Hemingway defined courage as ‘grace under pressure’. The ability to remain calm under pressure is a core competency for leaders and front-line staff. I have worked extensively with hospital registrars for over a decade and, for medical professionals, emotional intelligence is absolutely critical. For example, if there is a medical emergency, the Registrar must remain calm in the centre of the storm to ensure high quality decision-making.
We know that stress inhibits thinking and in particular big picture thinking. When doctors are under stress they are more inclined to miss the unusual diagnosis. Emotions are contagious and people pay attention to the leader to evaluate the situation. And if the leader is panicking….! The same is true for fire-fighters. The leader must have situational awareness and the stress response can hamper this awareness. The ability to remain calm under pressure is the top reason why employees with high emotional intelligence are sought after in the workplace. This quality has been especially valuable over the past few years as many companies have needed to stretch their employees and ask them to do more, consistently.
Employees with high emotional intelligence are also more empathetic. Empathy tends to decline in physicians as they gain seniority. The research shows that this decline starts in Medical School and my own research has borne this out in Ireland. This is worrying as Harvard Medical School research indicates the doctor- patient relationship has great clinical significance, particularly in terms of reducing anxiety. Empathy creates great front line customer service too. Appreciating the customer’s point of view and great listening skills go a long way to disarm difficult customers.
The good news is that emotional intelligence can be dramatically improved with good quality feedback and coaching. Assessment tools, such as the EQ-i from MHS Inc, can offer marvellous insight in this regard. Executives are beginning to acquire a greater level of ease with the concept and practical applications of emotional intelligence and clearly it is set to play an ever increasing role in determining promotions and succession planning.
It is absolutely critical that future leaders in industry and medicine have high emotional intelligence. In industry this is about surviving and thriving, in medicine it may be even more important!
On Tuesday May 14th, IMI welcomes Dr. Steve Stein, globally renowned expert on emotional intelligence, to lead a Masterclass on Unlocking Organisational Power & Performance using Emotional Intelligence.
Pre-booking is essential. For more information please visit our website.