Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups

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By now, most executives have accepted that emotional intelligence is as critical as IQ to an individual's effectiveness. But much of the important work in organizations is done in teams. New research uncovers what emotional intelligence at the group level looks like-and how to achieve it

Building the

Emotioncil Intelligence of Groups
by Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff

the concept of emotional intelligence in the 1990s, scales fell from their eyes. The basic message, that effectiveness in organizations is at least as much about EQ as IQ, resonated deeply; it was something that people knew in their guts but that had never before been so well articulated. Most important, the idea held the potential for positive change. Instead of being stuck with the hand they'd been dealt, people could take steps to enhance their emotional intelligence and make themselves more effective in their work and personal lives. Indeed, the concept of emotional intelligence had real impact. The only problem is that so far emotional intelligence has been viewed only as an individual competency, when the reality is that most work in organizations is done by teams. And if managers have one pressing need today, it's to find ways to make teams work better.

MARCH 2001


Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups

It is with real excitement, therefore, that we share these findingsfromour research: individual emotional intelligence has a group analog, and it is just as critical to groups' effectiveness. Teams can develop greater emotional intelligence and, in so doing, boost their overall performance.

Why Should Teams Build Their Emotional Intelligence?
No one would dispute the importance of making teams work more effectively. But most research about how to do so has focused on identifying the task processes that distinguish the most successftil teams-that is, specifying the need for cooperation, participation, commitment to goals, and so forth. The assumption seems to be that, once identified, these processes can simply be imitated by other teams, with similar effect. It's not true. By analogy, think of it this way: a piano student can be taught to play Minuet in G, but he won't become a modem-day Bach without knowing music theory and being able to play with heart. Similarly, the real source of a great team's success lies in the fundamental conditions that allow effective task processes to emerge-and that cause members to engage in them wholeheartedly. Our research tells us that three conditions are essential to a group's effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy. When these conditions are absent, going through the motions of cooperating and participating is still possible. But the team will not be as effective as it could be, because members will choose to hold back rather than fully engage. To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms -the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits-that support behaviors for building trust, group identity, and group efficacy. The outcome is complete engagement in tasks. {For more on how emotional intelligence infiuences these conditions, see the sidebar "A Model of Team Effectiveness.")

at more levels. To understand the differences, let's first look at the concept of individual emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman. In his definitive book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman explains the chief characteristics of someone with high El; he or she is aware of emotions and able to regulate them-and this awareness and regulation are directed both inward, to one's self, and outward, to others. "Personal competence," in Goleman's words, comes from being aware of and regulating one's own emotions."Social competence"is awareness and regulation of others' emotions. A group, however, must attend to yet another...
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