The importance of emotional intelligence in Leadership and team building.

For more than 7 years now, I have been helping entrepreneurs and their teams evolve their management framework in order to propel them into their next phase of growth. To my surprise, I found that one of the main obstacles to the development and growth of SMEs is their inability to look in the mirror.

Knowing yourself well is one of the challenges that any leader or company must meet to surpass itself. In a study of the performance of 486 publicly traded companies, Korn/Ferry International found that companies with strong financial performance tend to have employees with higher levels of self-awareness than underperforming companies.

In his book “Emotional Intelligence“, Daniel Goleman refers to self-awareness as the first step for a leader to develop their emotional intelligence. It allows the leader to build on his strengths, to highlight them and to limit the impact of his weaknesses by surrounding himself with people better than himself. It is a determining factor in the ability to build a strong, committed and proactive team that allows the leader to work on his company rather than in his company. This hindsight allows good decision-making and opens the door to identify the real priorities.

We notice the same challenge in business. The organizational intelligence of a company depends on its ability to recognize its strengths and weaknesses, to identify and exploit opportunities and avoid business risks. Encouraging rigorous, evidence-based debate and a culture of effective measurement allows the organization to improve its capabilities and optimize the allocation of resources based on prioritized objectives.

However, in fact, according to a study by Tasha Eurich, PhD, and published in Harvard Business School (HBR), even though most people believe they are self-aware, only 10% to 15% of the people studied actually meet the criteria. It also finds that the more power a leader has, the more likely he is to overestimate his skills and abilities. In addition, in our experience, this context amplifies and perpetuates the presence of limiting beliefs, which has a direct impact on the ability to execute and grow companies.


If the benefits of self-awareness are so great, then why do we observe a low level of consciousness among entrepreneurs and management teams?

The first two factors that explain this phenomenon are isolation and fear. The closer a leader is to the top, the more lonely he is, and the more isolated a leader is from his teams, the more they are afraid to express the facts and the truth for fear of reprisals.

To overcome this challenge, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, even calls on leaders to be the “Chief People Officers” of their company. In practice, it encourages them to talk with their people and make themselves accessible to them. “You need to frequently solicit and openly welcome criticism (from bosses, peers, employees, the board of directors, etc.), and pay attention to comments from loving critics — that is, people who have your best interests in mind and are willing to tell you the truth.”

If you think your business has the potential to gain organizational intelligence, try this little exercise designed to inject awareness into your company’s self:

1. Ask everyone to write:

  • The company’s mission
  • The top 5 challenges in the company
  • The mission of their department
  • The top 5 issues in their department
  • The 3 to 5 goals for their department over the next year

2. Take turns presenting and exchanging constructively.3. Consolidate these into a top 5 business challenges to achieve consensus.4. Realign each other’s goals to defuse these issues.5. Measure the achievement of objectives on a monthly basis and see that the stakes are disappearing.6. Celebrate your successes and repeat the exercise every year.

And don’t forget to give me some news about your efforts to raise your level of consciousness.

Marc Lavallée, Senior Partner



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