With diverse backgrounds and stressful environments, people can often feel disconnected, and unable to collectively move forward – and that can be a serious challenge, especially in the fast-moving world of biotech. Studies have shown that when people do not know how to connect emotionally, they cannot collaborate, communicate, and solve complex problems effectively. Lack of emotional safety is often cited as the primary cause of poor performance, diminished curiosity, and unwillingness to explore and take risks.
Emotional intelligence is the key, but how can we cultivate and nurture a community of emotionally connected leaders?
“We're always thinking about how to improve how we communicate and how we work as a team,” says Alejandro Tocigl, Co-founder and CEO at Miroculus. “I think the most important role of a leader is enabling the team to be the best version of themselves. The only way we can achieve that is by having them feel comfortable and safe in the work environment.”
After hearing about Emotional Connection (EmC) for creating better work environments while attending the webinar on the topic, Dr. Fay Christodoulou, Co-Founder and Miroculus Chief Science Officer together with Mr. Tocigl began to learn the EmC methodologies. They made the decision to integrate the EmC strategy into their daily interactions with team leaders to strengthen the connection and become more effective in working together.
“The EmC process gave us tools to connect with one another at an emotional level making the communication lighter, to speak without fears, and have a stronger connection within the team. Once that happens, everything becomes easier to do,” Mr. Tocigl shares.
Continuing over the next 18 months, the leadership team began using the Emotional Connection skills to understand each other better so that they could build deeper relationships. The new language of emotions helped them understand themselves and interact with each other through the lens of vulnerability and compassion.
“Knowing that we co-regulate each other's emotions and just being aware of it in a team context, each member of the team can express what it is that they need in moments that are demanding and the others can acknowledge what they need and reassure them how important and valued they are in that situation,” says Dr. Christodoulou. “That has radically changed our interactions, problem-solving, and a sense of togetherness. Now, the whole company has been trained on the EmC process.”
The benefits from Dr. Christodoulou and Mr. Tocigl’s efforts came quickly. Productive interactions increased during meetings. The leadership and teams could engage in difficult conversations without creating a crisis or a big problem, strengthening their connection in the process to navigate stressful situations using their learned skills.
“Having diverse teams, from different countries, different cultures, and different backgrounds, we aim to create better leaders,” says Mr. Tocigl, “Emotional Connection provided us with a roadmap to opening the door to honesty, vulnerability, and deeper human connections.”
Incorporating the EmC strategy helped Miroculus increase their team dynamics and performance. “Our group sessions have become a good forum for honest and open communication,” Manuel Sescosse, Head of Finance, says. “Every time we come together, we make progress discussing things and building on them.”
“It’s transformed our culture by how we interact with each other,” says Dr. Mais Jebrail, Senior Director of Research and Development. “It allowed us to grow the capacity to be vulnerable in all aspects and not worry about what we have to say and how to say it because it's just easier and less resistant.”
Being focused on creating a cohesive culture, the head of people, Carolyn Wang looks for ways to help individuals thrive. “When I joined Miroculus, it was refreshing to see a company where the baseline is higher for learning the language of emotions and understanding the importance of emotional connection.”
“The good thing about Emotional Connection is it provides us with a systematic roadmap,” says Mr. Tocigl. “We know everybody is following a set of steps and speaking the same language, creating a safe space where we can bring our whole selves to work.”
The COVID-19 pandemic provided a true test of the Emotional Connection process at Miroculus. The Miroculus team stayed together as a result of strong connections allowing people to talk about difficulties without being afraid or concerned about hurting each other’s feelings or pushing each other off-balance or out of the conversation. Despite the constraints imposed by the Pandemic, Miroculus achieved ambitious targets.
“I think it matters to be able to address difficult topics, to brainstorm passionately about different ideas, while keeping the team on track and in a strong state of mind. This can only happen if you have a culture where difficult conversations are not avoided. It’s a culture where you can respond to failures faster and better without moving out of the organization. It is a culture that is happier too. If you are constantly suppressing your emotions and you are in a place where you don't feel comfortable sharing, I don't think you would be really happy or at your best,” says Mr. Tocigl.
Miroculus continues using Emotional Connection as part of its onboarding, leadership development, and culture curriculum. Companies have expressed interest in working with EmC Leaders adopting the Emotional Connection strategy after seeing its effect at Miroculus.
“When we think about the future of Miroculus, we are excited about what comes next. At the same time, there are going to be a lot of challenges that we don't even know of. I feel that by having this tool, we are better equipped to face those challenges together as a team,” says Mr. Tocigl.