I am often asked this question so decided to write down how this all came about.
I moved to Tasmania after giving up being a chef and was working for a hospital group. I was hoping to move onto the Executive Team when the hospital bought another hospital. Part of the acquisition included a new Director of Corporate Services. The CEO had previously indicated that I would be a good candidate and they were committed to hiring from within. When the new person started the CEO called me to his office to say that the company did not have a choice in taking this person on. He asked if there was something that the hospital could do, to help me develop, while they gave the new director time to settle in and prove himself. I replied that I was interested in doing an MBA and he offered to fund it.
The new Director of Corporate Services showed up the next week and it was quickly pointed out to me that he was driving a Falcon Xr6 Turbo and it was a company car. The company had just completed what would be round one, of two rounds of redundancies, and the staff were on edge.
My first course at the University of Tasmania was Organisational Behaviour. In the course I had to write two large papers and one was on the topic of Emotional Intelligence. It struck me that the choice of a spoiler toting black Falcon Xr6 Turbo was not empathetic to the staff that had been going through redundancies. Then it clicked that the Director of Nursing was driving a Purple Commodore SS and the CEO had a new Prado Grande with built in Satnav. (In 2004, people were buying portable satnavs, TomToms and plugging them into cigarette lighters). It struck me that there was a large disconnect between the “values” of the not-for-profit and the actions of the organisation.
At one point there was a person promoted to the position of looking after Veteran Affairs related patient services, who contacted a supplier directly and order three leather office chairs for her team. Upon arrival, the procurement manager contacted me and complained that they had to make some of the stores staff redundant and that this was extravagance in times of economic problems. Having already ruminated on the cars and the disconnect, I refused the delivery because it did not have a proper purchase order. I informed the CEO that there might be someone upset about this but pointed out that we had plenty of office chairs that were surplus because we made positions redundant, so we did not need more chairs, never mind the impact on the procurement and stores staff.
I started jotting notes down on emotional intelligence, but it still did not gel until two years later. Strategy is considered a capstone course. It was one of the latter units I took in my MBA. I was reading through the textbook and it never raised the issue of real self-assessment and/or Emotional Intelligence of a company. In addition to these shortcomings, the strategy textbooks did not raise what is so often the problem in executing the strategy: Limiting Internal Factors, things that can be found by looking in the mirror.
Again, I spent some years thinking about this and thought that for certain it would be addressed in some scholarly way. When it was never raised, I surmised that perhaps it was because a company can’t have corporately held emotional intelligence.
But then I started hearing about companies in a very human way. I thought it was confirmation bias but when I really started looking, I found that it was true. Everyone is discussing businesses in a human way and I went back to revisit the idea.
Emotional intelligence is divided into two areas: the internal and the external. Internally it comprises Self-Awareness and Self-management. Externally it comprises social or Relationship Awareness and Relationship Management.
Being objective, I was aware that many companies have Public Relations Departments. They are trying to manage their relationships. If they are trying to manage their relationships, then they must have an awareness of those relationships. With this information I was convinced that companies demonstrated half of corporate held emotional intelligence. One of the most common components of relationship awareness is empathy. I knew that companies had it. I went to Melbourne in November of 2017 and bought an ice cream as I often try to do. I went to Ben and Jerry’s and there was a sign saying they were banning two scoops of the same flavours until there was marriage equality in Australia. Ben and Jerry may be the owner’s names, but the company put the sign up. The company, the Brand, represents a firm that is always on the perimeter of social issues. The company was showing empathy.
I also looked at the other half of the components of emotional intelligence. I was self-employed for 12 years. I never made the leap from being self employed to being a business owner which is based on systems and processes. As a chef, my business was based on me. Systems and process as well as policies are all created to self-manage. Again, if a firm is self-managing then it must be self-aware.
I eliminated what I thought was confirmation bias and determined that my conclusion was logical. If firms can have organisational ‘behaviour’, values, beliefs and tenets and if firms can have a ‘Why’ and show empathy, then why not ascribe the component of emotional intelligence to a firm. Simon Sinek is one of the most widely respected business speakers in the world today and he uses words like “Apple does not care what Microsoft is doing”. Everyone in business ascribes humanlike characteristics to business and the most useful is emotional intelligence.
As I reached this conclusion it occurred to me that my day to day job of assisting businesses to improved is based on a series of questions asked of a company.
‘What is your Purpose, not you personally, what is the company’s purpose?’
'What are your values, not you personally, what are the company’s values?’
‘What are your goals, not you…'
You can see where this is going: I focus on the business. My day to day job is facilitating a self-assessment of a company. It is a form of raising self-awareness. I analyse the effectiveness of what they are doing. I make recommendations on what they can do better but I don’t do the work for them, they must self-manage. I facilitate an assessment of how they manage their relationships making them relationship aware.
If emotional intelligence is measured as an emotional quotient (EQ) then I surmise that corporate held emotional intelligence can be measure with what I call a Corporate held Emotional Quotient or ChEQ, hence the book name ChEQmate: Using Corporate held Emotional Quotient as a Winning Business Strategy.
If you have not seen Simon Sinek’s video Start with Why, you must do so. Here is the link.
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