Friday, October 24, 2008

Confidence, Compassion and Composure

Why ‘Emotional Intelligence’ Matters More Than Ever

So, how’s morale?

The recent economic turmoil has frayed even the steeliest nerves. And if the ups and downs are haunting you—be honest, now—then they’re probably spooking everyone else in and around your organization.

There’s no better time for a check on your “emotional IQ.” The term, which refers to a person’s ability to identify and manage the emotions of themselves and others, was the timely topic of a program put on last week by Tempo Milwaukee. A panel of executives from a variety of companies explored the most “emotionally intelligent” communications approaches for leaders during the current economic crisis.

What’s your company doing to weather the storm? What new pressures does this put on the team to perform? These are the kinds of questions on the minds of employees and customers alike. Company leaders can rise to this communications challenge by deploying emotional intelligence in understanding, acknowledging and addressing these concerns.

It’s about more than just telling people things will be OK. After all, empty reassurances and blind cheerleading won’t overcome the worries. And left unchecked, low-key fretting can turn to full-scale panic, which can wind up dictating the (wrong) direction of your company.

Leaders must be in tune with these cultural mood swings. And they must address them without reflexive emotional responses. Verbal diatribes, email flame wars and the like only escalate the negativity.

Instead, you’ve got to step back, take a deep breath and then confront the issues head on in a thoughtful manner. Project confidence, compassion and composure, and do it continuously—in all employee communications, customer newsletters, press interviews, etc.

Such emotionally intelligent leadership can help keep companies strong for when the outlook inevitably turns brighter in the months ahead.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Expanding Your Reach through Strategic Alliances

Is it better to have actual facilities in far-flung places, or just friends there?

For many companies, there’s no debate. Owning bricks and mortar in foreign lands just isn’t feasible. That’s probably never been truer than in this tenuous economy and tight credit market. Nevertheless, for more and more businesses, having a global presence is still essential.

The good news is that there’s a way to expand your reach without taking huge risks in terms of capital and credit: through well-crafted strategic alliances. That’s what many of our international clients have done. And it’s what we’re doing, too.

Last week, I attended the annual conference (in Boston, Mass.) of IPREX, one of the world’s largest networks of independent public relations agencies. IPREX puts us in a valuable partnership with reliable, accountable PR teams on the ground all over the world. So we have immediate access to cultural knowledge and communications expertise—whenever and wherever our international clients are doing business.

We not only support each other’s communications programs. We stretch our thinking, we provide each other access to both geographic and market-specific competencies, and we share best practices with a diverse group of professionals. It’s a far cry from the “not invented here” mentality or partisan politics that too often put individual success and the greater good at odds.

So perhaps it’s time to think differently about your competitors. Beneath the surface, you might just find a strategic ally and a company whose market and niche expertise may actually complement yours.

In an increasingly sophisticated, volatile and interconnected global marketplace, you might say that’s the best of one world.