Emotional intelligence and its role in strategic planning

Emotional intelligence
Strategic planning is planning to succeed. If you want to make success a reality for your business, it’s all down to how you implement the strategic initiatives. The true measure of a strategic plan’s strength is in how people engage with it and put it into practice.  Herein lies the biggest challenge of all and where I have seen so many leaders struggle.  It’s fact that’s led me to a certain maxim I live by in these cases: ‘the task is easy, it’s people who complicate things’.

You can never underestimate the ways people will complicate even the best laid plans, whether they mean to or not, which is why emotional intelligence (or EQ) is so important during the time of year when leaders are forming and implementing their strategies.

  1. You ignore the human factor at your absolute peril

As a coach, one of the queries I most get from other leaders is ‘how has my perfect plan gone so wrong?’. It’s often a case of simply not realising just how the human factors in an organisation can shape and evolve what people expected to happen in theory.

My favourite book on leadership explores this subject. The second chapter of Leadership on the Line by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky notes that people – whether consciously or subconsciously – often resist change initiatives, which is why conversations around the importance of getting buy-in are so common.

  1. Understand how people resist change

The ways people can resist change within an organisation manifest in four different ways, so understanding what they are and how to detect them is essential when implementing a new strategy. The first three are:

  • Marginalisation
  • Diversion
  • Attacking

However, the one I feel is the most dangerous is referred to by Heifetz and Linksy as ‘the seduction of leadership’, where people give the appearance they’ve bought into the initiative and are happy to contribute but really couldn’t be more disconnected. Again, this can be subconscious behaviour, but unless you are sure you’ve got complete buy-in, your team could intentionally or unintentionally lead you down a blind alley and undermine what you’re trying to achieve.

  1. Don’t get stuck in one leadership style

Every leader has a particular style that most suits them, a default mode of operation that’s effective most of the time. Despite this, getting stuck in one style and not being able to adapt can reduce your ability to connect with all members in an organisation.

The leadership style that’s most effective during strategic planning is the one that best fits the team member you’re trying to influence. This is where emotional intelligence makes a difference, because if you’re trying to influence someone who’s an important gatekeeper, you have to understand their personality, their motivations and their context surrounding your goal.

Again, the most important element of all this is what they aren’t telling you. What’s beneath the surface that’s going to affect their motivations and potentially change the way they act with regard to upcoming changes?

  1. EQ tool for influencing change

Broadly speaking, the types of people you’ll be looking to influence will be split across four main groups. These aren’t hard and fast rules as such, but a quick and useful toolkit nonetheless that can help you decide how best to influence those on whom success of the strategic plan depends They are:

  • Results oriented – Their mantra will be ‘when do we start and get this done?’ – they’re the fast-paced, action-oriented doer in the organisation
  • Detail-focused – These people care about the ‘how‘ and want to make sure everything is covered and accounted for before moving forward
  • The big-picture strategist – They’re all about the ’why‘, and often think more about the higher level rather than getting stuck in the details.
  • The people-oriented person – Finally, these professionals are all about the “who”. They want to know how decisions might make them and the team feel.

It’s this level of awareness that can help you better apply emotional intelligence traits to your strategic planning process. Knowing your leadership style, and how that will resonate with those around you, is essential to keeping on top of the (very) human elements of this process.


BHelen-Wisemany: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Helen Wiseman

 

10 tips on goal setting to make you a better leader

Top 10 tips on goal setting

We recently interviewed some of our business mentors and coaches for their best approach to goal setting, staying motivated and striking the right balance between your personal and business life.

If you are ready to step straight into action, then these top tips will give you a head start on goal setting.

1. Clarify your purpose

One integral question we need to start off with when setting goals and achievement is why. This could be answered by your organisation’s mission statement or by clarifying your own role.

An important motivator for goals and achievement is to define your purpose. Capturing the entrepreneurial spirit in:

‘Reasons come first, results come second.’ – Peter Voogd

Some of the questions to ask yourself include:

  • Why is this goal important to me to achieve?
  • Why am I willing to make the necessary sacrifices?
  • Why am I able to keep going in the face of adversity?

Answering these questions will begin to craft your why, which becomes your purpose, and helps to give you clarity.

Tip from Trent Bartlett, you can read his full list here

2. Be organised

The first step to ensure you’re able to remain accountable is to be organised. This means being well aware of what you want to achieve, and creating a method to list and track your progress towards the eventual goal.

This is the perfect opportunity to investigate the many technological solutions that can make tracking goals easier. Many of the people I mentor use an app called Trello which tracks all the various “projects” they have on at any point in time. You can tick them off as you complete them and set target dates for completion to ensure you’re on track.

Tip from Graham Jenkins, you can read his full list here.

3. Know your business cycle

Your business cycle will offer a logical window for the best time to set your goals.  Find the most suitable time for yourself, your team and your customers to set goals.

Drawing up the goals and visions for your business is an activity based on passion, rather than process.  Think about your objectives in the context of upcoming opportunities, current market conditions or the changing circumstances of your business. This can bring breakthrough moments of setting goals in context.

Tip from Allyn Wasley, you can read his full list here.

4. Be resilient

Like everything in life, meeting goals involves sticking it out and dealing with the challenges that will inevitably arise along the way. Ideally, to stay resilient you’ll want to try and keep your emotions in check and avoid getting flustered if things don’t go exactly to plan.

How flexible you are able to be with your goals will also affect how easy it is to stay resilient. Be prepared to put some goals aside, add new steps or refocus altogether, as long as they continue to align with a key purpose or vision, you will keep heading in the right direction.

Tip from Richard Appleyby, you can read his full list here.

5. Don’t forget to set your personal goals for effective goal setting

The goals you have for your business aren’t the only directives that should shape the months ahead. All too often, senior executives make a plan for the new year that doesn’t account for their own personal goals.

Most leaders spend the majority of their time working tirelessly on the company, to ensure it achieves greater value for shareholders or competes better in its particular market. It’s easy to neglect your personal investment in these goals, the impact on your life as well as that of the company. Answering the question of why, will help you to find a balance.

Tip from Ian Neal, you can read his full list here.

6. Ensure your bank understands you

It always surprised me when businesses, small or medium-sized, don’t have a relationship with their bank that involves regular meetings and strong understanding about their current status, and expectations for the future.

Everyone needs a bank for a loan from time to time. Either things are going very well and businesses have consumed a bit of their cash with rapid growth or there’s been a hiccup and they need a safety net. If there’s a relationship in place, the bank is much more likely to come through.

If the people at the bank understand a business and its goals and trust the leader, they’re a valuable ally if you need extra financial help. The key is for leaders to have built this relationship far before they need assistance – and that means keeping in touch even when everything is just ticking over as per normal.

Tip from Jerry Kleeman, you can read his full list here.

7. Find someone to hold you accountable

Depending on the type of goal you’re focusing on, there are a number of people who can hold you to account and ask you for regular updates. A board of directors will have one set of expectations to meet, which may differ from those of your financial controller.

You may be looking for someone more impartial like a business coach or mentor who is aware of what you are trying to achieve but doesn’t have the same attachment to your business. They can hold you to account in a non-judgmental way while still ensuring you’re being pushed in the right direction.

Alternatively, get your family involved, as this is a way to have a positive balance of personal and professional goals, while focusing on objectives that won’t harm your relationships. Again, they offer a valuable perspective on your goals that’s separate from people based within the business.

Tip from Graham Jenkins, you can read his full list here.

8. Find opportunities for disruption

Keeping an eye on the future of innovation and disruption is imperative. This is a key business trend at the moment for good reason.

Be sure that someone in the company has time to look at the future with disruption in mind. Either within the leadership team or appoint someone to focus on the future.

Not only do they need to keep an eye out for what may disrupt them, but also ask “What could I disrupt?”. There’s always a chance, no matter how well a business is doing, for an incumbent company to wipe the rule book clear and set new standards for an industry. Then, it doesn’t matter how good a business is compared to its traditional competitors because the goalposts have moved.

Tip from Jerry Kleeman, you can read his full list here.

9. Give the year a theme

For me, every year is based around a theme that my various goals and objectives are nested under. This mean that when I write goals out, I already have a prompt and direction.

Theming also frames this process but it also does something I find just as powerful: As the year goes along and we all get busy, sometimes we lose track of our specific goals, so I find having an overarching theme in mind provides a constant level of focus.

It could be one word, phrase or sentence.

I normally stick to one or two words. For example, my most recent theme for last year was simply ‘business’, as I had been doing a lot of leadership and not-for-profit work and wanted to reorient more towards the business side of my career.

Tip from Helen Wiseman, you can read his full list here.

10. Find motivation

A bit of extra pressure is good for keeping you on track, that’s part of the reason why it’s so important to enlist other people who are invested in your progress. I found there’s a way to take this motivation to the next step with an app called Crew Mojo, which enables other people to follow your various goals and tasks with regards to upcoming deadlines.

Knowing other people are keeping an eye on your promised deadlines helps you take the process a bit more seriously while also creating a channel where you can update invested parties ahead of time if you think a certain timeframe is going to be particularly tough to meet.

Using traditional goal setting along with apps to keep track of your progress is an excellent way to keep momentum in your business and personal life. With the right balance, you can stay accountable and achieve your goals.

Tip from Graham Jenkins, you can read his full list here.

Adding the why back into goal setting

goal setting tips

When it comes to goal setting, people are more likely to have business goals rather than personal ones.

My approach is to ensure leaders are able to recognise and manage the inevitable imbalance between achieving both work and life goals. People use popular frameworks such as SMART or Objective Key Results (OKR), often missing an important step, which is the why.

Whether your aim is business or personal goal setting, these tips are framed to help seek clarity and understanding the purpose behind goals.

It doesn’t matter which framework you use, as long as you know your reasons why your goals are important to you.

Clarity of vision

Goals are short term, visions are not. Goals are specific and quantifiable, while visions are broad, all-encompassing ideas of how you want your life or business. Visions capture how you want your goals to look, feel and even be.

Goals lack a deeper meaning if they are not paired with visions that provide purpose and significance. Setting goals without a vision is crazy.

Firstly, you should have a compelling vision that your goals are embedded within, which will drive more lasting and meaningful achievement and progress.

Inevitably, goals can become self-defeating if there is a myopic focus. Holding fast to a single vision enables adaptability and resilience to what is important in this fast changing and distracting world.

Clarity of purpose

One integral question we need to start off with when undertaking goal setting and goal achievement is why. This could be answered by your organisation’s mission statement or clarifying your own role.

There are two main reasons that setting a clear and compelling why is so powerful:

  • The first is inspired and purposeful action. Which means getting clear on why you are doing what you are doing. When you have a powerful why attached to your goals, you know exactly what and whom you are doing it for.
  • The other is sacrifice. When you have a powerful and compelling why, you will be much more likely to pay the price to achieve the goal.

The quote by Friedrich Nietzsche sums this point perfectly: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.’

If you have not defined your purpose then you are missing one of the most important motivators for goal achievement. As entrepreneur Peter Voogd said: ‘Reasons come first, results come second.’

Some of the questions to ask yourself include:

  • Why is this goal important to me to achieve?
  • Why am I willing to make the necessary sacrifices?
  • Why am I able to keep going in the face of adversity?

Answering these questions will begin to craft your why, which becomes your purpose, and helps to give you clarity.

At all levels of organisations, role clarity is critical. Team members need to have a perfectly clear understanding of everyone’s role expectations of them and the reasons their roles exist in the organisation in the first place.

The responsibility to ensure the understanding of roles and create an effective team structure rests squarely with the leader.

Most importantly, however, especially for personal goals: Share them with family. A number of people use vision boards and all sorts of great tricks to direct their personal goals. Too many times when asked what their partner thinks, they’ve said ‘Oh no I haven’t shown them’.

These decisions and your goals affect their lives too. By having a joint purpose you gain an extra level of investment, and a new sounding board for further ideas and support.

Clarity of importance

The point of goals is not to successfully complete tasks we blindly set ourselves, nor is it to tick off goal checklists or bucket lists of trivialities.  What truly counts is the ability to master the right kind of big goals, by embedding your goals within your business vision and purpose.

Angela Brown Oberer said ‘You’ll never leave where you are until you decide where you would rather be’. Without knowing the purpose behind your goals and what the end result should look like, you’re stuck with objectives that don’t mean anything in the long run.

The harsh reality is that your true goals, the ones that are most important to you, take the most effort, dedication and sacrifice to achieve.

Your compelling why will allow you to endure the challenges and obstacles that are sure to arise. When others quit and give up, you will develop the agility, resilience and fortitude to keep going.

You can only accomplish those kinds of goals when you’re willing to question assumptions regularly and re-evaluate as necessary, so you achieve what counts in a handful of major elements that really matter.

Clarity of how

Bringing together clarity of vision, purpose and importance to then determine how you will approach your goal setting and achievement is the final step.

There are lots of goal setting frameworks such as SMART and OKR that turn the exercise into a process that’s easy to follow. However, you can easily follow the mantra of Steve Covey: Begin with the end in mind.

This reminds you to begin each day, task or project with a clear line of sight of your desired ultimate direction and destination. You then have to be agile enough to constantly flex and be proactive, which means as long as you are making the right things happen, you’re getting close to achieving your goals.

A personal mantra (what I live by) or a personal legacy vision statement (what people would say about me at my funeral) is a simple but powerful way for keeping you in check.

Clarifying the vision, the purpose, importance and method, helps to turn your goals in to actions.

 


Trent BartlettBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Trent Bartlett

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