Prof. Rafał Ohme, profesor WSB w Warszawie: Emotions in Business – A Woman Leader of the Future
What are the basic distinguishing features of the so-called emotional intelligence? What is emotional intelligence necessary for in business?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to read your own emotions and that of others, and the ability to regulate and manage them. Emotional intelligence has always been with us, but only now it is appreciated and it is slowly starting to train. It is of particular importance in modern business. A new model of leadership is used more and more often, in which the identification of employees with the organization is determined not only by top-down regulations, but also by the relations prevailing in the company. The work atmosphere, the favor of colleagues or two-sided “feedback” are elements that are difficult to include in the code, but they determine the consistency or lack of cohesion of the tissue inside the organization. Nowadays, it becomes very important for management to listen to and understand the opinion of the rank and file employee. It is not about spontaneous conversations, but about systematic and regular feedback collected by means of continuous questionnaires – monthly, weekly, or, as in Amazon – daily. Continuous feedback turns evaluation into conversation and requires leaders to intervene agile. Thanks to this, the organization strengthens and in the face of challenges such as a pandemic, employees understand new needs and challenges. Understanding and addressing subtle moods and the prevailing atmosphere is facilitated by intelligence, not rational, but emotional. Women have an advantage over men in this respect because they “train” this type of intelligence by raising children, especially in the infancy stage.
The business reality has been very difficult lately. Last year’s research showed that women are doing better. Where do women get their strength from?
We conduct research in over twenty countries on nearly 200,000 people, we know the opinions of people from around the world about the coronavirus and the risks associated with it, both financial and mental health. It turns out that in all countries, on every continent, there is a clear trend that indicates a predominance of the female part of the population. Women show greater empathy and are more concerned with the health of their relatives and other citizens. Another distinguishing feature is greater gratitude for the hard work of medical services than in the case of men. Women are also much more disciplined and willing to comply with the restrictions, as well as react better to changes and are more open to remote work and Internet communication. We also see greater optimism among women and the ability to find positive aspects in times of a pandemic. But despite better adaptation to difficult conditions, women still face a big problem. When we ask women and men about satisfaction and self-satisfaction, it turns out that men are much more satisfied with their actions. Women don’t realize how great they are. In order for a woman to dare to apply for a higher position or apply for a raise, she must be sure that she meets 100% of the requirements. Meanwhile, a man applies for a promotion with only 60% of the requirements and is paid 30% more than a woman. This phenomenon inspired me to work on the “Believe in yourself” program. This is a project aimed at women – appreciate yourself and see your strength. With a group of selected specialists, we prepare a program of activities and training that will support women and prove how wonderful they are.
Is there a style of “female” and “male” leadership? Are women rightly assigned “soft” competences, and men – strategic and financial ones?
Women are rightly credited with outstanding abilities in the context of soft skills, because they perfectly use the emotional intelligence they have acquired in raising young children. I do not know a man who would be able to take care of a child by himself from birth to 3 years of age. He is always assisted by other women. Meanwhile, women can deal with raising toddlers, while caring for their older siblings and working one or two jobs to make ends meet. This clearly shows how remarkable skills – hard and soft – are in their possession. The same competencies are increasingly important in the context of modern leadership. In the twenty-first century, it is not only the so-called “hard power” (i.e. fair management of rewards and penalties), but also the ability to build relationships – the “soft power”. This is particularly important among “millennials” who are looking for not only regular payments, but also value at work – the famous “why” that Simon Sinek talks about. What counts for this group is the work environment and managers who are sympathetic to them and care for their development. Women are perfect for this role because there are situations related to caring and upbringing. The second thing that predisposes women to modernity is openness to new technologies. Stereotypically, we identify men with technology, but this applies to gadgets such as a car or a watch. On the other hand, when it comes to using digital solutions and social media, it is women who deal with them very well and become leaders in this regard. Women do not want to maintain the balance of power of the twentieth century, they want to occupy 50% of managerial positions. Over the past decade in Poland, their share of leadership has risen to 25% – 30%, which is a good sign, but still too low. Artificial intelligence is increasingly used and women have something that will be extremely attractive to a new partner at the table – an intelligent machine. We notice artificial intelligence on a daily basis when we see the proposed films on the VoD platform or choose the fastest route to the destination, but soon it will be systematically introduced into management processes. Currently, AI has everything that men do well, i.e. analytical and financial skills, but it does not have emotional intelligence. Women will be the natural partner of artificial intelligence – for this and several other reasons, I believe that the future has the face of a woman.
Research shows that women in managerial positions are as effective as men, however, qualities commonly regarded as leadership are not accepted in women. So how do you achieve your goals?
The coming years will show how extremely important soft skills, building relationships and emotional intelligence are, and thanks to this, women will be promoted faster in a natural way. Soon we will witness the promotion of HR directors to the positions of CEOs and managing directors (now such a situation is an exception). In the future, they will take the reins of the organization, because the soft skills they possess will be crucial – especially in remote work. The challenge of maintaining a high level of motivation among employees, when they can physically see each other only a few times a month, will be much better for women. The feminine aspect of the organization is widely reported by Singularity University leaders who say that competing, risk-taking, and control skills that belong to men work great in times of scarcity. On the other hand, when there is plenty, the values based on relationality and the ability to share are much more important. Research shows that the corporation of the future is a caring and supporting organization. Company representatives have always argued that they show significant care for employees, while little funds are still allocated to well-being or work-life balance programs. In the era of a pandemic, our homes, which used to be oases of rest, become schools, offices and gyms at the same time. Courses should be offered that will support employees in working remotely. We need training on how to allocate new responsibilities, as well as courses on dealing with uncertainty. It is worth considering, in addition to offering gym tickets, to offer employees to work with a mental coach – in groups and individually. Like the players in a sports team. Burnout and personal problems have always existed, but now – that is, with the pandemic and some years after it has ended – the working environment is generating difficulties that are revolutionizing all habits. Organizations must feel the obligation to support employees. In 2020, the way of working and living changed during the week and this caused enormous civilization stress. We planned a smooth transition to the digital world over several decades, while the world situation forced us to transform rapidly, without a period of acclimatization and adaptation. The pandemic started in the 21st century, which is characterized by digitization and the ubiquity of artificial intelligence. Again, women become leaders of change. We all rely on their emotional intelligence and communication and interpersonal skills.
Neuroscience is becoming an integral part of the business world. How to effectively support the well-being of employees, increase commitment and motivation?
The most important task of business today is work out to ways to create a virtual community. The community that had so far existed at a real level, that is, for a trip to a bar after work or talking to colleagues during breaks, suddenly disappeared. The conducted research on tolerance for the lack of direct contacts shows that the longing for the current habits reaches an extremely high level, and it is particularly noticeable among IT departments. Stereotypically, they are introverts who don’t need a lot of contact. But if we take into account that their social life mainly builds the team they work with big problem. Suddenly, people are deprived of contact with others and are left with a virtual world with which there is an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Organizations have never dealt with such issues, but the pandemic is exceptional and companies need to invest more to support their employees. Neuroscience proposes a lot of specific solutions, I write about it in my books about Emo Sapiens and in Forbes’ columns “Neuroscience in Business”.
Emotions play an extremely important role in business. How to use them so that they do not adversely affect decision-making, and support them in everyday activities?
First of all, emotions are not for thinking. We can not use emotions such as anger, irritation or jealousy to make rational decisions. In these situations, the solution is cool, analytical judgment, not emotional impulses. The tasks of our emotionality include providing our body with energy to act and implement words into actions. Emotions trigger biochemical reactions in the body that trigger movement. Man is an electrochemical creation – the key to our activities are: electrical activity provided by the nervous system and chemical activity provided by the endocrine system. Both components can be accessed by the limbic system, which is the center of emotional management. Meanwhile, the frontal cortex, which deals with logical thinking, has no direct access to electrochemical energy (there are no connections to the pituitary gland, which regulates the emission of such energy, and the limbic system has plenty of them). So we can have great intentions and plans that won’t translate into actions. A great example is New Year’s resolutions, which burn out after a week because they lack emotional support. We use emotions, acquiring them from good relationships with colleagues, job satisfaction and a sense of belonging to the company. When we identify with the values of the organization, we are effective and we have sufficient energy to implement the assumptions, targets and actively face the challenges. On the other hand, if the activities performed do not evoke good emotions and do not have emotional support, and result only from a sense of duty and cool logic, exhaustion and weariness appear after the first few hours of work. And you have to reach for Red Bulls before noon. Let’s use emotions to gain strength, and leave our thinking to logic.
Stress is unfortunately a sign of our times. What would you indicate as key actions that will allow us to reduce stress and maintain a balanced spirit?
In order to maintain balance in times of crisis, stress must first of all be treated biologically and only psychological character should be addressed. Leaders learn psychological techniques for coping with stress, but at the same time they make a fundamental mistake of not following the sequence of actions. When stress occurs, we must first deal with it biologically, i.e. recognize that stress is a chemical reaction related to the emission of cortisol. Therefore, this stress hormone should be burned with mild physical effort, remembering that it cannot be too intense (then we can unknowingly increase it). The ideal solution is cardio effort, i.e. a short walk or abandoning the elevator in favor of stairs. If something upsets us, let’s do 10 squats before we stimulate all the psychological stress-related skills (such as distancing or changing perspective). Let’s take care of the body and burn cortisol, then let’s go to the head. This is my advice on getting rid of stress – I have included a popular science study of these problems in the publication “Emo Sapiens”, and in the guide “Spa for the Mind” I describe specific exercises that can be performed without removing pins or loosening the tie.
Prof. Rafał Ohme
Professor at the WSB University in Warsaw and the Stellenbosch University in Cape Town (South Africa). The owner of the technology company NEUROHM, winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year EY competition, author of the bestseller “Emo Sapiens – harmony of emotions and reason” and the news “Spa for the Mind – take care of yourself to care for others”
Last Updated on April 13, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska