How does a business find meaningful purpose? What is the role of emotional intelligence in bringing leaders together around a shared direction? In this case story, the corporate leadership in a large pizza chain become committed finding their own “Noble Goals” and use this framework to revitalize their business.

Leading on Purpose

 

The power of a Noble Goal for Business

 

By Jim and Lynette Vaive
Spirit of EQ, a Six Seconds Preferred Partner

 

Background

A large pizza chain in the Midwest US is a privately held company operating a combination of over 150 company and franchise stores in six states. It’s been highly successful due to its focus on consistently delivering a quality product to its customers and being a good neighbor in the community. However, due to several key personnel changes and the evolution of the company from a small family business to a larger corporation, the leadership is facing increased pressure. At the same time, the company is committed to continued financial growth and the development of its associates.

The Vice President of Human Resources and the Chief Operating Officer (COO) identified that implementing Servant Leadership would be an effective approach to improving their business performance and commitment to their associates. However, they also recognized that for Servant Leadership to work, the senior leaders would need alignment and specific skills to implement the change. The company selected Spirit of EQ, a training and consulting firm specializing in building flourishing organizations, as partners in the process. To protect confidentiality, in this case, the company will be referred to by a fictional name: PizzaCo.

In discussions with PizzaCo’s leadership team, it quickly emerged that while leaders had strong business acumen, the missing ingredient was the emotional skills that would give them deeper insight into themselves, their people, and the culture they were seeking to build – in other words, emotional intelligence.

Pursue Noble Goals

Definition: Connecting your daily choices with your overarching sense of purpose.

Pursuing a Noble Goal means aligning the actions you are taking with your long-term purpose. Doing so enables you to transform emotions effectively, and facilitates integrity and ethical behavior, which helps you maintain focus, inspire others, and access your full power and potential.

 

Abbreviated as “EI” for “emotional intelligence” or “EQ” for “emotional quotient” (the measure of EI), emotional intelligence encompasses the learnable, measurable, scientifically grounded skills for being smarter with feelings. Research and experience show these skills have a powerful effect on performance — in particular, by building leadership skills to create a thriving organizational climate. Therefore, PizzaCo’s eleven-member leadership team agreed to start by strengthening leadership and team effectiveness at the top by building EQ, the core people-skills that would, in turn, build a more effective culture throughout the business.

 

Intervention

The PizzaCo EQ Leadership initiative began with assessment. Each leader took the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment 360 (SEI360) and asked various raters to give them feedback through the tool. SEI360 is a “multi-rater” assessment on emotional intelligence performance; the person completes the survey about her/himself, and invites supervisors, peers, subordinates, and others to provide feedback. The tool is unique because it offers simple-but-profound insight into how a leader (or anyone) is “showing up” and affecting others.

Since a core goal of this project was building a stronger people-leadership culture, the SEI360 was selected so leaders could get a clear understanding of how they are currently affecting the people around them, both on the leadership team and the direct reports in their various areas of responsibility. In addition, Spirit of EQ identified that the SEI360 tool helps people identify personal growth opportunities as well as business opportunities, which often yields profound change in leadership ability.

Increasing self-awareness equips leaders to grow.

Feedback is a gift that, when unwrapped with care, enables leaders to see themselves more clearly.

When leaders see how they’re affecting others, they can begin the process of becoming the leaders they mean to be.

A 2-hour training session introduced the basic concepts of the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence with its 8 competencies and three pursuits (defined here). Following the introductory session, each of the eleven leaders was individually debriefed on their SEI360 with a two 1-hour coaching session by EQ coaches from Spirit of EQ.

In the next phase of the project, the leadership team took the Team Vital Signs assessment. Team Vital Signs, or TVS, is a normed, validated survey about “Team Climate” — the intangible x-factor that makes some groups of people work as powerful teams, where others remain just groups. TVS was selected for this project because one of the issues identified during the individual debriefing and coaching sessions was some misalignment within the leadership team that was affecting company climate.

Spirit of EQ debriefed the TVS with the leadership team in a three-hour group session. The results showed opportunities in the drivers of Teamwork, Execution, and Trust, as shown in this summary:

 

A key issue that emerged from the meeting was a lack of alignment on purpose. The leaders had a reasonably clear picture of their business strategy, but they had not discussed WHY this business exists . . . so the implementation of strategy remained vague.

Following the TVS group debrief, a Spirit of EQ coach again met with each team member. During the group and subsequent individual discussions with Spirit of EQ, two key themes emerged. There were many different company terms and statements and no single unified purpose statement. It was also apparent from the TVS and the individual debriefs that trust was a primary issue among team members. Recommendations were made to the Vice President of Human Resources and the COO to address these issues as next steps.

One of competencies in the SEI360 is “Pursue Noble Goals,” which refers to a person’s over-arching sense of purpose. Beyond “mission,” a Noble Goal is about lifelong legacy — about finding purpose, and living it.

Team members identified that this was the missing ingredient for them as a company. If they could articulate a clear Noble Goal as an organization, then they could engage their own passion and purpose more effectively. In turn, this shared purpose would become the focus for engaging other leaders, and building a more vibrant, powerful organizational culture.

Spirit of EQ was invited to a leadership retreat for future visioning and next steps for the company. This session focused on additional EQ work through exercises and discussion geared toward building trust within the team, working on how to increase the Team Vital Signs, and beginning work on a company Noble Goal.

Unfortunately, once the topic of the company Noble Goal came up, progress stalled. Recurrent issues centered on disagreement about the value of the multiple existing company statements, and those with greater tenure were reluctant to move forward.

 

Z

Overarching

A Noble Goal encompasses all the areas of your life.. personal, professional, spiritual, family, social, etc

Z

Outer-Directed

While you benefit from a Noble Goal, the focus is on others — on your legacy and what you are choosing to contribute to the world

Z

Nondestructive

To be a Noble Goal, no one can be diminished or reduced in your pursuit. Ideally, a Noble Goal fuels others to find and pursue theirs.

Where are you going?

Clarity of purpose, feeling the power of a Noble Goal, unlocks an essential capacity for engaging others. It’s even more powerful when a leadership team has this clarity together.

Two months later, PizzaCo planned a 6-hour leadership team meeting with Spirit of EQ, where the sole focus was the development of the company Noble Goal. A values identification coaching tool was sent in advance to each participant, guiding them through the process of identifying their top 10 personal values. All eleven leaders returned their values tool, and these results were combined prior to the group meeting to list the top 10 personal values of the team.

A process of prioritizing and multi-voting was used subsequently in the group meeting to further narrow the list to 3 values to be used in writing the Noble Goal statement. As shown in these flipcharts, multi-voting involves iterative voting by group members to narrow the field of choices:

                                                                                               

Additionally, the team members reviewed keywords identified at the previous leadership retreat. They used multi-voting again to identify the top 3 key words that they saw as important to their shared Noble Goal. The leadership team was then divided into two groups, each led by a member of the Spirit of EQ team, to brainstorm words and phrases to form a draft Noble Goal statement. The whole group then reconvened and successfully combined the two sentences into one final Noble Goal statement for the company.

 

Results           

Defining a Noble Goal has become the catalyst for a more unified direction for the company as it continues to grow. The Noble Goal will provide alignment and serve as a compass to maintain focus throughout the various existing divisions of the company, as well as new endeavors for the future. Leaders’ comments included:

  • I am excited because we have a direction.
  • We can use our Noble Goal to explain to associates throughout the company why we are doing something.
  • The leadership team needed to understand this first.
  • We are now communicating with each other as a team better than ever.

 

Specific applications for PizzaCo may include the following:

  • Company values identification
  • Competency framework development
  • Performance management
  • Other applications of competency measures, such as recruitment, succession planning, and talent identification

 

The use of the SEI360 and the Team Vital Signs instruments provided a foundational understanding of Emotional Intelligence and specific, actionable data about their team climate to this group of leaders. One of the powerful insights from this case is the importance of shared purpose. 

While leaders at PizzaCo were high performers with a strong business strategy, their work had become a chore instead of a passion, and there were varying opinions about execution and alignment of the various divisions within the company. By dedicating time and energy to focus on core purpose, they found that their communication improved among team members, and that each of them played a role in supporting their peers and working together for outcomes that provided something more than any of them could individually contribute.

Three key questions that helped PizzaCo will help every organization and leader:

R

What am I passionate about doing in the world?

(Am I doing that as a leader?)

R

How are my patterns of behavior negatively impacting my work?

(Am I willing to change those to become more effective?)

R

What is the legacy I want to leave behind when I retire?

(Am I working toward that every day?)

This Business Noble Goal process can potentially be used as a template to create powerful direction in business consulting engagements by Six Seconds partners.

 

About the Authors

Lynette & Jim Vaive run The Spirit of EQ, dedicated to the powerful intersection of emotional and spiritual intelligence — in business and in life.

Note: This case was discussed at the Six Seconds 2016 Master Class in Italy and input was provided by those attending the session, in addition to that provided by preferred partner Spirit of EQ. Our thanks to those who contributed!—Jim & Lynette