• Business has changed at it’s foundation – a new purpose
  • For businesses to prosper they must seek to provide value and purpose to all stakeholders
  • Values-alignment has become the new employee value proposition
  • To achieve values-alignment you must first increase Emotional Intelligence
  • People are looking to business to be authentic and steward trust in an uncertain world
  • Emotionally Intelligent teams are the foundation of values-aligned, purpose-driven business

Business is changing.

Digital, hybrid, flexible, global…

But if we look a little deeper we find a more fundamental shift is present in the evolution of modern business and that is purpose.

Rules of the game

In 1970, Milton Friedman’s writings from his book Capitalism and Freedom were widely promoted in a New York Times magazine article. His view of business practice would serve to influence the direction of business for half a decade.

“There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

With the financial crisis of 2008 it was clear that the ‘rules of the game’ were not in favour of society as a whole and the relentless pursuit of profit above all else has increasingly led to inequality, division and lack of responsibility over stewarding the planet and resources.

The simple focus on economic growth and profit maximisation has led to questioning business purpose in the modern world.

Business must seek to benefit people and planet to thrive

For many years now a number of businesses have been reassessing their purpose and what role it plays in society. In an annual letter to CEOs, Larry Fink, Founder, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock wrote:

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

Significantly in 2019 the Business Roundtable, an association of American business leaders, released a declaration signed by 181 CEOs putting “purpose over profits.”

Other initiatives, including B-Corps, B-Corporations and alignment around Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, show that this change is gaining momentum.

This sets a new direction for what business should value, where people and planet are at the forefront of business purpose.

“Embedding purpose in corporate strategy I believe has now become a precondition for being a successful company.” Paul Polman, Co-Author, Net Positive: how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take

However, this sets a challenge for business leaders to not only embed purpose in corporate strategy but to transcend purpose and values from the boardroom throughout the organisation.

Values-aligned teams

For an organisation to instil purpose and values throughout the business, leaders must seek to align individual values with that of the business.

Especially in today’s modern workforce, people want to work at companies that align with their values; their beliefs and behaviours.

In Deloitte’s latest millennial and Gen Z survey, 49% of people between 18 and 25 and 44% of respondents between 26 and 38 said they would choose work and employers based on their own personal ethics.

Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer wrote:

“Over the years, this survey has consistently shown that millennials and Gen Zs are values-driven and action-oriented, and they are holding themselves, and business, accountable.”

Employees are wanting a greater connection between organisational values and their own, with a deeper sense of belonging as part of a business community where they can grow with the flexibility of the modern world. This is a high expectation for business to meet, but increasingly necessary when attracting and retaining the best talent with the opportunities of today’s global economy.

Change is emotional

So how to instil purpose and values throughout an organisation?

It is not merely possible to communicate in townhall meetings, through top down strategies, but meaningful positive change starts with developing Emotional Intelligence, EQ, starting with the individual’s internal understanding. We are talking about adoption of belief and behaviours and that not only comes when we understand logically but when we are emotionally connected, feel psychologically safe and understood.

Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills that makes people great at managing themselves and interacting with others. To understand, be understood, to communicate are rooted in EQ.  

Let’s have a look at some of today’s leading organisations that we work with and where EQ fits in (or…developing EQ can make a strategic difference).

  • Culture of empathy
    • Empathy involves “being able to articulate your understanding of another’s perspective and behaving in a way that respects others’ feelings” (MHS, 2011). Empathy, Emotional Self-Awareness and Interpersonal Relationships are all EQ skills that are required to develop a culture of empathy. If we are unable to move from self-absorption to compassion for those around us, we will be unable to create a culture of empathy.
  • Act with integrity
    • What do your employees do when no one is watching? The EQ competencies of Interpersonal Relationships, Assertiveness, Independence are key to enabling individuals to act, especially when a high-pressure decision or moment arises, to act with honesty and transparency.
  • Cultivate enthusiasm
    • Enthusiasm is a genuine excitement for what your company does. It looks like a team who believes in your service or product, and who embraces what your company stands for. Developing a positive attitude is underpinned by Optimism, Self-Actualisation and Stress Tolerance. Being hopeful despite life’s setbacks, a willingness to consistently move and engage meaningfully in the world, and the belief that one can cope, manage and develop through the stressors of life.
  • Fostering innovation
    • A businesses ability to innovate is a true differentiator. Teams that are highly innovative tend to have developed EQ skills of Optimism, Self-Regard and Problem Solving. Being able to see potential change as possibility, understanding your value while accepting your strengths and weaknesses and the ability to find solutions to problems where emotions are involved.

As we can see from these examples, the skills of Emotional Intelligence underpin the values that modern businesses strive to live by. Developing Emotional Intelligence is therefore foundational for an organisation to truly live out their values and overall purpose. Businesses that are authentic in living out their values and purpose will gain trust in relationships with all stakeholders and trust is an important commodity that businesses need to steward.

Business – the guardian of trust

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer highlights significant consequences following the pandemic and the uncertainty it fostered.

Business is the most trusted institution among NGOs, Government and Media, and the only trusted institution with a 61% trust level globally, and the only institution seen as both ethical and competent.

“When the government is absent, people clearly expect business to step in and fill the void, and the high expectations of business to address and solve today’s challenges has never been more apparent. The heightened expectations of business bring CEOs new demands to focus on societal engagement with the same rigor, thoughtfulness, and energy used to deliver on profits.”

So where does this leave us?

Business has a central role in what tomorrow’s world will look like. With business purpose becoming more focused on social good, it is critical that there is authenticity across an organisation.

At Mygrow, we believe that to do this effectively, both leaders and employees need to invest in developing Emotional Intelligence as a way to foster shared meaning, underpinned by authenticity and trust.

As Angela Ahrendts, Former Apple Retail SVP and Burberry CEO, says when considering skills for leaders of tomorrow:

“I think one of the most important attributes for all leaders but especially leaders of tomorrow, is very high EQ… you must build a foundation of deep deep trust and I don’t think that you will be able to do that unless you come in with tremendous EQ.”

Emotionally intelligent teams are the foundation of purpose-driven businesses

Organisations use Mygrow to develop the Emotional Intelligence of their teams. Our platform helps them become more collaborative, innovative and empowered – and importantly they have a greater sense of purpose.

Why? Well, as humans when we feel seen, heard and our values understood, this fosters trust and an environment where humans thrive.

Patrick Lawson, Group Strategy Executive, Spur Cooperation says…

“Mygrow is a very personal journey of self-awakening and understanding. I believe it makes you a better person. And when you are journeying together at work there is a collective up-swelling in the team.”

So maybe it’s time to take a collective ‘up-swelling’ journey and develop emotionally intelligent teams as your organisation seeks to authentically live its purpose?

Interested in what EQ skills apply to your company values?

Click here to share your core company values, and get access to your customised Team Values Report, tailor-made according to your company values.