Why Should Teams Build Their Emotional Intelligence?No one would dispute the importance of making teams work more effectively. But most research about how to do so has focused on identifying the task processes that distinguish the most successful teams – that is, specifying the need for cooperation, participation, commitment to goals, and so forth.The assumption seems to be that, once identified, these processes can simply be imitated by other teams, with similar effect. It's not true. By analogy, think of it this way: a piano student can be taught to play Minuet in G, but he won't become a modern-day Bach without knowing music theory and being able to play with heart. Similarly, the real source of a great team's success lies in the fundamental conditions that allow effective task processes to emerge – and that cause members to engage in them wholeheartedly. Our research tells us that three conditions are essential to a group's effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy. When these conditions are absent, going through the motions of cooperating and participating is still possible. But the team will not be as effective as it could be, because members will choose to hold back rather than fully engage. To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms – the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits – that support behaviors for building trust, group identity, and group efficacy. The outcome is complete engagement in tasks. (For more on how emotional intelligence influences these conditions, see the sidebar "A Model of Team Effectiveness.")Three Levels of Emotional InteractionMake no mistake: a team with emotionally intelligent members does not necessarily make for an emotionally intelligent group. A team, like any social group, takes on its own character. So creating an upward, self-reinforcing spiral of trust, group identity, and group efficacy requires more than a few members who exhibit emotionally intelligent behavior. It requires a team atmosphere in which the norms build emotional capacity (the ability to respond constructively in emotionally uncomfortable situations) and influence emotions in constructive ways. Team emotional intelligence is more complicated thanindividual emotional intelligence because teams interact at more levels. To understand the differences, let's first look at the concept of individual emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman. In his definitive book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman explains the chief characteristics of someone with high EI; he or she is aware of emotions and able to regulate them– and this awareness and regulation are directed both inward, to one's self, and outward, to others. "Personal competence," in Goleman's words, comes from being aware of and regulating one's own emotions."Social competence"is awareness and regulation of others' emotions. A group, however, must attend to yet another level of awareness and regulation. It must be mindful of the emotions of its members, its own group emotions or moods, and the emotions of other groups and individuals outside its boundaries. In this article, we'll explore how emotional incompetence at any of these levels can cause dysfunction. We'll also show how establishing specific group norms that create awareness and regulation of emotion at these three levels can lead to better outcomes.First,we'll focus on the individual level – how emotionally intelligent groups work with their individual members' emotions. Next, we'll focus on the group level. And finally,we'll look at the cross-boundary level.Working with Individuals' EmotionsJill Kasper, head of her company's customer service department, is naturally tapped to join a new cross-functional team focused on enhancing the customer experience: she has extensive experience in and a real passion for customer service. But her teammates find she brings little more than a bad attitude to the table.A t an early brainstorming session, Jill sits silent, arms crossed, rolling her eyes.Whene ver the team starts to get energized about an idea, she launches into a detailed account of how a similar idea went nowhere in the past.The group is confused: this is the customer service star they've been hearing about? Little do they realize she feels insulted by the very formation of the team.To her, it implies she hasn't done her job well enough.When a member is not on the same emotional wavelength as the rest, a team needs to be emotionally intelligent vis-à-vis that individual. In part, that simply means being aware of the problem.Having a norm that encourages interpersonal understanding might facilitate an awareness that Jill is acting out of defensiveness. 82 harvard business review Building the Emotional Intelligence of GroupsVanessa Urch Druskat is an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Steven B. Wolff is an assistant professor of management at the School of Management at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.