The assassin most likely to destroy your business isn’t the guy down the street. It’s not a brilliant 19-year-old coder lying in wait in a ranch house in Palo Alto.
It’s a ‘bot that does what you do—even better.
The singularity may sound like science fiction, but robots already write articles for newspapers’ sports sections, do surgery, fly jets and drones in the military, drive cars and answer phone calls for hotels and service firms. Bots beat our best chess champions on strategy. And they’re better managers than some leaders. Recent work from a doctoral student at MIT found that people would rather work for a robot boss who gave out tasks than a person.
If robots can be encoded with artificial, emotional intelligence and it is greater than what you and your team have to offer to guests, you will be out of work. And emotional intelligence in robots is closer than you’d think.
Want to keep a brainy, rolling hunk of metal from flattening you? Prep yourself to steal gigs from the “terminators” of the future by doing these five things:
Get Emotionally-Sharp . Smart leaders defend their businesses from the borgs by developing specialized knowledge, charged with super-talented human skills and emotional intelligence. They know that customers want to go where they feel like they’re being seen and heard. If you don’t “get” customers better than a ‘bot, they’ll choose the ‘bot.
Train yourself and your people with the latest research on the uses of emotional intelligence. And look for talent that is strong in this area. When I interview people, I ask: If you were to build a robot right now to replicate you, what 10 things would it need to have? I get all different types of answers. What I look for are qualities like integrity, tenacity, creativity, emotional maturity, leadership talent, conscientiousness, and perseverance.
Kick Off The SWAT Suit. You can’t get a good read on customers’ feelings if your own are buried under 20 layers of scar tissue. Let your emotions rise before the machines do.
Sharpen your self-awareness by grilling yourself in challenging situations: How am I feeling about this? What internal and external resources can I bring to the table to help me solve this problem? How can I tap into what I’m most passionate about to achieve my goal? How am I feeling relative to what I want to accomplish?
Listen to your body, but don’t accept physiological reactions at face value. Feeling tense? Ask yourself: What is this tension communicating to me? What’s unresolved here? What am I concerned about? What have I left hanging?
Stay In The Cool. It’s on you if you let customers or staff launch your nuclear buttons and you end up acting like Kanye, Chris, or Charlie. It means you need to work on self-regulation. It’s an important muscle of emotional intelligence.
To diagnose where you’re going wrong and fix it, ask yourself some key questions: What in your behavior is preventing you from doing what’s necessary to accomplish your goals? What behavior do you need to stop? What do you need to do more of? What is keeping you from doing these things now? Then commit to doing what it takes, power on, and go through the pain to fix the problem.
Speak Truth To Power. Ditch the sales pitch and be honest and genuine with your customers. Let them know what’s up. Be direct, open, honorable. At my companies, we pay close attention to how customers are feeling, and you should do that, too. Acknowledge that you’ve heard them. Make time for them. Prioritize them. Let them know how you feel about them. Tell them what you value about them. Don’t take anything for granted. Ever.
Stay Pumped. To keep yourself inspired, align your passion and values with your objectives —keep them in lock step. Form positive images and feelings inside you with the behaviors and actions that let you succeed in your work—and pin negative images and feelings to the actions that derail you. For example, if you’d rather surf the net than talk with customers, reward yourself when you get over it and take one of them to lunch. Or find a partner who loves people. We must gain leverage on ourselves and step out of the Tempur-Pedic zone. Otherwise, watch your back. Optimus Prime is ready to put you out of business.