Grant Herbert has trained and coached corporate leaders for over ten years. He is the founder of People Builders, an institute which trains and develops trainers, coaches, facilitators, speakers in the areas of behaviour, emotions, communication and leadership. Today People Builders are developing associate partners in the Asia Pacific region so that they can reach out to a wider audience.
B360 had the opportunity to speak with the Master Trainer when he was in Nepal to conduct a two-day Master Class on Emotional Intelligence hosted by Counselage, a company that carries the vision of assisting national and international organisations in achieving their goals through continuous strategic organisational development. Excerpts:
What, according to you, is social and emotional intelligence?
Let me start with something that it is not. One of the challenges I see in training or in understanding of training or development is that we have globally used term called ‘soft-skills’. It’s a term we use to be relevant. My experience is that the things that have been called ‘soft-skills’ are normally not soft ones, they are normally more difficult ones to obtain.
Social and emotional intelligence is a set of competencies, crucial skills that every single person whether they are in the workforce or outside of it needs so that they can get on with themselves and get on with other people.
Social and emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of your emotions and the emotions of others in the moment and then to be able to use that information to manage yourself and manage your relationships. So really what it’s all about is being able to know what emotions you are going through right now; how is it affecting your thinking; how is it affecting your behaviour; how it might be affecting other people’s behaviour; what is the emotion other people might be going through, and then using that to navigate how we all work together.
It’s the set of skills that allows you to reduce conflict, to reduce stress and to have better conversations. Basically, even with the advent of artificial intelligence, we work with people and people are emotional beings so therefore we need emotional intelligence.
How critical is understanding and being in control of our emotional intelligence not only in the workplace but in personal life as well?
What I always tell people when I am working with them is that the skills that they are learning – even when they are learning in a workplace environment – are not just for the workplace. One of the things we need to understand is that we are ‘one’ person. It’s a myth to think that you are one person at home and another at the workplace.
There are situations when people tell each other to leave their emotions outside of the work place. It’s obvious that it’s never going to work. So understanding and being in control of your emotional intelligence is crucially important as a set of life skills because life encompasses work.
When did the concept or study of Emotional and Social Intelligence begin? How has it evolved to what we understand of EI and SI today?
During the late 90s, Daniel Goleman brought Emotional Intelligence on the radar. I read his first book Emotional Intelligence and over a period of years, it has changed and developed and more of social competencies came into radar as well. Today we have personal competencies and then there are social competencies which basically is about getting along with others.
Even in my home country, Australia, a lot of people have heard about Emotional Intelligence but a lot less people have heard of Social Intelligence. However, lots of countries like India, Bangladesh and even Nepal are already discovering about these competencies. The fact that social and emotional intelligence skills which I believe are vital life lessons are not taught in MBA is one of the reasons why this idea is a relatively new concept in these parts of the world.
For example, 70% of all the reasons why careers are derailed can be attributed to the lack of social and emotional intelligence, and not technical skill. 50% of wasted time in business is due to lack of trust which is a key competency of social and emotional intelligence.
Plus, one of the top reasons for losing customers and clients can be attributed to the lack of social and emotional intelligences. Organisations and businesses have now begun to understand that these are the soft skills we need. These are key skills that every individual and people within the organisation must have to be able to be more productive, to be more engaged, to have less conflict and better communication.
As a new concept globally do you think it will be well accepted in the Nepali corporate world?
I definitely think it will be. What I have learned about myself over the last 18 months to two years in this journey here in South Asia is that it’s going to be a journey. You do not embrace the idea of Social and Emotional Intelligence overnight. You implement it in your life from day to day. It is going to be exactly like when you develop a new skill where you need incremental changes.
We conducted this training in Nepal with the main motive that our trainees will not only learn and implement the concept of Social and Emotional Intelligence but they will be our local advocates in spreading the message.
The other thing to consider or understand is that there is a lot of emphasis around having an MBA. Yet, there are so many people that have an MBA that do not have a job. One of the main attributes is the lack of understanding of Social and Emotional Intelligence.
Let me take an example of Sheraton Hotels. After taking part in Social and Emotional Intelligence training, they increased their market share by 24%. Similarly, Pepsi Co had 10% increase in productivity by introducing this training. They had 87% decrease in executive turnover. When an organisation or a business reads or hears about these cases it will definitely get their attention and they will start developing and building this idea into their people. Why, you might ask? Because we still hire people, not robots and people are emotional beings.
What has your journey been like as a workplace and corporate trainer?
It’s definitely been a journey… I love that word. Because training has evolved. And a trainer needs to change as the world changes and needs change.
Training, for a lot of years, was about a trainer or an organisation having a set of intellectual property like training modules and then pushing them onto the marketplace; whereas, now as times have changed, we need to change too. So it’s been a long journey and what I had to do,and what I continue to do is ‘stay trained’ myself.
I do a lot of work in neuro-science of performance and the neuro-science of leadership. As I continue to learn new things in neuro-science, I have had to adapt. So just like I do with people that I train, I had to unlearn a lot of stuff so that I could relearn the more relevant stuffs.
So yeah, it’s been a journey that I had to learn a lot about me and the beauty of what I get to do is that every time I work with a group of people, every time I do a training, it’s learning for me as well.
As a leadership mentor and as an executive coach what common challenges have you witnessed among trainees?
There are many but we will keep it to three:
When you look at it in context of what we are talking about, the first thing is to realise that these are ‘soft skills’ that we assume are good to have. They are the root for challenges people have while getting along with other people.
The second thing is people identify who they are by what they do. And the big challenge with that is that when we say, for example, “I am a trainer” or “I am a lawyer” or whatever it is; that means when we go home in the evening and we find it challenging to be who we need to be at home because our identity is around what we do. So I usually challenge people all the time and I say in a room full of accountants, “Put your hands up if you are an accountant”. And they will all put their hands up. Basically it’s a trick question. You are not an accountant, you are a human being and accounting is something that you do. Similarly, you are not a corporate executive, you are a person and being a corporate executive is something that you do.
And the third thing is for organisations and individuals to realise that it’s all about incremental change. So it’s not about, going into a two-day training course and coming out socially and emotionally intelligent. It does not work that way. It is about re-wiring the brain with a new set of strategies, unlearning the stuffs that you knew before, and then giving yourself time and slowly and incrementally repeating and changing to the new behaviours over time.
What a lot of organisations will do is to have an expectation, which I have certainly had in my own corporate career, where they will send you on a course and when you come back expect instant changes. However, one would need an environment of support and accountability to be able to actually keep using these new skills so that they become the new hardwired skills.
Considering that Social and Emotional Intelligence is a skill that needs to developed, can you share some tips with our readers…
The first thing you need to understand is that Social and Emotional Intelligence works on 26 different competencies and it’s broken down into four areas. These four areas are Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management.
Usually in our training, when it comes to self awareness and self management. we touch on a few of the competencies of management because we have to build the foundation first before we get into soft skills. In relationship management, we work on elements like communication and inter personal effectiveness which are vital. But the big key is that it all starts with awareness.
I also want people to have an understanding of the neuro-science behind emotions. How our brain works? I want people to understand how the brain works in emotionally charged situations or in situations where there are emotions, it makes it so much easier for them to grasp the situation.