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EQ in the workplace
More and more companies are starting to look closely at what first seemed to be 1990s psycho-babble: emotional intelligence.

Charlene Smith
Media24, 14 May 2008

Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, says: "There is a phrase I learned in college called 'having a healthy disregard for the impossible.' This is a really good phrase. You should try to do things that most people would not."
Within less than a decade of helping found the emotionally intelligent corporation, and barely past his 30th birthday, he was personally worth $10bn. At Google 20% of your paid work time has to be spent, each week, on doing a project that has nothing to do with your job. It can be anything from skydiving to art lessons as long as it stimulates your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, comes from work on brain potential. If one sees the brain as an onion, it has a small inner core, the R-complex, surrounded by a larger limbic system, and an outer skin called the neocortex.

The R-complex regulates reflex survival behaviour: flight or fight, social rituals and body language.

The limbic system generates and controls emotions and motivation. If you pay attention to the limbic and R-complex elements of a situation your ability to make good decisions will be enhanced.

Major training organisations such as Astro Tech now have it on their training schedule, because CEO Liza van Wyk says, "Development of the individual is as important as developing the brand, and teamwork in today's high stress environments is critical."

Mvelaphanda, Discovery Health and game resort emperors, CC South Africa, have emotional intelligence as core operating beliefs.

Samantha Burns, head: employer brand management at Discovery said most managers tend to be "Emotional intelligence from a manager improves focus and the results of a team and liberates the potential of people to get better results. Some managers feel uncomfortable in the beginning, because instead of just making demands they have to sit and discuss with staff. Once they realise the power of those conversations and the way their body language can shut people up they get much better results."

A natural at EQ is Tokyo Sexwale head of Mvelaphanda, a multi-billionaire, his operations include gold, diamonds and platinum yet every Friday he sits down to lunch with his staff.

"EQ," he makes clear, "has nothing to do with IQ." He says EQ often fails when bosses, "demand outcomes on those who are wrongly deployed, this person may be a navigator, not a pilot.

"Emotional intelligence means I find time to sit among my people and enjoy their company. I take time to listen." It is in listening that an effective manager best discovers the passions of his or her team members and is better able to direct them.

Bev Riemer of Astro Tech says emotional intelligence is tapping into the primeval power of our instinct.

The primary issues Riemer focuses on are emotional honesty, literacy, debt, emotional fitness. For example, with emotional fitness, your instinct might be to give your boss a piece of your mind, "Emotional intelligence guides you to the right approach."

Your negative filters; your perceptions that you will be discriminated against because you are black, a woman, Jewish, Muslim, disabled, can lead to your own fears realising themselves, not because of the discrimination of others, but because of your own negative preprogramming.

Riemer says that in those companies that implement EQ, "the levels of trust and energy are incredible. Heirarchy is not important, ability is."