Posted on

How to Influence with Emotional Intelligence


Today marks the release of Influence: A Primer, the latest in the Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence series, which explores the 12 EI competencies of leadership developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis. Influence is a competency not often associated with Emotional Intelligence, yet it is essential to leadership as a social skill in order to make progress and get things done through – and with – others.

To help clarify this relationship, and illustrate the style of influence covered in our primer, we thought we’d share a few excerpts and quotes. The primer itself is available now for only $9, and will cover all of this in much greater depth, yet in a concise format you can read in less than an hour and fit in your pocket!

What is Influence?

Influence is a social competency. Leaders who are equipped with the emotional self-awareness and self-control to manage themselves while being adaptable, positive, and empathic can express their ideas in a way that will appeal to others. Influence is necessary for any leadership style, and can be done in a way that is meaningful and effective or fraught with resistance.

Leaders competent in influence will gather support from others with relative ease and are able to lead a group who is engaged, mobilized, and ready to execute on the tasks at hand. This is how real progress is made, how extraordinary successes are accomplished. How does a leader leverage these abilities to become influential? That is the focus of this Primer.

Daniel Goleman:

With the Influence competency, you’re persuasive and engaging, and you can build buy-in from key people.

You can’t order people to do what you want, you must persuade or inspire them to put forth their best efforts toward the clear objective you have defined.

Influence competence draws on empathy””without understanding the other person’s perspective and sensing their feelings, influencing them becomes more difficult.

Richard Boyatzis

The core intent of the Influence competency is a desire to get someone to agree with you. The behavior that demonstrates this competency is doing things that appeal to their self-interest and anticipating the questions they would have.

To the extent that we have a sphere of influence””and we all do in our families, with our friends, at work””we are leaders. Everyone is a leader in this sense.

Peter Senge

Real change often happens informally, with people who are good listeners, respectful of their culture, and who look for windows of opportunity.

Don’t worry about “getting everyone on board.” Instead, build a critical mass of people who have influence and then support them in spreading their influence.

Where there are matters you care about deeply, let go of the moral high ground of thinking “I’ve got to get people to do this,” and find where your interests and others’ naturally intersect.

Vanessa Druskat

Emotionally intelligent leaders typically recognize that team collaboration requires effective team member interactions, and such interactions are built upon the trust that grows out of relationship-focused norms and behavior.

In our work, we have found “emotion resources” or tools to be one of the most effective ways to enforce or reinforce team norms and, thus, to influence team behavior and outcomes.

Matthew Lippincott

Leaders with self-awareness and emotional self-control are better able to influence others and cultivate effective relationships.

By consistently demonstrating honesty, integrity, and authenticity in your interactions with people, a leaders’ ability to influence them significantly improves.

Matthew Taylor

Effective leaders use influence both to move people and inspire them to move. They do this by simultaneously communicating belief in their teams, appealing to their values, and holding them to high expectations for growth and achievement.

At any given moment, the leader has many variables to consider, including other people’s emotions, beliefs, values, goals, level of self-awareness, level of resistance, and level of skill. Ultimately, what the team””the individual or the group””needs is a just-right recipe of warm and demanding.

The Influence Primer is available now.

In Influence: A Primer, Daniel Goleman and colleagues introduce Emotional Intelligence and dive deep into the Influence competency. In a relatively short read, the authors illustrate the valuable skills needed to guide others in realizing the value of your ideas and point of view – not for the sake of exerting blind command, but to collaborate towards a positive vision with empathy and awareness.

Posted on

Team Norms and Emotional Intelligence

team norms


I’m a strong believer in the importance of what we expect of one another in a team. And I’m not alone, as much of my research has focused on finding the distinctions that define the best teams. What my colleagues and I have found is that norms – or shared expectations – are the universal elements that identify high-performing teams.

Every group has norms, whether they’re developed consciously or not. A great example is: Do we start on time or do we wait for latecomers? Is it okay to show up late? Norms vary from group to group, and depend on what’s agreed upon by all involved.

The important thing about norms is that they regulate all behavior in teams. They regulate at the systems level. Many team researchers make the mistake of thinking that changing behavior in the team is about changing individual behavior. Building the individual emotional intelligence of team members is fabulous and it helps. However, once you enter a team where the norms don’t support your emotionally intelligent behavior, you’re more likely to conform to those norms than act otherwise. If rudeness is a norm, cutting people off, showing up late, that will emerge.

The way to impact a group’s performance is to impact the group’s norms. I explored this topic with Daniel Goleman in Crucial Competence, as a way to complement the many facets of building emotional and social leadership.

My colleagues and I have studied the norms of high-performing teams and found that the best teams periodically step back and reflect on their process. They take time to say, “How are we doing? Are we being too nice? Are we arguing too much? Are people getting supported? What do we need to work on?” This is essentially the group equivalent of the first key competence in individual emotional intelligence, self-awareness.

Where do norms of high-performing teams come from?

We had a hypothesis that an emotionally intelligent leader is more likely to develop emotionally intelligent norms in their team. A graduate student of mine when I was in the faculty at Case Western, Elizabeth Stubbs Koman, had contacts in the military, and she wanted to test the team norms and the emotional intelligence of leaders. She found a wonderful sample of air crew teams and maintenance teams, 81 teams that included 422 people. She first studied the team leader’s emotional intelligence using the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory in a 360-degree survey. We got anonymous ratings on the leaders. Then, she administered our survey that measures the group emotional intelligence norms. She also had the outcome data for these teams, the military’s objective measures of performance.

What she found was exactly what we predicted:

The team leader’s emotional intelligence didn’t predict the performance of the team, BUT it did predict the emergence of the emotionally intelligent team norms.

And, the team norms then predicted the performance. The way the leader’s emotional intelligence mattered was in shaping the norms, dynamics, and reality of the team, which in turn, led to higher performance.

Consider how this applies to your team, whether you are a leader or not. Play your part in cultivating positive team norms, garnering agreement, and speaking up when norms become counterproductive. Over time you’ll find this creates efficiency and cohesion among all of the team members.

Recommended Reading:

Our new primer series is written by Daniel Goleman, Vanessa Druskat, and fellow thought leaders in the field of Emotional Intelligence and research. The following are available now:

Emotional Self-Awareness, Emotional Self-Control, Adaptability,  Achievement Orientation, and Positive Outlook.

For more in-depth insights, see the Crucial Competence video series, and Team Emotional Intelligence.

Posted on

Team Leadership: 3 Core Needs of Every Team Member

By Vanessa Druskat

Teams are emotional incubators. This is because interactions in social groups are the largest triggers of emotion in humans, and why team leadership matters. People may not realize it because it happens so quickly and automatically, but emotion is triggered the moment we enter a group. We might feel the joy of entering a group of close colleagues whose company we like, or the uncertainty of joining a new group. These emotions are typically out of our awareness. If we pay attention to these emotions, they can provide us with information and be easier to manage.

Regardless of whether we are paying attention to it, since the 1950’s team researchers have referred to teams as “incubators” or “hot-beds” of emotion. This is due, in part to concerns and needs we have in team environments, but also because emotion in teams is contagious.

Research shows that a team’s culture (or climate, which emerges before a culture is fully formed), influences the emotions we experience.

Thus, the emotions members experience can tip into a downward spiral in which members feel frustrated and less connected to the people or process. This emotional trajectory can reduce collaboration and performance, and increase feelings of tension and anxiety. But, emotion can also spiral upwards toward constructive emotions to increase listening, sharing, connection and collaboration. In this trajectory, when some members feel excitement or joy in a meeting, so do we. Doesn’t the latter sound better?

Today, we know more about emotion than ever before and can anticipate and manage the emotion that floods team environments. For example, understanding how a team’s environment affects team member emotions is an important lever for team leaders.

Here’s a clip of my speaking with Daniel Goleman about this for Crucial Competence:

Susan Fiske at Princeton University and others have studied the unconscious social and emotional needs that people have when they enter a group. Here are the three core needs this research has uncovered. Understanding these essential human needs can serve as levers that team leaders can use to build team environments that create upward spirals of constructive emotion and team collaboration:

1. Belonging.

Do I belong here? Or am I going to get kicked out? You can feel the strength of this concern more strongly when you think about it as the desire not to get rejected from the group. We have a strong need that’s wired into us for not wanting to experience rejection from a group. Lots of interesting research supports this. One study showed that if even one person on the team looks askance at you, and it feels as if they don’t quite accept you, then you feel the whole team is getting ready to reject you. This concern about rejection creates a lot of bad behavior in teams. It creates a lot of moving away from the team, saving your ideas, not listening to others, frustration, these kinds of things. So, the core social need we have is feeling like we belong, feeling we’re accepted, and that we won’t get kicked out. We are always scanning the environment to test our level of inclusion and belonging.

2. Control.

The reason we have a control need is because it helps us not get ostracized or rejected. We want to have some control over what goes on in the team because we want control over our own fate. It also helps us feel like we have an individual role to play, and thereby contribute to the team while being empowered with a sense of autonomy.

3. Shared understanding.

We need to have shared understanding about what’s happening in the team context. When others agree with our own interpretation of the team’s context and process it gives us an increased sense of control, helping us have a greater sense of security in our inclusion and belonging. Shared understanding about the environment and some control over what happens in that environment increases our ability to determine our own fate. Shared understanding in the professional team context also helps us perform better, smarter, and with more information to inform our decision-making, prioritization, and behavior.

These three needs really drive a lot of behavior in teams, and yet most of them happen at a subconscious level. We make decisions based on whether these needs are being met, and our performance is ultimately affected by them.

How Do These Needs Play Out in Your Team?

Based on these insights, ask yourself: Are my team’s meetings facilitated in a way that meets these core needs for everyone involved? Does the meeting create a sense of inclusion or belonging for everyone at the table, or might some people question whether they are truly valued and included? Are there clear guidelines for control and ownership? Is there a shared understanding that offers access to information for all those who could benefit from it, or might some people be limited in their effectiveness based on a lack of understanding?

Take another look at the three core needs above and see how they might be missing in your teams, then take steps to implement ways to address them going forward.

Looking for more ways to incorporate emotional intelligence in leadership? See Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership. Interested in exploring what makes the best performing teams? See Team Emotional Intelligence with Vanessa Druskat and Daniel Goleman.

Vanessa Druskat

Vanessa Druskat, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized expert and consultant on group emotional intelligence. As Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Management at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire, U.S.A., Druskat conducts award-winning research that investigates team effectiveness, team leadership, and emotional intelligence. Druskat’s research examines the group norms and processes that distinguish high-performing teams and how leaders can help teams develop such norms and processes. She is particularly interested in self-managing and cross-functional teams.

Druskat’s Harvard Business Review article – “Building the emotional intelligence of groups” (with Steven B. Wolff) – has been a top seller for HBR for over a decade. “How to Lead Self-Managing Work Teams” (with Jane V. Wheeler) was a long-time best-selling article for M.I.T.’s Sloan Management Review. She served as lead editor of the book Linking Emotional Intelligence and Performance at Work. Druskat is a sought-after speaker and consultant in the areas of emotional intelligence and work team effectiveness. She conducts leadership and team development seminars and workshops in the United States and internationally for organizations ranging from Fortune 100 Companies and large non-profit organizations to public school systems.

Prior to joining the faculty at UNH in 2003, Druskat served for eight years on the faculty of the Department of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University. While on the faculty at Case Western Reserve University, she received two awards for exceptional teaching.

She is a Founder Member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations and serves on the Editorial Board of the interdisciplinary journal Small Group Research.

At Key Step Media, Druskat is featured in Team Emotional Intelligence and as part of the video series, Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership, discussing team dynamics with Daniel Goleman.