Emotional Intelligence and Change Management

What does EI have to do with navigating change?
Jyothi Dass

Jul 01, 2024

Do you have instances where despite having the best processes and structures in place you face resistance and change initiatives either fail or take longer than anticipated?

Mastering the art of navigating change  

Most change managers fail to pay equal importance to the people’s side of change. To deal with resistance you need to know the ‘why’ behind the resistance.  While everyone agrees that ‘change is the only constant’ and ‘change is necessary’, change of any kind can be emotionally charged- sparking confusion, fear and anxiety. Given how emotionally loaded change can be it leads to overwhelm and burnout which leads to resistance to change. 

What then is the key to breaking out of this cycle and adapt to change and also help others through this process? 

Emotional Intelligence 

People with high Emotional Intelligence are more adaptable and have the toolkit to overcome change resistance. 

1. Be self-aware. 

Build awareness of your own attitudes and reactions to change. Are you in touch with your own feelings and triggers. This awareness can help you identify and be more mindful about your reaction to change, which in the long run can bring about a change in how you perceive and react to what is happening around you. 

2. Be optimistic.

Look at the bright side of things. Shifting perspective and looking for the silver lining can make you see things differently 

3. Be aware of what is happening around you. 

Do you know how others around you- your team members are feeling? 

4. Communicate.

Encourage open communication and be vulnerable, creating the environment for people to share what is going on for them. This creates a culture of openness and trust which makes it easier to address fears and apprehensions without allowing the grapevine to take over. Be mindful of what is not said in addition to what is being said. 

As a leader or a person driving change, how empathetic are you to what those around you are experiencing during a time of change. How effectively are you communicating during change? Are you connecting with your team and sharing the why behind the change? Communication and support are key to building openness to change and will allow for your people to embrace change more effectively. 

Managing change is not a one-time event or a skill which is needed occasionally. For the smooth execution of any change initiative organizations should embed the need to be emotionally intelligent into their DNA. Having leaders with high Emotional Intelligence can help organizations deal with change better. Leaders can manage stress, communicate effectively and be supportive during periods of change. Change is a constant and by equipping your leaders with the skills needed to manage this better you are ensuring that your organization to ready to deal with change and transition quickly and effectively. 

Jyothi Dass specializes in organizational development, coaching, assessment centers, content design and facilitation. Facilitating change processes for individuals, teams, communities energizes Jyothi whose coaching philosophy is rooted in her firm belief that every person and every organization is unique with unique needs. Jyothi is an ATD Change Management Practitioner and a Marshall Goldsmith Certified Stakeholder Centered Coach, among other things.