At the moment, if I asked you think about about the word climate, what other words come to mind?
Most probably, Climate Change, a very real idea we need to think about for our planet. What about your own climate change? What if I said to you, the emotional climate of your group, organisation, family and even yourself, is just as important as the more popular climate change?
I am finishing the book 'In the Heart of Leadership' and the last chapter is about organisational excellence, leadership and 'the Climate of Performance'.
Joshua Freedman, the books author, talks about organisational culture as the set of rules that tell people how they are supposed to behave. Climate, is a term he uses, for how people feel about it.
What is the climate of your workplace like? What is your own emotional temperature and how does it effect this climate? Is there something you can do to change the climate you are in? Do you feel the climate is gloomy, moody and low or is the climate full of joy, enthusiasm and creativity?
When I ponder the ideas above in my own life, I think about the climate in my workplaces, my church and even my larger family. Each has it's own climate, partly governed by culture as well as long established norms and ideals, even values. When these values, norms and standard behaviours are broken, so the climate can be effected. COVID-19 is also effecting all of these climates, some differently than others.
Freedman talks about the need to think about emotional intelligence (EQ) (being smarter with feelings) at three levels to understand climate. The individual, the relational and the organisational level. Ultimately, we can only control and take care of managing our own emotions, so this is why EQ is crucial at an individual level. Take family for instance, when we lack EQ, we might say or do things that really, truly deeply hurt others. Sometimes irreparably.
This damages things at the relational level which will have ripple effects throughout the entire family. Members may not speak to each other, forgiveness is sought but not accepted, people don't speak to each other for some time. Time doesn't heal the emotional wounds that are there. What would happen if we practiced EQ, learned EQ and evolved as a result of EQ? Could we find the emotional language to express ourselves better and to be aware of our emotions, to lead to better choices, to be able to serve a higher purpose. One of allowing our family to prosper?
While the book focuses on organisations, I draw conclusions to community groups like Rotary, Toastmasters, Scouts and sporting clubs as well. Some environments are toxic and the climate is not ideal. Joshua says basically 'When employees feel good about coming to work, they perform better.' This surely applies as well to community groups we belong to.
This could translate to 'when people feel good about being part of a family, they interact, share and serve each other.' 'When group members feel included as part of the group, valued and appreciated, they contribute more and take on responsibility.' They are invested.
In order to create the right organisational or group climate, it is important that the leader as well as those in the group to show trust and connect. Communication is key here to building trust and true, deep connection. This influences the relational level. And it starts with you.
Do you communicate with EQ? What does that even look like?
Thinking about the KCG Model from 6 Seconds, it talks about Know, Choose and Give yourself. When I work with people, we often explore the Know and Choose parts.
In Know, we think about awareness. Are you aware of how you speak to others? What mirrors and feedback do you get from people? If you find people hard to get on with, perhaps it begins with you?
Ask someone, 'how do I come across'? Look at how people treat you and ask yourself, what does this data tell me? What do my own emotions (also data) tell me when I speak and communicate with others?
Once you are more aware, what choices do you then have?
This is the Choose part of the model and for me this is again where you have control. As an Executive Voice Coach, I often encourage people to hug not hit with their sound, something I learned from the Heldentenor Glenn Winslade during my singing career. The same applies to speaking. If you sound like you are rough, shouty, aggressive or rude, chances are this will be affecting the emotional climate of the families, groups and organisations you are apart of. This is under your control. Speak with love and kindness, being aware that your sound and emotions are contagious, and you might get a different result.
While COVID-19 is certainly playing around with our cultural behaviours, norms and ideals it is worth reflecting on our part in this and maintaining our EQ in how we communicate with others. Speak with dignity and respect, hug not hit with your sounds and use words that resonate with others. This will positively effect the climates you are in and how you 'show up' in the world. People will relate to your better, help you and ulitmately change the climate of the group or organisation you belong to.
Consider how you speak. Reflect on your climates and bring about the climate change you want to see in the world. Both relationally and organisationally as well as to help our whole planet. Perhaps there is a connection between how we communicate and treat ourselves and others, and the world at large.