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Why good EQ can make or break success in business

Why have I written this follow up article on EQ?

In my previous article I tried to articulate what EQ was and why it was a critical element of success. I was amazed at the level of response I got and some great questions about how necessary it really is to business when surely having a clear plan, good processes and competent individuals should be enough.

I wholeheartedly disagree with this and have seen many, many examples where these elements haven't led to successful outcomes. In an effort to explore this a bit more, I decided that my initial blog will now become the first of three on the topic and this the second (the final one will be about how you can improve your own EQ and those of your teams and your business).

How does poor EQ hamper success?

Sometimes having the smartest solution isn't enough. We're all likely to have worked with some seriously smart people who just rub people up the wrong way; be it their way of explaining things or their inability to motivate others. It can simply be an obsessive mindset to focus on one thing and not take into account how others might feel about it but it means that their ideas are not listened to or that lip-service is all that they get - even if they have positional power, their influence will only go so far and woe betide the leader who only relies on forcing ideas through.

Think how much good work in your business has come undone because of the inability to get it to land with a wider audience ("How can they not get that this is a great idea??!!") or how much additional stress and extra delays are caused by teams not getting on quite as well as they should.

Often, this additional emotional stress is caused inadvertently by hidden barriers in an organisation (things like unconditional biases or politics). This is all simply a variant of poor EQ.

Let me share a real world example

I can think of one particular industrial client that I worked for that brought 2 very different, distinct cultures together as part of a merger. Over the course of 3 months, I worked with a team of 8 high potential senior managers (4 from the first company and 4 from the second) to develop a new distribution strategy that would bring the best from both their companies to market. It all started so well as we had a wealth of great ideas flowing from the group, ideas that were sure to be a success. The only problem was each of the two groups were not listening to each other; they were trying to explain their ideas in a way that didn't resonate with the other group (one group was very analytical and used to a culture of a senior decision maker selecting the answer, whilst the other was used to a culture of long discussion and agreement by all). In fact they took umbrage at the other group's ideas because they came from a different culture and from "their company". It soon became clear that we were going nowhere fast and, even worse, we were destroying future value as hostilities began to grow. As the external advisor, I was able to break the impasse only by listening to each group, playing a neutral role and presenting ideas back in a way that they resonated with each group. In addition, I ran 'getting to know you' sessions and used other techniques to change the dynamics in the team. I hadn't come up with any smarter idea, nor developed a more detailed plan; I was just able to understand the individuals' needs and adapt to what was needed for success.

Why is good EQ important?

It is now scientifically proven that ownership of ideas drives greater productivity from individuals and that positive thinking can not only lead to longer lives but greater likelihood of companies performing better. So, upskilling senior teams to land ideas more effectively and take others on the journey with them, as well as engendering an environment that drives ownership, happiness and positivity will have a positive impact on the success of your business. These are all hallmarks of great individual and company EQ and the good news (that we will explore next time) is that it can all be developed and improved. Because one thing is clear to me, if you don't invest in these you are already making everything you do considerably more difficult.

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