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  • Aparna Arvind

Embrace the Superpowers of Emotional Intelligence in Strategic Planning

We all know that strategic planning can be exciting for those who love to work on building roadmaps to execute on organizational vision, and equally daunting for those who are concerned about the potential blindspots and likely obstacles in executing such a plan. Research shows that the majority of leaders spend less than half a day a month towards strategic planning.

Most, however, would agree that having a plan is better than risking oblivion. Such a plan does not necessarily have to incorporate all the minutia, as we know that there will be iterations to it when faced with reality on the ground. What’s important is to ensure there is a comprehensive approach to the planning that incorporates a 360 lens in its evolution, and that strategic plans need to be revisited frequently in order for implementations to succeed. You may ask what this has to do with emotional intelligence?

Well, in order to get such a 360 view, one has to embody certain emotional intelligence competencies that drive a collaborative and productive environment for effective decision-making and goal attainment. These include:

1️. Being increasingly self-aware of potential biases and blindspots

2. Cultivating the discipline of managing one’s emotions to keep impulsive behaviors in check, and

3️. Reading the room to understand the emotions of others that are involved in the co-creation of such a strategy, while fostering psychological safety to share ideas and receive feedback

4. Managing oneself to model a growth mindset that reflects continuous learning

These may seem like common-sensical themes, however many leaders admit to being ‘reactive’ as opposed to ‘responsive’, in situations where opinions are challenged or when reality triggers a rude awakening. Leaders may claim to believe they are open to diversity of thought or challenges to proposed initiatives, however actions speak louder than words, and many leaders are unaware of the biases that creep into their judgment or the authoritarian style of leading so-called discussions.

To ensure you are creating an environment that fosters exploration, collaboration, and innovation in your strategic planning, you need to model emotionally intelligent behaviors. Similar to flexing a group of muscles repeatedly to build tone and endurance, small practices repeated consistently will inevitably result in sustained change.

Here's what you can expect when you put these superpowers to good use:

Using the 4 archetypes of self awareness as reference, increasing both internal and external self awareness utilizing 360 feedback and a certain degree of healthy introspection, can result in making sound decisions and building stronger relationships in a collaborative space. By acknowledging and managing emotions effectively, leaders can prevent conflicts, encourage constructive dialogue, and promote a collaborative environment conducive to productive decision-making.

Leaders can demonstrate their EQ by actively listening to team members during strategic planning sessions. By attentively engaging and showing genuine interest in others' perspectives, leaders can create an inclusive space for diverse ideas and insights to emerge. Let’s clarify here that active listening does not simply imply being nice, it’s about demonstrating genuine interest and curiosity in the information being shared and its context.

Through active listening, leaders can empathize with their team, validate their contributions, and build stronger relationships, leading to better decision-making and buy-in from the team.

Leaning into continuous learning can help to reduce risk and promote agility. This creates a culture of innovation and gives room for iterations to plans and allows strategic direction to pivot where needed. Strategic planning could do well with strategic thinking skills!

Incorporating emotional intelligence into strategic planning sessions empowers leaders to build stronger relationships, enhance teamwork, and make better decisions collectively. By actively listening, embracing and managing emotions, and facilitating effective communication, leaders can create an environment that cultivates trust, innovation, and successful strategic outcomes.


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