The S Curve of Success: Harness Goals and Vision through Emotional Quotient

                                                                                                  Prof Suryakumari Duggirala, M.Phil (Economics) Faculty-Soft Skills, IBS,Chennai

ABSTRACT

Observation of Learning or Success at work reveals that growth can be typically fitted on an S- Curve. Both are usually a bit slow and gradual at the outset, then proceed at a dramatic speed and once a peak is achieved, the so-called experts succumb to hibernation and remain steady at the same level or worse, decline.

Objectives, goals, targets, attitude, motivation and focus are requisite in achieving success in the fulfillment of mission and consequently the vision. To substantiate, success is achieved when there are goals defined, objectives framed, suitable action focused with the right attitude coupled with sufficient intelligence and tremendous motivation to attain the mission in order to accomplish the vision.

Emotional intelligence consists of having empathy for others (helps in teamwork), standing firm on what you believe backed by sufficient groundwork ( helps in accentuating leadership skills),etc The key to high emotional scores are primarily understanding one’s own emotions, other’s emotions and acting responsibly after taking into consideration both. Healthy emotional intelligence is essential to lead happy and successful lives, in that order. In fact, the heartening news is that emotional intelligence is an acquired skill as against the popular belief that intelligence is in borne. All one has to do is recognize the skills that are required and work on them with a passion to incorporate them into one’s personality such that it is in one’s nature to be gregarious, outgoing and an effective communicator.

It is said, “If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

The same is true for one’s working lives and the way we lead them, the way we do things and get things done at work each day. Having said that, it is imperative to bear in mind that to be successful in life, it is essential to achieve certain set goals in life. As we progress further, I would like to share some interesting anecdotes and incidents that highlight the role of emotional intelligence in overcoming the flatness of the S curve at the top end.

What is the S Curve?

Simply put, the S curve is a sigmoid curve that depicts the relationship between any two variable factors. For example, we have the simple Demand-Price curve showing the principle of diminishing marginal utility. The name is derived from the shape that the curve takes in a typical S shape. This is so in cases when one variable increases, the other variable decreases proportionately. The initial stage of the curve is flat, the incline then is steady and rising but as saturation begins, the incline slows, and at maturity, the curve is flat at the top.

When we take the case of learning or success at work, we generally observe that growth can be typically fitted on an S-Curve. Learning and Success, is usually a bit slow and gradual at the outset, then proceeds at a dramatic speed and once a peak is achieved, the so-called experts succumb to hibernation and remain steady at the same level or worse, decline.

Why this false sense of security that we have finished everything that is there to learn or we have achieved all that is there to achieve? Although not advocating a total race all lives through, I would like to emphasize that there is no end to learning nor is there an end to achievements. In many cases, we notice that people stop as middle level managers and are unable to proceed further. We all know that the world is always growing in every field and the so called experts of today would be left far behind if they don’t catch up. Achievement today is sure to become obsolete tomorrow.

Are we missing out on something vital in learning and managing success? What does someone have to do after achieving the peak of success? While it is not climbing the mountain and coming down or remaining at the summit, it is better we have many mountains to climb. So our growth should be several peaks (namely, several S Curves), like the song from Sound of Music that says, Climb every mountain.

A word on vision and mission

Present corporate life is abuzz with goal-setting in order to gain better and finer results. At the same time goal setting is diverse from targets and vision. Vision is at a phenomenal octave as compared to the targets of the company. Today’s work culture is buzzing with words like teams and team spirit. Getting employees to work as a team and in the spirit of the team is an ongoing challenge for every manager. Although every manager cites the example of a sports team, seldom is this achieved.

An attempt is being made to dissect and identify exactly the importance of goals, targets, mission and vision in achieving the heights of success. A cursory look may club all of them together while a focused approach may elicit surprising results.

Team leaders can enjoy the fruits of team building and success at work if they

  1. Define the organizational mission, values, vision and goals
  2. Disseminate the same across the team
  3. Integrate and submerge the same into goals at the individual team front

Vision is exclusive to individuals too when talking of the company’s vision. This is so well illustrated by some great luminaries of industry, if they can be called that. The strong vision of Walt Disney as to what Disneyland would look like in years to come is one such example.

A poignant incident of a dying Disney, in his last hours, whispering his vision into the ear of a journalist may well illustrate the strength of a clear vision statement for success.

Generally speaking, Vision statements need to be generic in nature yet carry the message of a passion to achieve. A few examples of Vision Statements to elaborate:

  1. Five years from now, Co XXX Ltd. will have annual revenues of over one million by consistently providing timely, moderately priced repair services.
  2. Within the next five years, ZZZ Tours will become the premier eco-tour company in ________, increasing revenues to 1 million dollars by becoming internationally known for its luxurious yet affordable plethora of its tour offers.
  3. Within the next five years, the XXX Centre for Women’s Concerns will have helped create a safer and healthier community by helping more women acquire education, skills and resources necessary to build self-sufficient and happy lives. Within the next five years, www. xyz.com will become the lead provider of software
  4. to small businesses by providing customized, user-friendly software to cater to their specific requirements.

Without a vision of where to go, how can a plan be developed to place the organization there? Without a vision, how does the manager know that he has arrived? Without a vision, the individual keeps trekking over mountains without a clue as to what mountain he is climbing, why he is climbing, how he has to climb and how much more he has to climb. In short, vision guides and gives direction and a sense of purpose and motivation to the employees and the organization, at large.

A simple story that Peter Urs Bender shares in his legendary book, Leadership from within is:

Two men were laying bricks in a field on the edge of a town. A stranger walked up to one and asked,” What are you doing, friend?” The worker rather grumbled his answer. “I’m laying bricks,” he said, and went on with his job. Still wondering what they were doing, the stranger approached the second man. “So you’re laying bricks, are you?” he asked. The worker looked up, somewhat surprised. “Not me,” he said with a smile, eyes turning towards the sky. “I am building a cathedral.”

This story clearly demonstrates vision in order to achieve great things. Both men are doing the same work and both would eventually deliver the goods. The first man has targets in mind while the second man clearly has vision in mind. The former is requisite for an organization whereas the latter is whom the organization seeks, nurtures and rewards. Having said that, it neither minimizes the importance of targets nor unduly applauds the role of vision. Both are essential in the requisite scale of importance and a point to note in our S-Curve of the learning process of success.

Let’s move onto the role of goals and mission in successfully achieving the vision. At this juncture, goals may first be differentiated from objectives. Goals are perhaps vague and are envisaged over a long period of time while objectives are specific, measurable and relatively time bound over a relatively shorter duration of time. The following story of a soldier at the battle front makes our learning curve richer.

Horror gripped the heart of a World War-I soldier, as he saw his lifelong friend fall in battle. The soldier asked his Lieutenant if he could go out to bring his fallen comrade back. “You can go,” said the Lieutenant, “but don’t think it will be worth it. Your friend is probably dead and you may throw your life away.”

The Lieutenant’s words didn’t matter, and the soldier went anyway. Miraculously, he managed to reach his friend, hoisted him onto his shoulder and brought him back to their company’s trench. The officer checked the wounded soldier, and then looked kindly at his friend. “I told you it wouldn’t be worth it,” he said. “Your friend is dead and you are mortally wounded.” “It was worth it, Sir,” said the soldier.

“What do you mean by worth it?” responded the Lieutenant. “Your friend is dead.” “Yes Sir,” the soldier answered, “but it was worth it because when I got to him, he was still alive and I had the satisfaction of hearing him say……. “Man…I knew you would come! “

The mission is to win the war no matter what. Objectives are to keep costs to the minimum and lose the minimum number of people. Goals set by individuals vary and the soldier’s goal was to win the war on his terms. Goals meanwhile are the initial steps and the consequent milestones that one reaches in the journey to the final destination.

Here again, both the men were correct in their own way. Everybody worked for their individual goals keeping in mind the mission statement in the picture. The well known acronym “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Truthful) is the baseline for anybody to be successful in achieving goals. The realization of vision ultimately rests purely on the individual goals being met with. The present skills, mindset, outlook and current scenario play a major role in the direction and speed in the fulfillment of the vision. Achieving each and every goal measures the progress made.

Comparing the mission statements of two rival beverage companies, to stress on the point that vision needs to be broken down to specifics:

Company 1:
Profit: Maximizing return to shareholders.
People: Being a harmonious place to work.
Profile: Introducing a portfolio of beverage brands that anticipate, provide and quench people’s thirsty needs at all times.
Partners: Nurturing a growing network of partners towards building mutual loyalty.
Planet: To be a responsible globally acclaimed company that means a difference.
Company 2:
“Everything we do is committed by our enduring mission:

  1. To Replenish the World… in body, mind, and spirit.
  2. To Motivate Optimism… through our brands and our quality.
  3. To Create Value and Make a Difference… wherever we are.”

Keeping in mind the goals, the individual needs Action. The most important tool to achieve the goals is the action to be taken. It is said that “A vision without goals is useless and a vision without action is just a dream.”- Bill Hunley. It goes without saying that achieving goals require focus, diligence and effort. Success requires the right attitude meaning the emotional maturity to focus on goals and action suitable effort in that direction.

Along with goals and goal setting, achievement is primarily possible only when there is motivation and intelligence. When motivation is zero, achievement will always be zero, whatsoever the intelligence. The higher the combination of intelligence and motivation, the higher will be the achievement.

Motivation also needs to be accompanied by passion to achieve the vision. Passion can be best explained in the words of Tony Robbins, Most people know what to do, but they don’t do what they know- Because they haven’t found their inner drive- Their passion. In the self-help book, The Jackrabbit Factor: Why You Can by Leslie Householder, the term ‘jackrabbit’ refers to the relevance of being fixed on the objective and visualize the success that one seeks and feel the success even before beginning the ‘chase’. The author asserts that if the goal is in clear view, the actions required to capture the prize will become instinctive. This theory is based on the premise that the subconscious mind controls our tendencies, habits and finally, our decisions. This clearly emphasizes the role of ‘visualizing’ in harnessing goals. This brings in one other aspect into the picture, namely ‘focus’. Consistent and steadfast focus on the goals that have been visualized is requisite for them to be achieved.

Thus, we now have objectives, goals, targets, attitude, motivation and focus that are requisite in achieving success in the fulfillment of mission and consequently the vision. To surmise, success is achieved when there are goals defined, objectives framed, suitable action focused with the right attitude coupled with sufficient intelligence and tremendous motivation to attain the mission in order to accomplish the vision.

Now that we are clear about how to achieve success, let us delve into the ability to achieve after the peak is attained. Here is where the relevance of acquiring emotional quotient alongside intelligence quotient comes into the picture.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional skills with the combination of intelligence skills in the right proportion are always desired. With emotional intelligence, traits such as optimism, effective productivity, self esteem, motivation, empathy, personal interaction skills are developed. High emotional intelligence combined with efficient work-skills makes achievement faster, more productive and more innovative. With enhanced EQ, people think more clearly under pressure, are calmer and less stressed as they spend less energy on internal emotional turmoil.

Emotional Intelligence requires a person to know one’s emotions, manage them, constantly motivate oneself, recognize, understand and acknowledge emotions of others and manage the emotions of others, which means effective management of relationships at work.

To acquire a better EQ what is actually required at work is quite simple. One needs to be able to at the outset:

  1. Assess the requirements of the company
  2. Self –introspect oneself
  3. Enhance learning at all times
  4. Self Motivate towards higher EQ
  5. Rationalize thinking
  6. Set goals
  7. Blend self goals with goals of company
  8. Renew self goals and expectations frequently
  9. Break down goals to achievable targets
  10. Consistently work towards a better organizational culture
  11. Work on effective communication
  12. Manage change
  13. Tactfully resolve issues
  14. Optimistic in a crisis
  15. Encourage participation and involvement of team

There needs to be clarity, cohesiveness and matured/composed behavior at all times, more so at times of deadlines, meetings, crises or any other stressful situation. This is the essentiality that distinguishes the top performers from others. Some of the core competencies to be acquired, fostered and nourished for keeps would be

  1. Empathize with people and situations
  2. Invest in People
  3. Encourage Diversity
  4. Performance Drive
  5. High Commitment levels
  6. Be Initiative driven
  7. Optimistic Approach
  8. Self Confident
  9. Sense of Humor and Sportiveness

Emotional intelligence consists of having empathy for others (helps in teamwork), standing firm on what you believe backed by sufficient groundwork ( helps in accentuating leadership skills),etc The key to high emotional scores are primarily understanding one’s own emotions, other’s emotions and acting responsibly after taking into consideration both. Healthy emotional intelligence is essential to lead happy and successful lives, in that order. All that one has to nurture all through is to know oneself, find one’s vision and passion, take risks, communicate effectively, check one’s progress and results periodically and take timely and adequate corrective steps, as and when required. One can reduce stress levels, anger levels and be an effective communicator by improving social skills and building a more positive image.

In fact, the heartening news is that emotional intelligence is an acquired skill as against the popular belief that intelligence is in borne. All one has to do is recognize the skills that are required and work on them with a passion to incorporate them into one’s personality such that it is in one’s nature to be gregarious, outgoing and an effective communicator.

The Finale

With strong emotional intelligence and clear-cut goals with a passion to achieve the vision, there is no turning back. The S of the S Curve can be changed to show a steadfast incline all through and/or develop several S Curves simultaneously.

Take the lives of the Ambanis, the Bajaj, and the Mittal families, to name a few, where success is envisaged all the time and a steady growth is attained. They are very highly rated on emotional factors, intelligence and vision. The S Curves for them at the individual front as well as the company front is always peaking or portrays several S Curves. A study into family based companies may reveal that these families are high on emotional quotient necessarily though not necessarily high on intelligence quotient. But being good on EQ makes them successful in making the right moves at the right time. It would be a case of sour grapes to attribute their success to having been born into the right family. In fact it needs to be acknowledged that they have to work doubly hard to keep up the good work going and scale higher peaks.

The success stories of self-made industrialists like Kishore Biyani, Narayana Murthy maybe advocated if family based business is to be refuted. These people started from scratch, succeeded and continue to do so only because of the attributes of a high emotional quotient. There are small achievers all over the world everyday. It is for us to observe and learn from them the hardships they faced and yet persisted in their endeavors in order to scale great heights.

In the words of Canadian Marketing Guru, Jerry Goodis, Make your living doing what you love; ethically, passionately, and never give up. Focus on emotional strengths to harness your goals and vision in order to keep the success graph high and to achieve sustainable growth and/or to achieve several S-Curves.

CONCLUSION

Team leaders can enjoy the fruits of team building and success at work if they

  1. Define the organizational mission, values, vision and goals
  2. Disseminate the same across the team
  3. Integrate and submerge the same into goals at the individual team front

It goes without saying that achieving goals require focus, diligence and effort. Success requires the right attitude meaning the emotional maturity to focus on goals and action suitable effort in that direction.

All that one has to nurture all through is to know oneself, find one’s vision and passion, take risks, communicate effectively, check one’s progress and results periodically and take timely and adequate corrective steps, as and when required. One can reduce stress levels, anger levels and be an effective communicator by improving social skills and building a more positive image.

Emotional skills with the combination of intelligence skills in the right proportion are always desired. With emotional intelligence, traits such as optimism, effective productivity, self esteem, motivation, empathy, personal interaction skills are developed. High emotional intelligence combined with efficient work-skills makes achievement faster, more productive and more innovative. With enhanced EQ, people think more clearly under pressure, are calmer and less stressed as they spend less energy on internal emotional turmoil.

Focus on emotional strengths to harness your goals and vision in order to keep the success graph high and to achieve sustainable growth and/or to achieve several S-Curves. With strong emotional intelligence and clear-cut goals with a passion to achieve the vision, there is no turning back. The S of the S Curve can be changed to show a steadfast incline all through and/or develop several S Curves simultaneously.

References:

Peter Urs Bender: Leadership from within
Daniel Goleman: Emotional Quotient
Leslie Householder: The Jackrabbit Factor: Why You Can
Mike Vance & Diane Deacon: Think out of the box
Kishore Biyani: It happened in India