Learn emotional intelligence to boost performance

Deep affinity is a love for everyone. Who do you trust the most? Treat people the way you treat that person. If you trust everyone, you’ll either get screwed over and learn a valuable life lesson, or you’ll make a friend for life. It’s a win-win.

Brian Harman

Measuring Emotional Success in the Global Supply Chain

Learn Emotional Intelligence to Boost Performance

This article will teach you simple, practical and immediately useful methods to develop your emotional intelligence. This is an important topic because research has proven, repeatedly, that higher emotional intelligence is correlated to more effective leadership (Dabke, 2016).

Soft Skills Aren't Soft

The discipline of Global Supply Chain Management (GSCM) is complex, consisting of sourcing, procurement, logistics, strategy, planning, management, process engineering, contracting, operations, manufacturing, and production. How could a single person lead such a diverse team that requires such different skills?

As a UC Berkeley Professor and corporate professional of GCSM, I’ve realized 2 major things during my career:

  1. So-called ‘soft skills’ are not soft at all; they are absolutely vital to leadership

  1. Leaders in the GSCM field must have superior EQ (emotional intelligence) because they are leading some of the most diverse teams in an organization

One’s capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically is measured by emotional intelligence, as stated on Dictionary.com. Ask anyone if they could improve their emotional intelligence and the answer will be yes. It’s like an immune system. It can always be better, even it’s good as is.

Business is Personal

Let’s look at Global Strategic Sourcing. If you’re leading this team you’d want to have the following skills covered within it:

  • Functional and managerial skills - detail-oriented, organized, methodical, economical, disciplined, effective and results-driven

  • People skills - trust, communication, negotiation (the X-games of communication), credibility, and understanding of individual and organizational psychology that helps with the change management component of the job

  • Leadership skills – creativity, visionary, future-focused, global mindset, strategy, planning. ability to change and create change

You’ve stacked your team with superstars (functional people-skilled leaders); how will they accomplish the goals of your department? Process + Relationships = how stuff gets done. Your team will need to build relationships and influence across the organization.

Sourcing is not like Human Resources where policy is enforced by mandate. A sourcing team is a team that has strict year-over-year financial goals (cost savings and value-added activities), but one nobody is forced to work with it. Team members are advisors and consultants that the business leans on voluntarily. Often delivering advice through category management plans, significant change is required as a result. How do you get people to change?

Laughter is Faster

An infectious laugh truly is infectious. Laughter is the emotional contagion that is most easily spread, curing a stale office environment and bringing joy to people!


   [Image source: Unsplash]

Being vulnerable and honest leads to the best form of humor; people love to laugh at things that they can relate to or have experienced in some way themselves. They draw from their own understandings and tell jokes about uncomfortable situations we can all relate to because we've experienced them ourselves.

When someone asks me how to use humor in business I will never suggest using a self-deprecating sense of humor. For example, if I'm nervous before a presentation, I won't say something like, "I'm a little nervous, and I'm sure the folks sitting closest to me will agree that it is possible to smell fear.” Sure, I’ll get a few laughs, but I’m not starting off from a strong and confident place, I’m starting from a position of weakness. You shouldn’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, but a first impression shouldn’t be an attack on yourself.

Honesty in humor helps instill trust. Find ways to incorporate intelligent wit, relatable stories, and an animated attitude. Find a way to be honest, above all. Here’s an icebreaker, “I told my wife I was going to be funny and start with a joke.  She told me that was not a good idea, and now you all don’t get a joke because of her. So… let’s just begin!”

Laughter is connected to influence and leadership because of its social power. Laughter can wipe the slate clean when things go awry. It can build immediate acceptance in a group setting and establish rapport faster than through talking. It diffuses tension and erases stress.

If you think about the physical responses, what happens when we laugh? Our chin rises, exposing our neck. As a primitive response, exposing your neck means you are providing instant approval, vulnerability, or acceptance. You trust the person enough to laugh with them.

When you don't trust someone, their jokes aren't funny for this very reason. Your brain won't let you become vulnerable to them because you don't trust them. Wait a minute; laughter equals trust? Leadership requires humor? How can you build trust and humor as a leader?

Use humor in vulnerable settings (or at least try to). By forcing vulnerability, upon yourself you are reprogramming your mind to accept and embrace vulnerability and weakness, instead of rejecting it, which is most people's natural tendency.

Trust Everyone 

As the diagram demonstrates, trust is at the intersection of deep affinity, conversations, reflection, and energy. You must find the humor in each piece if you want to build trust. 

Deep affinity is a love for everyone. Who do you trust the most? Treat people the way you treat that person. If you trust everyone, you’ll either get screwed over and learn a valuable life lesson, or you’ll make a friend for life.  It’s a win-win.

Are you having deep conversations? If you connect with people and are real with people you get to know and truly understand them. People are far more interesting, complex and amazing than they first How can you have deeper conversations? Just ask someone for their story and be ready to tell yours; you don’t need to be a different person at work than you are at home.

Deep reflection means knowing who you are. Make a personal vision statement and articulate your values and goals. My formula is values + goals = vision.


Finally, what is deep energy? It means you should never disappoint your future self. Live today like you're ready to die. Write down your goals every month and wake up each day achieving them. Don't let another day pass where you don't put your energy into your goals.

Measuring Emotional Success

How to measure emotional success? First, you have to define what matters. Then, you build a metric to support the definition. Here are a few examples of things worth measuring:

  • Team retention and morale

  • Number of individual versus team projects completed

  • Training investment per team member

  • How often feedback is given and received

  • Number of times an employee has been recognized and has recognized others

  • Self-reported happiness and personal growth

  • Relationship satisfaction with managers

  • Wellness and health

  • Involvement in extra-curricular activities

Do these things and you are well on your way to building higher emotional intelligence, and absolute trust with the people around you. This, in turn, will lead to increased performance that you can measure over time. To learn what leadership behaviors build trust and what behaviors destroy trust, you can always practice with your friends and colleagues and ask for feedback.


Dabke, D. (2016). Impact of Leader’s Emotional Intelligence and Transformational Behavior on Perceived Leadership Effectiveness: A Multiple Source View. Business Perspectives and Research, 4(1), 27–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/2278533715605433

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