Tips to Practice Emotional Intelligence 1: Awareness

string-ideaWhat can we each DO to put emotional intelligence into action?  Specifically, concretely, what are steps to take?

At Six Seconds, our vision is one billion people practicing the skills of emotional intelligence by 2039.  So I asked our world-wide network of certified practitioners, “What would you recommend for people to practice EQ?”  Here is the first list – more to come.

I’ve edited these and organized them based on the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence, where step 1 is increasing self-awareness, a concept we call “Know Yourself.”  In this framework, there are two skills that enable this step:

Enhance Emotional Literacy — increase awareness & understanding of feelings.

Recognize Patterns — identify recurring reactions of thought, feeling, and action.

(click the links on those 2 competencies for more explanation, tips, and tools)


16 Tips for Emotional Intelligence: Awareness


morninglory_mirrorAcknowledge emotions, not as good or bad, right or wrong but as a source of information that help you gain self-awareness.

Tang Weng Liang


1. Get great at unpacking your emotions and thinking. This is about stopping and asking “wait a minute, what’s going on for me here?  What am I feeling? What am I thinking? And what does all this mean for me?”

2. Notice your own strengths – and live into your strengths more fully.

Carolyn Meacher


Train yourself to sense your emotions via sensations in your body.

Shabbir Latif


Be an observer of yourself.  Pay attention to what you feel and how those feelings contribute, distract, enhance, or challenge you.  Awareness is the first step.  :-)

Dawn Karner


Build your emotional vocabulary.

Robin Parker Meredith


Start with self-awareness. Acknowledge your emotions, and where you feel them in your body and name them.  Give yourself one minute, several times during the day when you feel uneasy.

Then, a second step is to ask yourself: “What I can do about it?” Allow just one minute to come up with a solution!

Irina Sergeeva


EQ is an “inside job” that begins with the foundation of enhanced self-awareness into your unique patterns of behavior that then fuels your choices with the goal of supporting your values and purpose in living. Turn inward, be curious about who you really are, and then show up to support the change you wish to be in the world. This self-study can encourage and support your tools of choice and then allow you to reach your potential in giving your best self!

Marilynn Jorgensen


I have myself used ‘Urgent Mindfulness’ as a tool for self awareness, where you, ‘Pay attention to the thoughts-feelings in the present moment, with purpose, non-judgmentally, as if your life depended on it.’

Sandeep Kelkar


Notice when you set yourself up for low EQ moments that become low EQ habits – two common traps:

1) Passing critical judgment on others (e.g. “How stupid is that?” or  “What in the world was he/she thinking?”)  This kind of comment is a crutch to elevate or affirm one’s superiority over another person’s choices, intelligence…. The EQ moment begins when we learn to recognize the habit and then re-train ourselves to restrain from making any negative comment at all.  All part of Recognizing Patterns. 

2) Taking offense.  This is another Recognizing Patterns area is a struggle for many of us.  In today’s world we have been taught to take offense at event the most trivial matters.  From taking offense, and feeling offended, people quickly escalate to criticism, judgment, bitterness, and unforgiveness, hurting which hurts relationships and even our own health.  The EQ moment:  Notice the other person’s comment or action, and instead of taking offence and taking it personally, just consider it as data:  “Hmmmm, that’s interesting.”  Or, “I wonder what’s going on for her?”  Or, “Wow, he must be really stressed…”

Marek Helstrom


Start by noticing what you’re feeling, right now. Observe without judgment (evaluating feelings as “good” “bad” “right” “wrong) or trying to ‘fix’ anything; just notice your emotions a few times per day.

Cheryl McKenzie-Cook


In the office, keep a feelings whiteboard divided for 2-3 parts of the day – morning, noon, evening – and list six or eight feelings.  Then ask people to check mark their feelings during the day.  See where the max check marks land.

Dexter Valles


Be comfortable first with your emotions – especially because emotions have functions: Emotions are not just about feeling something… What’s the message of the emotion?

Belinda Charles


One thing I do is that when I find myself reacting to a situation (my voice begins to rise, I find myself getting impatient, etc.), I take a moment and name the emotion(s) I’m feeling (to myself, of course *smile*), and then I try to determine which of my core values is being challenged and thus resulting in my emotional response.  This allows me to dive straight to the heart of why a situation is affecting me and begins to move me out of reaction and into a more considered response.

Nicole Tervalon


Sit silently for 15 minutes every day and do self-introspection.  The reflection is a first step towards practicing EQ.

Avtar Saksena

The post Tips to Practice Emotional Intelligence 1: Awareness appeared first on Six Seconds.

FOG – How To Use Emotional Intelligence: Free Poster

Fill in the form below for a free FOG poster!

Fill in the form below for a free FOG poster!

We all have emotional intelligence – the challenge is using it!  In the midst of hurt and frustration, it seems so much easier to just stomp our feet… or hurt someone back…. or run away…. What action will actually solve the problem?  

To answer, all we need is a little emotional intelligence.  It’s actually an incredibly simple idea: If we get thinking and feeling working together, we make better choices.  

How to use emotional intelligence?

At Six Seconds, we’ve developed a 3-step process to put emotional intelligence into action.  Recently, I wrote about stepping through fear, and described the steps as FOG.  Want to make an emotionally intelligent choice?  


F:  Feelings.  What’s going on inside?

O: Options.  How could I respond?

G: Goals.  Why might I move forward?


The same steps apply when solving a problem between people… FOG for social problem solving or conflict resolution:

F:  Feelings.  What does each person feel?  What is each person doing?

O: Options.  How could we respond to each other? What choices can we make?

G: Goals.  Why might we move forward?  What’s our real goal?


By the way, these three steps are just another way of talking about the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence.  F is about “Know Yourself.”  O is for “Choose Yourself.”  G is a shorthand for “Give Yourself.”

Free Emotional Intelligence Poster

Noa Mendelevitch, one of Six Seconds’ amazing educators, and a specialist on unlocking creativity, created a FOG poster for classrooms and everywhere.  This should be a wonderful resource for sharing emotional intelligence with children (of all ages! :)

fog-tmbPlease fill out the form below and we’ll automatically email you a high-resolution PDF that you can print! (it should arrive in a few seconds, if not, check your spam folder).




The post FOG – How To Use Emotional Intelligence: Free Poster appeared first on Six Seconds.

The Face, and Heart, of Climate Change: Emotional Intelligence Unlocks Human Ability to Care

emotions-drive-changeDespite increasing awareness of environmentalism, the problems worsen.  The solution may lie in better understanding of human emotion – the subject of a conference at Harvard University in June.  The NexusEQ Conference brings together world leading scientists and practitioners to use emotion to spark positive change.

Today, this year’s Earth Day theme is, “The Face of Climate Change.” Perhaps, then, it’s a day to look in the mirror:  Despite a generation of growing environmental awareness, we’re not making sufficient change.


Solutions Require Emotional Intelligence

Scientists and practitioners meeting at Harvard in June will share examples of utilizing emotions to create positive change. The conference is part of a worldwide movement to promote “emotional intelligence,” a set of skills for using emotions effectively.  Speakers include neuroscientists, leaders, educators, and even a 13-year-old environmentalist.

Emma Freedman, a middle-school student from California, speaks around the world about the plight of the rainforest.  She explains, “I’ve seen first hand that we can’t wait for adults to fix the environment. The planet needs us, so it’s time for kids to become Jungle Heroes.”

At the conference, Freedman will share her work engaging young people, and using some of the concepts of emotional intelligence. “We need to feel the connection to the environment,” Miss Freedman says, “and kids need to know that you are never too young to make a difference.” See for more.


“Natural” Emotions Block Change

To create environmental change, we need human change.  That starts by understanding emotion.

  1. Emotions drive change, but the brain doesn’t treat long-term, pervasive problems as threats.
  2. Rhetoric about imminent destruction can trigger fear and stress, but people resist when they feel pushed because fear and powerlessness motivate short-term self-protection.  
  3. Feelings of compassion and appreciation reduce stress and are effective motivators of protective behavior.

Fortunately, we’ve learned that it’s possible to become more skilled with emotion.  By developing the learnable skills of emotional intelligence, people become better at making complex choices – and engaging others to do the same.

To learn more about the NexusEQ Conference, visit — the conference is sponsored by a global nonprofit called Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network.  Six Seconds is the world leading authority on how to apply the science of emotional intelligence to create positive change.  Information is on

:: In the Boston Globe

The post The Face, and Heart, of Climate Change: Emotional Intelligence Unlocks Human Ability to Care appeared first on Six Seconds.

Stress is Killing Me! Time for Emotional Intelligence?

The Good:  We know how to solve this problem.

The Bad: Stress kills, costs billions of dollars, reduces quality of life, drives economic meltdown and is even destroying the environment.

The Ugly:  It’s getting worse.


stress-article-empathy“Stress” is a generalization.  It’s shorthand for a sense of imbalance and impending chaos.  Cycle times are accelerating.  Financial systems are melting.  Waters are rising.  So we feel stress.  It’s an emotional signal of danger, and it’s one reason emotional intelligence is more important than ever.

If you’ve been to the doctor on a stress-related matter (and WebMD says three out of four US medical visits are stress related), then you’ve probably been treated by Dr. Herbert Benson. Not directly, of course – you might not have even heard his name, but his work has changed the way Western medicine handles stress.

In 1975, Dr. Benson wrote a remarkable book called The Relaxation Response, articulating the biomedical antidote to stress. He later founded the Mind/Body Medical Institute, and became a professor at Harvard Medical School.  He was one of the, if not the, pioneer researching and advocating treatment that works with the human mind and body.  

To Stress or Not To Stress

Benson’s work is based one a simple, powerful idea: Just as we have a stress response, we have a relaxation response. In his words, we can learn to trigger this response and facilitate the human mind to bring for the emotions that open us to the positive influences in life.

This is an example of being smarter with feelings, a growing field of science called “Emotional Intelligence.”  Benson is one of the many remarkable experts speaking at the NexusEQ Conference in June 2013 at Harvard University.  The conference focuses on the intersection of the science and practice of emotional intelligence.  Just as Benson has pioneered an intelligent use of emotion for physical wellbeing, can we learn to use emotion effectively in business, education, and life?


Global Implications

stress-article-changeWhen we “feel stressed” our brains and bodies trigger a series of adaptations to deal with threat.  We are preparing to react to danger by fighting, running, or hiding.  This biological system is highly effective for coping with certain threats, such as a tiger stalking you in the jungle.  You don’t negotiate with tigers.  You don’t innovate.  If you want to survive, you run like heck, or hope you’ve got a big sharp stick handy.

Adapted for these “survival threats,” our bodies respond to stress by shutting down many systems related to long-term thriving (such as immunity, reproduction, empathic response, even analytical thinking) and put all the body’s resources into core muscles.  It means that when we feel stress, we are biologically programmed to be less creative, less compassionate, less visionary. 

Innovation versus Comfort

I’ve written before about two competing systems in the brain: certainty versus learning.  When we’re stressed, the brain pushes for safety.  We do what we’ve done before.  We get a shot of a chemical that is “natural heroin” when we follow the known, the predictable – and yes, it is addictive.

Without carefully developing emotional intelligence, we fall into this million-year-old automatic reaction.  Since few of us ever learn these skills in school or even at work, the results are predicable – one only has to look at daily news headlines to see that many people are derailed by this dynamic.

While it may feel as if the tigers are lurking, today few of us face this kind of threat.  Instead we face ongoing, persistent threats tied to complex relational issues such as doing more work with less, talent shortages, and economic uncertainly. At work, the “tigers” are often other people; according to the 2012 Workplace Issues study, over 70% of challenges in the workplace are people-related. 

Descending Spiral Kills Collaboration

So we have a vicious spiral.  We’ve got long-term problems that require innovation and bringing people together.  In the face of uncertainty, we feel vulnerable, stress kicks in, and we become less creative and collaborative, and we focus on the short-term, urgent.  This reaction could make us more isolated and overwhelmed, which pushes us toward more stress.

This spiral makes it nearly impossible to solve the world’s biggest problems, such as global warming.  These challenges require our most creative thinking and remarkable abilities to build coalition.  Yet as soon as we start thinking about the realities of environmental devastation, stress kicks in, and we become less able to access either of those capabilities.

Meanwhile, according the IBM annual study of CEOs, the primary need identified by top leaders:  Collaboration.  A whopping 75% of the respondents call it “Critical.”  Consider:  If the number one need for the future of business success is that people connect, wouldn’t is be essential to develop the skills to do so?  Yet empathy – the skill that would actually let people meet that need, is going down.  Dramatically.  Research published in Scientific American found a 75% drop in empathy over 30 years.

At the very same time, stress is increasing – a 2012 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology says it’s gone up around 20% over 25 years.

So we’ve got an increasingly complex environment where the ability to connect is the number one need – and we’re losing it.  In fact, as I’ll explain in a minute, we may be losing empathy BECAUSE of the increasing stress.  But for now:

The writing is on the wall: unless we develop better capabilities for managing these emotional complexities, the future is bleak.


Your Brain At War

stress-article-dataOne unfortunate effect of the increasing pace is further escalation of stress and deactivation of the very parts of the brain we most need to solve today’s challenges.  Several brain-imaging studies have explored the interaction between our analytical and social brain functions; for example this study from the National Academy of Sciences proposes “anti-correlated functional networks.”  That means when one set of brain functions (a network) is activated, others are suppressed.  We call this “focus,” and it’s essential for coping with complexity.

One of those functional brain networks processes analytical data:  Emails.  Spreadsheets.  Reports.  Another processes emotional data: Faces. Tone of voice. Friend or foe.  Optimally, the social brain network and the analytical brain network are interlocked and work together.  At the same time, we’re able to suppress one system in favor of the other.

For example:  We’re focused on getting through a hundred and sixty three emails, and someone comes to ask a question.  We bark, “Just a MINUTE.”  The task-focus required by analytical brain network suppresses the social brain functions that would allow us to connect appropriately with the other person. 

Ignore Emotions to Make Bad Decisions

The same function occurs inside each of us.  As we become more “focused,” we suppress signals such as discomfort.  We ignore our own feelings so we can do the job.  At the extreme, think of a warrior in a hostile environment.  When bullets are flying, you’re supposed to be scared – but you have to suppress those feelings in order to function.  If you become “too good” at disconnecting emotions, you turn off the regulatory function that would otherwise help you make more careful, humane, life-sustaining decisions.

Substitute “warrior” with “executive.”  Now teach that person to suppress feelings that are supposed to arise when we’re making unethical decisions.  It’s easy to see how someone can decide it’s a “good idea” to ignore a report that their deepwater well is likely to cause unprecedented environmental destruction… or their hedge fund is actually undermining global solvency. 

Emotions serve as part of our regulatory system – when functioning appropriately they assist us to carefully evaluate impacts on ourselves and others.  When they’re shut off, we make more dangerous choices. Emotions actually assist decision-making.

Couple that insight with the fact that the demands for analytical focus keep increasing.  IBM is excited to sell us services to handle the growing surge: “2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

We’ve built incredibly sophisticated IT systems to handle complexity.  We invest in those readily.  What about the “HT” – human technology – to actually use these systems in a way that creates a prosperous future?

So we have increasing complexity driving us to focus narrowly.  We have increasing stress pushing us toward short-term reactivity.  Yet the problems we face require something different.


The Antidote: Emotional Savvy

stress-article-feedbackOne the one hand, we’re wired to react in a manner that probably won’t help.  Yet as Benson and others have shown, we’re capable of learning alternate responses.  This, perhaps, is the reason emotional intelligence is so important today: increasing complexity puts social and emotional skills at a premium.

That’s probably why leaders with more emotional intelligence skills create stronger business value.  Salespeople trained in these skills outsell others (in one study, 40% better). Many studies show that children trained in these emotional skills earn higher are more healthy, socially connected, and, at the same time, reach higher academic achievement.

Peter Salovey (the incoming President of Yale University – who will also be part of the NexusEQ Conference at Harvard in June) and his colleague John Mayer were the first to define emotional intelligence with scientific rigor.  Since that first paper in 1990, a plethora of research has emerged on the neurology of emotion and the links to learning, leadership, and life.

Perhaps even more importantly, around the world these scientific discoveries are being used to make life better at work, at school, and in communities.  People are learning the skills of emotional intelligence with demonstrable results, even in “hardcore” business environments. 

The Proof in Emotional Intelligence

While the term “emotional intelligence” was once the purview of esoteric researchers, it’s become so widely recognized that a worldwide conference on the subject will convene at Harvard University in June. 

Perhaps even more compelling is the nature of the program: session after session, from all around the world, from every sector, we are seeing examples that emotional intelligence actually creates positive change.  For children and families.  For the environment.  For health.  For business.

Returning to stress and health, one example is Dr. Sandeep Kelkar, a pediatrician in Mumbai, India.  Over a decade ago, Kelkar noticed that different children responded to the same treatment in different ways, and began to observe the family interactions.

As a result, Kelkar began to work with the staff in his clinic on how they could go beyond “treating disease” and focus on a larger goal: the wellbeing of children in their care.

This led Kelkar to travel to California to learn about Six Seconds and the Self-Science process for social emotional learning.  He began to experiment, then, with several colleagues created a foundation in Mumbai: EQuip kids – with a simple vision:  What if every adult had the emotional intelligence skills to fully support children?

Kelkar will be one of the speakers at NexusEQ, together with his colleague Sudha Srikanth, a preschool director.  They’ll share the success story, and the practical ways they’ve used emotional intelligence as a “Psychological Vaccine” to create lasting wellbeing.  This works.

Yes, we have a perilous situation in the world.  Yes, stress is increasing, conspiring against our better nature, making it even harder to resolve the crises we face.  Yet an antidote is at hand.

Dr. Kelkar’s conclusion: “Emotional intelligence is the missing ingredient in healthcare, as well as the education system.”


This is the first in a series of articles highlighting various topics and speakers in the conference.

NexusEQ, The Emotional Intelligence Conference

Harvard University

June 24-26, 2013


The post Stress is Killing Me! Time for Emotional Intelligence? appeared first on Six Seconds.

Changing Together

It was about 15 years ago.  Thirty-some intrepid learners journeyed from six countries to the first Six Seconds EQ Certification.

People read Dan Goleman’s 1995 book, and saw his description of our Self-Science process as a model for teaching EQ, so they adventured to find out.  This was when the internet was new, and it was such a marvelous surprise to hear from people on the other side of the planet!

In that first EQ Certification, and hundreds since, we heard something powerful:

I thought I was alone doing this work.  It’s incredibly powerful to realize that there are people all over working toward an emotionally intelligent world.”

From “Why NexusEQ?”

Today, I see this when we start our webinars and allies check in from around the globe.  I see it when we’re meeting with network members… like walking the streets of Brisbane with Tanabe-san from Japan – or eating sushi in Dublin with Francesca (who’s Italian living in Luxembourg – and is talking about this phenomenon on the video to the above right).

One of the, perhaps the, deepest human motivator is belonging.  When we feel connected, we can take risks.  Learn.  Change.  We can bring our best forward even when it’s difficult.  We can exercise emotional intelligence.


A year later, we decided to hold the first truly international emotional intelligence conference.  Inspired by that feeling of connectedness, we decided to call the conference “NexusEQ.”  It’s about connection.  The connection of EQ allies around the globe.  The connection of science and practice.  The connection of head + heart + hands.

Perhaps that’s the real power of emotional intelligence — these are the skills that allow us to connect.  To understand ourselves and each other.  To see, to feel, beneath the surface.  To lean in.

This year, the NexusEQ Conference is at Harvard University in June.  It’s been an incredible adventure, and much has changed since that first certification and the first NexusEQ.  But the need for connectedness is unchanged.  Despite all the amazing technology that brings us together as never before… we still, and perhaps even more so, need to develop our capability to connect with each other, and within ourselves.

The post Changing Together appeared first on Six Seconds.

The Most Important Thing

president-kindness-respectHow can kids and grown-ups work together to change the world?” – ”Kid President” Robby Novak

The most important thing we can all do is treat each other with kindness and respect. Kids, they can learn right away, in school and the playground to be nice to each other. If you see a kid being picked on you make sure you stand up for him. And you treat everybody fairly, no matter what they look like or where they’re from and if you start learning to do that as kids, and everybody is respectful and nice to each other, then when they grow up they’ll be doing the same thing and we’ll have a lot fewer problems.” – President Obama


Let’s leave partisan vitriol aside of one minute and consider:  What if we actually followed this advice?

Here’s a little more about the Kid President story.

It reminds me of this amazing video from The Dalai Lama Center for Peace — because unfortunately, even when the President of the United States says it’s the most important thing,  it’s not enough to simply say, “let’s treat each other with kindness and respect.”  If we mean it, we have to learn it.  Practice it. Teach it.  First to ourselves.  Then to others.

The post The Most Important Thing appeared first on Six Seconds.

The Amadori Case: Supplying McDonalds – Organizational Engagement, 
Emotional Intelligence and Performance

White Paper: Linking bottom line performance to emotional intelligence and organizational climate

by Lorenzo Fariselli, Joshua Freedman and Massimiliano Ghini in collaboration with Fabio Barnabè and Erika Paci of Gruppo Amadori 


A three-year study of AMADORI, a supplier of McDonald’s in Europe, assesses links between emotional intelligence, individual performance, organizational engagement, and organizational performance.  Emotional intelligence was found to predict 47% of the variation in manager’s performance management scores.  Emotional intelligence was also massively correlated with increased organizational engagement with 76% of the variation in engagement predicted by manager EQ.  Finally, plants with higher organizational engagement achieved higher bottom-line results building a link between EQ->Engagement->Performance.  During this period, employee turnover also dropped by 63%.



Many studies have identified the importance of employee engagement, others the value of emotional intelligence.  This paper provides a unique intersection of three factors:  Performance, Engagement, and Emotional Intelligence:


 The study answers three questions:

  • Does Emotional intelligence affect Individual Performance?
  • Does Emotional Intelligence affect Organization Engagement? 
  • Does Organizational Engagement impact Organizational Performance?

To answer these questions the HR team at AMADORI, a major player in Europe’s food industry, and Six Seconds’ researchers conducted a multi-year study to assess these variables. 


amadori-logoAmadori is one of the leading companies in the Italian agro-food sector, an innovative company and an industry benchmark for meat processing. The turnover in 2011 was over 1.2 billion euros. Founded forty years ago in San Vittore di Cesena, the group relies on collaboration with over 6,000 workers and has industrial plants, subsidiaries and branches all over Italy.  A supplier of poultry to McDonalds in several countries in Europe  Amadori is subject to intense market pressure which requires constant innovation.  

An internal analysis in 2007 led the senior leadership to focus on people management and development as a strategic priority.  The Human Resources department was charged with leading transformation.  In the words of HR Director Paolo Pampanini, “Managers, in particular, considered the renewal a business priority in order to achieve tighter integration among different business areas, better communication processes and sharing of information and mainly support management growth in terms of the development of personnel.” 

In 2008, the HR team evaluated the company’s performance management process, and determined that a key ingredient for success would be integrating emotional intelligence into the leadership culture.  The company created a new performance management process along with “The Amadori Academy” to focus on practical, real-world training.  

Pampanini and the leadership team identified two key goals:  

  1.   Application of the company’s competencies to be stronger as a learning organization.
  2.   Development of a manager-coach perspective where managers guide and support  the development of employees with the use of feedback and individual development plans.  

In 2009, the company partnered with Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network, to develop stronger people-leadership skills for managers.  The goal was for top and middle managers to have new “emotional intelligence” skills and insights that would enable them to lead the complex changes that were underway.  In 2011, the project expanded to measure organizational engagement in all of Amadori’s plants.

The project timeline:



Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence was measured with the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment (SEI).[1]

6seconds_KCGThe SEI is based on the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence consisting of eight core competencies divided into three macro areas:  

  • Self Awareness, called “Know Yourself” includes two competencies: Enhance Emotional Literacy and Recognize Patterns. 
  • Self Management, called “Choose Yourself” includes four competencies:  Apply Consequential Thinking, Navigate Emotions, Engage Intrinsic Motivation, Exercise Optimism.
  • The Self Direction area, called “Give Yourself,” includes Increase Empathy and Pursue Noble Goals. 

The assessment provides and overall EQ score plus scores for each of the three macro areas and each of the eight competencies for a total of 12 normative values.


Organizational Engagement

Organizational Engagement was measured with OVS (Organizational Vital Signs), a statistically reliable research process to pinpoint areas assisting and interfering with growth and bottom-line success. 

Vital Signs Organizational Climate AssessmentThere are five key drivers in the Vital Signs Model: Trust, Motivation, Change, Teamwork, and Execution.

According to the Vital Signs Manual[2], a high performing organizational climate is driven by these five factors:

Trust.  People have a sense of safety and assurance so they’ll take risks, share, innovate, and go beyond their own comfort zones.

Motivation.  People need to feel energized and committed to doing more than the minimum requirement.

Change.  Employees and the institution are adaptable and innovative.

Teamwork.  People feel collaboration and communicate to take on the challenges.

Execution.  Individuals are both focused and accountable.

The OVS is a validated measure normed by hundreds of organizations and over 10,000 administrations across Asia, Europe, and the Americas.  Normed scores are generated for each factor on a scale from 50-150 with 100 as the mean.

An additional scale in the OVS is a measure of engagement, which represents an overall score on the five factors.  “Engagement Index” is a cumulative OVS benchmark based on ratio of the number of employees who are actively engaged (fully committed) vs neutral vs disengaged (not committed).   The Engagement Index is reported on a scale from 0 to 100%, with 50% as a mean score.



AMADORI’S internal performance management data was used to assess performance.  As shown in the graphic below, the evaluation is comprised of competencies (the “how”) and results (the “what”), resulting in a quantitative performance score from 0-100.






To equip managers with new skills, in 2009, Amadori had enrolled 18 top managers in the “Six Seconds’ EQ Management Certification – developing the managerial intelligence.”  The program was customized for Amadori’s needs.  The structure follows the Change MAP, Six Seconds’ framework for transformation.[3]  

There are three phases in this process: Engage, Activate, and Reflect.

The Engage phase focuses on creating readiness, and included pre-assessment and initial training.

The Activate phase focuses on building capability, and included additional training and individual coaching.

The Reflect phase is about solidifying learning, and included post-assessment and evaluation.

In total, the program included six days of classroom training , individual coaching, assessment using the SEI and/or SEI 360°, distance learning, and two days of outdoor training.

“The feedback we received from the participants were extremely positive,” said HR Director Paolo Pampanini, “We were impressed by the pragmatism of the training – the results are measurable and that created a clear return on investment for the project.  It was also powerful to see the depth of the approach to the topic of leadership.” 

Four years later, 38 managers and 120 intermediate managers, sales managers, and high-potential employees have participated in the Six Seconds training.




A variety of techniques were used to analyze the data to answer the three questions:

  1. Does Emotional intelligence affect Individual Performance?
  2. Does Emotional Intelligence affect Organization Engagement? 
  3. Does Organizational Engagement impact Organizational Performance?




To assess this question, two variables were evaluated:  EQ scores and Performance scores.





Results: High and Low EQ

The managers in the top 25% of EQ scored higher on the company’s performance management system:




Results: Predictive Value

To assess the power of the relationship between EQ and performance, a linear regression analysis[4] was conducted, revealing a statistically significant positive relationship between the managers‘ EQ scores and their Results scores.


Finding:  EQ scores predict 47% of the variation in managers’ performance results.



To further explore this finding, a similar analysis was conducted on Amadori’s sales force.  EQ, particularly the “Self-Awareness” and “Self-Management” portions of EQ, are significant predicators of performance for this population. 




Discussion: Question 1

While many studies correlate emotional intelligence with business performance [5], this finding is unique because of the strong, significant link between the “hard” outcome of results and the “soft skills” of emotional intelligence.  Since we know that emotional intelligence is learnable [6], this finding suggests that massive individual performance benefits can be reached by developing these skills, and by selecting managers who already exhibit these skills.


It’s also worth noting that unlike many of the other studies of emotional intelligence, this study is looking at an industrial sector.  Thus, even in a basic infrastructure industry, it appears that emotional intelligence is a critical success factor.   




To assess this question, two variables were evaluated:  EQ scores and Engagement scores.



Results: EQ and Engagement Correlate

Average manager EQ, and average Engagement Index were calculated for the three largest plants in the Amadori Group: Cesena, Santa Sofia, and Teramo.

The plants with higher EQ managers also had higher levels of engagement:



These data can be presented visually.  Each plant is represented by one circle.  In the circle is the EQ score above mean EQ (100), which is also the size of the circle.  On the vertical axis is the Engagement Index Score for each plant.



While this is a large sample of individuals, it’s a small sample of plants.  However, if we graph the three plants with a linear regression, to the right, it appears that 76% of the variation in Employee Engagement is predicted by the variation in Manager EQ scores.



Discussion: Question 2

The managers’ level of emotional intelligence appears to positively influence employee engagement.  While this is a small number of plants, the trend is very powerful.  In this sample, 76% of the variation in engagement is predicted by variation in manager EQ — suggesting that increasing manager EQ is imperative for organizations concerned with increasing employee engagement.







Results: Correlations of Engagement and Performance

The Plant with lower level of engagement (Cesena) performed worse:



These data are graphed on the following page, with the size of the bubbles corresponding with the engagement scores above the mean (50).




In addition, the OVS also measures key performance outcomes, including Motivation (drive toward results), Retention (commitment to remain in the workplace), Productivity (perception of effectiveness).  These outcome scores for each plant are shown to the right and below:





Discussion: Question 3

While the link between engagement and outcomes as measured by the OVS is well established [7], this study provides an important additional ingredient.  The objective performance data from the company’s Key Performance Indicator substantiates the link between employee engagement and performance.  Further, this finding adds evidence that the outcomes measure by the Organizational Vital Signs assessment are linked to “real world” performance.




The study provides evidence to affirm the three of the questions:

  • Does Emotional intelligence affect Individual Performance?  Yes, strongly.
  • Does Emotional Intelligence affect Organization Engagement?  Yes.
  • Does Organizational Engagement impact Organizational Performance? Yes.

There is strong evidence that emotional intelligence is predictive of individual performance; we found that 47% of the variation in performance is predicted by variation in EQ.  Plants with more emotionally intelligent managers had higher organizational engagement.  Plants with higher organizational engagement reached better performance.  This graphic captures these findings:




It appears that Emotional Intelligence, as measured by the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment, is a significant (perhaps even essential) capacity to only for individuals but also for entire organizations.  These findings suggest that emotional intelligence and organizational engagement are key drivers of performance. 


In Pampanini’s words: 

“In general it is possible to say that within a few years of using the performance and talent management system we have witnessed an improvement of the managerial competencies of the whole structure and especially in those of middle management.”

“This is a not a negligible result, as it affects both corporate culture and the management approach towards change and complexity. We can certainly say that the Six Seconds training proved decisive in pushing managers and middle managers towards improving their leadership skills and towards applying at best the personnel development practices offered by our department.” 


In addition to the results of the study, one striking result was a drastic 63% reduction of personnel turnover of Amadori’s sales force.  Sales managers participated in the EQ training, and the competency framework and manager-coach process was extended to the external sales force (300 sales agents all over Italy).  The employee turnover rates are shown in this graph:




For other companies considering this type of implementation, there were several “lessons learned” in the Amadori case.  The first is the value of metrics.  The project started with robust data and the creation of a meaningful performance management system.  

Many organizations are moving toward a “balanced scorecard” approach to performance management.  It can be a difficult transition when most operations have traditionally only focused on results.  Senior leaders need to be very serious if they are going to commit to measure both the “what” and “how.”  In this case, we can see that focus is part of the bottom line too.  It’s about having a longer-term vision; if we only focus on the short-term, “good results” in one quarter could actually be undermining value.  When those results are created in a healthy way, the organization becomes stronger.

These systems are often imperfect, but Pampanini points out that it’s important to have the data and refine.  Using tools like SEI and VS provided normative data that is robust and meaningful for individuals as well as the whole organizations.

This “refining” concept is consistent with the best practices of the Change MAP process.  The three stages of Engage, Activate, Reflect are presented in a cycle.  A multi-year project goes through this cycle many times, continuously building awareness and commitment.  As the project progresses, the people involved become more deeply engaged and build the emotional energy that brings others along (shown in the graphic to the right, the feelings on the outer ring become a driving force for continuous improvement as a learning organization).

Finally, Pampanini points to the importance of HR working strategically as a partner to operational leadership: “We believe that HR systems can produce value only if properly executed by the people within the company. This is why investing in the development  of emotional intelligence for all key managers is a critical success factor.”




About Six Seconds

Six Seconds is a global network supporting people to create positive change – everywhere, all the time.  Our experience and research shows that the skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) are invaluable for leading change.  Therefore, we conduct research, develop powerful measures and tools for EQ development, and support a world-wide network of experts to put the learnable, measurable skills of emotional intelligence into action.  Our vision is that by 2039, one billion people will be practicing the skills of EQ. For more information, see

Six Seconds’ Founder, Karen McCown, authored a method for integrating emotional and academic development, called Self-Science, first published in 1978.  In 1995, Daniel Goleman described the Self-Science process as one of two models for teaching emotional intelligence.  Established as a 501(c)3 organization in California in 1997, Six Seconds is now a global network with offices in San Francisco, Bologna, Amman, Dubai, Beijing, Tokyo, Mumbai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta, plus representatives Bogota, Sao Paulo, Vilnius, Lisbon, Paris and Durban.




1 The only tool based on Six Seconds’ model, the SEI is focused on developing key capacities for living and leading with emotional intelligence. (

2 Freedman, Ghini, Fariselli (2010). The Vitals Signs Technical Manual.

3 Freedman & Ghini (2012) INSIDE CHANGE.  Also see “Structuring Transformational Learning

4 Linear regression reveals not only the relationship between the two variables, but also the impact of one variable (EQ) on the other (Results).  

5 Freedman (2010), The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence,

6 Fariselli, Freedman, Ghini (2006), Increasing Emotional Intelligence,

7 Freedman, Ghini, Fariselli (2010). The Vitals Signs Technical Manual.

The post The Amadori Case: Supplying McDonalds – Organizational Engagement, 
Emotional Intelligence and Performance appeared first on Six Seconds.