Having entered the corporate world from the military, we at Applied Influence Group recognised that our lack of experience in operating in different business sectors was a weakness and may be viewed as a disadvantage when compared to our competition. That is why before any service we provide, we conduct an Influence Needs Analysis to understand the world our clients operate in and appreciate their perspective on influence challenges they face. A theme that frequently comes out of the analysis relates to issues in adapting to or managing change, either internally or with a client. Marjorie Derven’s article (below) reflects brilliantly several of the considerations and skills we use to assist our clients in bringing about change for their business.
When I first joined the military, emotional intelligence was not a phrase I had heard of. Reflecting on the culture back then, if someone wanted to talk about ‘emotions’ in any context whatsoever they would have been viewed as weak and likely ignored. However, the adversity of being stretched beyond comprehension between two concurrent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan forced the military into working in different ways to cope with the ever-increasing demand on our ever-decreasing resources. The strain required us to innovate and seek out best practices, one of which was to upskill our people in emotional intelligence.
Once we understood what this strange and scary phrase was, we became aware that soldiers with a high level of ‘emotional intelligence’ were far more capable than those with less. They were able to regulate, pick and harness their own emotions to suit their aim, they had greater levels of resilience, they could understand their team members a lot better and knew how to motivate those around them in diverse ways. That was only from an internal facing perspective too. Our jobs frequently required us to go on foreign operations and win the support of the uncommitted; this could include engaging and influencing locals from a completely different culture to our own or exercising one of the central tenants of fighting a counter insurgency; courageous restraint.
The performance of those who were emotionally intelligent set the standard for others to aspire to. I was fortunate enough to see it put to use in astounding circumstances many times both on operations and back at home. I also like to think I have a healthy dose of it myself and for that reason was selected to be responsible for training servicemen and women in the skills that would increase theirs. Now my work for Applied Influence Group gives me the opportunity to assist individuals and teams in the corporate world to tackle their challenges by applying the same emotional intelligence skills I provided to people preparing for military operations.
Clearly emotional management is not the only skill that is needed for successful change management within a business. Development of trust, a joined-up approach and clear strategy all are important, but I feel knowing how to craft the correct influential message is paramount to help it resonate and create buy-in for those the change effects. These factors require a slightly different tool set, however, Derven’s article really brings home the need for emotional intelligence in change management. Attitudes towards change are regularly negative and difficult to amend but having a good grasp on the skills that contribute to emotional intelligence will assist in making the change not just tolerable but successful as well.
Emotional intelligence is a lifelong journey, evolving professionally as we use our skills to help organizations. On a personal level, as we face new challenges, we learn more about ourselves, enabling us to better respond to change as we move through the lifecycle.