Happy Work Teams Make Better Decisions – And It’s Your Job to Regulate the Room

Most leaders understand the link between high emotional intelligence (EQ) and effective leadership. Quite simply, a leader needs to understand and manage their own emotions and mindset, so they have capacity to understand their team’s emotions and mindset. Without this, communication breaks down and progress slows or reverses.

Science also tells us that higher EQ leads to better decision making. In Steven J. Stein’s “The EQ Leader”, Stein points out that for complex decisions, both the neocortex portion of the brain (associated with rational thought) and the limbic system (associated with emotions) play a part. 

The practical implication is that since emotions are required for complex decision making, the ability to understand and manage emotions is critical for effective decision making. As Stein puts it, good decision making requires optimal performance of the higher and lower brain functions – knowing what to do as well as how to do it best. Extreme emotions like anger, depression, or elation are not optimal emotional states for decision making – managing to the middle allows for effective decisions.

Most of us have stories of a boss, who in anger says, “Just do get it done”. The boss’ elevated emotional state (low EQ) first leads to poor decision making since their anger leads to a mind that is closed to input. The elevated emotional outburst also leads to poor execution because in fear of reprisal, the team delivers exactly what is asked for, along with unintended consequences that go with sacrificing all else to get it done.

If individual decisions require emotional regulation, what about team decisions? Yes, but things are more complex. The critical item is that emotions are contagious. Stein calls this “emotional contagion”. Leaders have an outsized impact on the emotions of their teams. One study found that an employee’s EQ accounted for 52% of their work happiness, while their leader’s EQ accounted for 48% – almost as much as the individual (Stein, pp. 52). 

The takeaway is that leaders can and should manage the emotions in the room when their team is making critical decisions so the entire team can optimize performance of their higher and lower brains to make high quality decision.

EQ was rarely discussed a few decades ago, but science is now showing its critical impact on effective business. The good news is emotional intelligence is a skill that can be developed. Connect with us to learn more. Sage & Summit Connect 

Source: The EQ Leader, Steven J. Stein