Here’s an illustration of how even the gurus shaping the world’s communications are subject to emotional spill-over into their companies’ strategies.
For years, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Apple’s Tim Cook have been openly hostile over multiple issues, apparently sharing a mutual dislike and often expressing anger at the other.
These emotions have infiltrated their respective company strategies, most recently in April when Apple’s iOS upgrades included a privacy feature allowing iPhone users to opt out of Facebook’s cross-platform tracking. For Facebook this is a blow, because their business model relies on this data collection as an enabler of advertising revenues.
Facebook’s strategies have recently included launching an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, and running consumer-targeted advertising campaigns which imply Apple’s tactics undermine small businesses.
Irrespective of our viewpoint on the dispute, the longstanding feud between the leaders of these two tech giants offers a fascinating angle on how emotions can play out in strategies affecting perhaps hundreds of millions of mobile phone users, and the online activities of billions.
It’s also interesting to contrast Cook’s and Zuckerberg’s behaviours with discoveries from John Gerzema’s ‘Athena Doctrine’ research of 64,000 people spanning the globe. Human nature is to shift towards feminine values in times of crisis, and respondents overwhelmingly prefer modern leaders to be empathetic and intuitive, and should demonstrate patience, longer-term thinking, and consensus-building.
If we do this well, leaders can shift from being good to being inspirational.
Emotive leadership inspires. By tugging at heartstrings, by making our blood boil, by pricking our nerves and scabbing at our sense of justice, emotions engage. They motivate us because they touch us. And motivated, inspired employees perform at more than double the productivity of contented employees, according to the Bain/EIU research.
Emotionally-informed corporate strategies help shift from shareholder value to stakeholder value. Doing well can also mean doing good. The sweet spot for value creation is where business performance meets societal needs. Recognising the company’s role in finding that point is in no small part the result of emotional introspection and a sensibility towards broader causes.
Emotionally insightful marketing strategies can generate brand, share and sales advantages. Consumer packaged goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) responded rapidly to the Covid-19 crisis. Their multipronged communication strategy extended into a moving consumer-targeted campaign aimed at doing 2,021 acts of goodness this year. Despite the pandemic, P&G has delivered stellar financial results.
Emotionally-aware talent strategies create a more human-centric work environment and a more engaged workforce. Global talent researchers, Gallup, report that engagement is a lever for better results: companies scoring in the top quartile for employee engagement are 21% more profitable than bottom quartile organisations.
Successful strategies will always need the logic of trends, the purity of numbers, the analysis of rivals. It’s also true that understanding our emotions and working through and with them as part of our toolkits requires effort. That’s exactly why they lead to more human-centric judgements and approaches. To strategies that work.
Former American First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, observed that a mark of emotional maturity is realising what you value most. Not arriving at this understanding, she said, means “you have missed the whole point of what life is for.” Similarly, as a leader and in relation to our company’s strategies, if we don’t hold true to our emotions and allow them to resonate, our strategies may veer away from what is truly important. If strategies are ultimately designed to create value, best we formulate these strategies with the right human values in our hearts.
People move when they are moved. That includes ourselves as leaders. So here’s an acid test: do our strategies move us?