Culture by Design is Now ---- The Leader Factor

The Causal Chain Between Emotional Intelligence and Psychological Safety

In this episode, Tim and Junior delve into what they term the 'core logic'—a vital exploration of how EQ is not just an individual trait but the cornerstone of collective team intelligence. As they unpack the causal chain, they reveal how EQ is the linchpin in cultivating a safe space for vulnerability, ultimately steering both personal growth and organizational success.

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Episode Show Notes

In this episode, Tim and Junior delve into what they term the 'core logic'—a vital exploration of how EQ is not just an individual trait but the cornerstone of collective team intelligence. As they unpack the causal chain, they reveal how EQ is the linchpin in cultivating a safe space for vulnerability, ultimately steering both personal growth and organizational success. 

Key Points
  1. The Importance of Assessing Emotional Intelligence [00:03:12]
    Junior underscores the importance of measuring emotional intelligence. He invites listeners to anticipate the launch of EQindex™ as a pivotal development opportunity and invites listeners to join the waitlist at

  2. The Essence of EQ [00:07:45]
    EQ is defined as the ability to interact effectively with others. The discussion revolves around the nuances of 'effectiveness' and its significance in personal and professional realms.

  3. Psychological Safety as Rewarded Vulnerability [00:12:30]
    The concept of psychological safety is explored as a cultural norm where vulnerability isn't just accepted; it's celebrated and seen as a strength.

  4. Causal Relationship Between EQ and Success [00:18:55]
    A clear line is drawn connecting individual EQ to team psychological safety, and further to the tangible impacts on career progression and organizational achievement.

  5. The Interplay of EQ and Organizational Culture [00:24:10]
    A hypothesis is presented that individual habits of emotional intelligence are the seeds from which team cultural norms grow, particularly through leadership influence.

Important Links
  • Episode Series on Emotional Intelligence:
  • Leader Factor EQ Index:
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  • Feedback and Topic Requests:

Episode Transcript


0:00:02.4 Producer: Welcome back, Culture By Design listeners. It's Freddie, one of the producers of the podcast. In today's episode, Tim and Junior will continue their discussion in our series on emotional intelligence by discussing the causal chain between EQ and psychological safety. EQ is the single most important factor in creating psychological safety, and in fact, another way to define psychological safety would be the collective emotional intelligence of your team. EQ and psychological safety are focused around human interaction because how we interact as individuals or as a team really matters and if you haven't had a chance to listen to the other episodes in this series, including our episode on What is emotional intelligence, I highly recommend listening to those as well. As always this episode's show notes can be found at, that includes a link to learn about EQ index, our proprietary EQ assessment that we will be making publicly available for individuals and teams early next year. Thanks again for listening and thank you for your reviews. Enjoy today's episode on the causal chain between EQ and psychological safety.


0:01:22.0 Junior: Welcome back, everyone to Culture By Design. My name is Junior, I'm here with my co-host, Dr. Tim Clark, and today we'll be discussing what we call the core logic, and the core logic explains the relationship between two very important things, emotional intelligence and psychological safety, and this chain, this relationship turns out to a causal chain. So Tim, how are you and what do you think about this topic?

0:01:45.5 Tim: I'm doing great, the topic is what I would call essential knowledge, this is not something that is nice to know. This is... Especially if you're in a leadership role, this is absolutely essential knowledge. So, I'm doing great, look forward to the conversation.

0:02:02.6 Junior: Yeah, you and me, both. We've done dozens and dozens of episodes centered around psychological safety and some ancillary topics, and we spend the last few episodes in EQ series. Why? Why are we talking about EQ? EQ and psychological safety are not disparate topics, they're very closely related, but yeah, they're not talked about very often together, in fact, not one time have I seen them talked about together, so we're gonna do something a little bit different, and I think that you'll understand why as we approach the end of the episode, but understanding the relationship between these two things is absolutely essential in becoming an effective leader and in creating high-performing teams and organizations. So Tim, in your mind, how important is this really?

0:02:49.1 Tim: Well, I think it goes back to the premise Junior, that you are... If you lead a team, you are the primary cultural architect of the team, and you can't step out of that role, you can't delegate that responsibility, and so if that's true, you're casting a shadow over the culture of that team, you have more influence than anyone else on the prevailing norms of that team, and so you should understand the anatomy of culture and how this works and this cause and effect relationship between emotional intelligence and psychological safety. Right? It's that essential.

0:03:25.0 Junior: And inherent in that is that you will change your behavior. Understanding it is not enough. We'll use that understanding to inform behavioral change of us, we ourselves need to change and we need to help those around us. So as part of today's conversation, we're going to discuss why teams don't outperform their leaders, and how you can use this information alongside the core logic to diagnose performance and cultural health issues on a team. So a lot of interesting ground that we're gonna cover today, and we will start by defining some terms. Emotional intelligence, a few episodes ago, when we kicked off the series, we defined it as the ability to interact effectively with others. Simple, straight forward. Anything you wanna add to that?

0:04:12.4 Tim: Yeah, I do, I wanna add a point, and that is, what does effectively mean? It doesn't necessarily mean that you get what you want out of your interactions. You, the person, you, the individual. So there's a personal self-centered view of effectiveness that I think we want to avoid here. What we're talking about is effectiveness for all parties involved. It's about net contribution for all sides. It's an unselfish view of effectiveness. Does that make sense, Junior? A lot of times, we look at effectiveness and we think, Oh, it's effectiveness for me. No, you are interacting with others, and we are trying to be effective together, we have certain goals, we have certain objectives. We have a certain vision. We're trying to accomplish things. Effectiveness is for all of us. It's collective effectiveness. So I just wanted to clarify that a little bit.

0:05:12.5 Junior: That was absolutely worth pointing out, and I'm glad you did, inside effectiveness lives the self and social regard, that companion competency that we've talked about before. And to your point, there's this element of time to EQ, or sustainability. It's cooperation and collaboration over a long period of time. EQ is playing the long game. We talk about manipulation, and that's a short-term game, you can only do that for so long, you will only get so far. But if you wanna build a dependable, consistent, high-performing team, you wanna do that over a long time, this is the way you've gotta do it.

0:05:52.6 Tim: I agree.

0:05:55.5 Junior: There's no alternative. So that's emotional intelligence, psychological safety, a culture of rewarded vulnerability. So we're asking the question today, what do these two things have to do with each other, the ability to interact effectively and a culture of rewarded vulnerability? What we're going to assert is that there is a causal relationship between these two things. We call the core logic and the chain begins with emotional intelligence at the individual level. We see emotional intelligence as a catalyst or an enabling skill that leads to psychological safety, so we start at the starting line, we have EQ that leads into psychological safety. Why is that the case? So Tim, what is it that psychological safety requires that emotional intelligence gives us?

0:06:46.5 Tim: Psychological safety is a construct that we measure at the group level, at the team level, at the level of an organization, whatever the social collective is right. There is no psychological safety unless there's an interaction. There's no such thing. So when humans come together and they interact and they represent some kind of an organizational unit, then psychological safety comes along for that experience. And no matter what, there's gonna be some level of it. It could be low or high or in the middle, it is, as I said, a construct for a team, for a group of human beings. Emotional intelligence is a construct that we measure at the individual level, so the emotional intelligence represents the inputs that you are giving, that you are providing to that team. So what are your inputs? And clearly your inputs are going to effect... So let's go back to a basic definition of an operation, you have inputs, you have conversion, which happens at the team level, people interacting represent conversion, and then you have outputs. So, your inputs are basically mediated through your emotional intelligence.

0:08:13.1 Junior: If you think about psychological safety requires that we feel accepted, you think about stage one, that we can learn, we have a voice, it's safe to participate, it is safe to challenge without being marginalized or punished. In talking about the definition, rewarded vulnerability, what's necessary in order to reward vulnerability? This is where the tie becomes really clear in my mind, so there are really three parts, you have to care, which is regard, you have to be aware of that act of vulnerability, so there's awareness, and then you have to do something about it, which is behavior. And so you can see how emotional intelligence plays right into the definition of psychological safety and being able to do it or not, but you've said before that psychological safety is about what you bring, but it also focuses on how you offer it. What does that mean to you?

0:09:17.2 Tim: Right. It is about what you bring, what you can offer to the interaction or the relationship, or the group dynamic, but it puts a focus, it puts an emphasis, it puts an accent on how you offer it, how you engage with your fellow humans, how you affirm them, and engage with them. And so, as you said, Junior, those three companion competencies are coming together, what you believe about yourself and others, what you know about yourself and others, and then your ability to control yourself and influence others. Those things are working together, they're interacting to produce a level of emotional intelligence which becomes your primary input to the group. But isn't it interesting we put a heavy emphasis... What we put a heavy emphasis on is the intent and motivation you bring to your interactions. Our conception of psychological safety with these three companion competencies, we're putting heavy, heavy emphasis on the regard competencies. So of the three... I might even make the argument that the regard competencies are the most important. If you have the regard for yourself and others you're motivated to improve your awareness and management competencies, why? Junior, you just said it, because you care.

0:10:49.7 Tim: So let's ask a question that gets to the heart of this, if you're low on the awareness competencies or the management competencies, can you still be effective if your self-regard and your social regard are high? Well, to a certain extent you can and I've seen this. So I had a thought, I wanna read something I wrote years ago, Junior, in the book, Epic Change.

0:11:20.0 Junior: Do it.

0:11:23.3 Tim: That I think might help a little bit. So this is what I said all those years ago. I have worked with highly successful leaders who are unimaginative, boring and stale, I've worked with others who don't think strategically, can't comprehend operations or don't have a technical bone in their body. Of course, every leader possesses a different constellation of skills, but I have yet to meet a truly outstanding leader who was an interpersonal disaster, and I go on. Some leaders are too withdrawn for people to go at risk with them. Others live on the dark side of charisma, leading with the false sense of openness that repels people for different reasons, in each case, that lack of openness poses a challenge to effective leadership. Numerous studies find that a variety of leadership styles can yield results. I agree, albeit with a caveat that the leader remains fundamentally open to other people's views, feelings and aspirations. This stylistic variable, what we're really talking about here? We are talking about emotional intelligence is critical because the global age demands collaboration in order to maintain competitive advantage.

0:12:41.2 Tim: Leading is not a solo act, it's not a function of individual brilliance or skillful manipulation or cunning. The enduring truth is that leadership is mostly about people. What an avalanche of data confirm is that an open, collaborative, transparent and approachable style is far more successful in generating, replenishing energy in exchange for discretionary effort than any species of a closed, rigid, paternalistic or authoritarian approach. What's the point? The point is that you're working with other human beings and your input, regardless of who you are, it's going to be based on the way that you regard those human beings, the way that you... What you actually think and believe about them, if you care about them, ultimately, that is going to matter the most. Junior, I've seen leaders that are interpersonally clumsy, they're awkward, they're socially awkward, and yet their people love them, and will go to the wall for them, they'll do anything for them, because it goes back to the regard competencies. I don't think we can get around that. So I look at emotional intelligence definitions that don't include the regard competencies. It doesn't even make sense.

0:14:13.6 Junior: Yeah, that makes no sense. It makes no sense. The more we talk about this, the more we research, the more data we gather, the more obvious it is to me that it starts here. And another interesting connection between emotional intelligence and psychological safety, think about the four stages. So the four stages is the model we use to describe psychological safety, the first stage is what inclusion safety? And it's sequential. So what's the first thing that a human looks for in a new social situation? They look for inclusion and a sense of belonging, and this is true across all humans, almost without exception. It's the first thing we look for. So when we look at emotional intelligence, is there a sequence to the companion competencies? Yes, there is.

0:15:07.5 Junior: You said that you wanna make the argument that the regard competencies are the most important, almost certainly they are, because in any interaction, what is it that we're looking for? We're looking for a sense of inclusion and belonging, how can you feel that if on the other side, the person's emotional intelligence as it relates to regard is under-developed. If you feel like they don't care and they don't have your best interest at heart, if their view of effectiveness is achieving their individual personal outcome, potentially the expense of you, you're not gonna wanna engage with that person, not just then, but ever. And so how might that affect a team, how might that affect a culture and an organization? So you start to see these ties, these correlation, these causal, these dependencies between emotional intelligence and psychological safety that to me, in having this conversation are so stark.

0:16:06.6 Tim: Junior, what if we just reduced it to this question, how do you create a high level of stage one inclusion safety if you don't have a high level of social regard yourself?

0:16:20.9 Junior: You don't.

0:16:21.2 Tim: I don't know.

0:16:22.6 Junior: Yeah, you don't.

0:16:22.8 Tim: You don't. There's no way to compensate for that lack of social regard to create inclusion safety on your team. Can't do it.

0:16:32.2 Junior: And we know that you can't manufacture it.

0:16:36.4 Tim: No.

0:16:37.3 Junior: We're too good at sniffing that out as humans, you're not gonna fake us out.

0:16:40.2 Tim: Right.

0:16:40.4 Junior: Okay. So EQ at the individual level leads to psychological safety in groups, that's the assumption, which then leads to... And now here's the third part of the core logic that we haven't mentioned yet, which leads to career impact for the individual and business impact for the organization, so the consequence of doing both of these two things, well, EQ and psychological safety is twofold: Career impact for the individual business impact for the organization. And one of the things that I was thinking a lot about in preparation for this conversation is the fact that the unit of performance in today's day and age is the team. It wasn't always this way, but it has become this way. We look at the team as the unit of performance, and if we didn't work in teams and the unit of performance was just the individual, we could skip the psychological safety piece of the core logic and go straight from EQ to business impact, but that's not the case. We're all part of teams. Now, certainly teams are comprised of individuals, but if you look top down at an organization, what is the conversation really about? It's about teams, and this is almost without exception, in our conversations with organizations that we partner with and work with. It's teams, teams, teams, teams, teams and leaders, that's what we talk about. Isn't that fascinating?

0:18:07.4 Tim: You're right on. That is the basic fundamental unit of performance, in all organizations across the world. It's really true. So, Junior, talk about development. So how do you get better? So does it mean that you have to start at the beginning of this causal chain and that there's just one way to do it. What do you think about that?

0:18:31.0 Junior: That's a good question, and what we've seen time and time again is that you can start from either direction, and the reason we know this is because there may be an incumbent initiative an incumbent training that is focused on one or the other and they wanna continue to improve and what we do is we do whatever they haven't done yet, and so if we're focused on psychological safety, eventually you get to a place where, because it's dependent on the individual you have to go down to the individual level. You say, Okay, we've been working together as teams, as a group, because psychological safety is a group metric as you described but we need to get down to the root. Now, the root is the behavior of the individual and we can't really get at that without going to emotional intelligence.

0:19:23.3 Junior: And there's an interesting correlation here that I think is worth calling out when we survey an organization to measure psychological safety, we don't survey the whole organization together in one group, we break it out into teams. Why do we do that? Because that's where the actionable data lies. If you group them all together, then what happens, you become subject to the laws of averages, and any one team can disassociate themselves from the results, and they can say, "Oh, I don't affect that this way."

0:19:56.5 Tim: We're better.

0:19:58.4 Junior: I'm very different. Right? Now we can use the same logic at the level of the team as it relates to emotional intelligence. Now, if we just measure group metrics all the time, as an individual, I can say that and I can say, "Oh, you know, other people are affecting the levels of psychological safety on my team." We can't get away from that if we go all the way down to the individual and measure EQ, which is part of the reason that we do this, and part of the reason that it's important to do both of these things. And so in short an answer to your question, we can do either or, we can start at the individual and move to the group, or we can start with the group and break down to the individual. Almost inevitably we will end in the same place.

0:20:43.0 Tim: Another thing that I've observed, Junior, is that often, it's a lack of psychological safety that is most powerful in helping a person understand that they are the problem, that they are the obstacle, and that they need to work backwards, going back to their emotional intelligence. So what am I saying? I'm saying that the psychological safety of a team becomes your mirror, psychological safety at a team level is a mirror to a certain extent of your emotional intelligence. It's at least showing you. It's showing you the consequences and the results, and so when you look carefully at the psychological safety of your team, especially if you're the team leader, you are seeing a reflection of yourself to a large extent. You are seeing the results of the culture that you have built whether it's been very intentional or not, it is the result of your behavior, your emotional intelligence, your influence on the team. So many leaders, they look at the psychological safety and they start to see with new eyes how their behavior affects others, and you can't do that in isolation. Right? You can only see yourself clearly as you see people respond to you, that's data coming back to you, and as you see them interacting with each other based on the norms that you have established, a lot of times you work backwards that way.

0:22:31.0 Junior: You touched on something that I wanna dive into is the next hypothesis, which is the teams don't help perform their leaders, they reflect them, and that's often shown in the psychological safety data, and we'll show a group of leaders the results of their individual teams, and they're met with that reality, they're looking into a mirror that is largely a reflection of their own behavior and the way that they show up every day with their teams. And so if the teams don't outperform their leaders and they reflect them, this sometimes mean that a team underperforms or that it's characterized by toxic norms. So, if this is happening, what must be true based on our hypothesis? What must be true is that it's a reflection of the leader who is either one of two things: Actively toxic or passively complicit. And we talked about this before, but one of those two things must be true, if we have a team that's characterized by toxic norms, the leader either leads the way or gets in the way, that's something that you say often. And when we know that a team is having an issue, what we do also know that with 99% certainty we have a leadership problem.

0:23:46.5 Tim: We do have a leadership problem, Junior, because... Let's think about this. If there's toxicity on a team, if it's toxic, that always reflects a different kind of intent, so let's think about a team that is... Let's say, oh, it's dysfunctional is not. It's not operating very well, it's not performing very well. The people are not... They're not gelling. They haven't coalesced. They haven't come together. A lot of times you'll find teams that are, to a certain extent, not performing. Dysfunctional, but they're trying, and they have good intent and motivation, and with some effort, they get better. A toxic team is different. It's fundamentally different in nature. What is the difference? The difference is the intent that leads to a toxic environment. The intent is selfish. Right? The intent someone is deliberately, intentionally, purposefully being selfish, being self-serving, perhaps manipulating others, otherwise it wouldn't be toxic, it would just be dysfunctional, but we can get through it. There's a fundamental difference in intent between toxic and merely dysfunctional, and this is a huge issue.

0:25:17.6 Tim: Let me press a little bit more. There's no such thing on a team, every team as a leader, even if there isn't a designated leader, there's a de facto leader, or and sometimes they split the leadership role a little bit and you could have maybe a couple of people, but it doesn't go beyond that. If you look at leadership dynamics on a team, they're de facto, there has to be leadership, someone is performing that function or part of that function, so there's a leader. That's the first assumption. There is no such thing as leadership neutrality, that's not a thing. Think about a team and the dynamics of a team. The leader's influence is always significant. Well, you might ask, "Well, what if the leader is not there. What about that?" Oh, okay, let me give you a couple of extremes, a couple of examples. I once worked on a team, I did early in my career, where the leader was rarely there. The leader was an absentee landlord, and his absence had a profound impact and effect on the team because he had led to this the uncertainty and resentment and frustration, so it cast the shadow on the team, it was extremely negative. And people would wonder, "Well, man, don't you care enough to be here and to help us? And so there's a case study number one, the absentee landlord was that leader neutral? No, that's not possible.

0:27:00.5 Tim: Now, on the other hand, I also work for a team where we had a leader who had a dominating personality, and he wanted to control everything, and he would commandeer meetings and he was authoritarian, and he was command and control, and he was fear-based. Right? You've probably seen something like that, well, obviously he had a massive impact on the culture and the performance of the team. Okay, now those are extreme examples, I guess on the spectrum. Fine, come in from the extremes, come in to any other leadership performance or model of leadership or expression of leadership, there is no such thing as leadership neutrality, that does not exist. So it's very, very important that the leader is bringing a certain intent to the job, the leader is bringing certain behavior to the job, it is inescapable that that leader will have influence and impact on the team.

0:28:09.9 Junior: So the leader is not neutral, the leader either leads away or gets in the way. When a team has an issue, we know with almost certainty that we have a leadership issue, and if we have a leadership issue, here's the next stage of assumption, and it's more than assumption on our part. We've had a lot of experience here, we've learned that it's most likely an emotional intelligence problem at the core. One of the things I was thinking about as you were talking was, have you ever met a superbly emotional intelligent person that didn't get better? You ever met one?

0:28:51.8 Tim: Mm-mmm.

0:28:53.0 Junior: I've never met one.

0:28:53.1 Tim: I don't think so.

0:28:54.5 Junior: I've never met one. And that just hit me as you were talking and I was thinking that if a leader has outstanding emotional intelligence, they will get better over time, it's inevitable. So based on our client experience, almost every issue that appears at the team level can be traced back to a leader who's deficient in emotional intelligence, that's why this is so important. That's why we're talking about this. We have numerous client examples. Tim, how many leadership teams have you worked with where emotional intelligence has affected a piece of the outcome of that business? Every time.

0:29:35.8 Tim: Every time, and especially it's so interesting to see how it begins at the executive team level, and then it cascades from there.

0:29:45.8 Junior: Yeah.

0:29:46.8 Tim: I remember a few years ago, I was called in to work with an executive team for a technology company, and wow, I got there and I started with personal interviews with every member in the C-Suite, every officer of the company. And then who comes last? The CEO.

0:30:08.8 Junior: CEO.

0:30:10.2 Tim: CEO always come last. Because I'm gathering context, I want to understand what's going on, by the time I get to the CEO, I already knew. And when you do it this way, by the time you get to the CEO, the CEO simply confirming what you have discovered and it was a mess. It was toxic. It was so toxic. Okay, if it was toxic, then what do we know about the emotional intelligence of that CEO. In this case, what do we know? We already know it's a foregone conclusion, the toxicity of the executive team more than anything else reflects the CEO, so as I sat down with the CEO and I met with the CEO and interview the CEO, what did I learn very quickly? The CEO had an emotional intelligence problem. Yes, but we can take it a step further. Let's go back to the three companion competencies. Where do you think to problem lie, Junior?

0:31:06.2 Junior: Regard.

0:31:07.5 Tim: Regard. Absolutely. Now, in this case, the CEO had enormously high self-regard, no surprise there, but incredibly low social regard. His intent with respect to his people was terrible. They were expendable to him, that's how he viewed them, they were kind of commoditized flesh, and it was very apparent very quickly where this whole problem was coming from, social regard, which is at the heart and soul of emotional intelligence.

0:31:49.0 Junior: Well, let's talk a little bit more about that, and I want to put forward analogy. In the past, you've talked about the gears of collaboration and I like that analogy, so if we think about the gears inside a machine, what needs to be true in order for those gears to work, to spin freely, to work cooperatively with other mechanisms of the machine? They have to be lubricated. What's the enemy friction, heat, vibration? What's the number one cause? I looked this up actually. What's the number one cause of engine failure in any engine? It's contaminants.

0:32:27.1 Tim: All that. Interesting. I did not know that.

0:32:32.5 Junior: Yeah. It's contaminants, particles that introduce friction. So think about sand, what if you took the transmission of a car and you throw sand in the gear box, you're done. That car is are done. You stop moving and fast.

0:32:49.3 Tim: Pretty fast.

0:32:51.8 Junior: Right. And so an engine failure, it could happen very quickly, it could happen slowly over time, there's degradation that happens because of contaminants, so think about emotional intelligence and psychological safety as those things relate to this analogy. If the gears in a machine could be compared to the people on a team, emotional intelligence and psychological safety are the oil in that engine, it's the lubrication that that engine or whatever machine has to have in order to function properly and do so over a long period of time. So how does this come into play when we're talking about leaders and building teams? What do you think happens when you promote a low EQ leader. What are you doing? You are throwing sand in the gears.

0:33:49.4 Tim: Whoa. Yeah.

0:33:51.2 Junior: And don't be surprised by the outcome because the outcome is inevitable, if we know that we have a low EQ leader, particularly if it lives at the level of social regard, if we're really deficient there, then we are asking for trouble, yet this happens all the time. And so I think this is one of the most practical applications of emotional intelligence in organizations, are we selecting for and promoting based on the emotional intelligence of our leaders?

0:34:25.2 Tim: Junior, such a great point. Think about the pattern that most organizations observe in promoting their best performing individual contributors. Who do they promote to management? The best I see on the strength of their performance as an individual contributor doing what they're doing, contributing directly and that's not bad, it's not wrong. It's incomplete. If you make your promotion decision based on that criterion alone, you're in trouble. As you say, if there isn't a demonstrated track record of being able to create psychological safety, true emotional intelligence for that individual and you should know that, right? But if that's not there, if that track record is not there, then bring on the sand.

0:35:15.8 Junior: Yeah, well, let's look at this a step further and get into some practical examples, and then we're going to get into some solutions. It's not just doom and gloom here. So what are some behavioral examples of team breakdowns that have roots in poor emotional intelligence? Let's say that a team is characterized by a lot of complaining or a lot of gossip, I'm sure many of us have been part of these teams. What must be true? Well, we think that it's going to be a reflection of the leader. How might that show up in their EQ profile? Probably one of two things, low self-management, because the regulatory capacity is bad, they just can't help, the impulse control is not there, "Oh, I gotta say this thing. Right. I have to say exactly how I feel right now about this person or I heard this thing," and we just can't regulate. Or two a leader with low social regard, poor or under-developed beliefs about people, their value, and how does that affect their motivation going into an interaction. Well before you know it, now you have a team characterized by complaining and gossip.

0:36:26.7 Junior: What's another example? Team characterized by an expectation for perfection. Okay, what does that mean? It means that that's a reflection of the leader. So what does that leaders EQ look like? Probably a couple of things. It's low learner safety as it applies to psychological safety, you move a layer down to EQ, it's probably a leader with low social awareness or maybe low social efficacy. We don't think that people can do it on their own, so we need to jump and we're gonna control, we're gonna micro-manage, we're gonna restrict the opportunity for variance, any sort of deviation from the status quo, and we're just gonna execute based on my imposition. So you can see, and there are so many others that we could go through, but take an under-performing team that's characterized by some sort of pathology, you can see that that pathology lives at the level of the leader, it's translated into the norms of the team, and so it's our job as leaders to root this out of ourselves so that our teams are healthy reflections of healthy people, and we need to lubricate the gears in this team through our own personal emotional intelligence and helping them develop the emotional intelligence to have psychological safety in the group, right?

0:37:46.7 Tim: It's really a true, Junior. I'm thinking of another example, I love the two examples that you gave, the complaining and gossiping team, or the team that's perfectionistic and no one could ever make a mistake, and so what do people do? They start hiding their mistakes.

0:38:03.0 Junior: And they'll stop making them.

0:38:06.7 Tim: They're motivated. Yeah, they stopped making them. They just miraculously stopped making them. I'm thinking of a third example, I'm thinking of this boss that I had that was authoritarian. He created a put down culture that was a norm that he established, and he thought that that was funny, humorous to put people down. And then what did people do? A lot of people conformed with that, they wanted to be accepted, they wanted to be successful, they wanted opportunities for upward mobility and wanted to get promoted, and so they'd fall in line and adopt this norm of putting people down. And I still remember he kind of convinced himself that that norm was a good thing and that it was bringing, I don't know, comic relief, it was a way to decompress and so he would kind of sit there in his Crocks and his cargo shorts and put people down and then everybody... Not everybody, but a lot of people join in and that participate in that norm. Well, guess what happened? Over time, we developed toxicity because you can't put people down like that with pure motives, with clean intent, that doesn't work. So there's just a third example of how a team goes the wrong direction and there's a breakdown.

0:39:41.4 Junior: So last thing we wanna touch on before we wrap up today is the culture formation hypothesis and this will serve as a segue into the next episode. We're gonna get into brass tacks regarding how we improve our emotional intelligence, but there are three steps to this. First, a pattern of thought or behavior in a person is a habit. Second, if those habits are based on good emotional intelligence that's modeled every day, eventually it becomes a norm, and that norms a shared pattern of thought or behavior on a team, so it's shared at the team level. And finally a collection of these norms becomes a culture, so ultimately all culture connects back to the modeling behavior of an individual. So a pattern becomes a habit, a habit a norm, a group of norms a culture. So we know that if we're experiencing some sort of pathology at the cultural level, there are patterns or habits that are dysfunctional at the individual level, and that is why emotional intelligence is so important because it's an individual metric, it lives here with you, it lives with me, based on our behavior and the patterns we bring to the table that then become norms and culture, so you can see working backwards and working forwards this causal chain of EQ, psych safety and impact.

0:41:14.3 Junior: So what must we do at a really general level, we need to assess and we need to improve and we need to repeat. If we don't know where we are, how do we inform our development priorities? We need to introduce practical behaviors, like we've talked about for psychological safety at the team level. At the individual level, as it relates to EQ, there's a whole bunch of stuff that we can do. The last thing that I will point out as it relates to motivating and developing, we have to help people understand it's in their individual best interest to develop their EQ, and that it's a no-lose scenario because the two prong impact, we have career impact for them, and we have relationships generally for them, we have business impact for the institution. So, what do you think about that as a segue into the next episode, what are the last things that you wanna touch on, Tim?

0:42:09.1 Tim: No, I think that's right. I think once they realize how this works, the core logic of emotional intelligence, to psychological safety, to career impact for the individual and business impact for the organization, I think it's illuminating. And I think they go back and they realize, Oh, wow. This begins with me. This all begins with me. And so I love those three steps that you outlined, Junior, assess, improve, repeat. It's your development cycle and you've gotta stay in it. And when do you step out of it?

0:42:42.2 Junior: Never.

0:42:43.9 Tim: Never. This is the quest of a professional lifetime, we stay in that development cycle, we keep working at it, and it makes a difference. It really does.

0:42:55.4 Junior: So if you wanna figure out how you're doing as it relates to what we've talked about today and emotional intelligence, as we mentioned, we'll be launching our emotional intelligence self-assessment to the public in the coming weeks. So if you wanna learn more about EQ index, our assessment tool and development course, the link will be in the show notes. You wanna check it out, and I will go ahead and say now, it is the most important development time that you could spend in all of this year, so that will be launching in the coming weeks, but that is the most important thing that we think that you could do so go ahead and check it out. So to summarize the points today, EQ, it's the ability to interact effectively with others, and we talked about what effectively means, so don't forget, psychological safety is a culture of rewarded vulnerability, there's a causal relationship between the two. EQ leads to psychological safety which leads to career impact for the individual and business impact for the organization. With that, we will say thank you everyone for your time, your attention, we appreciate your listenership very much. If you need anything from us, you can reach out to us at If you like today's episode, like it, leave a review and share it with someone who might also find it valuable. Take care, and we will see you next episode. Bye bye.


0:44:21.4 Producer: Hey, Culture By Design listeners, this is the end of today's episode. You can find all the important links from today's episode at And if you found today's episode helpful and useful in any way, please share it with a friend and leave a review. If you'd like to learn more about leader factor and what we do, then please visit us at Lastly if you'd like to give any feedback to the Culture By Design podcast or even request a topic from Tim and Junior then reach out to us at or find and tag us on LinkedIn. Thanks again for listening and making culture something you do by design not by default.


Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

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