Five ways lack of emotional intelligence is restricting peak performance on your team

There are many things that happen in the workplace that are erroneoussly defined as politics or loyalty, but after a more careful look, such behaviors speak to a lack of emotional intelligence.

Many successful teams with highly skilled manpower are not even aware of these traits because many times, we can be so consumed with one level of success that we are blinded to the areas of improvement blocking our climb toward a higher level of success. The inability to even identify the absence of the broad elements of emotional intelligence shows that such teams are not operating optimally.

The leadership of organizations must therefore take it upon themselves to audit their teams and identify the presence or otherwise of these crucial skills. Leaders should ask: Do we have adequate organizational awareness on this team? Do we have adequate conflict management skills on this team? Do we have achievement orientation as a collective on this team? Is there a strong level of teamwork? Do we display a low or high level of empathy? How fast do we adapt to new paradigms? Do we have a positive outlook on the organization’s goals?
Here are five indications that your team members need to improve their emotional intelligence skills.

1. When Everyone Agrees To Something Because It Appears Everyone Else Agrees With It
Independence of thought is a skill your team members should have. Once they outsource this ability to others, they have reduced themselves to a mere statistic on the team. The idea of having people with diverse approaches, thinking, ideologies and perceptions is to ensure that the best ideas are generated and implemented with the resources at the disposal of the organization. So when team members become so passive that they just go with the flow, it’s a sign that emotional intelligence may be lacking.

This doesn’t mean team members should disagree with one another for the sake of disagreement; it means every idea must be interrogated on its own merit and the most useful version must be adopted. The laziness of team members unwilling to contribute meaningfully to the decision-making process should be flagged.

2. When Someone Ignores Warning Signs On A Decision Because Others Seem To Be Okay With It
Predictive analysis—the ability to foresee outcomes and take appropriate actions—is a very important features of smart teams. Whether in a positive sense, where a future advantage is being weaponized, or in a negative sense, where a future disadvantage is being averted, smart teams are proactive in decision-making.
For example, if the board of an organization decides to invest millions of dollars in crude oil and somehow most people agree on it, an emotionally intelligent team member might have the courage to advise on how the world is going green and moving away from fossil fuel—therefore, the returns on such a humongous investment may not be sustainable owing to many countries setting the year 2030 as a deadline for the targeted transition to cleaner energy.

3. When You All Assume Everyone Is On The Same Page Because No One Spoke Up
An African proverb says that “the stillness of the river doesn’t imply the absence of crocodiles.” Silence isn’t always golden, nor does it imply consent or consensus. Usually, when there is a contentious issue, some team members may tend to sit on the fence. Not many people want to stick out their necks or take a position on certain issues, hence a docile approach to decision-making. This is also sometimes the case when senior leadership makes what appears to take an unpopular decision but the rest of the team is afraid to go against the grain.

The assumption of unanimity is dangerous because until everyone is on the same page, team members may go on to execute different versions of an initial idea, even those who neither supported nor opposed it openly. So at the very least, you should ensure that every team member gets a chance to state their position on certain issues, along with their underlying thinking. This also allows you to coalesce ideas even better before execution.

4. When Someone Questions The Rationale Behind A Decision And The Team Pressures Or Penalizes The Person Into Compliance
When coercion replaces curiosity, it shouts of the lack of emotional intelligence. The workplace should be a marketplace of ideas. In the end, some ideas will be adopted, some reserved and others rejected, but the right of team members to make such submissions should be sacrosanct. The mob mentality or herding or bandwagon effect is when everyone is pressured into adopting a particular position or taking a particular action; this should not be so in the workplace, which should democratize opinions and be a safe space for outliers.

Using the levers of power to suppress dissenting voices or fringe opinions breeds unproductive work behavior and smacks of an autocratic leadership style. For example, sanctioning a team member for questioning the choice of a particular software when to the best of their knowledge, there exist more efficient and cost-effective options should be discouraged.

5. When Your Team Thinks All Their Decisions Are Right Because They Have Been Successful In The Recent Past
The biggest threat to future success is previous success. Such a mindset stifles innovation because team members become lazy and refuse to expand the frontiers of growth. Many such teams without emotional intelligence erroneously apply the maxims, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” and “Stop reinventing the wheel.” This is because the underpinning of innovation suggests that from the moment something is invented, it is also from that very moment becoming obsolete.

In the movie “Black Panther” by Marvel Studios, T’Challa, the heir apparent, returns from a tactical mission and hands over his EMP beads to his tech-savvy sister, Shuri. She then talks about improving their functionality, to which T’Challa replies, “They worked perfectly fine.” She then delivers a very instructive message: “Just because something works doesn’t mean that it cannot be improved.”
If you observe any of these indicators on your team and you want to re-position your team for peak performance, we are happy to provide your organization with bespoke solutions.

About Dr. Abiola Salami
Dr. Abiola Salami is the Convener of Dr Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp,The Peak Performer Recognition,The Peak Performing Woman of The Yearand Publisher/Editor-in-Chief ofThe Peak PerformerTM. He is the Principal Performance Strategist at CHAMP – a full scale professional services firm trusted by high performing business leaders for providing Executive Coaching, Workforce Development & Advisory Services to improve performance. You can reach him on and connect with him @abiolachamp on all social media platforms.

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