Why we need compassionate love in business

Posted January 27th, 2014 in Articles, Blogs by admin

Historically, men have dominated the business landscape and still do today for the most part. Not surprisingly, male-oriented ideas and priorities—particularly dispassionate logical, rational problem solving perspectives—have dominated organizations.  Conversely, love and  compassion and are generally perceived to be female traits and perspectives, and, if seen in men, are viewed as a “weakness.”

There has been a revolution in organizational behavior literature in the past three decades focusing on the importance of emotions for employee attitudes, interpersonal relations and work performance. However, this research has neglected the basic emotions of compassionate love ( feelings of affection, compassion, empathy, caring and tenderness for others.)

P.J. Frost, in a piece on compassion for the  Journal of Management Inquiry, argues “As organizational researchers, we tend to see organizations and their members with little other than a dispassionate eye and training that inclines us toward abstractions that no include consideration of the dignity and humanity of those in our lens. Our hearts, our compassion, are not engaged and we end up being outside of and missing the humanity, the ‘aliveness’ of organizational life.”

Jacoba M. Lilius and her colleagues contend in their chapter of The Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship, conclude that organizational models that assume human nature consists only of individual self-interests have been extremely limiting and new research points to the fundamental role of empathetic concern and compassion not only in social life but in the workplace.

A predominant dispassionate, logical approach that distances itself from compassionate love, develops reward systems and training and development methods and the cycle reinforces itself. You will rarely see management training programs or employee manuals that address principles of tolerance, selflessness, kindness and compassionate love. When unloving, dispassionate behavior is modeled by the leader, this sets the tone for the entire organization, and when replicated across many organizations, sets a norm for business. It’s not that dispassionate, coldly logical ways of running organizations have not met with success, because they and their leaders have. But what has been the cost in terms of relationships, employee morale and happiness?

In an article for the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, Emma Sepalla, director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, cites the growing incidence of workplace stress among employees. She argues that a new field of research suggests when organizations promote an “ethic of compassion rather than a culture of stress, they may not only see a happier workplace, but also an upward bottom line.”

Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, writing in the Harvard Business Review Blogs, argues that organizations must develop a “culture of compassionate coaching.” This means not merely focusing coaching employees on their weaknesses, “and that creating a ‘culture of unconditional love’ binds the team together.

Tim Sanders, author of  the book, Love Is A Killer App, argues “those of us who use love as a point of differentiation in business will separate ourselves from our competitors just as world-class distance runners separate themselves from the rest of the pack.”

Sigel G. Barsade at the Wharton School of Business and Olivia A. O’Neill at the University of Pennsylvania published an article in Administration Quarterly in which they describe their longitudinal study of the culture of compassionate love in organizations. They found compassionate love positively relates to employee satisfaction and teamwork and negatively relates to employee absenteeism and emotional exhaustion.

Barsade and O’Neill speculate that the reason for this is because in Western culture, the assumption is that love “stops at the office door, and that work relationships are not deep enough to be called love.” The authors contend most organizational culture literature has largely neglected emotions and there is no organizational theory that incorporates behavioral norms, values and deep underlying assumptions about the content of emotions themselves and their impact on employees. Instead, a focus on cognitive constructions of job satisfaction and employee engagement has been the focus.

Leaders can recognize and act upon the importance of a culture of compassionate love among employees with equal passion they have for stewarding the cognitive culture.

The work world is changing, particularly for young people. People are now seeking out more meaning in their work and in their lives. People, thanks to the internet and social media platforms, have both a voice and a stage to promote that voice.  Customers are increasingly becoming the focus of business rather than the producers of products and services. People are getting sick and tired of the greed, selfishness and lack of integrity of organizations and their leaders. People are expecting a change. A focus on compassionate love in the workplace could be a catalyst for that change.

 

How can you predict future career success?

Posted January 6th, 2014 in Articles, Blogs by admin

What determines the probable future career success of individuals? Is it intelligence, technical knowledge and skills, their socio-economic background or educational success? Are the forces that make success the same for Generations X and Y as they are for the Baby Boomers? These questions have been researched extensively by recruiters, talent management experts and human behaviour researchers in the past decade. The answers now point to emotional competencies.

First, it’s important to note that a distinct North American and particularly American myth has been perpetuated that colours our perspective on career success: The “self-made man” or “anyone can make it to the top” myth. While it may have been true in the last century and the early part of this one, evidence doesn’t support it’s veracity now.

Researchers for the past century have investigated the determinants of career success. While intelligence has been the most consistent factor in determining job success, the definition of intelligence has expanded to include emotional intelligence.

A 2006 study by Accenture of 251 executives in six countries concluded that while intelligence is important for career success, it’s a matter of how you are smart. Interpersonal competence, self-awareness and social awareness — all elements of emotional intelligence — are better predictors of who will succeed and who won’t.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, by Ernest O’Boyle Jr. at Virginia Commonwealth University, concludes that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of job performance. Numerous other studies have shown that high emotional intelligence boosts career success. For example, the U.S. Air Force found that the most successful recruiters scored significantly higher on the emotional intelligence competencies of empathy and self-awareness. An analysis of more than 300 top level executives from 15 global companies showed that six emotional competencies distinguished the stars from the average. In a large beverage firm, using standard methods to hire division presidents, 50% left within two years, mostly because of poor performance. When the firms started selecting based on emotional competencies, only 6% left and they performed in the top third of executive ranks. Research by the Center for Creative Leadership has found the primary cause of executive derailment involves deficits in emotional competence.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior by Lillian Eby and her colleagues — psychologists at the University of Georgia — looked at predictors of success in the current era of “boundaryless” careers. They conclude linear, lifespan careers with traditional measures of success no longer exist. In boundaryless careers, the importance of psychological success — pride, and personal accomplishment — becomes more important than external or tangible indicators such as salary growth.

The second factor they identify is “knowing whom” or developing positive relationships, including the skill of networking.

The final factor they identify is “knowing how,” or educational/training, and job skills. The researchers conclude that among the three factors, “knowing why” or self-awareness and meaning, were the most important set of predictors for career success.

Can you improve your emotional intelligence? Nearly 3,000 scientific articles have been published on EQ since the concept was first introduced. These studies conclude that while EQ is mostly influenced by our early childhood experiences, it can be improved with substantial effort, guidance, and coaching.

Tomas Chamkorro-Premuzic, author of The Psychology of Personnel Selection, argues that career success in traditional organizations favoured the less creatively talented people because of the reliance on command-and-control management structures. In the clear boundary organizations and careers, he says, the prescription for workplace success was “be predictable, minimize your bosses’ workload and suck up to them.” He bases these conclusions not on cognitive or psychological assessments but on an observation of what managers want of their employees — get stuff done quickly, be efficient and do exactly what the boss wants. Unfortunately, he says, that precludes many brilliant, talented creative people and those with an entrepreneurial spirit, who are uncomfortable with close and authoritative supervision.

Further, the predominant traditional stereotype of organizational leader as a confident, even aggressive, extroverted male whose strengths are strategic decision-making and performance management, with little concern about emotional competencies is being slowly replaced by leaders whose prime strengths lie in the emotional competencies realm.

So it seems that emotional competencies, and the capacity to build and manage positive relationships are replacing traditional skill based or cognitive assessment as a way of predicting potential and continuing career success.