Why Emotional Intelligence is Vital to Create a High-Performing Team With Bill Biggs
Emotional intelligence (EI) is often brushed off as a “soft skill” and disregarded in the workplace. However, Bill Biggs is here to emphasize how EI can accelerate performance in both leadership and team activities.
Why is EI so important, and how can you help your team develop these skills to deliver better customer service?
Bill says that EI is probably a more powerful, clear, and accurate indicator of success than IQ. As a leader, he’s observed the value of high emotional intelligence and has seen the wonders it can work for people and their organizations.
High emotional intelligence fosters a healthy workplace — socially, emotionally, and interpersonally. Bill wants each member of his team to be a better human because of the time they spend in this healthy work environment. For Bill, work is about more than just hitting nice revenue numbers. It’s also about cultivating EI within employees so that they can succeed both inside and outside of the workplace.
But what are the components of EI? Bill breaks it down into six domains: self-awareness, empathy, motivation, self-regulation, social skills, and presence. When you focus on developing these core elements, reinforce positive behaviors, and praise your team for working to strengthen relationships, you’ll see a performance boost throughout your business.
Listen to this episode of The Judd Shaw Way Podcast with Judd Shaw featuring Bill Biggs, President of Biggs & Associates. Bill and Judd talk about the components of emotional intelligence, how it can help improve your team’s performance, and how leaders can cultivate emotional intelligence in the workplace.
In this episode:
- [0:48] Judd Shaw introduces his guest, Bill Biggs, and the topic of the day: emotional intelligence
- [2:28] Why should a company and leadership team care about emotional intelligence (EI)?
- [4:01] Bill details the six domains of EI
- [6:36] How to grow your emotional intelligence
- [8:52] Tips for reinforcing positive EI behavior: tying encouragement into core values
- [12:33] Judd describes his firm’s core values and how they’re relationally-based
- [15:43] How Bill coaches his team through the different components of EI
- [18:03] Why a social contract is important to aid culture and reinforce EI
- [22:46] The value of growing emotionally and interpersonally
Hi everyone. I’m Judd Shaw, host of The Judd Shaw Way Podcast. This season’s podcast focuses on the client or customer experience, first class client experience that is. Today’s topic is on emotional intelligence. More specifically, how a higher emotional intelligence, also known as EI or EQ, can help a company’s team deliver better customer service by having the ability to understand and manage emotions. Some experts even suggest that EI can be more important than IQ in a person’s overall success in life.
Helping me better understand the components and benefits of EI is Bill Biggs, chief operating officer of the Texas personal injury law firm Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers. With a graduate degree in educational psychology from Texas A&M as well as graduate studies at Harvard Business School and years of experience, Bill has used his unique understanding of what drives human behavior to accelerate performance in leadership and the corporate world. In his consultant work, he challenges teams and organizations to, above all else, get the people and culture right. This approach has led his firm to becoming one of the country’s leading personal injury law firms. I hope you enjoy the conversation.
I’m here with Bill Biggs of Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers. Welcome Bill.
Hey Judd. Thanks so much for having me, thrilled to be here.
My pleasure. Glad you’re on. So Bill, culture was a buzzword for a while, right? Those that understood its connection to company success and team engagement jumped ahead of those that didn’t take culture seriously. But now I’m starting to see more and more of the study of emotional intelligence as it pertains to the corporate world, between making money and hitting targets using key performance indicators. Why should a company managers and leaders care about a team that has a soft skill like EI?
Yeah. Well, I’m in full agreement with one of the comments that you made in your intro with some of the research that’s saying that EI is probably a more powerful and more clear and accurate indicator of success than even IQ. That’s been my experience. That’s what I observe in people. That’s what I observe in organizations. And so even though it is kind of a recent buzzword EI, EQ, emotional intelligence, I think we’re just now identifying something that we’ve kind of known all along, that people intrinsically or intuitively have understood, especially keen insightful leaders, but we’re, we’re putting a name to it. We’re beginning to say, “Okay, well, these people seem to really be able to manage a room, manage relationships, manage their own emotions, be aware of other people’s emotions intuitively, and that leads to a lot of success.”
And so I think any organization, any corporation right now that doesn’t take that seriously, and really look at EI as something as an indicator and as almost a filter, or a way that they… a rubric, a part of the rubric that they use to determine who’s going to be on this team, and who’s going to be on the bus, and what seats are those people going to sit on in the bus in order to make us the most successful we can be as an organization. I’m a big believer.
I love how I think it was Dale Carnegie who said, “When dealing with people, remember you’re not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
And there are components of it. It’s like emotional intelligence that something makes up of that. Can you tell us a little more about what EI looks like and what EI really is?
Sure. So there are, obviously right now in the science and the social science and the study of EI, there are different theories and different ideas about what the components of EI might be. One that I really embrace, a definition that I really embrace, breaks EI down into five domains. Those five domains would be self-awareness, the ability or the degree to which you can have, empathy, in other words, putting yourself in someone else’s experience, motivation, your ability to self-regulate. And then your social skills, how you interact with individuals and how you interact in a group setting. So self-awareness, empathy, motivation, self-regulation, and social skills.
Now, one that I would add to that, a sixth domain or component, is kind of my own belief from my own observation or research, and I would call it presence. And what I mean by that is how you carry yourself. We talk about when you walk into a room, do you carry a presence? Are you overbearing in the room in a group of people, or are you invisible? Where are you at on that continuum? And can you create your presence and carry yourself in such a way to accomplish the goals that you have in mind in that interaction? So people that carry… We say, “Wow, he really carries himself well.” What are we talking about?
Or, that person’s really comfortable in their own skin. That’s another thing that we… right? That’s presence. And so I would put that as a sixth domain and it’s an indicator of how emotionally intelligent someone might be.
Well, that’s really fascinating. I think you’re really onto something. You probably changed the science of it when flushing that out, because there are benefits of well-developed emotional intelligence and understanding non-verbal cues, adjusting your behavior, making good decisions, even becoming a respected leader. But as much as it’s desirable, I also note that when we’re talking about soft skills, they’re difficult to measure and challenging to teach, but it can be done. How do you help improve a team member’s presence?
Yeah. So it’s a great, great topic and great question. I’ve never been a fan of, and I know that’s the vernacular we use, but soft skills because I’m a believer that the idea of soft skills would indicate that they’re less important, right?
That they are a little, eh, they’re just, yeah, you know, we want a guy who’s got the best degree, he’s done this, she’s done that. On the wall, the resume, the CV. Where soft skills just sounds like something that, eh, it’s not really that important, it’s just an added plus.
Nice to have.
Yeah. I totally disagree with that. I disagree with it in the context of leadership, and in the context of putting a team and an organization together. So how do you grow those soft skills that we’re talking about? I think, first of all, you make people aware, exactly like what we’re doing now. You talk about this concept of emotional intelligence and you begin to define it, and you start to take it from being this arbitrary thing and this ambiguous thing to say, “Here’s what it is.” How self-aware are you? You want to teach someone how improve their presence? Well, they need to grow in their self-awareness. They need to understand how people experience them.
So while I think it is challenging to train and to grow people in these areas, I don’t think it’s impossible. And I do think there are ways that you can do it. Increasing a person’s self-awareness, training them on that, giving them some tools to be able to evaluate themselves. And then showing them skills and examples of how they can interact with others in more advantageous and more successful ways. We grow people in their emotional intelligence all the time when we put them in marriage counseling, right? They learn how to listen. They learn how to understand another person’s point of view. They understand their impact on someone else. We naturally have ways in society that we grow people’s skills and emotional intelligence. We just haven’t realized that’s what we were doing.
Wow. That’s so interesting. I’ve had the personal pleasure of being down in Bryan, Texas there at the headquarters of Daniel Stark, many offices located around Texas. And boy, you just can’t fake what you have. Part of the growth that I’ve seen on the outside from your company comes from what’s happening on the inside. You feel it, you know it, there’s an energy there, and there really is a collective group of people who either strive to show or do a really good job at having higher emotional intelligence.
One of the things, and I’ve taken some R and D, as the great Arnie Malham of cj would say, the R and D, right? I saw that what happened at Daniel Stark is everybody’s handing out an appreciation card. “Hey, I appreciate you. And I appreciate you. And thanks for the…” So I’ve come back to Judd Shaw Injury Law and now every Friday everybody’s required to show an appreciation, fill out an appreciation card. We have those, right? And so that’s really helpful. And then there are hitting your KPIs and hitting targets. How do you praise EI when you see it? How do you motivate the team to say to them that’s good EI?
Well, it’s interesting. That’s a great observation, Judd, and thank you for the compliments. We’ve grown and been fortunate to see a lot of good things happen, but as you might expect, what I would say, and I believe it wholeheartedly, is it’s because of a lot of great people. How do we reinforce? How do we encourage EI? It’s funny, we don’t use that term a lot. I don’t use the phrase or the nomenclature of, “Hey, that was great emotional intelligence right there.” But we do break it down into our cultural components, and you mentioned culture earlier. So we do have these things that really are indicators of EI, but we call them something else. They’re more specific, and so what we reinforce and what we praise is when someone is going above and beyond to treat someone else really well, particularly our clients.
We have a lot of ways in which we reinforce positive EI behavior in interactions with clients. When people get survey scores, we have a survey that we do with clients multiple times throughout their case. And when a case manager, a paralegal, a attorney, when they have really built a strong relationship with that client and that client trusts them, and that client feels at ease with them, and that client has developed literally an emotional connection with that team member of ours, we definitely praise that. We reinforce that that relationship is just as important, and in fact is a KPI. The strength of that relationship between the client and our team members that are helping that client is directly correlated to success in that case to literally to fee, to average fee, and you’d say, “How in the world is trust and EI, how does that increase your average fee?”
Here’s how: it increases your average fee because when an attorney has a really trusting and good relationship with a client, then that client is going to be a lot easier to manage. That client’s going to listen to that attorney. If that attorney says, “Hey, I really think you should go and get this MRI. It looks like there’s some indicator suit.” That client is going to be much more likely to be compliant with the attorney and the case manager, the paralegal, when that relationship is there. And that’s going to add the value to the case. That’s going to add… What we might call a difficult client is really one that we say as non-compliant to what we’re trying to accomplish for them in their case. Well, compliance comes from trust and from connection.
So we’re reinforcing, to your question, we’re reinforcing EI in ways that we see people develop healthy relationships with one another, live out our core values and our culture. And specifically when our team is doing the right stuff with clients and our clients are telling us that back through surveys, through Google reviews, there’ll be times that I’ll just call a client and say, “Hey, tell me how you’re doing. Tell me about your relationship with your attorney.” And if I get a great report from that client, then I’m definitely reinforcing that with that attorney.
Wow. That’s so much great stuff that you talked about. I even think about where oftentimes clients can get treatment exhaustion and you got to rally them. You got to help say-
“Come on now, you got one shot at this, right? You got to, we can’t go back. I know you’re tired. I know this is exhausting, but you’re not better yet. And until you’ve reached that maximum medical improvement point where you don’t need the treatment, you got to rally here. We got you.” Right?
And that builds that engagement. And they’ll say, “Okay, I’ll get my butt back in there.” Right? But that’s because you’ve made that emotional connection.
100%. That’s absolutely right.
I also think that you really sparked my thought about how to apply EI in terms of encouragement, where I can tie it back to my are values. At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we have four core values. One of the first two is: be a knight in shining armor and work the wow. And one time is that I would assume that maybe if one of our team members showed extra motivation to push something through with a client, go above and beyond, show empathy. Being able to, say the client’s really frustrated, instead of getting mad back at the client, or giving the client some lip service and not… You’re connecting. You’re saying, “I understand, that’s got to be tough that they’re going through a hard thing.” So maybe one of those things is saying when I see high EI through these components is tying them to core values, such as that was great empathy. That’s the way to of work the wow. That’s the way to be a knighting shining armor.
Yep. That’s right. So something I love that you just said, so one of your core values is be a knight in shining armor. Another one is, did you say increase the wow? Or work the wow?
Work the wow.
And then… Yeah. And then the other two is: be passionate for continuous improvement, and also care about our community and each other.
All right. That’s amazing, Judd, because every single one of them that you just said, and the first two specifically, be a knight in shining armor and work the wow. Both of those are relationally based activities.
Those core values, at their core are about relationships, right?
And emotional intelligence, if you were to simplify it down, emotional intelligence is all about interpersonal interaction. It’s about relationship. It’s about human interaction. So your core values, it sounds like all four of them, actually, if you think about it, but for sure those first two, they are already in an emotional intelligence context, because they’re relationally based. If somebody is functioning at a high level with being a knight in shining armor or working the wow, if they’re doing those things well, they’re already showing high emotional intelligence. They’re functioning in a way that indicates, at least at that moment, they’re accessing a high level of emotional intelligence in their own skillset.
Even taking it outside personal injury, it applies to almost every industry. I kind of think of an example where you have healthcare providers who are working with families of either chronically or terminally ill people. If they don’t have the ability to control their own emotions, the inability to show empathy, the inability to regulate the stress of that situation, they’re not going to be able to do as good of a job as another healthcare provider who perhaps can clearly understand what’s going on in the room.
When you break down these components such as motivation, self-awareness, self-regulation, one of the things I think is, I’m learning more now, is teaching our theme about these components. What does motivation mean in EI and what would it look like? Such as being able to accept criticism and responsibility, being able to move on after making a mistake, being able to say no when you need to, all these kind of things. How do you teach that to your team?
We have, in our leadership structure, and in what you might call our management structure, every one of our team members is meeting with their supervisor, who I like to… the term coach. They’re meeting with their coach every two weeks, so it’s a two-weeker. That meeting’s called a two-weeker. We’ve simplified it down to a tweeker. So everybody in the firm gets a tweeker every two weeks. And in that time, they are being, the role of the leader, the role of the coach there, is to encourage, to give props, to motivate in a positive fashion, that team member. But also to give them accountability, to give them feedback, critical feedback about how they’re doing, about things going on with their KPIs.
And so a lot of it is what we might call hard skill feedback, KPI feedback, but there is also a lot of feedback given about how that person is interacting with other team members, so they’re getting evaluated culturally in that meeting as well. They’re getting feedback about how they’re living up to our social contractor, how they’re living up to our core values, or way they’re getting praised about a day that it was obvious that they really lived out a core value in the way they handled something. Or some feedback that we’ve gotten about them from a survey, from a client. So every two weeks our team members are getting feedback and reinforcement related to these EI components.
You mentioned social contract, and I think I can… There’s mine.
I got mine about three feet from me, and for others out there, for the listeners who may not know what that is, tell us a little about how that applies and how that does help culture and the reinforcement of emotional intelligence.
Yeah. So we have four pillars at Daniel Stark, what I call the four pillars of DS. It’s our purpose, it’s our social contract, it’s our core values, and our fourth pillar is an ownership mentality. I do a four pillars talk with every brand new employee. Sometimes it’s in the context of 10 people, sometimes it’s just two people in my office, but I still do that orientation, that talk, every single new team member. And I tell them that if I only had one of these that I could select to start an organization, and for some reason I was limited to just one of those four pillars, the one I would start every organization with would be the social contract.
The social contract is a set of tenants in which we all agree to, that’s why we call it contract. Everybody signs it. And the purpose, really, at the end of the day, is a commitment to the type of team member we’re going to be. In other words, the way we’re going to do our work, the way we’re going to approach our work. And so you might look at that in terms of job performance and how we’re going to approach that performance. But then the second thing that social contract does is it asks for a commit of how we’re going to treat one another, and specifically how we’re going to handle conflict. Part of our social contract is all about how we’re going to deal with when we disagree, because you got a hundred and some odd people. Hopefully most of them are pretty do on intelligent and driven and have a lot of ideas, and we’re not going to always agree. And so conflict is a normal thing and it can be really healthy.
Well, that social contract says, “Hey, I agree. I’m never going to hold a grudge. I agree when, if this conflict isn’t resolved, I’m not going to go talk to anybody else about it. I’m going to bring it to the person that I have the conflict with. I’m not going to gossip. I’m not going to bite back. I’m going to want to seek resolution. I’m going to listen. I’m going to be a listener. I’m going to listen and understand the other person’s point of view.” These tenets of the social contract reinforce, to us, what it means to be in a healthy workplace, to be emotionally healthy, socially healthy, interpersonally healthy. And I would not want to be in an organization that did not have something like this, so it’s a must for us.
It was a big deal, and once I heard about it, it’s all I needed to see when it was… I saw it in new your office, in your own personal office. I had witnessed you and watched you use it in terms of discussions with your team. It was like, “Well, Billy’s playing his music too loud and it’s affecting my work.” “Well, did you tell Billy?” “No, I’m telling you.” “Well, go tell Billy, right? Go work it out.” What’s interesting about that is I watched some videos, there’s some really good YouTube stuff out there on emotional intelligence, some TED Talks and things of that nature. And they suggest ways of team building, fostering accountability, developing interpersonal understanding. Everybody’s different. We’re made up of different personalities and learning to understand the different ways we operate is really crucial to teamwork. And feeling comfortable voicing your opinion in a group environment. And then also in just empowering your people. I found it really interesting that a lot of the ways to improve emotional intelligence or create a higher EI is essentially already built into the social contract.
No doubt. Yep. That’s right.
If you follow the social contract, ours likewise is people with a sense of urgency, be knights in shining armor, our fight matters, never give up, figure it out. Be respectful of the culture, no drama, no overreacting, no gossip, be accountable, own your mistakes, learn from them. Earn your spot on the team, be committed to continuous improvement personally, and profess… All of these things, if you followed, would ultimately create a higher emotional intelligence. You would have to be displaying and demonstrating very strong, well-developed EI to be able to live up to your social contract.
No doubt. That’s a 100% right. I tell people when I take them through the social contract, I say, “Look, at the end of the day, without hesitation and without apology, what we’re trying to do is make all of us healthier individuals, healthier emotional creatures.” Organizationally, in the corporate world, that can be very controversial, because you’re not supposed to talk about that stuff. You’re not supposed to get into the emotional health of an individual and how they’re functioning, because then that borders on mental health, and now you’re talking about all these touchy subjects from an HR perspective. But I tell you, we’re unapologetic about it, that I say, “Look, if you’ll follow and come down this path with us that we’re all on, we’re all failing and getting back up and trying to get better. If you’ll do this, you’re going to be a healthier human. You’re going to be a better human being because of your time working here.” That, I tell everybody as well, that’s a personal goal in a professional context for me.
For me personally, in my role as a COO, I want everybody at our firm to be a better human being because of the time that they spent with us. That’s going to affect their success. That’s going to affect their marriage. That’s going to affect their parenting skills, their relationships, and all that. That gives me a great deal of satisfaction, as much or more so than just hitting nice revenue numbers.
I know what you mean, brother. The ability, I think, within emotional intelligence lies opportunities to be incredibly successful, not only professionally, but personally.
I just believe that at the end of the day, Judd, the healthier you are as a human, the more high-performing you’re going to be in a business context, in a corporate and in a team context. As you get better, as you grow emotionally and you grow interpersonally, you’re only going to perform at a higher level, so the two are tied together. A lot of people, I don’t think they believe that. They think the two are very separate.
Healthier people perform higher.
Yeah, our core value number four: committed to continuous improvement, both personally and professionally. We reward those by people who want to read, go take extra courses, learn about EI, all of that. The more our team gets healthier personally, the more the company gets healthier as an organization.
Bill, tell everybody, and this was really great on emotional intelligence, but I certainly want to give an opportunity to let everybody know out there a little about Daniel Stark.
Wow. That’s a broad question, brother. Well we’re-
Well, you’re located in Bryan, Texas-
As a headquarters. You have some multiple offices, right?
Yeah. We have five offices throughout Texas. We’ve been doing this for about 20 years. I’ve been with the firm for about 10 years. We really believe, and I think this is a core issue for all firms, we believe in what we do. We believe in our clients. We believe the work we do is noble. It’s necessary. We hate insurance companies. We fight against them with a passion, because we believe that there’s an un-level playing field for citizens and passionate about helping people’s lives get better and protecting people. Our purpose is we keep our clients from getting screwed by big insurance companies. And we believe that deep, deep down. And I tell people in that same talk, I’m telling you about the four pillars of DS. I tell them “Look, if you can’t understand and embrace this purpose and embrace it passionately that we are in a fight and we are helping people every day. If you can’t embrace that, then let’s find you another opportunity somewhere else.”
What kind of cases does DS take?
We take primarily auto. We’re mostly auto, but we also have a lot of general PI, slip and falls, oil field. Here in Texas, we have a lot of oil field issues. But we are a 100% a plaintiff’s firm. We don’t handle any workers’ comp or social security or anything like that. For us, it’s 100% percent PI.
For anyone injured, how would they get in touch with Daniel Stark?
They would Google us and see Daniel Stark. You could also call 1-800-888-8888, all eights, if you were in Texas. And I’ll tell you what, if you needed to get in touch with me personally, you could call my cell phone, (979) 219-1404, or reach me at B as in Bill, email@example.com.
Bill, thank you so much for your time, your energy, your knowledge, your experience. I can’t tell you how thankful I am about the kind of mentorship that you’ve even provided me every time I visit and the kind of information and just keep out, just fighting the good fight, brother.
Hey, you too brother. I love you, can’t wait to see you. Going to come up and see you sometime. And you know you’re always welcome in Texas. Come get some barbecue.
You got it, Bill. Thanks so much. And as always, you can reach out to me with any questions or feedback, positive or negative, any type of feedback always helps in the topics. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Be sure to request some swag in your email and we’ll be happy to send you some merch from my law firm. Thanks again for listening to The Judd Shaw Way.
🎙️ Featured Guest 🎙️
Name: Bill Biggs
Short Bio: Bill Biggs is the former Chief Operating Officer at Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers, where he managed the systems and processes for over a decade. He’s the President of Biggs & Associates, where he helps businesses craft their message and create elite teams that win. Bill received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and attended Harvard Business School for graduate studies.
Company: Biggs & Associates
🔑 Relevant Resources 🔑
- Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers
- Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers’ phone number: 1-800-888-8888
- What is Emotional Intelligence?
- Our Core Values
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