Emotional intelligence has long been discussed as a critical part of leadership.
The ability to regulate one’s emotions as well as the emotions of others has proven invaluable on an individual level.
For example, consider the importance of having a boss who doesn’t cry or scream every time a meeting goes wrong.
Alternatively, think about the importance of having a leader who encourages positive and effective conflict resolution between teams when misalignments or misunderstandings arise.
That all means: emotional intelligence is important.
Kristin Harper, CEO of Driven to Succeed and author of The Heart of a Leader: 52 Insights into Emotional Intelligence to Advance Your Career, goes a step further and argues that emotional intelligence can be nurtured by brands, not just individuals (and should) .
Here, let’s examine how you can nurture and develop emotional intelligence for your brand as a whole – and why this matters in the first place.[Note: the italic headings are the questions we asked Harper. The subsequent text is Harper’s direct quotes.]
1. How can brands promote and develop emotional intelligence?
Let us start with the definition of emotional intelligence for the individual, ie the ability to perceive, control and express his feelings and to deal with interpersonal relationships sensibly and sensitively.
EI is a combination of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
For brands, I define EI based on four pillars:
- Brand awareness: Define the brand identity including its attributes, values, heritage, tone and personality in a way that appeals to your target audience and sets it apart from key competitors
- Brand Management: Deliver relevant, predictable brand values and experiences that excite the target audience, address their unmet needs, and build loyalty
- Customer proximity: Have a real interest in the challenges, worries, feelings, perspectives, and unmet needs of its customers and stakeholders in order to create an emotional connection
- Customer loyalty: Activate marketing campaigns while engaging in thoughtful, deliberate two-way conversations with customers
Whether people or brands, the most effective way to develop emotional intelligence is with unbiased curiosity. Spend time learning, observing, asking questions, and discussing what concerns people’s hearts and minds. If you don’t do this in a judgmental manner, you will increase empathy and emotional intelligence and naturally lead to more relevant products, services, and advertising.
2. How can a brand learn to measure its emotional intelligence? Are there quantitative or qualitative options for measuring the EI in companies?
It’s not uncommon for mature brands to measure brand awareness through stock studies.
In addition to awareness, performance characteristics, brand images and buying behavior, these quantitative studies can also measure the feelings and loyalty of customers to a brand and its changes over time.
In a competitive market where consumers are evolving, the pace of business is accelerating, and more data is available than people know how to do, it is important for brand teams to regularly supplement their brain power with heart and intuition.
This is best done through lively, meaningful conversations with your customers or target audience. At Driven to Succeed, we offer online community dialogues in which we gain deep insights into the perception of brands and growth opportunities.
3. Which brands do you see as examples of brands with high emotional intelligence?
The insurance industry’s response to the economic challenges posed by COVID-19 is a prime example of brands exhibiting high levels of emotional intelligence.
From Allstate to Nationwide and beyond, several insurance brands have adapted to this unprecedented time by issuing premium refunds, deferring payments, and communicating with customers with timely messages and empathetic tones.
4. How can emotional intelligence affect the company’s bottom line? In other words, why is it important for brands to develop and demonstrate emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence leads to empathy, action and increased market share for brands.
When a brand is in tune with its customers, they can develop and demand a premium for innovative products and services, deliver more relevant advertising, and engage with customers in ways that are different and preferred from their competitors.
Building emotional intelligence ultimately strengthens loyalty, increases market share, and contributes to sales and profit growth.
Kristin Harper is the CEO of Driven to Succeed, LLC, which provides market research, brand strategy advice, and keynote speech on leadership and emotional intelligence. She is also the author of The Heart of a Leader: 52 Insights into Emotional Intelligence to Advance Your Career.