How RPS can Enhance Emotional Intelligence


As the weeks go on here in New England under the “Stay at Home Order” nerves are starting to fray. I see this in my daily video conferences, my limited interactions with people at the grocery or hardware store, and even with my family. Simply put, like the beloved character of Donkey from the animated film Shrek, all of us are a bit on edge.

Those who I observe doing better than most are people that have a high level of emotional intelligence. They can communicate more effectively, come across as more genuine over the video call, and simply just make people feel better.

For those of you who are not familiar with emotional intelligence (abbreviated as EI or EQ), here is a definition from Wikipedia:

“[Emotional Intelligence] is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one's goal(s).”

Having a high EQ is a useful tool. How strange is it then that EQ is so rare in our leaders in both work and life? In Harvard Business Review article entitled How to Hire for Emotional Intelligence, Annie Mckee explains that one factor linked to limited EQ in the workplace is that we do not hire for is.

McKee goes on to describe, “We hire for pedigree. We look for where someone went to school, high grades and test scores, technical skills, and certifications, not whether they build great teams or get along with others. And how smart we think someone is matters a lot, so we hire for intellect.”

All these traits are important, but what I have found is that leaders with high EQ are best able to navigate crisis situations. Take for instance my colleague Will who was asked to steer a factory through a major chemical spill in his first week as the general manager of that facility. Will describes this event in the introduction of Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Instant Leadership Solution, that we co-authored late last year. Will explains:

“Once the dust settled [from the crisis], my boss asked me, ‘How did you manage to get everything under control so quickly?’ My answer was one he wasn’t expecting. ‘With Rock, Paper, Scissors,’ I said. ‘I was a Rock with my team when I was making sure they were safe and assigning their roles. I was a Scissors with my experts when I was asking questions about what had happened. And I was a Paper with the journalists and officials when I was assuring them the situation was being handled well.’”

In actuality, the concept of Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS for short) is to provide a simple and fun to use framework to compliment EQ. RPS provides a common language for teams to use to discuss how they are behaving in a situation and how those of us in leadership roles can pivot to maximize our collective effectiveness.

Stories from our readers provide confirmation to this fact. For example, a Singaporean based Engineering Executive is using RPS to help optimize his leadership style to best match his cross-cultural globalized team and a Swiss based Transportation Safety Expert is leveraging RPS in her daily work. Finally, I am using RPS at home with my family to improve morale and help keep us all focused in our virtual classroom / workplace.

RPS is not the only solution, but it is a handy tool to have around in times like these. Go ahead and give it a try.

How are you using EQ to improve your team’s performance in the current situation? Where do you believe EQ is sorely needed? Do you have any RPS stories that you can share?

Please send your comments along.

Many thanks and stay safe!

Latest Blogs

Our teams are ready to adapt, are we?

Adaptability is the future of work... #resultsmatter #rockpaperscissor #rockpaperscissor #leadership

How RPS can Enhance Emotional Intelligence

Help, I need somebody

How to get unstuck… # #resultsmatter #addingvalue #leader

Staying Connected

Fancy playing cards? #resultsmatter #rockpaperscissor #leader

Finding Joy

How do you find Joy?