The key for your company to thrive in the post-Covid era is your people’s level of emotional intelligence
I dare asking this question because I am confronted with it daily in my personal branding training and coaching practice. That’s why the recent story of one of my clients stuck with me. This gentleman – let’s call him Mirek - build his IT company from the scratch starting in the early ‘90s. The company, obviously, carried his name. A few years ago Mirek decided to expand the company through acquisitions of smaller, complementary IT businesses. Yet he hit a roadblock. For some reasons discussions weren’t moving forward and it was quite hard to put the finger on the real reason why negotiations were staling. Soon Mirek realized that there could be some hidden dynamics in the background that could be connected with the name of his company – actually, with his name. By moving into buying other, smaller IT companies also named after their founders, business got all of a sudden more personal. The sellers were experiencing a subtle sense of loss similar to when we step into a marriage that requires that we change who we are, including our own name. As entrepreneurs committed to building businesses as a lasting legacy, the merger was a pill too hard to swallow for many potential sellers. So, in order to secure his own legacy moving forward, Mirek set for a bold move. He listened to his advisors and decided to change the name of his company into something more generic. Miraculously, the merger bottlenecks started to disappear. Five years later Mirek’s company has expanded successfully not only in the Czech Republic, but on a few markets in Central and Southern Europe as well. As for Mirek, he learnt to accept that, in today’s world, we need to be able to play the rules of the game. “Even though I know it, it was still one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” he says.
In today’s business landscape we need to accept that companies are not so much about the name of their founders or about the original intention of changing the world with a business idea anymore, but about cold, hard cash, capital and profits. Maybe that’s also why it is so hard for employees to connect with the missions of their companies. As long as these missions remain a piece of statement on a wall, people cannot project their own journey, their dreams and ideals onto something or someone concrete. Having someone to look up to is not only a matter of personal leadership. It’s a vital ingredient in maturing as a human being. As we become more empowered, we paradoxically look for more mentors. We acknowledge that we need them and we embrace their presence. Our mentors become our personal Virgil, like the great Roman poet in Dante’s Divine Comedy, who can be there for us, in reality or in our projections, in order to help us figure out our own answers to the many challenges that today’s world is throwing our way. Our mentors can, yet they don’t have to be fatherly or motherly figures. What we need, in fact, is the hope they bring us through the simple fact that they went through our challenges and survived. Seeing them coming out of a life challenge empowered and transformed – better human beings - brings us hope as well. That’s why mentors are so important. And that’s why we need more of them in our world today.
Yet, for us to achieve our own potential and sense of glory mentors are not enough. We also need to admit that each of us are in a leadership position. If we are to influence and inspire our children, our spouse, our neighbors, our team or our own managers, we can do things that can reflect more of who we are and thus trigger a positive change around us. This requires a shift in our mindset. We need to understand that we already are personal brands. From the day we were born and got a name, we were personal brands. From the first moment we interact with someone new we are already building our reputation. Developing more self-awareness around the way we impact the others and the world is not easy though, as it opens the Pandora’s box of personal responsibility. But that’s exactly what we need more of today. We simply need more people who are able and willing to take personal responsibility for their lives and thus to inspire more of the others to do the same. In a climate of fear and discord sewn by shrewd politicians moved by personal, egocentric agendas, we need to be able to create a counter-pole of inspiration, connection and hope through our own actions.
If you wonder how you can practically do that, here are a few thoughts:
This post has been first published by the Czech & Slovak Leaders Magazine in my personal column I, the Brand. Republished with permission.