Our biggest intellectual challenge is our own emotional intelligence

This week I have been part of a small group of businesspeople who are all being upskilled in the art of chairing a board effectively with good governance and solid processes, it has been enlightening and eye-opening. Today I graduate with my small cohort from this course, it is a pivotal point in my journey and I have thoroughly enjoyed the moments of clarity and focus that I have had. 

It happens to me frequently, that when I focus and switch “on” I start to see opportunity, patterns and concepts tumble out of my mind into the realm of becoming an idea. It’s a feeling I relish.

Some of the topics we have discussed as a small collective have been based around the fact that when a business is ready to take the leap of faith into the world of starting or improving an advisory board, that at first, it can be like staring into the long dark corridor of the unknown. So of course when there is an “unknown” in order to become knowledgeable (and to know) you must first “see” or seek the knowledge so you can see. Often, as we have discussed, the barriers to sight and subsequent growth can be emotional opposed to commercial. 

For directors of emerging, growing, changing or exiting businesses there are always going to be things you don’t know or haven’t considered and sometimes those things haven’t been considered because they are too confronting or just haven’t come up before. An advisory board can help light the way, a little like a lighthouse in the distance. 

The discussion around our “why” becomes very relevant when we look at resculpting a business from where it is now to where it wants to go. Our why is often directly unrelated to financial value and more to do with our set of values and personal desires. 

So what do we want?

For example-

“I want to live by the beach in summer and ski the slopes in winter and I want options and homes in both locations, I want to be free to travel with my partner and visit my kids when I want to”. In this instance – these are personal desires of self-interest and family values. But they are all centered around having the financial capability to manage that kind of lifestyle. So personal values and desires fuel the need to effectively grow the business. Instead of I want to earn millions and then I’ll decide what to do with it. It’s not how we work as humans – we are emotional creatures. 

See when we first meet new clients as advisors, consultants or chairs, it is critical that we get to know our directors and business owners to understand their why, their own nuances and reasons that they get out of bed in the morning. Only then can you delve into future planning and future-proofing their business. 

This tells me that initially, our emotional intelligence is of the greatest importance over data and statistics.

This morning I listened to an interesting Ted talk by a presenter named Elif Shafak. The talk was entitled – The revolutionary power of diverse thought

Immediately I am interested because I like to look at how and why we think the way we do. I find human behaviour very interesting. 

Elif stated that 

“We need to pay more attention to emotional and cognitive gaps”

She is right – we do. Then, she said something that connected so intrinsically with the conversation of the last few days that I had a moment where all the cogs turned and the camshafts slotted into place beautifully, smoothly and in sync. She said…

“Oftentimes, analysts and experts are so busy with data and metrics that they seem to forget those things in life that are difficult to measure and perhaps impossible to cluster under statistical models.”

This is because as humans – we are emotional beings.

We are not a report, a robot, an output or productivity, we create those things to help us achieve our desires, our emotional desires. So it makes sense to me and to say that if we as advisors, consultants and chairs truly want to help raise a business to the next level then we have to understand the emotional intelligence and barriers to success from all levels of management and below to make a real difference. 

The way I see it, people make a business, we make products and create services, they do not exist without us, but if we are not working to our best ability then the output will always be less. If we work in line with our true desires and upskill ourselves to the levels where we want to play then surely productivity will increase, happiness will reign and after all of those cams and cogs have been polished and oiled the profits will rise. 

Sometimes things get put into the too hard basket, an advisory board might seem like a scary option, some things are more complex than others, we are all anxious, fearful and often unable to delegate even simple tasks for fear of the job not being done right. I think in order to rise above this and meet our true potential, we need to trust more, share the load, laugh more, allow our emotions to drive our actions positively towards our chartered out and collective commercial goals. By allowing other people in we allow ourselves to get out and grow upwards. 

Elif also said something I will now use as a motto and I will print this out and put it on my wall. 

“one should never, ever, remain silent for fear of complexity.”

So tread with gumption, allow others in, don’t fear the unknown and take someone with you – because if you haven’t been in this territory before it is going to be a hell of a lot easier with a guide. 

Check out how to start an Advisory Board here


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