Emotionally intelligent leadership has made its way to Apex’s c-suite. The transformation began 15 years ago when Dan joined the company. Charged with leading change, he brought me in to assess and grow his ability to do so. We started with emotional intelligence. It sparked a movement that spread through the sales organization and ultimately the entire company.
Dan retired recently, and we spent a morning reflecting on our journey. We also basked in the glow of shared learning, mutual respect, and a cherished friendship.
Emotionally Intelligent Leadership - the transformation begins
Dan and I met at an emotional intelligence session I led for Intel. Several years later, Dan joined Apex as a senior sales leader. His charge was to increase market share and create a sustainable competitive advantage.
Apex’s sales people were used to transactional sales. They focused on selling parts aka “winning the socket”. Dan’s new approach involved developing long term customer relationships.
The mantra was “Customer Intimacy”. The sales force, engineers by training, would become partners and trusted advisors. Customers would involve Apex sales people in the product design phase. Apex components would be “designed in”, securing sales on the front end. This was a new mind set and required different skills.
Apex sales people were technically strong. Relationship development, the foundation of customer intimacy, wasn’t their sweet spot. Emotional intelligence would fill in this missing piece.
Planned Organic Change
Planned organic change is an oxymoron.
We started with this principle:
Be the change you seek to create.
As they completed his survey, Dan’s direct reports recognized the application of emotional competence to customer intimacy. They asked to use the ESCI for themselves. Dan didn’t have to preach or push. They pulled. I developed and led workshops to introduce the concept of emotional intelligence. Then I coached key leaders on Dan’s team. The fire spread to the next level.
Within several years emotionally intelligent leadership was making a difference in Dan’s organization. Customer intimacy was happening. The company was gaining market share. Leaders were more effective. Employees were bringing their whole selves to work. To grow as a sales leader, people had to demonstrate emotionally intelligent leadership.
Leaders in other functions took note. Emotional intelligence became a core leadership competence at Apex.
Emotionally Intelligent Leadership - Unexpected ROI
When Dan moved into a new role four years ago, the changes he implemented lived on. The sales organization continued to assess and coach high potential leaders for emotional intelligence. They’re doing so now, after Dan’s retirement. I hope he takes pride in his legacy and the unexpected ROI to the company. Fifteen years into the emotional intelligence journey, a disproportionate number of sales managers are leading at the C-suite and one step below. Dan delivered beyond his promise, by growing the company’s future leaders.