Focus on EQ Rather Than IQ

While one may not be able to improve IQ, the ability to improve one’s Emotional Quotient has been shown effective in enhancing management decision-making.     EQ Mentoring is most successful when directed management team members who support an organization’s executives.

“Emotional intelligence isn’t a luxury tool you can dispense with in tough times. It’s a basic tool that, deployed with finesse, is the key to professional success.”

~Dan Goleman in The Harvard Business Review

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Effective and timely decision-making is at the heart of good performance. To improve performance, we need to understand how to make better decisions. At the most basic level, our ability to make good decisions and, in turn, perform well is captured by our competencies. Competencies are the things we know how to do and what we are good at are capabilities. Most performance management processes are built on the concept that competencies are the direct antecedent or predecessor to good decision making and high performance. What determines our competencies?

Preceding our competencies are our behaviors. Behaviors include our day-to-day activities that determine where we focus our time and where we focus our energies. Cognition precedes behavior. Slightly oversimplifying this concept, cognition refers to one’s intellectual capacities, thoughts, knowledge, and memories. This is the rational part of our brain. What finally precedes cognition in this physiological sequence to high performance is one’s EQ—a body of personal characteristics and social abilities that are closely tied to success in both our professional and personal lives.

How is EQ Improved?

In order to establish a baseline, an EQ Assessment is taken at the inception of the competency improvement process by each team member individually. The mentoring process is explained to the group and some recurring group meetings are held (minimum of once/month) to reinforce concepts in a team environment. Primarily, however, the mentoring  occurs individually and the scheduling of weekly meetings with each team member (half hour ea.) creates an environment for concepts to “grow legs” and become implemented.

The mentoring is administered by a professional certified in the process and competent to interpret the assessment results into a personal development program. The five competencies (self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills) that constitute one’s EQ scores are evaluated and a plan created to improve the mentee’s lowest area(s) first.

During the weekly sessions, hypothetical scenarios are discussed between mentor and mentee to identify thought processes, offer alternatives, and learn better decision-making styles. After six to eight weeks, the hypothetical gives way to actual work examples and on-the-job learning occurs. Generally, it is at this point that executives can see early signs of improved management skills.

As the mentee becomes more enlightened, additional tools and assessments are introduced to keep the free flow of information positive, eye-opening, and stimulating. Generally, a follow-on assessment is administered at the six month point and a joint decision is made as to how to proceed.

NOTE: For EQ improvement to become part of the culture, it is generally advisable that the owner/CEO/etc also submit to the process and go through their own mentoring. After such, there is opportunity to learn new methods of interaction that reinforce principles and better habits learned.

Lukewarm Defenders of Change

Inside every company there is a culture. In order to remain competitive, companies need to make cultural and process changes that are holding them back. How the employees respond is a critical predictive factor in the achievement of the desired outcome.


“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things; because the innovator will have for enemies all who have done well under the old conditions and only lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.”


As Machiavelli points out, leading others to a new order is tough work. Here are some management suggestions on how to make it a part of your culture:

Know your people

  • What is the thing they like most about their position? What would they change?
  • Have them explain why they are on this particular career path.
  • What do they think about the company and its management? What do they believe should be done differently?
  • Ask them who have been the greatest influences in their lives/careers. Listen intently and ask follow-up questions.
  • Ask what they like to do away from work.  Don’t make them uncomfortable. Make it known you are interested in getting to know them as people.
  • Share what values are important to you and why. Provide some stories where appropriate—people relate to stories.
  • Find out about their personal and career goals; share your own.
  • Become vulnerable. Ask what you could do better to serve them and the department/company.

Please remember to respond with empathy.  Demonstrate sincere interest in what your people say, significance to them, and how they feel about it.

Assign properly

1.    Delegate those things that would be helpful to you and to their development.

2.   Select the most strategic person to complete the task(s).

3.   When possible, get the employee to create a plan to complete the task(s).

4.   Ask the employee to repeat back their understanding of the desired outcome and process.

5.   Have a mid-point check-in on complex tasks.

6.   Follow up in a positively.

7.   Consider the rotating tasks.

8.   Delegate tasks that enhance cross-training.

9.   Try to include some delegation to everyone in the group.

10. Ask for input at the end of each task.


Internal Motivation:

Have the employee ask himself these three questions—

  • Do I have awareness about my passions?
  • What would I ideally like to look forward to each morning?
  • How do I make this ideal happen?

Discuss how the answers to these questions must factor into job responsibilities and performance.

External Motivation: How do you reward your employees?

The columns below offer employee types, potential felt needs, and some suggested rewards. For each employee, think about needs and rewards. (You may pull from categories more than once).




1. Employee feels disconnected from others.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


2. Solid worker boasts of recent accomplishments.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


3. Someone who displays a knack for learning and innovation.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


4. Turnover in a department causes an employee to withdraw.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


5. A shining star complains about the lack of opportunity for advancement.

Likely Need:

Appropriate Rewards:


a. Security

b. Socializing

c. Esteem

d. Achievement

e. Power



















1. A letter of praise sent to the CEO and a copy of it given to the employee.


2. The right to select and manage a project.


3. A dress-down day.


4. An opportunity to gain some training & development.


5. An extra vacation day.


6. Involvement in a new committee/team.


7. Peer “attaboys” posted in lunch room.


8. Opportunity to lead a presentation/team.


9. Reassurance that his/her position is vital.


10. Role in developing a new company program.

Consultative Solutions Beat Hard Closes

In times past, “good” salespeople  had a method to close out a meeting with a prospect that was successful in getting them to “sign on the dotted line.” In some industries, the sales function is described as business development because of stereotypes of sleazy salespeople who use high pressure techniques to cajole an uncertain buyer into a (sometimes regrettable) decision. This is especially true in business services firms, where there is a stigma in many cases about seeking out new business at all.

The biggest development of the past few decades has been the consultative selling approach. Yet, even this shift is not satisfactory for people who just do not like the word “sales.” When I have been working alongside attorneys and CPAs, for instance, the terms “client development” or “business development” are much preferred. In general, these practitioners provide offerings that have long sales cycles or are perceived as commodities. So…to unlock the motivation of my clients to do the development that is needful for practice growth, I usually have a series of conversations and trainings around the concept that client service requires a similar approach. Few argue that client service is needful.

Rich Grehalva writes and speaks about the array of sales/business development models:

The 1950’s introduced this model, which concentrated on the product being heavily emphasized.
Key Elements:
✗ Presentation Skills
✗ Trial Closing
✗ Overcoming Objections
✗ Final Close
This model is still in use today, usually in high-pressure sales.

➲ The salesperson is tenacious, persistent and usually has a low-cost item and works on a numbers game.
➲ The natural born salesperson enjoys interfacing with people and usually has an engaging personality.

➲ The salesperson builds a relationship, over time, with repeated visits.
➲ The buyer and seller get to know each other on a personal and professional level.

Focusing on:
➲ Open-ended questions – Role-playing is used with students to get them to understand how to get clients or prospects to talk about the things that are important to them.
➲ Closed-ended questions – Closed-ended questions require a yes or no response.
➲ Listening skills is a key component.
➲ The salesperson takes the information and then presents solutions.

VALUE ADD SALES MODEL (appeared in late 1960’s).
Price objections raised by the “Problem-Solving Sales Model” can be countered by adding additional services. In this way, adding these services to the base product/service gives a perception of the value received versus the price.

CONSULTATIVE SALES MODEL (surfaced in early 1970’s)
➲ Determines how to lower the clients costs and/or
➲ Determines how to increase the client’s revenues The company requires a depth of understanding of their clients’ business, as well as a solid track record in delivering proven results. Start-ups find it difficult to compete in this
type of sales model.

This model became the buzzword used by salespeople–not in creating a legal entity, but in building a joint plan for
creating an opportunity. The sale is conducted at the highest level of the company and an output is a business plan
targeted at a niche within the clients’ market. The term partnering became highly overused and misused. Clients and
prospects soon tired of hearing the word.

Though not new, the Team Selling Model became increasingly more integrated into the sales model. The salesperson
in this model must coordinate all of the activities within the organization and external to the organization, in order to
win the business.

✗ Large ticket sales
✗ Multiple decision makers
✗ Extensive coordination, both internal and external
✗ Long lead times
The role of the salesperson involves taking on a strategic role in developing win themes, internal politics, competitor
analysis, and legislation, as examples.

It is important to think about your client base, your reputation and brand, your team–whether they are salesmen or technical people who happen to need to bring in business, and what your goal is. (Hint: a sale that is undone a year later when the client is not retained is not an accomplishment.) In general, it is best to educate and involve the prospect, help them feel good about choosing your company, and guide them through letting the current provider go. When we consistently approach prospects with consultative solutions rather than hard closes, then we are developing business rather than selling.

Senior Night & Going Away Parties

If you are the type person who enjoys college sports, chances are high that you have witnessed a few senior days/nights during your cheering. Those who are finishing out their intercollegiate athletic careers are celebrated, given a chance to be the star, and walk out of the gym/off the field with their heads held high, regardless the outcome. In like fashion, in the business world, we often have going away parties for those moving on to new opportunities.

WHY do we have parties when someone who has been a part of our organization decides that somewhere else will make him/her happier? Unless, as may be the case, you plan to follow the departing, your reaction ought to be one of introspection. What part of the culture where you work is needing improvement so that employee engagement and retention are raised high enough that people wouldn’t think about going anywhere else?

so happy for YOU!

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to a conference speaker (Michael Lorsch) speak about the need for organizations to be both smart and healthy. Smart is the category where most managers and employees live: services/products, strategy, marketing, finance/operations, and technology. Healthy, however, is characterized by those “soft & fuzzy” difference makers that constitute an organization’s DNA (culture): minimal politics, high morale, high productivity, minimal confusion, and low turnover. So….an organization wherein people would rather leave than stay in not healthy and, therefore, not likely to be as successful in the long run as one that is emotionally healthy.

In order to build health and overcome dysfunction, Pat Lencioni (Lorsch’s boss) recommends five roles for leaders:

  • go first to build trust
  • mine for conflict
  • force clarity & closure
  • confront difficult issues, and
  • focus on collective outcomes

Why not change your culture and make a HUGE deal about new employees? Become more engaging. Mourn when others leave and figure out why so you can work on the business instead of in it!