Training activity to show the importance of emotional intelligence
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Two blank flip charts. Write a large heading for each.  chart one: “Best boss” and chart two:“Worst boss.”

Place the two flip charts side-by-side and divide each chart into 3 columns with the following 3 headings: Characteristics, Feelings, Actions do/don’t do

Ask the whole group to brainstorm the characteristics of the “Best Boss”. It can be characteristics of a boss they worked with in the past or characteristics of a boss they wish to work with. What would be the characteristics to describe the “Best Boss”?

Encourage everyone in the group to participate and write down their ideas on the “Best Boss” Chart under the characteristics column.

Look for Characteristics like:

Easygoing, Flexible, Authentic, open minded, supportive, gives credit for success, cares about my development, respectful, has high integrity, creative, accessible, inspiring, compassionate, sincere, organized…etc.

Tell the group to move to the other “worst Boss” chart and now think about the characteristics of the worst boss they ever had or the characteristics of a boss you would not want to work for.

Write down their ideas on the “worst Boss” chart under the characteristics column. Look for:

Judgmental, bad communication skills, unavailable, micromanager, inflexible, negative, unapproachable, insensitive, self-centered, controlling, micromanager, indecisive, dishonest, demanding, irresponsible…. etc.

Tell the group: now let’s go back to the “Best Boss”, let’s think of how it would feel like working with this super boss. Imagine it’s the beginning of the week and you’re going to work to find a supportive, energetic, appreciative easygoing boss who listens and cares about your development.

Encourage everyone to share their ideas and write them under the “Best Boss” chart under the feelings column and look for:

I feel happy, excited, energized, confident, appreciated, respected, motivated, independent, empowered...etc.  encourage them to come up with more thoughts and express more feelings.

Looking for: inspired, focused, encouraged, grateful, committed…etc.

Once everyone finished contributing their ideas, tell them now let’s go back to the other chart the “Worst Boss” chart and think of how you would feel if you were working for a manger who is judgmental, inflexible, self-centered, micromanager, clueless, unappreciative, demanding, blaming...etc. think of how you would feel if you had to deal with such a boss on a daily basis. Look for:

Frustrated, stressed, stuck and trapped, depressed, annoyed, incompetent, worthless, sneaky, hopeless, negative…etc.

Encourage participants to think of as many feeling and emotions they would have if they were in that situation.

Staying on the same chart “Worst Boss” ask participants to imaging they are going to work on Monday morning and they demoralized and experiencing all these negative feelings of being frustrated, trapped, stressed. Not only on Monday, but you continue to feel worthless, stuck, unproductive, defensive, hopeless, abused and stagnant on Tuesday and Wednesday and even Friday afternoon. What would that cause you to do or not do? try to be as specific as possible.

Encourage everyone to join in and share their ideas and look for things like:

Take as little risk as possible, keep my mouth shut in meetings, don’t offer any ideas or opinions, call in sick, look for another job, try to leave work as early as I can, treat internal and external customers poorly, be defensive...etc.

Once the group runs out of ideas and you have written them all down under the Actions Do/Don’t do column, tell participants that now let’s move back one final time to the “Best Boss” Chart and your honest, caring and supportive boss who constantly gives you credit for your effort and appreciates the kind of work you do and cares about your development. You will most certainly feel inspired and motivated to do your best on Monday morning as well as Friday afternoon so what does that make you want to do or not do?

Look for:

Work harder, stay late, come in early, stay with the company, look for ways to improve and excel, deliver more, volunteer, treat others well, speak well about the company, have a positive attitude...etc.

Once the group finish listing their high-performance actions they would do or not do on the “Best Boss” chart and you listed them on the last column (Actions), congratulate them and highlight that they have just made the case for why emotional intelligence is so important in the workplace.

Tell: We will go over a detailed definition of Emotional intelligence shortly but first let’s uncover together what could we learn from this activity about emotional intelligence?

Ask: So, what did we learn from this activity?

Encourage everyone to participate and share their thoughts about what they learned from the activity. Thank them for their ideas.

Look for: It’s important to recognize from this activity that, other people’s behavior can definitely influence your feelings. 

Elaborate further: Just think about the last time someone jumped in-front of you at the supermarket counter or cut you off on the road. Those behaviors could have caused you anything from mild irritation to road rage. Or think about the last time at work that people expressed gratitude for your efforts. More than likely, those behaviors had some positive effect on your feeling, causing you to feel happy or proud.

Another lesson we can learn from this activity is that the way you feel influences your performance.

Elaborate further: From the discussions in the activity it was very clear that emotions and feelings do affect our performance. In fact, if you think about your own energy and motivation level, you’ll recognize that whether at home or at work certain moods often dictate your pace, enthusiasm, and interactions with others. Nothing motivates me to clean the house or cook quite as much as the anticipated arrival of a welcome guest. What may have seemed like a chore in one state of mind suddenly becomes fun in another. The same holds true at work. If I’m feeling overwhelmed or defeated, a simple task may seem insurmountable. When my mood is lighter, I can breeze through the same task and even much more difficult ones without even noticing.

A third lesson we can pick from the activity if we take the first two lessons a step further, is that behaviors, especially those of the leader, will have a direct effect on performance. There are tons of published literature that support this. For example, The Journal of Occupation and Organizational Psychology examined the relationship between loyalty to one’s supervisor and work performance. Results indicated that work performance on and beyond the job was directly affected by loyalty to one’s supervisor. Stan Beecham and Michael Grant in an article in Supervision made that point bluntly, they state that employees don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. Bosses with high intellect and advanced emotional intelligence open up an avenue of success for their teams and their companies by attracting and keeping the most talented employees.

Make the point: To boil it all down to one statement: emotional intelligence is highly correlated with performance, and since we are all in the business of performance improvement, we all need to focus on emotional intelligence.


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