On Management and Sensitivity

Tips on the importance and development of emotional intelligence.

Management experts, however, claim there was another significant reason for the collapse of Israeli companies. These experts contend that companies with managers who displayed leadership and inspired in their subordinates an attitude of personal appreciation toward them in the years prior to the crisis suffered less damage when the bubble burst. In contrast, companies whose managers had not nurtured any connection to their employees found themselves in dire straits.

Now that the hi-tech industry is starting to grow again, companies whose managers are aware of their employees' needs and share the setting of the company's goals with the various ranks within the company are recovering faster. The opposite also holds true: Companies whose managers are too single-minded and don't bother to get feedback from all ranks of employees are pulling out of the crisis more slowly.

"The one thing that makes a man a good manager," says Nili Goldfein, vice-president of Niram Gitan Organizational Development, "is emotional intelligence - the ability to gather workers around him to realize his vision, or to unify them during economic difficulties and prevent them from abandoning ship."

What exactly is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is a person's ability to recognize the emotions and feelings of others, and to use the information he gleans in order to motivate other people.

"Until the late 1980s," explains Goldfein, "conventional wisdom stated that high-school students with the highest IQs would do better than others in all aspects of life, such as their careers and community involvement.

It turned out, however, that there is no connection between intelligence and success in life, and that the additional essential component for success is emotional intelligence - a term that encompasses self-awareness, self-control, empathy toward others and social skills, such as the ability to listen."

Goldfein notes that behavioral scientists are focusing now on a third component - spiritual intelligence. This is a person's ability to seek meaning, to feel meaning and to follow a moral compass.

Goldfein says that a manager with a high emotional IQ is aware of how well he is functioning in his organization, can accept criticism and change his practices accordingly.

He also has good self-control and will not go on a rampage when a project fails or a worker irritates him. He makes every effort to prevent discomfiture among the people around him and will do everything to encourage employees and junior managers to try harder, make projects succeed and, in general, help the company meet its goals.

A survey conducted by Niram-Gitan found that a lack of emotional intelligence is quite common at hi-tech companies, and often manifests itself in poor personnel management. The survey found that most hi-tech company CEOs have a degree in computers or engineering and IQs over 130, but low emotional intelligence scores. This can result in clashes with employees who want to offer ideas of how production, marketing or project management could be improved. A CEO who is not a good listener will find out that his workers - usually the best ones - lose their motivation and seek jobs elsewhere.

In order to reduce the damage caused by CEOs who lack emotional intelligence, Goldfein advises organizations to hire middle managers with high emotional intelligence to act as a counter-balance. One such example is a female human resources manager.

"Women tend to have higher emotional intelligence than men," says Goldfein, noting that this has been proven in every study she has seen. When women manage an organization's human resources, they can prevent alienation between the workers and the management and create career paths that will keep good workers in the organization.

How can managers gifted with emotional intelligence be identified?

Goldfein says there are behavior questionnaires that ask how a person would react in a sensitive situation, and in an interview a person is asked to describe in fine detail how he/she has handled such a situation.

Natty Avrahamy, CEO of Yael Software, which specializes in information technology, disagrees with Goldfein that women have greater emotional intelligence than men and should therefore be hired as human resources managers.

"From my experience, emotional intelligence is equal among men and women, and women have no advantage in this area," says Avrahamy, noting that women often choose to be human resources managers because they are attracted to jobs that involve interaction with employees and because it is sometimes difficult for them to "break the glass ceiling" and attain higher positions within a company - even though in recent years this has been changing.