Emotional Intelligence: Team Work or Individual Responsibility?

Work together or work apart? Do we develop stronger bonds when we share experiences? Can Emotional Intelligence help to differentiate ourselves from the crowd?

When enclosed in a sea of noise, differentiation is hard, but individuals may stand out from a team or teams might stand out within a company, and a company might stand out from the competition. There are times when teamwork is helpful to accomplish goals, and there are situations in which productivity is enhanced when a project is handed to a single individual. There are several ways to conceptualize differentiation. For example, teachers want to differentiate, but sometimes when class numbers are high it becomes hard to do so. Entrepreneurs try to differentiate, but when numbers and sales volume increases, customized services can be hard to sustain.

When numbers increase, standardization tends to take the upper hand over unique recognition. In comes the template, and “tweaked” customization. It’s a no-brainer that smaller numbers make quality increase. Private schools boast small class sizes to give individualized attention but when it comes to the employee experience, how do you help them stand apart? How do you help your team maximize their differences?

Sometimes catering to individual preference is not an option, and in those circumstances, drawing on the skills of emotional intelligence among teams can be of significant benefit.

John Rampton, writing for the Economist, states: “While creating successful teams isn’t as simple as mimicking the processes of emotionally intelligent groups of people, what you can do is create the necessary conditions in which team members can develop their emotional intelligence in the workplace. Those three conditions are: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy.” Among his suggestions for fostering these qualities are:

Take a Creative Approach to Stress Management (resolve conflict as quickly as possible, discourage multitasking, practice empathy).

Encourage Team Members to Voice Their Opinions (the ability to vent frustration is important, but arrange a method that doesn’t let negativity take control of the environment).

Motivate! (define a clear mission and purpose, allow flexibility, value diverse abilities).

Another way to maximize emotional intelligence among teams is to carefully assign roles, as discussed in “How Do You Help Your Team Make Decisions”? Certain individuals might thrive in specific roles but struggle to adapt in other positions. Even though you may be thinking about group functionality, it’s not necessary to turn people into statistics entirely: think about the unique talents that contribute to the well-oiled machine. Introduce Emotional Intelligence training as a team to foster new levels of awareness, and instill team bonds.

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