The Conscious Business
AWARENESS OF THE EMOTIONAL EXCHANGE AS A MEASURE OF SUCCESS
Last month we looked at what is the “energy” of business, and how the old industrial model of rigid, rule based businesses are rapidly being overtaken by more fluid forms of business which are innovative, adaptive and constantly reinvents itself. In this new way of being a business understands how its human resources and dynamics lie at the heart of business.
If one is to be successful today then one must accept and flow with our dynamic, innovative economy. This requires a business to know how and when to reinvent itself, and how to meet the emotional messages of the marketplace in a way that allows your business to have a point of relevant differentiation to competitors.
If one wants to look at one of the pioneers of such a conscious business model then look no further than Sir Richard Branson. As an entrepreneur Sir Richard operated consciously in all walks and at all times in his life as a consumer who was seeking opportunities to do business. He was a conscious observer to his experiences with other businesses and retailers, and when he found poor service and offerings, he cast a conscious critical eye over such a business and thought “here is an opportunity!”
Richard Branson knew nothing about airlines but was sick of poor service and experiences whilst using airlines and thought he could do this better. He did not let his lack of knowledge of such an industry deter him as it gave his mind free reign to see creative ways to repackage such services and experiences in a new form. His mind was not shaped or constrained by the prevailing mindsets of “experts” and experienced operators in this field and so he could envision without restriction a new paradigm of business.
If you have ever worked within a large bureaucratic organisation then you typically experience the opposite form of thinking. New ideas are met with “It will never work” or “We do it like this around here”. This is a form of a cultural unconscious thinking that permeates many organisations that descend into comfort zone of lazy complacency and inertia against reinventing themselves in the face of a new opportunity or threat. Such organisations tend to rely solely on the rational left brained focus on logic, process, systems, metrics, and “bottom-line” thinking.
The conscious business operator values the input and viewpoint of the subjective and emotional right brain consciousness of employees and leaders. They understand and operate within the “grey” zone of emotional energies, imprecise but intuitively driven possibilities which evoke excitement and enthusiasm from employees, suppliers and customers. They do not ignore the left brain view but neither are they slaves to it. A conscious business is only so as both hemispheres of the brain are alive and consciously aware in the workplace, and in the marketplace.
The nature of the conscious business is that it is relational and harnesses the emotional energies of the interactions between the touch points of the business and its customers, suppliers and staff. Basically a conscious business understands that human beings have a primary innate impulse to connect and to belong.
This common aspect of human consciousness is evoked and made conscious, rich, inviting and memorable in the world of the conscious business operator. Critically we want to impress on our customers a warm and positive emotional experience when they engage with us. This creates a powerful loyalty bond that is resilient to competitors’ attempts to target our customers with similar products or services that may have a compelling advantage (such as price discount).
The conscious business operator understands that the human brain works via association. What we mean by that is that when we as humans have an emotionally rich and positive or negative experience, our brain records this as significant and recalls it instinctively in the future when we encounter that environment, object or trigger again. Neuroscience is helping us understand how our brain tags either a positive, negative or neutral association with the objects and environments with which we encounter in life.
What this means for the conscious business operator is that they know they must be vigilant with every customer contact they have. A customer who has never met us, who has no prior association with us in their brain either way, will be shaped in either a positive, negative or neutral way by that first encounter. To the degree that the encounter has an emotional component is the degree to which that experience is recorded powerfully or not in the brain.
The conscious business operator knows that to be successful they must make every touch point of their business with the outside world a powerfully positive emotional experience. This is the best way to establish brand awareness, customer loyalty, and the basis for a relational experience over time which will equate to repeat business.
Get it wrong and the customer will either be indifferent to your business and your brand due to a neutral association in their brain, or worse they will instinctively have a negative emotional recollection when they encounter again one of your business touch points with them. They will typically turn away at this point when they feel a negative association and no amount of marketing will typically win them back at that point.
The purpose of a company or business brand or logo is that this visual symbol works directly with the way our brain relates and associates its emotional tags to businesses. A good or bad customer experience will be attributed at the brain level to the symbol or brand of the company or business that evoked that experience.
For example, it does not matter that the 18 year old shop assistant was personally indifferent or rude to new customer Julie in their job role at “PRESTIGE” clothing store. Julie will tend to not attribute the bad experience just to the 18 year old. She will more often than not unconsciously record that bad encounter as a negative emotional association with the PRESTIGE company brand or logo or store.
When in the future someone mentions the PRESTIGE clothing store in some way, or they see the advert in a paper or on TV, Julie’s brain replays the negative emotional energy and feeling back to her as a result of what she just heard or saw of that brand again. The conscious business operator knows this and works hard across many avenues of the business to create powerful, positive customer emotionally energising experiences for new and repeat customers.
In my next newsletter we will explore this theme some more and look more at how the “energy” of your company brand directly relates to emotional impacts on your customers.
Leadership Matters – Emotional Intelligence
The concept of Emotional Intelligence has been around for a few years but was not quickly adopted in the old left brain ways of thinking in business. It was initially thought of as just another H.R. fad and dismissed by some leaders as a “soft and fuzzy” that had no real relevance to the bottom-line of the business.
Now after a few years of exploring Emotional Intelligence in business settings the opposite conclusions are being drawn. Quite rightly businesses now seek out leaders and key players who naturally have, or have learnt to cultivate within them both high IQ (Intelligence quotient) and high EQ (Emotional Quotient).
Emotional intelligence is basically the integrated ability to receive, perceive, process and then respond from within your emotional self in a way that promotes balanced and objective interactions with others. The positive pay-off from having high EQ levels affects oneself and all who relate to you, not just at work but in all areas of your life. This is because human beings have feeling based realities even when they may live cut-off from their own feelings.
Emotional Intelligence truly denotes leadership for such a person will be less reactive in themself, more resilient to stress, anxiety and depression, and be able to “contain” both their own feelings as well as another’s without fragmenting or triggering negative exchanges. Emotionally intelligent people are self-aware, and conscious to their thoughts, actions, impulses, and feelings more so than someone who lacks such EQ skills.
They are able to appropriately recognise, describe and communicate their own feelings while also being able to receive another’s emotions without personalising another’s state as being about them, instead of it being just directed at them.
Emotionally intelligent people have a good set of personal boundaries that allow that person to know what is about themself, and what is about another, and to know where they start and stop, and so do not tend to get enmeshed with others issues and problems. They are able to relate and build rich and supportive relationships that still allow for challenge, accountability and healthy boundaries to be enforced and maintained.
In the past such skills were not required nor sought for senior leadership positions in organisations. Leadership often reflected length of service or of the abusive “player” who pursued power and manipulated their way to the top. The power of traditional leadership saw power used in a fearful way where yelling, bullying and coercion was often part of the “tough leader” who got things done.
In contrast the emotionally aware or in-touch person will usually have an alive value system based on how their actions produce feelings which give them feedback as to how appropriate their just completed thought, communication or action was. Over time they develop self-guiding principles and resulting behaviours and actions which align to those values.
From here we see value driven leadership and how the leader can powerfully embody and mirror and model those values to the workforce. This is how corporate culture can be significantly influenced by the emotionally intelligent leader. The emotionally unaware leader also achieves an influencing effect but chances are it may be negative or uninspiring in a way that creates “bad” emotional energy for the business. Emotionally unconscious leaders have been found to be linked to controlling, power and ruled based, process driven cultures that reflect left brain thinking.
Given that businesses now need to operate increasingly in a dynamic and relatedness based business context, successful modern business is typically centred around the human dynamics of the business. Emotional intelligence is a right brain dominated principle. More than ever we need key staff that are able to be proactive and generate the emotional resonance that affects others within the business, and outwards in their dealings with customers, suppliers and related third parties.
In this space the principles of the right brain dominated Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and the left brain dominated Intelligence (IQ) all meet. In this space we start to harness the potential of our human resources in a conscious and emotionally vibrant way. Psychological studies have shown how the emotionally intelligent person will often have creative and novel ideas and views that can widen the potentiality of any business problem and its possible solution set of the group they operate in.
If a business wants to operate in the energised and positive emotionally charged space of a powerful business brand and customer experiences then Emotional Intelligence will be a critical pre-requisite for the people you place in the customer touch points of your business.
EQ driven Leadership understands that part of the company focus needs to shift from the operational and metric focus and towards concept design, product and service excellence, imagining and envisioning opportunities that EQ awareness brings into consciousness. The internalised set of personal and corporate values that high EQ people possess allow them to embody the business ethos through authentic interactions with all stakeholders of the business.
The relatedness and involvement, and the fostering of relationships where power and status are irrelevant, but where there is an enthusiastic sharing of ideas, feelings and experiences drives possibilities for innovation, performance, and growth. Such a business has harnessed the emotional “energy” of all who would touch and interact with their business.
This energetic component is quickly realised as being truly the “heart” of business in this new world. The opportunities all lie in this EQ based rich swirl of ever moving emotional and creative energies that just require the discipline and ability to swim and flow with it, make sense of it, and translate that into business outcomes.
In my next newsletter I will further explore what are the key ways in which a person can start to cultivate the essence of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) consciousness. This will lead into further implications of going from an unconscious way of doing business to a conscious operating business model and how the creative emotional energies then show up and can drive business excellence and success.
If your business could do with some Emotional Intelligence training or coaching then contact us and lets discuss how we can assist you in your conscious business evolution.
Have a safe and productive month!
Director, Conscious Business Australia