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How are your Teams Feeling Right Now? Measure the Emotional Culture

Updated: Feb 6, 2022

A lot of different elements underlie organisational success. You’ve got to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right product and with the right people. But even with the best of these, a great workplace culture truly matters. Do you know the emotional culture of your organisation?

Eventually, competitors can come along and replicate your best practices, strategies and processes. As Herb Kelleher from Southwest Airlines once famously said “All airlines have aeroplanes.”

According to Kelleher, “We’ve never had layoffs. We could have made more money if we furloughed people. But we don’t do that. And we honor them constantly. Our people know that if they are sick, we will take care of them. If there are occasions of grief or joy, we will be there with them. They know that we value them as people, not just cogs in a machine.

So consequently, culture matters.

Culture is defined many ways, one of the more commercial ways of thinking about it is this, culture is the degree of alignment between strategy and the way employees think and behave.

In 2016, HBR ran an article titled Manage Your Emotional Culture. The article talks about and distinguishes between Cognitive Culture and Emotional Culture. It goes on to talk about the fact that emotional culture is rarely managed as deliberately as cognitive culture and that it’s often not managed at all. It gives some great examples of how much companies suffer as a result. Employees who should be showing compassion (in health care, for example, become callous and indifferent. Teams that would benefit from joy and pride instead tolerate a culture of anger. People who lack a healthy amount of fear (say, in security firms or investment banks) act recklessly. The effects can be especially damaging during times of upheaval, such as organisational restructurings and financial downturns.


To discuss and understand the concept of emotional intelligence and emotional culture, first, we need to look at the underlying science of emotions. Why do we react the way we do, how does others’ behaviour impact us the way it does?