This article originally appeared in HR Florida Review Fall 2020

Two dimensions create the Emotional Maturity Matrix:
(1) Intensity reflects how deeply we are feeling an emotion; (2) Responsiveness describes how actively we are dealing with our emotions. Five emotional styles emerge in organizational life.

Emotional maturity is balancing the intensity of how one feels emotions and how they deal with those emotions. Brain science reminds us that signals are sent to the brain as we respond to life and work situations. The signal enters the limbic system in the back of the brain, which is the emotional brain. Then the signal moves to the neocortex in the front of the brain, which is the rational brain. Emotional maturity is the pregnant pause that allows the thinking side of the brain to catch up to the feeling side. You’ve been demeaned in a team meeting and now you are tempted to react in an immediate email.

Emotional intelligence brings balance in those moments with a decision to mindfully respond rather than react. As a result, you send the email to yourself. You let another colleague read it and give you feedback. You let it sit for 24 hours before sending it … if you send it at all. Perhaps the more appropriate response is to sit face-to-face with that person and clarify what you felt as a result of what they said.

Emotional intelligence a learned competency. We are not naturally or automatically emotionally smart in our response to what happens around us. The learning includes an awareness of the intensity of what you are feeling and the self-management of if, how, when, where, and to whom the feeling is expressed.

Organizational culture represents values that define how we agree to work together. The formula to develop an emotionally smart organizational culture is simple but far from simplistic. However, there are steps that can be taken at the (a) organizational level and at the (b) individual level.

Three steps can be taken at the organizational level:

  • Step One – Create an emotionally smart culture through training and coaching. This creates a baseline with a shared vocabulary of the need for personal emotional awareness and personal emotional management.
  • Step Two – Improve organizational climate through immediate feedback. Build a culture of feedback as demonstrated by Kim Scott’s Radical Candor.
  • Step Three – Close the gap between what you say and what you do through consistent accountability. To facilitate this, translate each value word that defines your culture into behaviors. For example, if you want to have a culture of respect, what would you do? What would you never do? Wordsmith that a behavioral picture of what each value looks like in your organization.

At the individual level, seven actions will help each team member manage powerful emotions to foster an emotionally smart workforce.

  1. Own your emotions as part of being human: good or bad.
  2. Accept the fact that ever one reacts emotionally to life in two dimensions: intensity (feeling) and responsiveness (dealing).
  3. Recognize the people or situations who/that trigger your emotions: fair or unfair.
  4. Identify the intensity with which you express those emotions: feeling numb or overreacting.
  5. Consider why you respond at the level of intensity you do: rational or irrational.
  6. Determine if it is appropriate to publicly press an emotion: how, when, where, to whom.
  7. Review how you have responded to the people and events at the end of each day: maturely or immaturely.

“Anyone can become angry- that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.” Aristotle


Dr. Dick Daniels

Dr. Dick Daniels is Vice President, Consulting Services and an ICF Certified Executive Coach with Right Management’s Florida/Caribbean Region. Dr. Daniels offers Right Management’s clients more than 17 years of leadership development consulting and executive coaching with C-Suite leaders. As a leadership architect he designs customized leadership development frameworks and systems to align emerging, mid-level and senior level leaders with strategic business objectives. As business strategist, coach, adjunct professor, and awarded author, he is a proven resource for shaping a results-focused leadership culture within the unique priorities of each organization.