Case: Emotional Intelligence Team in Big Pharma

In one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, a Key Accounts team on the verge of collapse implements a six-month learning and coaching intervention based on the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence assessment and methodology. Following the intervention, emotional intelligence scores increase by 8.9% correlated with double-digit financial growth, high performance evaluations and multiple promotions.

Background: Team Challenge

A world-renowned pharmaceutical company, faced challenges with team critical for business performance. While the company name is confidential, the team’s leader, Dr. Ernest Makram, agreed to provide comments for this case.

Makram’s team is called KAM – for Key Accounts Management. The team was established with the responsibilities of:

  • Representing, portraying and maintaining the positive image of the company in the market.
  • Being the central point of contact of key decision makers.
  • Being the active link and liaison between key entities such as Dubai Health Authority and Ministry of Health, and internal heads of departments.

A year after startup, the KAM Team was on the brink of collapse, with team members identified to be made redundant. Essentially, there was a lack of clarity on the Team’s purpose and direction, which lead to an unfavourable perception of the Team throughout the company. The lack of acknowledgement and recognition from the rest of the company impacted the quality of work generated and lead to a loss of trust, confidence and credibility in the Team.

The KAM members showed a loss of self-confidence, decrease in optimism and motivation and a reluctance to being proactive. On going behavioural challenges from hostility, aggression, frustration, resentment was observed.

“The Team was crushed, devastated and experienced a great loss of confidence and morale. They were confused, unclear and uncertain in respect to their roles and expectations”
– Dr Ernest Makram.

When he became Head of Team, Dr. Makram identified that the Team’s purpose and identity within the company was not understood or appreciated. Further, the status quo had a negative effect on the Team’s confidence, morale and ego. Makram knew that in order to transform the team’s performance and productivity, he had to address key underlying elements – the human elements – that drive performance and productivity.

“In this case, it was crystal clear this team needed EQ as a key part of the transformation we wanted to create. They all had the IQ it takes to perform and deliver results, but they needed the force behind that – investment in the human element”
– Dr Ernest Makram

Intervention/Implementation: Emotional Intelligence (EQ) for Team Performance

To know how this case was treated with Emotional Intelligence for profitability you need to get a ticket for the forth coming Africa Emotional Intelligence Conference and listen to it live from one of the author of this article.

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Below are the two stage solutions


Engage: Creating a Path for Change (Phase 1)

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ear it from the horse’s mouth.


Activate: Developing Team Skills (Phase 2)

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Reflect: ROI from Emotional Intelligence Intervention 

pharma-RAfter the 5 month intervention the Reflect phase included the Team members re-taking the SEI assessment to measure improvement and Return on Investment. The result was presented to them in a workshop format to identify the Status Quo and next steps for improvement.


Pre-Post Emotional Intelligence Assessment

The images below show the comparison between the 2 SEI reports with a 5-month gap. The coloured and shaded bars are the latest results.

Comparison of Emotional Intelligence Competencies:

Comparison of Performance Outcomes:

The Team’s overall EQ increased by 8.9%, moving from being Functional to Skilled; a significant improvement in a short time. The significant increase in Enhance Emotional Literacy (14.2%) assisted individuals to identify and understanding their own feelings, which had an impact on their ability to better manage their feelings (Navigate Emotions); and in turn increased their ability to evaluate the costs and benefits of their choices, including behavioural choices (Apply Consequential Thinking 15.2%). This ability as well as the improvement on being able to manage their emotions – responding versus reacting – had a positive effect on the Relationships Score (16.9%).

The greatest improvement was in the Engage Intrinsic Motivation competency (16.3%); this indicates a stronger internal drive to gain energy from values and commitments versus being driven by external forces. This was a profound improvement as the external environment had a significant effect on the Team’s motivation prior to the interventions. The improvement in motivation led to the Team viewing their efforts as more effective; increasing the Effectiveness outcome score.

Overall the results are more balanced and stronger than before.


Company Results

At the end of year the KAM Team was the only country in MENA region that achieved their financial targets and showed outstanding double digits growth.

The perceived behavioural changes of the KAM Team by end 2014 was elicited through a company survey, the top changes were as follow:

  • They have a strategic vision
  • Have a more significant impact on the company
  • More focused and dedicated
  • Easier accessible and more approachable
  • Include others and are more supportive
  • More fun to work with


3 members of the Team were promoted after the interventions:

  • One was headhunted by another pharmaceutical company (among the top 5 globally), with regional responsibilities as Head of KAM of Gulf region
  • 2nd moved internally in the company to another division with regional responsibilities
  • 3rd was promoted to Head of Commercial Operations

Head of Team’s Perception

The change was transformation on all levels throughout the team. It was gradual but tangible every step of the way, exactly what I wanted.

High levels of motivation, drive, enthusiasm and optimism fueled performance. There was willingness to work, achieve, deliver, and exceed expectations. The quality of work produced was excellent. The synergy between the team members was strong, proactive and dynamic. The relationships between the Team members flourished, I was witnessing fantastic communication skills, excellent levels of understanding, cooperation and collaboration. I remember seeing them coaching each other through challenging times and situations!

On a personal level, they felt a sense of uniqueness – that they shared something profound, an experience only they can understand, and that allowed them to bond and relate to each other on a much more personal level than ever before. They felt proud.

That pride alone, after experiencing feelings of alienation, lack of importance and undervalued work, speaks volumes.

The bottom line from Dr. Makram:

“It is clear that EQ changed the life of each one in the KAM team and the good thing is that this change will have its domino effect and will help others to have a new life”

About the Authors

This case was authored by Chantel Samanek, the Director of Dynamic Learning, Jayne Morrison, Six Seconds’ Regional Network Director Middle East and Africa, and members of the Dynamic Learning Team.
Dynamic Learning is based in Dubai and provides scientifically validated assessments, transformational learning and development programs, 1:1 & group coaching and effective consulting processes that integrate head, heart and hands in the UAE and throughout the Gulf region. Dynamic Learning is a strategic Emotional Intelligence consultancy that thrives on helping organisations, teams and individuals achieve excellence.

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