The 3 “Intelligence” States Within Businesses – Introducing Political Intelligence
There are two intelligence states we openly discuss across the business world currently, IQ (Intelligence quotient) and EQ (Emotional intelligence).
The Simple Difference Between IQ, WorkIQ And EQ?
IQ is how smart you are, and how you can learn from situations and develop yourself. IQ is typically about you rather than those around you.
I termed the phrase “workIQ” as the act of managing those above, around and connected to you” and understanding your peer management is a critical part of your day, every day.
EQ is how good you are with people, in people-first situations and how you enable and develop the people around you, professionally and how empathic you are towards their development.
EQ is as much about you as much about others.
These intelligence states are explained at great lengths, the issue with this is although both help you within the business world, the third state that goes unreferenced is political intelligence.
Introducing PQ – Political Intelligence
Being political and playing the game can be dismissed by many people writing best practice guides, however:
Political Intelligence is arguably the savviest intelligence to have and develop.
PQ is about understanding which skills you have to use when you need large-scale change, when you need to apply pressure, when to navigate difficult colleagues and combative behaviours of fellow managers and executives.
Some of the best advice you will receive in your career and on your development track is to learn how to play the game and know how to influence those around you.
An essential skill to master:
When to use IQ, apply workIQ, when to leverage EQ and when to apply PQ.
PQ is an unfortunate byproduct of the business world, however, PQ is critical:
If you are a high performer,
If you are on the ‘fast track’ or
if you are an experienced senior manager and making progress within your business or looking to move onto your next challenge.
Experienced executives are hardened to political intelligence, they have experienced first-hand or very often learn from being on the receiving end of PQ.
When PQ is used, it is critical to understand the difference between personal PQ and professional PQ, this comes from experience and applying EQ blended with IQ.
In the near future, when asked what makes a great hybrid leader, we will have to be frank as a leadership team, being politically intelligent is going to be a core skills pillar to have and then develop their team around them to become politically smarter.
Many execs do not (necessarily) love the political games and being victims of their colleagues’ political intelligence but the more experienced you become the more you have to develop your PQ.
Play The Game
As answered in our anonymous career advice column, is playing the game necessary? playing the ‘game’ and being politically savvy are important skills you have to understand and develop.
When applying PQ into your workflow and developing in your team, something that is essential to keep in mind is how to understand when this creates a negative subculture within your business. For all those who apply a negative PQ (this is common), you will need to know how to address and fix a toxic work culture.
In the coming weeks, an activity to undertake is to score yourself in a professional SWOT, apply the three intelligence states IQ (re-reviewing how you apply WorkIQ), EQ and PQ and rate yourself out of ten and then develop the three intelligence pillars.
Many who suggest they don’t play the game or I don’t do politics you have to know the game plays on even when you opt-out.
It’s coming towards the end of the Summer here in the UK which typically means it’s long term planning and/or annual planning review cycle. This is likely the second time you are not in the board room or in a basement of a hotel planning your company’s future.
From recent feedback, many are finding asynchronous or hybrid planning sessions a challenge.
There are common questions that are being asked within businesses that leadership teams (and senior management teams) rarely address, through not knowing these questions that are being asked, but, also because the management team is not connecting to the “floor” and are rarely delivering Q&A to the business.
The usual questions being asked are:
What is our strategy? – This happens multiple times a year
Why are we doing what we do? – This is usually a follow up to what is the strategy? Or we do not support the strategy still
What does success actually look like? – A list of targets rarely helps employees to understand what success is and how to build towards it.
The word that stands out above the rest but confuses so many people within businesses is: STRATEGY
Strategy can mean so many things to so many people, everything became strategic.
I have recently experienced every team in a large department creating their own ‘strategy’. That was nine (yes 9) different teams, within one department with their own “strategies” that did not connect at all!
FYI: This is not ‘strategy’, these are actually plans of action, that should roll up to departmental action plans, rolling up into the company-wide strategy. (see image below)
The reason I am being so pedantic and why being deliberate is so important; when everyone has a ‘strategy’, the company strategy is commonly ignored and is then questioned as soon as there are disagreements or performance dips.
The TLDR framework explainer I used for strategy in this framework:
Operating Principle: Strategy
Explainer: One company-wide plan for everyone within the business to understand, everybody throughout the company should be able to repeat without any thought and all departments follow when crafting their own plans. No team or department should deviate from the strategy.
Your Company Strategy build should be thought about in this simple way:
💭 Think: 5 Years
🗺 Plan: 3 Years
📦 Deliver: 1 Year ahead
It is imperative: No department should have its own strategy.
The mentioned issues are why you have to be so precise and deliberate with your company or organisations plans.
Are You Struggling? Run A Strategic Audit Recommendation: If you struggle with strategy or how to answer what your company-wide strategy is, what I recommend regularly is running a strategy audit and then creating a one-pager to reexplain your company-wide strategy to the company.
This newsletter is to help guide you through your leadership journey, if you consider yourself a decision-maker within your business, it should be part of your role to improve your company and introducing and creating frameworks and guides for your teams to follow to be successful within your department and the wider company. And, importantly, when team members move on to the next challenge.
Help those around you build the team and departmental action plans and roll them up into the actual company-wide strategy. If you do not have a company-wide strategy or struggle with them or get gain buy-in, get in touch today.
Dear Focus, how do I stay visible when working remotely?
Working remotely or in some cases hybrid has become a challenge for some team members to appear to be visible.
It is actually a series of different questions I have received via the anonymous career advice form in recent weeks.
As recommended in is playing the game essential advice article, there are many times you will need to be available, be part of things you do not naturally lean toward, times where what you need to do is be more proactively and importantly managers, bring those up around you.
Delivery Presence, Deadlines, Internal Networking are the key categories for you to consider when considering how you are visible, and importantly, how you might manage and tackle this as a leader of the team.
Delivering on a project, a campaign or a product release is the best way of staying visible, being able to take your opportunity is always the best way of staying visible and demonstrating you were part of important part of work.
Be The Sender: Sending out the message that you or your team have delivered on a large project or campaign is a great way to be seen and a way to be celebrated or supported.
Celebrating the metrics vs just celebrating delivering is always favoured within mature businesses so keeping this in mind is impartive.
If you and your manager are not having regular check-ins but you would like to ensure they know what you are ‘doing, done and achieved’ I recommend a weekly email to your manager with (a) what is working, (b) what are you working on and (c) what has been delivered and (d) anything to be cautious of, trends within the industry or larger themes you should be on top of.
Managers: Be able to congratulate and bring your team members to present and send the email or company-wide slack update is essential. If you are a c-suite exec or on the management team always bring your team members to discuss the delivery and early numbers in leadership meetings, help to prep them and bring them along the journey
Build out your presence while online meeting, offer to take notes, chair the meeting or own the workstream. This is more work, however, with structure and operational excellence this will help to stay visible and build your presence around the company
Concentrate in the meetings and taking part of meetings, always be prepared to add value or unique insights (versus adding more opinions) and contribute to the follow-up conversations or offer to lead new projects.
Managers: Asking for your team feedback and for someone’s expert opinion particularly when they prefer to be asked is essential, it will help you bring on others presence and their visibility but also helps the team to know their presence and their expertise is vital for the companies success.
Something many have allowed to slip while working remotely is deadlines slipping or not hitting deadlines. Hitting deadlines will always be essential and be vital for a companies success. Hitting a deadline is often the difference between being seen, respected and having positive mindshare vs having negative mindshare and having trust.
If/when possible create the GANTT or the roadmap and be the point of contact on the deadlines and deliverables
Be deliberate in communications, not over-communicating, update colleagues on the progress of the project and how you are progressing against deadlines. On many occasions, this is happening however remember internally marketing is as important as externally marketing and applies to projects of all sizes
Managers: Setting realistic deadlines – this is the flip side when a manager of a team or business leader, very often setting aggressive deadlines actually hinders your teams chance of being visible and hitting targets and creating a negative
Developing Your Internal Network
Build out connections – something when working remotely or in the hybrid workforce is you tend to neglect networking and building internal and external connections, actively work on networking and connecting with colleagues within the organisation and have quick coffees and be available to help colleagues if they need someone to assist them or be a support network
One to one’s are always important – ensure you are keeping up with your one to ones, where possible look to meet with your bosses boss in skip meetings. This is often invaluable and creating a connection with your bosses boss or your team’s team creates better connections
Virtual lunches – this might sound like more work and your time however one of the missing parts of connections when remote or hybrid is eating together and drinking together. I recommend making the same lunch and having 30 minutes where you just talk or connect over something trivial, a tool like donut (slack tool) will help you with virtual meetings and randomised meetings, you scheduling this and working with colleagues will be important Here are a number of hybrid work tools and apps to help you become successful in hybrid.
Hybird lunches – sometimes teams go to lunch when in the office and those who are not there will miss out, where possible consider how you might integrate those working remotely or organise a day and time where colleagues can come together and eat or allow those remote to be present in the hybrid lunch. This also works offsite too.
Network events – something a handful of mart companies have created is hybrid and remote network events with tools like hopin and riverside and connect colleagues in break out rooms, with Q&A between departments and presentations on important projects and successful campaigns and releases
Managers consider building out management pods to connect you and your management team more closely
There is a lot made of having to have a mission, a vision, then having a strategy with a series of tactics to help to guide the business forward.
A BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) is another level added in recent years to drive a sense of a company’s ultra long term thinking and showing that the organisation is going to prosper for decades to come.
Breakdown Of Strategy
Across the business world, many have experienced everything become tactical, we have seen strategy become strategies (this is the common cause of confusion and internal conflict) and the majority of us have experienced ‘strategy’ become tactical and change constantly.
This chain of events just leads to the company compass being misaligned and misunderstood.
Something many businesses experience with this shift is regular questions being asked of what direction are we taking, where are we going and what should we be doing?
Clarity is the key to success for any business.
At focus, we have an operating model, we introduce to each client.
We explain that our business operating principles are clearly defined and understood so everyone understands that change is either essential or part of progressing the business rather than just reacting to a change or a shift in the market.
Our operating guidance is as followed:
When To Review
When To Change
The long term objective to complete as your business.
Missions should be somewhat aspirational but within long term reach
Every three years.
You can question every year but do not change unless essential.
Once a decade
The long term direction for the company.
The vision helps to guide decisions when anyone is unsure and needs to understand if you are making the right move.
Vision has to inspire and be within reach.
Every two years
Up to twice a decade
One company-wide plan for everyone to understand, be able to repeat without any thought and all departments follow.
No team or department should deviate from the strategy.
Your Company Strategy about guidance should be broken down:
5 Years is thinking ahead, 3 Years is planning ahead and 1 Year delivering for the next year.
It is imperative: No department should have its own strategy.
Department action plans should be presented to the business.
Each department should connect together and liaise on their action plans to ensure they will plan resources, budgets and allocate the right prioritises together.
If teams (for example CRM within Marketing Department) with departments have to break out their action plan it has to roll up into their department plan and connect into the company-wide strategy.
Up to three times per year
Part of the action plan is to help everyone understand the channels and initiatives you are rolling out. Tactics are the most flexible part of this operating principle and are important to review, optimise and tweak. Tactical layers are important but should not be built up first to build your action plan.
Each company and business approaches creating ‘strategy’ differently, some are top-down, others are flexible and open for all to add their insights.
It is fundamental that each manager and every member of the leadership team understand’s this framework and introduces and reminds their teams of this operating framework.
With the future of work being hybrid, having a crystal clear mission, vision and strategy could be the difference between missing and hitting targets.
Key To Explaining Mission, Vision, Strategy Internally
For the long term mission and vision are the inspiring elements.
Strategy is the driving force from the short term to the long term.
What is important is to ensure that strategy is the compass for your departments, teams, projects and campaigns. If any team goes off track deliberately and is managed accordingly, you will see offsites and strategy sessions undone very quickly.
It is often intentional for me to overuse deliberate to reinforce why being intentional is essential for the companies success.
In recent years a worrying trend has occurred:
More ambiguity = More problems = Performance drops of the teams and individuals.
I came across a quote from the new CEO of Instacart, Fidji Simo (who was the ex Product lead at Facebook Blue aka the original app) and I wholeheartedly agree:
There is nothing more frustrating when leaders are not intentional, they operate in a scattergun way and everything is of the highest importance.
Leaders should set out a framework, an imagined roadmap and often a template for the company to follow, blending the near term work and the long term future.
A few non-negotiable areas for leaders to be deliberate with:
Leaders have to be deliberately focused on the company’s vision, especially when explaining themselves and the leadership teams intentions, this has to be clear and concisely explained – often winning with an internal motto
Leaders have to be intentional in explaining what leadership is and what they expect from their leadership team and then flowing through to their teams (unfortunately this is often the breaking point in larger companies than 10)
Leaders have to help those around them to be deliberate in being crystal clear in being deliberate in (a) what the objective is, (b) what your expected involvement is, (c) how teams are expected to work together (obvious but without being called out cracks appear in those who do not respect or trust each other) (d) enabling the internal experts to take the lead but (f) show what success looks like
Leaders have to be informed about what the future of work looks like and how the future of their workplace is going to operate and be unwavering when required to lead.
Leaders have to be responsible with the power of their own influence and not deliberate in not misusing their control
Leaders should be deliberate when taking a step back and removing themselves, often stepping aside or bringing in those around them to help them to develop, help to evolve business lines or importantly help to coach and mentor them to develop themselves and the success of the company
Being deliberate in your leadership is a process you have to be aware of and constantly remind yourself of.
Being deliberate helps you to make better, fewer decisions not more decisions.
This week review how you are being intentional, consider creating a personal and professional SWOT assessment and be more deliberate in your actions.
Welcome to the podcast series fixing the broken world of work, it has been a mission of Focus to deliver the best content to business leaders and managers so they can make their workplaces better and help to develop their teams and departments.
Season 1 is action-packed with brilliant stories, tips and actionable advice.
Each Fixing The Broken World Of Work Podcast is broken down below with why listen and the important topics we discussed, this should help you decide which podcast to start with.
Listen to the podcasts below and don’t forget to follow on your podcast app of choice:
Why Listen: Briony talks about her incredible transition from Marketer to facilitator and coach. Briony tells her very personal story and journey, from her own struggles with mental health to helping so many with breathwork, meditation and the future of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
Briony and I discuss:
Mental health and why it is so important to be aware of
How mental health is evolving How your mental health can help to transform physical health
Why early morning open-air swims have been so important to Briony and her journey
Why Therapy and therapists role in peoples lives are so important, hint it’s more than the therapy sessions
Why breathwork is so important to tackling anxiety and stresses
Why our bodies are driven by our breath and controlling our breath
Why Personal development starts with you
Everyone is facing similar challenges – it’s how you find the best course of action
Why retreats are going to be so popular and a necessary part of life and work
Sharon Aneja – Founder @ Humanity Works Consultancy
Why Listen: Sharon takes us on her incredible journey and why being a Positive Psychology coach is so important to her and for any workforce. Sharon shares a couple of brilliant frameworks and practices to improve any business.
What Sharon and I discuss:
The importance of mental health and wellbeing
Why psychological flexibility is so important
Why command and control management fails their people and their business
Why businesses and managers wait for people to get stressed and burnt out rather than proactively addressing such important topics
The awakening businesses require
Why gamification can be negative
the opportunity to be able to partner with organizations who are courageous enough to want to get to the heart of issues
How a routine operation changed Sharon’s life completely
Why Listen: As a multi-time business builder, Matt provides unique insights into how his leadership in the software space can help to improve conversations and goal setting not just through software but a combination between software and people.
What Matt and I discuss:
The power of the conversation
Importance of communications and priorities
Setting people up to have the right conversation with the right frameworks
Structured conversations having better organisation outcomes
Building software to empower teams to have the most important conversations and the resistance when software tells you what you should prioritize
Workplace safety “where people feel in a safe place to say what needs to be said to share their ideas, to disagree, to, problem solve, to innovate, to share ideas”
Why Listen: Luke has helped to transform his agency Reddico company culture from struggling to hire to becoming one of the best places to work in the UK and why company culture and self-management is so important.
What Luke and I discuss:
How company culture should be shaped
Why self management system can and does improve agencies and businesses
What it took to get to a world class 96 NPS score
Empowering individual’s to do a really amazing job is a key factor to success
Why circles (like SWARM’s) helps to get the best work done
Company culture is the marketing tool, not a PR tool
Why Listen? Peter is helping shape leaders and TEDX coaches to improve their leadership and delivery on essential messaging. If you are a leader of a startup to a large business this is a podcast for you.
What Peter and I discuss:
How to step up as a leader
Why leadership is often the smaller unspoken steps we take, such as mental nods, gestures and the tone we use when speaking
Why storytelling is more than a buzzword and will take leaders up many steps
Bias – how we can overcome bias in our teams minds
How to rebuild trust when may have lost trust from your team
How to tackle remote and hybrid work leadership differently
This week’s anonymous leadership advice comes from a new leadership team member who is struggling with the purpose of the leadership team and their role on the leadership team:
Dear Focus, It’s the first leadership team I have sat on and I’m struggling to work out the dynamics and what’s important. There’s a lot of talking and not much action. What should I do?
Management teams can be hard work. They can be exhausting.
S-Teams can seem daunting, they can seem aggressive, typically passive-aggressive and create an atmosphere where many appear not to like each other personally or professionally.
It is rare these are friendly but asking difficult questions are essential to make progress.
Many start out with good intentions, unfortunately, many turns into environments some thrive and others struggle with.
This is where game playing has a huge step change and understanding the rules of this game is critical to your success.
Something to keep in mind in your situation is what function are the meetings serving and what function am I serving on this leadership team?
It is important to remember most Management Teams are particularly bad at onboarding their colleagues on the leadership team and worse at explaining the what, the why and the how.
The essential factor in MT’s or ELT’s is not to condition those around and below you to copy your behaviours and roll out this into the company wide culture.
Management Team Buddy
One important lesson I learnt and recommend to businesses of any size is to create a buddy system with someone else you trust on the leadership team and build upon that relationship and understand the unique set of rules you have in your meetings and understand how you add value to the meetings and to the company as a whole.
Understanding the unique dynamics and the HiPPO rules will be important milestones for you to set out and understand.
New Management Team Member Guidance
In your role as the newest member of the LT or ELT is holding your colleagues accountable and ensuring the business delivers guidance and keeps ahead strategically.
This can often be lost in the noise and the routine that management team meetings can become.
Tip To Keep Front Of Mind
One tip you will struggle to find elsewhere is to remember not to become too defensive or protective of your team or business line and allow the numbers to do the talking and introduce your team members to present their numbers, their feedback or ideas to the group where possible.
Become A Better Leader
Signup for your weekly leadership newsletter. Leaders Letters is sent every Monday with one piece of actionable advice to improve your leadership & your company.
Something I have observed on different leadership teams is if you are a sales-driven business, you will over-index too much into the sales team voice without balance.
if you are a product based company (driven by product direction and usage) you can lean into the product teams vision and “their strategy” too much without hearing from valuable partners like Marketing or customer service and success. It is important to keep on top of this and ask for more input from those partners.
If the CFO / FD or CEO / MD speaks too much, you will be part of a HiPPO driven business and this will cause numerous friction points within the leadership team.