EQ or not

Are you one of these people who sometimes receive feedback about being too much to the point or too quick to make decisions? Are you known as somebody who delivers results and solves problems, but you also feel that you are not pleasant or indulgent for some? Against all your success stories, were you blamed for not listening or showing empathy for the people around you?

It hasn’t been long since EQ (or EI) was declared one of the most critical aspects of leadership. There are even statistical comparisons like leaders with higher EQ deliver around 20% over those with high IQ. However, my question here is, is that really so?

It is evident that a person with higher EQ communicates easily, solves interpersonal conflicts swiftly, is more likable, adaptable, calm and, in the end, happy. They can work in team environments effortlessly, ask for help or provide support without hustle, and act skillfully under stress too. So what else may a leader and their teammates need?

Sympathy is a leadership curse. 

I know a newly appointed team leader in a direct sales organization. She was the most emphatic, easygoing and lovable person in the group and was chosen by the assessors as the new team leader. She immediately established good relations with her peers and subordinates. The meetings were pleasant communication opportunities, always ending with huddles. Top management was happy with their decision and expected superb results in the near future. Instead, after a short rise, they saw declining results. She wasn’t delegating at all, always postponing negative or constructive feedback, had issues saying “no” to the requests, and kept overloading herself and the team with unnecessary tasks. 

We sometimes mix empathy with sympathy. Being a lovable and easygoing person is often associated with high empathy. However, we should understand others’ viewpoints, relate to similar emotions or situations within ourselves, and communicate accordingly without diverting from the perspective. Turning it to sympathy may cause us to postpone some important decisions and actions or let the other person manipulate our hesitation.

Thinking out of the box

Do you have creative and successful people around you? If not, look among the artists and CEOs. You will find not all but many nonconformist people without higher levels of EQ. Sometimes we like, and sometimes we hate their whimsical attitudes. We blame them for all the caprice they demonstrate and occasionally judge them for their harsh behaviour towards the people around them. 

However, aren’t these impulsive moods with highs and lows giving them the ability to think out of the box, break the rules, and thus create new pieces of art or products. We can see these people leading successful companies, from small ventures to global giants. If not administered well, the two domains within EQ, social awareness and self-management, may cause us to obey the rules and patterns of the environment; consequently, we may stop challenging them.

Comfort zone trap

John F. Kennedy said that “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” as it will be too late when the rain starts. When I look around, even at my past, we, human beings, tend to think to change things after the storm hits. We consider starting a better diet or regular exercise after our doctor delivers the shady blood test results. Higher EQ people are so good at dealing with the situation and all the stress related to it that they continue to do what they excel at, hence why to take the risk when there is no imminent threat. There is a very well-tailored solution running smoothly, and there is no need to find other ways to do things. Changing those well-designed, well-performing solutions and processes may and probably will receive unhappy considerations and negative feedback from all concerned parties. So let’s keep the things as they are, perfect and easy as Bertram Lance said, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Changeability is also related to our capacity to take risks. High EQ people are known to be conscientious, resulting in risk avoidance. They may concentrate on excelling in the existing solutions to solve new challenges instead of finding new ones and taking necessary risks. 

However, leaders have to make unpopular decisions and take risks when necessary. If leaders are more focused on getting along with people than making unpopular decisions to deliver results, they are destined to fail. Even when everything seems perfect, leaders should oversee the opportunities or threats and take necessary actions against all the risks by initiating change. 

If you are asking about the solution, as a long-time leader and a leadership lecturer, I advise perfecting the art of balance. Understanding and practising high levels of EQ is definitely a leadership virtue where visionary leadership and delivering the results are also of critical importance. A thoughtful human touch and an emphatical approach are nothing shy of doing the right things to deliver better results.

May the EQ be with you.

Eren Ikiz

The Post-Pandemic War on Talent is Starting. Are You Ready?

The Post-Pandemic War on Talent is Starting. Are You Ready?
  • 52% of employed adults are looking for a new job, up from 35% last year, according to Achievers Workforce Institute in Toronto and Society of Human Resources in North America. 
  • Forbes says 61% of women are considering a job change this year. 
  • 46% of the respondents feel less connected to their company, and 42% say company culture diminished.

How do you plan to fight the oncoming post-pandemic tsunami? 

Please forget about the classic compensation and benefits package buoy that will not help but fuel the competition wars. Maybe you are planning to invest more in hiring new talents, but if you cannot keep your existing talents in the force, how can filling up a bottomless bucket help?

The solution is to retain your existing talents, vitalize the company culture, and create trust while searching for empty positions. 

According to these people who are considering changing their jobs, the top four reasons are; 

  • Looking for a promotion 
  • More development opportunities
  • Considering a career pivot 
  • Receiving higher pay

Hence promotion, career and development are essential to our employees we should start implementing rigorous systems to fulfill this request. The solution is not recruiting new talents but motivating and developing existing talents, thus decreasing the turnover and related costs and increasing the company’s desirability for the newcomers.

Step 1; Announce a brand new development structure to identify your talents in every aspect. This includes assessment and development centers, succession planning, and performance management system available for all existing employees. 

Step 2; Measure the personal development needs of these people for future positions, provide them personal feedback, and support them with structured training and coaching systems. Illuminate the possibilities and steps to be taken for these valuable assets. 

Step 3; Engage and empower these people in creating and communicating the new vision, the new approach and the new culture. Let them exist out of their chambers as well. 

Step 4; The sooner, the better create examples, reinforcing the trust between the company and the employees. 

Talent management is a top-down process that helps employees feel empowered, engaged, developed, and motivated, allowing them to work towards the company’s business goals, increasing customer satisfaction and business performance.

If the companies want to sail smoothly through these turbulent times, the HR departments should think from a more strategic perspective instead of a tactical one. HR is the new “internal” marketing. Hence needs a marketing mindset to create a value proposition for all the existing and prospective employees that the competitors can not match. 

The previous answers to modified requirements will not provide the solutions needed. We must think and act differently to achieve better results this time. 

Eren Ikiz

Improva Inc. Toronto

Why Trump calls this pandemic “Chinese Virus”?

Why Trump calls this pandemic “Chinese Virus”?

Trump and his administration have been calling Covid-19 the “Chinese Virus”. They discuss opening the economy despite the highest death rate, blame China for all the problems and demand them to pay compensation. Why are American companies suing China for the Covid-19 damage? Do you think they are stupid? Or is this a new scenario staging at the moment?

Let’s have a look at what has happened during the past 30 years between China and the US. The US ordered lots of things from China. China produced these goods and the US paid with US dollars. China paid the raw material and energy needed to produce them with some of the earned dollars. By producing and selling all these things, China has benefited in many ways.

–       Trillions of US Dollar reserves, US bonds and market shares

–       Technological Know-how (Do you remember the recent Huawei story?)

–       Increasing political and military power

And these not only make China a shareholder in US companies, but also a threat to the US by using this newly acquired political, financial, technical and military power. 

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, claims he has seen confidential lab reports on the virus being cultivated in a Chinese lab, while prominent epidemiologists have denied this claim. If you repeatedly blame somebody for a problem and claim you have evidence, eventually people may start believing it. Unfortunately, this happened many times in history. Do you recall something similar, like mass destruction weapons in Iraq, or overstated civilian causalities in Libya? With all these falsely but purposely called names, lawsuits and blames, there will be a solid base for distancing or even an embargo against China. The huge drop in Chinese goods will eventually worsen its economy while increasing job losses, which may also initiate national unrest in the country. China will also have difficulties in spending all these US Dollars in its reserves. On the contrary, the US will increase production; decrease unemployment, resulting in the fulfillment of the promise “making America great again”, just in time for the upcoming elections. 

Do you think this is a crazy story? Then why has China started to increase its gold reserves instead of USD reserves? Why do you think they tend to cooperate more with other nations worldwide and openly share more data? While the Chinese government has called the allegations a smear campaign, the Australian government has called for an international inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 and the Japanese government has already reserved a 2.3 billion USD fund to shift production out of China. I believe this explains the anti-Chinese sentiment brewing in the US under the Trump administration.

Negotiation Tactics. The truth behind “getting to yes”

Negotiation Tactics. The truth behind “getting to yes”

My friends know me as a motorcycle enthusiast. Last summer I went to a dealer to check the latest arrivals and saw a very attractive one shouting “buy me”. As soon as the salesman recognized the passion in my eyes, he asked the opening question; “Nice isn’t it?” The answer was a big “yes” with a huge smile. Then came the second question; ”Would you like to sit on it?”. Though not met with the same enthusiasm despite having one at home already. The nice sales guy continued his pre-taught, and well-learned “yes” questions; “wouldn’t it be nice to be on this one this summer?”, “can you imagine yourself among 50 other bikes roaring down the forest along the lakes?”, “would you like to own it?”, etc. etc.

I’m sure the guy was very well taught and experienced in similar sales negotiations. However, with each question, instead of buying the bike, I was feeling pushed away. I had a dozen unanswered questions challenging me in my mind. I can tell you many similar stories of my own or from others around me. So why is this happening and this type of very logical “yes” process pushing us away?

As you are well aware, our brain has two parts, left and right. The delicate surgeries to separate left and right brain hemispheres in some epilepsy patients to decrease the effects of the seizures exposed some strange effects. The responses of the patients to questions about some experiential exercises were different in writing and in verbal answers. The left side of their brains controlling the experimental, creative side of them as well as their verbal communication expressed great interest in these scenarios even though the outcomes were painful.  However, the right side of their brains controlling the logical, systematic and mathematical side as well as their written communication, opposed the idea of doing them as they were painful, risky and harmful. I’m sure you will recall many cases in which one part of you desperately wants it, while the other is shouting within yourself not to do it as there is no logic; i.e. you have a similar one at home, or you may have to accept some consequences, but regret your “yes” decision as soon as you get home.

The bike scenario is the same. In a scenario where your left and right brain are not contradicting each other, then these questions end with a big yes followed by an action. In their best-selling book “getting to yes” William Ury and Roger Fisher explain how to get others to yes with a very logical process.

However, in many other cases, these questions drive you to a doubtful and unwilling “yes” resulting in a regretful action, or a purchase, or a dissatisfied customer if you are the seller. As in my experience with the bike retailer, I had doubts not only from the financing aspect but also my limited time on the bike due to our new settlement plan. In similar situations, even though you feel unpressured, I strongly advise you to take a break. Even phone frauds convince highly educated and sophisticated people to give away their money. Sales camps for time-sharing vacation houses, or your best friend talking you into doing something unwillingly work in similar ways. After listening to the other person without making any commitments, just say “I need a break”, “I’m hungry”, “I have to use the bathroom”. You have to break the trap your mind gets into. 

Instead of trying to force the other person or team in a negotiation, a better way to persuade them is by asking questions to really understand their worries and addressing them, preferably in a way that solves those apprehensions. Asking “no” questions to let the other part express his/her concerns is sometimes a better option, as saying “no” relieves you. For example, if you ask “can I ask you a question”, the other part will most probably say “yes” as a polite gesture while continuing his/her work and listening over his/her shoulder. However, if you ask, “Is this a bad time to talk”, the other party can easily say yes without being impolite and you can continue, ”I need your full attention, is 11 AM ok for you”

As an example the negotiation process can be as follows; 

1.    Ask “how” and “what” questions to relieve the other party of the burden of trying to express himself/herself properly. Do not push into yes questions. 

2.    Do your best to understand the other party, to establish an empathic conversation.

3.    Label the other person’s concerns with “It seems like….” sentences, as “I” sentences create opposition. Let the fears and concerns surface.

4.    Ask more “how” and “what” questions to create a solution together.

5.    Ask a “yes” question to close and seal the deal.

In his bestseller “Never Split the Difference”, Chris Voss is explaining the process of such difficult negotiations, where the other party is unwilling to negotiate or have serious concerns. He is giving us very valuable insights about the “trust bomb” or magical answers like “how can I do this?”.

What happened to my bike purchase? Fortunately, I was able to ask for a break to have lunch and decided on a “no”, contrary to the seller’s expectations. No regrets. 

Have fun, stay healthy and happy.