“What I saw was one of the most amazing things: by creating safety and support, by being emotionally responsive and engaged, we did not just pull the team together, we pulled the community together. While it was unknown what would happen next, we maintained our bond from the inside, being there for each other, and staying connected and united,” the CEO said.
“Emotional Connection had a lot to do with uniting us and making us more accountable,” the CEO states. “I saw people listen with their hearts and work together because they knew how much everyone cared about each other and students. We pulled together unanimously, and everyone came out on top.”
The training is not specific to profit or nonprofit - it’s for anyone who interacts with people. “I recommend the Emotional Connection training for uniting any team because I know it works,” she says. “It offers a clear roadmap for people to reconnect, reengage, and renew their energy for building stronger and lasting relationships, which will also affect you in other areas of your life beyond your workplace. It is training for life.”