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I watched a documentary recently featuring Sir Ernest Shackelton the Antarctica explorer. On the 1st of August 1914 aboard his ship called Endurance, no coincidence, by the way, he set sail with his crew of 27 men for Antarctica. Unfortunately, they became shipwrecked, stranded 1200 miles from civilization with no means of communication and no hope of being rescued. They would not touch land again for another 497 days. Against all odds and life-threatening trials and tribulations which could be the storyline of a great movie, through endurance, they conquered and all 28 men survived.

Much has been written about his leadership style and what it can teach us but for me, from researching their journey and how they survived, the overriding leadership quality he displayed was a high level of Emotional Intelligence.

He lived by his values (family motto) he had self-awareness, and was empathetic to know that how he acted or reacted to every challenge the crew were faced with would determine the outcome. He never asked anyone to do something he wasn’t willing to do, got everyone to work together regardless of their seniority giving the crew daily chores, and kept negative energy from impacting the rest of the crew. He encouraged them to play games to keep boredom at bay and used humour, which given their environment, where they said they “could hear the ice freeze”, was no mean feat.

He was resilient and optimistic, when their mission was no longer to reach Antarctica, he didn’t panic, he reframed the mission to survival, never giving up, inspired optimism, and put his team’s well-being both mental and physical above all else. Every day he celebrated a small success and he kept a calendar of important dates to make sure they were also celebrated. The crew held him in such high regard when he announced his intended return to the Antarctic in 1921 nearly every crew member volunteered to go.
So why I am telling you all this, I was listening to a podcast yesterday where the discussion was on Emotional Intelligence and a statistic being discussed was that although 95% of leaders think they are self-aware only around 20% are. From an employee perspective, a study carried out by Gallop stated that worldwide only 15% of employees are engaged for example due to a lack of communication, psychological safety, and unhealthy work environments. From my own experience, especially around organisational values there can be a gap between how the management view how they live by them and the view of employees. These statistics highlight the gap between what leaders think and the reality of working in their organisations.

Whether you believe in the impact of EI or not the scientific research that has been carried out proves its importance in leadership and the success of organisations. You don’t just put on your leader hat when you walk into work, you are bringing your whole human self. If we took the time to observe ourselves and for example, some of our interactions with employees or decisions we have made on another day or hour would we have handled them differently when we weren’t so stressed or angry about something that had gone wrong?
If you are a leader looking at bridging the gap and want to assess your own or your team’s level of Emotional Intelligence a tool, I use with clients is the Emotional Capital Report. This was devised after years of scientific research into the top 10 competencies needed for successful leadership carried out by Dr Martyn Newman Ph.D. and his team in Roche Martin. Their research has shown that leadership potential is the product of cognitive intelligence (IQ) and technical skills (TQ), and is maximised by high emotional intelligence (EQ).

Six key traits make the Emotional Capital framework so effective for businesses looking to improve their performance.
• It provides measurable results, so you can quickly assess the return on investment and more easily secure support from internal stakeholders.
• It offers the potential for continuous growth, with ongoing training helping everyone from executives to new recruits develop their EQ skills.
• It is tailored to an individual’s specific needs, highlighting key areas to work on for everyone who embraces it.
• It is a proven success, both within the academic world where scientific research has consistently demonstrated the effectiveness of strong EQ skills, and in the real world where businesses such as Sky, Oracle, Boeing, and Singtel have all benefited from embracing the Emotional Capital framework.
• It is globally accessible, having been translated into different languages around the world so that commercial environments everywhere can benefit from its principles.
• It has a practical application, so leaders can put what they learn to use immediately.

Hopefully, no one is faced with the life-threatening circumstances that Sir Ernest and his crew endured. In the VUCA times we are living in, we need the ability to withstand hardship or adversity [Endurance], we need our teams to be engaged, productive, and retained in the organisations for as long as possible.

The wooden ship Endurance was located 106 years after it sank about 10,000 feet underwater in the Weddell Sea. Maritime archaeologist Mensun Mound who was the director of exploration who located the ship said “This is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen. It is upright, well proud of the seabed, intact, and in a brilliant state of preservation. You can even see ‘Endurance’ arced across the stern,” Not a bad testament for any organisation.

For further information on the ECR report please email

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