Make it mean something in real life

We’ve been talking about the seven secrets for bringing a successful EQ program to your client organization. Thus far we’ve talked about preparing the ground, making it voluntary, and keeping it private. Now let’s discuss the fourth secret:

  1. Tackle meaningful issues.

The issues that your program will address must be meaningful to both the participants and the organization, not just the flavor of the day. For example, sometimes a boss goes to a workshop on empathy and loves it, and then everybody has to go to empathy school. That is a bad idea, for the following reasons:

  • Not everyone may need empathy training. Providing empathy training to leaders already skilled in empathy is a waste of time and money.
  • There is also an opportunity cost for those people who are already OK where empathy is concerned. Maybe they are good at empathy, but not so good at impulse control. They get upset and engage in relationship-damaging behaviors. They pay for those outbursts with diminished productivity from those on the receiving end. Time and money wasted on empathy training for these people can’t then be spent on what they really need, the development of impulse control skills.

Learning to change lifelong emotional habits can be done, but it is hard work. There has to be some intrinsic value and motivation for people to keep plugging away at it. Linking learning to individual goals, rather than forcing the same generic training on everybody, is a great way to provide that motivation.

For example, let’s say a given individual was already a star on the CEO track, but she sensed a problem in her work style. She got results, sure, but she burned bridges while doing so. Many people did not choose to work with her a second time. She asked for help in learning how to read others and manage her impulses as she responded to difficulties. Upping her game on these skills led to a major promotion.

As always, well-done EQ assessments lay the groundwork for such transformations because you have to know where you’re starting from. In other words, you want to establish a baseline. In addition to such assessments, each high potential should attend a planning meeting where he or she gets help matching individual goals with specific EQ skills, prioritizing which ones to work on, and creating an individualized plan that accounts for all factors required for sustainable behavior change. When executives take ownership of their development plans, and those plans are pegged to goals the executive is excited about, there is a real chance that change will happen.


Next time, let’s talk about secret number 5.

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