Tag Archives: Peter Salovey

Managing Collective Emotions Affects Leader Reputation, Impact

Gustave Le Bon

Gustave Le Bon

People in groups and crowds demonstrate collective affect, according to Gustave Le Bon, who asserted that individuals in these contexts collectively act with “impulsiveness, irritability, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgment of the critical spirit, the exaggeration of sentiments…” even if these are not their usual individual behaviors.

Adolph Hitler

Adolph Hitler

Well before the rise of charismatic leader Adolph Hitler, Le Bon claimed that “…an individual immersed for some length of time in a crowd soon finds himself…. in a special state, which much resembles the state of fascination in which the hypnotized individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotizer.

One way to evaluate individual and collective affect is through facial expressions because they provide information about how others understand people and events.
As a result, these non-verbal cues enable people to tailor responses to individuals and groups they encounter.

Peter Salovey

Peter Salovey

Tailoring interaction style based on observing others is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, described by Yale’s Peter Salovey and Daisy Grewal as accurately perceiving others’ emotional states and effectively responding with emotionally-charged interpersonal situations.

Daisy Grewal

Daisy Grewal

This is also an essential leadership skill because it enables awareness of sentiments that may be out of others’ awareness or that they may consciously try to suppress to align with prevailing organizational cultures — particularly those that do not encourage emotional awareness and expression.

Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Consequently, accurate perception of others’ emotions is related to effectively managing interpersonal relationships according to University of California, Berkeley’s Hillary Elfenbein and to subordinates’ ratings of managers as transformational leaders in research by Depaul University’s Robert S. Rubin, David C. Munz of Saint Louis University and Cleveland State University’s William H. Bommer.

However, accurate perception of group sentiment is difficult because many people narrow attention to a few individuals and to focus in detail on them, leading to perceptual bias of collective “tunnel vision.”

Takahiko Masuda

Takahiko Masuda

As a result, much information in social context, including the group’s prevailing emotional tone, may be filtered out, noted University of Alberta’s Takahiko Masuda, Phoebe C. Ellsworth of University of Michigan, Wake Forest University’s Batja Mesquita, Janxin Leu of University of Washington, Hokkaido University’s Shigehito Tanida, and Ellen Van de Veerdonk of University of Amsterdam.

Executives and leaders must decode and attend to collective emotions because they often cannot develop individual relationships with each of their many stakeholders and when addressing group emotions including:

Phoebe Ellsworth

Phoebe Ellsworth

  • Employees’ collective anxiety about corporate restructuring, mergers, divestitures, and reductions in force,
  • Consumers’ collective anger,
  • Board of Directors members’ lack of support.
Jennifer George

Jennifer George

Positive collective emotions tend to be over-estimated, and linked to greater customer service and lower absenteeism, reported Texas A & M’s Jennifer George.
In contrast, negative collective emotions like envy are easily under-estimated, and associated with lower group performance and satisfaction by reducing group potency and cohesion in research by University of Kentucky’s Michelle Duffy and Jason Shaw.

Michelle Duffy

Michelle Duffy

A leader’s ability to respond effectively to patterns of shared emotions during strategic organizational change and other emotionally turbulent organizational processes depends on the leader’s ability to widen the “emotional aperture.”

Emotional Aperture 1Like a camera’s aperture adjustment for increased depth of field, emotional aperture refers to ability to recognize the mix of positive and negative emotional experiences in a team, workgroup or business unit.

This “setting change” can bring into focus both nearby individuals and more distantly scattered groups of people.
Likewise, adjusting the emotional aperture involves moving an information-processing focus from individual emotional experiences to a group’s collective emotional composition.

David Matsumoto

David Matsumoto

Although ability to recognize individual emotional expression has been measured by instruments like the Brief Affect Recognition Testthis tool doesn’t evaluate perception and recognition of collective affect.

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burkes

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burkes

To address this limitationUniversity of Michigan’s Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Caroline A. Bartel of University of Texas collaborating with Vanderbilt University’s Laura Rees and Quy Huy of INSEAD developed an Emotional Aperture Measure (EAM).

EAM analyzes a person’s ability to accurately perceive a group’s collective emotions in short video clips of employee groups before and after an organizational event.
Next, participants estimate the proportion of rapid individual positive and negative reactions among group members.
Feedback from this instrument can increase perceiver accuracy through heightened awareness.

Caroline Bartel

Caroline Bartel

Sanchez-Burks contacted direct reports of a global sample of high-ranking managers and requested online evaluations of the manager’s leadership performance.
Three studies demonstrated that collective affect recognition requires a distinct information processing style, differing from perceiving individual emotion.

Laura Rees

Laura Rees

Managers’ EAM performance was significantly correlated with direct reports’ perception of managers’ “transformational leadership” behaviors, suggesting that this ability to accurately perceive group emotion can significantly influence stakeholder impressions and opinions.

People can open their emotional aperture through attention to collective emotions, and may influence prevailing negative group affect by asking the positive minority to share optimistic sentiments with the skeptical majority.
This dialog can increase trust and shared perspectives that may move negative sentiment to become more positive.

Quy Huy

Quy Huy

Leaders who increase the range of their “emotional aperture” can increase followers’ alignment with strategic direction to increase the likelihood to effective execution and change impact.

Try the Emotional Aperture Measure to see your results.Emotional Aperture Measure

-*How do you read the “emotional tone” of a group?

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Emotional Awareness Enables Focus, Risk-taking Even When “Stressed”

Jeremy Yip

Jeremy Yip

Greater emotional understanding enables people to quell the “incidental emotion” of anxiety while they focus on decisions, according to Wharton’s Jeremy Yip and Stéphane Côté of University of Toronto.

Stéphane Côté

Stéphane Côté

Incidental emotions that influence decision-making have been called “the affect heuristic” by University of Oregon’s Paul Slovic, Melissa Finucane of the East-West Center, Ohio State’s Ellen Peters, and Donald MacGregor, then of Decision Research.

Paul Slovic

Paul Slovic

People with greater emotional intelligence can separate unpleasant thoughts and feelings from decision making and are less likely to show the affect heuristic bias in risky decisions.

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud considered this ability to separate unpleasant thoughts and feelings as a defense mechanism deployed unconsciously to reduce anxiety and preserve self-esteem.
He called this experience “isolation,” contrasted with “compartmentalization,” which he defined as separating unpleasant emotions from each other.

Roy Baumeister

Roy Baumeister

Florida State’s Roy F. Baumeister, with Karen Dale then of Case Western, and Baruch College’s Kristin L. Sommer, documented recent studies that demonstrate “isolation” as a defense mechanism or coping strategy to contain negative feelings, “emotional contagion,” and “spillover.”

John Mayer

John Mayer

Yip and Côté demonstrated the relationship among emotional intelligence, evoked anxiety and propensity to make riskier choices in their lab studies of more than 100 volunteers, who completed the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test developed by Yale’s Peter Salovey and David R. Caruso with John D. Mayer of University of New Hampshire.

David R Caruso

David R Caruso

One group received an anxiety-provoking assignment:  One minute to prepare a videotaped speech shown to peers studying “academic and social standing” at the university.
The other group was given a less stressful assignment:  Prepare a grocery list.

Volunteers in both groups could choose their compensation for participating in the study: Receive $1, or take a one in 10 chance to receive $10.

Melissa Finucane

Melissa Finucane

For those given the stressful speech-writing task, people who scored higher on emotional intelligence chose the riskier option to receive $10 three times as often as those who scored lower on emotional intelligence.

In contrast, volunteers who completed the low-stress task made similar choices for compensation no matter the level of emotional intelligence.

Ellen Peters

Ellen Peters

However, people can learn emotional awareness skills to enable mental focus and contain unrelated incidental emotions, according to related studies by Yip and Côté.

They demonstrated this ability to contain anxiety when some volunteers in the speech-writing task were told they “might feel worried” because making a speech is an anxiety-producing task.
Other speech-creators received no further instructions.

Kristin Sommer

Kristin Sommer

Yip and Côté “primed” no emotion among some grocery list-creators by saying that they “may feel no emotion” or no instructions.
Participants were then primed to separate their emotions from their decision-making by being told that their emotions were irrelevant to their decisions.

 Volunteers read information about the benefits of receiving flu injections and consequences of no inoculation during flu season.
Then participants were given the option to register for nearby flu injection clinic.

The reminder that emotions were irrelevant to decisions changed previous results, by increasing the frequency that participants with lower emotional awareness chose the riskier option of not attending the flu injection clinic.

 The findings suggest that adults can reduce emotional bias in decision-making by explicitly identifying emotions and separating them from critical thinking processes

Questions that enable people to separate emotions, thoughts, and decisions include:

  • How do I feel right now?
  • What is causing me to feel that way?
  • And are my feelings relevant to the decision I need to make?

-*How do you avoid the affect heuristic when making decisions?

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First Emotionally Intelligent, Mindful Presidents: Barack Obama, Peter Salovey?

Peter Salovey

Peter Salovey, newly appointed President-Elect of Yale University, introduced the term “Emotional Intelligence” in 1989 as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.

Yale’s new President, is considered a pioneer and originator of research into four elements of EQ used to think and behave adaptively:

  • Accurately perceiving, identifying, pinpointing emotions in self, others
  • Expressing, using emotions as information to decide,  plan, achieve, communicate, create, think
  • Understanding, predicting own and others’ emotions, temporary moods
  • Self-regulating, transforming emotions.
  • Peter Salovey

    Salovey is widely regarded as one who embodies these characteristics and creates community  through his bluegrass band performances with Professors of Bluegrass, active participation in student life (as a Super Mario Brother at Halloween 2009, accompanied by the Yale Symphony orchestra during his tenure as Provost), and award-winning teaching and research.

He applied EQ concepts to business with David Caruso in The Emotionally Intelligent Manager: How to Develop and Use the Four Key Emotional Skills of Leadership

Emotional Intelligence can be intentionally increased in work and personal settings by increasing awareness of one’s own and others’ emotions.
One way to achieve this goal is through “Mindfulness,” or non-evaluatively, non-judgmentally attending to physical, cognitive, and emotional experiences arising in the present moment.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced this practice in 1979 and founded Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
His programs and books, including Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–and Your Life  help develop skill in being “present” through:

  • Observing – expanded awareness with detachment
  • Describing
  • Participating fully
  • Focused, narrowed attention

He discussed the possible impact of these practices on business leadership and government, building on research findings that mindfulness practice can lower aggressive feelings and increase peaceful sentiments.

Kabat-Zinn provided an example in recently-re-elected U.S. President Barack Obama is the first mindful President, “…since Lincoln, or maybe ever.”

The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama

He added that Obama “… is really present, he has a lot of different qualities that seem to indicate he is emotionally balanced, not driven by ego concerns, that he knows how to balance family life and the impossible job that he has.
There is something about him that’s measured, very peaceful, he listens very, very deeply.”

Many observers will evaluate whether Salovey can put into practice Emotionally Intelligent leadership at Yale, and whether Barack Obama can demonstrate Mindfulness in peaceful international relations and domestic issue-resolution during his final term in office.

-*Where do you observe emotional intelligence and mindfulness among top leaders?

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