Building Emotional Intelligence in Groups and High Performing Teams

A comprehensive guide for using EQ to increase your team's performance

Updated 21 February 2024, By Chris Schutte

emotional intelligence, woman smiling

In this article we introduce you to emotional intelligence, how to measure it and how to start using EQ to create the perfect team.

Creating effective teams is essential for the success of any business. High performing teams can make better and faster decisions, are more flexible and adaptable to change and can find better and more creative solutions to difficult problems than a single individual.

A good team will understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses to generate a better result. Building effective teams requires more than just talent, however. A team can be filled with highly experienced and skilled members and still struggle with their output.

Utilising and building Emotional Intelligence in a team is one of the best ways to improve their effectiveness

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, refers to the ability to recognize and understand emotions in oneself and others, and to use this awareness to manage one’s behavior and relationships effectively.

It encompasses a wide range of skills including:

  • Empathy
  • Self-awareness
  • Social skills
  • Self-regulation
woman smiling, emotional intelligence

Individuals with higher emotional intelligence are able to effectively navigate social interactions, build relationships, and work collaboratively in teams.

They understand and respect the norms and values of the team, which can contribute to a positive group identity and group emotional climate.

How is Emotional Intelligence Measured

TEIQue is one of the most widely used psychometric tests for evaluating people’s emotional intelligence.

TEIQue is completed in the form of a short online questionnaire, which when complete, gives you a report summary of how you measured in each of the 15 EQ traits.

The assessment breaks emotional intelligence into 15 facets or traits under 4 key factors:

  • Well Being
  • Self Control
  • Emotionality
  • Sociability
  • 2 Independent Facets
emotional intelligence TEIQue test graph results

The 15 emotional intelligence traits measured by the TEIQue assessment are:

  1. Happiness
  2. Optimism
  3. Self-Esteem
  4. Emotion Regulation
  5. Impulse Control
  6. Stress Management
  7. Empathy
  8. Emotion Perception
  9. Emotion Expression
  10. Relationships
  11. Emotion Management
  12. Assertiveness
  13. Social Awareness
  14. Adaptability
  15. Self-motivation

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important for Building Good Teams in the Workplace?

An article published on Inc. Australia recently found that Emotionally Intelligent people tend to utilise awkward silence as a method to increase team engagement.

By utilising awkward silence in meetings, it gave others the opportunity to thoroughly think through the issues and gave quieter members of the team the opportunity to offer solutions and suggestions.

People with a higher EQ also tend to be better at:

  • Coping with stress
  • Staying motivated
  • Perceiving emotions of others
  • Adapting
  • Modifying behaviour
  • Managing impulses

For organisations this can help to develop better communication, highly motivated individuals, and teams, with better productivity.

man thinking, emotional intelligence in teams

It allows team members to empathize with each other, understand differing perspectives, and effectively resolve conflicts. Emotional intelligence also helps teams regulate their emotions, particularly in challenging situations or in dealing with external pressures.

When there is a good balance of emotional intelligence in a team, productivity is improved and the group as a whole is better equipped to deal with challenging tasks, learn and adapt with change and solve complex problems.

This benefits both the individuals themselves as well as the organisation. 

Why Lower Emotional Intelligence Can Lead to Poor Teams

When teams are lacking in emotional intelligence for certain areas, it can make it difficult for them to perform at their best.

For example, a team with a lower score in adaptability will struggle to adapt to change. Meanwhile, a lower score in stress management could make it difficult for the team to function when under pressure. 

Some of the most common problems teams encounter are:

  • Poor communication.
  • Low engagement.
  • Personality conflict and lack of trust.
  • Excessive competition.
  • Poor adaptability.
  • Lack of self-awareness.
  • Poor emotion regulation, leading to conflict.
  • Inability to manage emotions or handle stress.
  • Difficulties adapting to change.

Lower EQ can lead to oblivious leaders in teams who don’t understand their people. It can also lead to overly assertive members, who give little opportunity for input from other members of the team.

As a recent article by the Wall Street journal highlighted, many teams tend to rely on their “star players” to achieve, which not only leads to an over reliance on individual performance but can stifle creativity within a team. The team’s performance will inevitably begin to suffer as a result.

On the reverse side, a team which completely lacks assertiveness can lead to difficulty making quick decisions—especially when under pressure.

The best teams are those that can work effectively together and rely equally on each other to achieve desired results, which often means balancing everyone’s EQ strengths and weaknesses to benefit the team.

How Can You Use Emotional Intelligence to Increase Team Performance?

1. Managing Strengths and Limitations

Measuring EQ helps teams to understand each individual’s strengths and limitations and allows leaders to provide them with the right support where needed.

2. Candidate Selection

Leaders can hire and select people who are more likely to complement the overall team, and turn their weaknesses into strengths.

3. Well-being

Measuring emotional intelligence can identify when an individual’s or team’s emotional well-being is at risk.

4. Leadership

Select people who are best equipped to lead a specific group or team according to their unique natural strengths.

5. Managing Stress

Identify where teams are most likely to come under stress and how they can be better equipped to deal with these scenarios.

6. Workplace Culture

Increase empathy and understanding, leading to a healthier workplace culture and stronger relationships.

7. Job Specific Teams

Build teams that fit the job or task. Some jobs may require team members who measure lower in certain traits, such as Optimism – where a lower scorer is more skeptical and realistic. 

6. Workplace Culture

Increase empathy and understanding, leading to a healthier workplace culture and stronger relationships.

What Areas of Emotional Intelligence do You Need to Develop?

Taking the TEIQue assessment and receiving proper feedback on your scores is one of the best ways to identify which areas of emotional intelligence you might need to develop.

Not all high scores are good, just as not all low scores are bad.

woman smiling, developing emotional intelligence

Comparing your emotional intelligence scores with what your job might require, can indicate areas for further development to perform at your best. 

Emotional intelligence can be developed and improved upon with time and the right support. However it is important to first understand your own TEIQue results, and why you might want to develop certain aspects of your EQ.

How do You Learn to Develop Emotional Intelligence Skills?

Improving your emotional intelligence as a whole can be difficult, without first addressing the specific factors and traits you feel are in need of further development. Looking at your scores under the 5 main factors of TEIQue (Well Being, Self Control, Emotionality and  Sociability) is a good place to start.

Self awareness is the first step to developing emotional intelligence skills. Once you understand yourself it is easier to manage your own emotions and develop them where needed. Your TEIQue results effectively give you a mirror of your personality, so you can understand yourself better. 

Building the Emotional Intelligence of Teams

Assessing the Emotional Intelligence of new employees or team members is a great way to gauge how suitable a match they will be with the team.

It also gives team leaders a better idea of how to manage people—particularly when combined with DISC Behaviour and Values assessments.

woman smiling, building EQ in teams

Given that EQ can also be developed and worked upon, with a better understanding of one’s own strengths and limitations, each person can ultimately work to improve and adapt their Emotional Intelligence to be a better fit for the team.

It is important to make sure you’re aware of the emotions and needs of the teams’ members, as well as others’ who may be outside the team. Developing emotional intelligence skills such as empathy and being able to regulate one’s emotions allows for the development of a high-performing and emotionally intelligent individuals.

Conclusion

While poorly managed Emotional Intelligence can lead to serious problems in teams and decrease their overall effectiveness and productivity, assessing and developing EQ comes with a wealth of benefits and has proven to lead to better communication, less conflict, better change management and higher engagement and motivation in teams.

As a result, assessments and tools like TEIQue have become invaluable for many businesses in recent years for developing their people and creating high performing teams.

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chris schutte, managing director at interact global

Author of this Article

Chris Schutte

Chris has 30 years experience as senior manager and entrepreneur in the Human Capital consulting and management industry, using the DISC test in his practices. He has a wealth of experience in business development, Human Resources and Human Capital risk management and turn-around strategies. His leadership experience, runs across various industries including Manufacturing, Retail, HR, etc.