July 15, 2022

The Great Resignation Highlights Why Emotional Support Matters at the Workplace

employer branding

  • Now is the time to focus on employee retention with authenticity, an integral component of relational intelligence. Unlock your employee and company potential by applying five key skills towards success. 
  • What is intentional generosity, and how can you continue to invest in your team without expecting a return?
  • For over twenty years, Adam Bandelli studied and devoted his time to learning about relational intelligence. Reap the benefits and feast on high-functioning, innovative results. 

As a society, we’ve never been more connected. From the palm of our hands, we’re communicating with teams across time zones and staying up-to-date with world news. Our eyes are wide open to opportunity, but what happens when we step out from behind the screen? 

Now more than ever, people are tethered to technology but growing further apart in long-lasting emotional and trustworthy relationships. TribePod attempts to locate the missing puzzle piece by examining how leaders embrace relational intelligence and learn from authentic connections.

Adam C. Bandelli, Ph.D., is the visionary founder and managing director of Bandelli & Associates. His recently-published “Relational Intelligence: The Five Essential Skills You Need to Build Life-Changing Relationships” unpacks this conceptual model about why the ink of our relationships with clients and teams bleeds deeply across the shifting landscape of success. Bandelli’s book delivers a road map to learning relational intelligence and the perks received after adaptation.

In this episode of TribePod, we break down the difference between emotional intelligence (aka emotional quotient) and relational intelligence, plus the five skills that build a relational intelligence scale. Listen and learn how relational intelligence will be your greatest weapon against the “Great Resignation” through specific case studies and the positive impacts at every organizational level. 

Cohesive Intelligence: Tap Into Emotional Strength To Unlock Relational Intelligence

Bandelli says emotional intelligence focuses on the individual’s ability to understand their emotions and manage them effectively, versus relational intelligence which is “the ability to successfully connect with people and build strong, long-lasting relationships.” He highlights that having emotional intelligence “doesn’t mean you can develop trust with people, … embrace diversity [or be inclusive]. … in your relationships.”

For Bandelli, emotional intelligence is the first step towards relational intelligence; encouraging folks to look within before they leap with regard to understanding others. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are prepared to be vulnerable. They are able to leave pride and ego outside of their team’s success. They tap into relational intelligence through nurturing and recognizing their employees’ individual strengths, focusing on unique attributes and how those will best connect with future goals. While a leader who has emotional intelligence will be a good role model, a leader with relational intelligence will be a mentor and a trustworthy confidant.  

Bandelli and his associates work under this mantra: “We don’t do business with companies — we do business with people, and business is always human.” They focus on teaching relational intelligence in executive coaching and leadership development work and continue to see positive results. With the “Great Resignation era” still impacting most industries, learning relational intelligence will help retain your employees and nurture long-lasting relationships. 

The Five Skills of Relational Intelligence

Bandelli researched and developed his theory on relational intelligence for over twenty years, including in his 2008 doctoral dissertation. Through dedication and passion, he built a road map to achieving relational intelligence enlightenment in five simple steps. 

Establishing rapport

Authenticity is the thread that ties all five skills together, and begins with Bandelli asking the following questions to determine how leaders establish a rapport with their team: Are you making a good first impression with your appearance or time management? Did you show up to the meeting harried or collected? Did you take a minute to check in with the team or dive straight into the agenda? When employees speak with you, are you present or distracted? Do you maintain eye contact or try to find common ground? 

Understanding others 

Every relationship requires understanding for success, which means curiosity and empathy play massive roles in this second skill. A strong leader today always attempts to understand people deeply, and will recognize the value in looking beyond the surface. Bandelli encourages leaders to reflect on questions to unlock this relational intelligence level, including: Are you viewing your team members as human beings outside office hours? Are you encouraging a work/life balance, or do you demand productivity 24/7? Are you actively listening? Do you show up curious and ask open questions to let others express and lead discussions? 

Embracing individual differences 

Bandelli sums up this third skill in one phrase. Instead of looking to hit a diversity quota, leaders who embrace individual differences “have a favorable reception towards people [who] think, act, behave and look differently from them.” While this logic doesn’t mean you agree or share those beliefs, will you appreciate, embrace and leverage that diversity to increase outcomes of creativity and innovation?

Developing trust and vulnerability

Bandelli believes that leaders need to extend trust and not demand or expect it from their people. To work on the fourth skill, he encourages leaders to think of their time and vulnerability as “a bank account of trust.” Are you making regular deposits of intentional generosity to create a psychological sense of safety on your team? Will you continue to make deposits regardless of your employees matching them? 

Cultivating influence

Bandelli describes teams unlocking cooperation and thriving with effectiveness; collected job performance; and inspiration when successfully engaging all four skills. Even better is when a leader becomes a mentor, cultivating positive influences that peek through different levels of management. A leader with relational intelligence will go beyond expectations and make employees feel appreciated, including building a trusting bond; hence, the employee welcomes mentoring and sees the value in passing on the leader’s experiences and advice received. 

A team led by someone capable of mentorship and results — and that promotes from within — is the masterpiece of relational intelligence intersecting with company culture. Dedicated and motivated teams work with gratitude and appreciation, and will not go searching for greener pastures. 

Intentionality: Leaders Using Relational Intelligence

Bandelli’s latest book is the culmination of decades of experience and case studies, broken down into two parts. The first details each of the five relational intelligence skills, and the second covers applications of relational intelligence. Bandelli says, “Relational intelligence is one of the solutions to engage your workforce, develop your people and show that you’re interested in more than just the job they’re doing day in and day out.”

One of Bandelli’s top examples of a “servant leader” modeling relational intelligence is Ajay Banga, former CEO of Mastercard. Banga implemented a decency quotient and made treating everyone with common decency mandatory in the workplace. This practice went beyond the “golden rule” and made other global leaders look within to see how they embrace individual differences and cultivate inclusive environments.

In addition to high-profile successes, Bendalli includes a case study from his private practice. Currently, he is working with a leader in the technology industry who has a team of nine direct reports spread out across the country. She maintains a culture focused on people through relational intelligence, thus becoming the main factor driving her team’s achievements. Bendalli highlighted their three years of successive profitable quarter growth. Even when they aren’t sharing physical space, each member continues to shine and feel momentum toward the company’s goals.

The Ripple of Relational Intelligence

Dipping a toe into relational intelligence is the first step toward swimming in the deep end of success. While the likely key to employee retention, these skills also unlock leadership potential in everyone. 

One of the benefits Bendalli has witnessed over the past two decades is the positive impact of relational intelligence on all facets of life. If an individual is thriving and working with leaders prioritizing relational intelligence, it won’t stay at the office. Outside the workplace, they will also start to learn and practice skills with their peers, encouraging that personal connection and thoughtfulness daily. Leading with these five skills becomes an altruistic investment and a crucial first step in paving the road back to meaningful connection. 

This article is based on an episode of TribePod, an HR community podcast by Proactive Talent, a recruiting, employer brand and retention consulting firm. Subscribe via Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts for more insight into best practices in human resources. 



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