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Can Companies Be Self-aware?

In my mind… yes. Those that have a high degree of self-awareness build the strongest brands and have ultra-dedicated employees who, in turn, build a large customer base of raving fans. Think Apple, Amazon, Zingerman‘s, and Zappos. These companies’ market dominance begins with leadership, a strong sense of purpose, and some very deliberate decisions that enable them to get ‘the right people on the bus.’

If one assumes that the idea of emotional intelligence (EQ) can be applied to organizational behavior, then learning how to lead effectively and engage the workforce (like the stellar companies noted above) becomes a whole lot easier.

Status Quo Management = Frustration & Anger

Image of man throwing crumpled paper in an office

© Violetstar /

American companies desperately need to transform their traditional (and still predominant) management and leadership styles. According to Gallup, 71% of American employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged. The opportunity cost of disengagement is astronomical:

  • Job stress costs more than $300 billion a year (Rosch, 2001).
  • A company with highly engaged employees achieves a financial performance four times greater than companies with poor engagement (Watson Wyatt, 2009).
  • Engaged employees generate 43% more revenue than disengaged ones (Hay Group, 2001).
  • Companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2% and had a 13.7% improvement in net income growth (Towers Perrin-ISR, 2006)*

The Bad Attitude Shows

But, those are the costs everybody talks about. A more subtle cost has to do with the pain of working for a company that thinks of its people as ‘assets.’ That mindset alone turns people into things. And, when you hire for skills alone, employees become interchangeable—at least on the surface. While people are not interchangeable, management often behaves as it they were. Add to that workers’ frustration of having to adhere to processes that get in the way of getting their real work done, and it’s no wonder that American employees disengage.

20% of payroll goes toward addressing stress-related problems.*

Anyone who has worked for a company whose culture or values didn’t fit (or didn’t seem to exist)—or for a boss whose style made your skin itch—knows just how damaging these relationships can be. First you feel unappreciated. Then, you feel anger. You lose confidence. Motivation dwindles. Eventually you do the bare minimum to get by without getting noticed. Personal relationships suffer because you can’t address the negative emotions in the workplace with the people who are causing you to suffer.

Eventually most people leave—either willingly or unwillingly. While a fresh start may sound good, people don’t understand how much damage has been done and how long recovery takes. A toxic work environment’s emotional, psychological, and physical toll is simply far greater than people realize.

The toxicity leaks out to the customer through poor service and bad products. If you’re a company operating under these conditions, customers hate dealing with you. If an acceptable substitute comes along, customers will flee like rats from a sinking ship. It comes as no surprise that 53% of senior managers want to quit their jobs.

Building Blocks to A Healthy, Happy Company

The good news: you can either build exceptional cultures from the ground up or transform extraordinarily toxic cultures by combing the essence of leadership and Corporate Emotional Intelligence™. We’ll start with the first quadrant in the emotional intelligence model: Self-awareness.

Image of Corporate Self-awareness Model

Corporate Self-Awareness

Companies that clearly define, understand, live, and communicate purpose, mission, core values, leadership style, goals, strengths and other business basics create an environment that can foster success at all levels. (No double standards or BS allowed.) Ignoring these basic building blocks or treating them as things to be checked off the to-do list because companies are ‘supposed to’ have them leads to an identity crisis.

It doesn’t matter what size the company—one person looking for a partner or a Fortune 500 company looking to stay a market leader—the building blocks must be in place before you can get the right people on the bus. If you haven’t done your homework and you wind up hiring the right person on occasion, it’s just a happy accident.

Up Next: The End of Micromanagement

Next week we’ll explore how all of this ties into recruitment,  long-term relationships with happy, engaged employees while also dealing the death blow to micromanagement.

Dying to know more? Contact us for a sneak reveal of the Corporate Emotional Intelligence™ model.

*Stats courtesy of Positivity.
© 2013. All rights reserved.

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