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The Emotional Intelligence Revolution: Luxury Institute's Seven Practical Steps to Executing High-Performance Emotional Intelligence in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - June 19, 2017) - Humans have been coerced and incentivized to behave like machines since the Industrial Revolution. At last, hope is at hand. The artificial intelligence revolution's advocates have declared victory in taking over the machine-like, tedious, and repetitive tasks that humans at all levels of professional skill have been forced to perform throughout their lives. Let's confirm that victory for all the wonderful robots and genetic algorithms our Silicon Valley friends can produce. And, oh, what a sweet surrender!

In the meantime, smart business leaders and their teams are finally getting serious about designing relevant and worthy work for the real revolution happening in the world today: the emotional intelligence revolution.

Nurturing Emotional Intelligence For Business Improvement

One of the most credible contemporary researchers of human behavior, Adam Grant, a distinguished professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has warned of the common, but mistaken, perception of E.I. as a desirable moral quality, rather than a learnable skill. One major shortcoming of many predictive E.I. tests is that while people may provide the correct responses as defined by the testing company, their ability to execute E.I. successfully in a face-to-face business or personal situation often fails. It is a major challenge to successfully scale this set of desirable skills that will drive true competitive advantage in the twenty-first century.

Below are seven practical steps that the Luxury Institute and Retail Performance Academy have used with top-tier luxury brands and individuals -- and now a growing list of mainstream brands -- to implement successful E.I-driven, humanistic, high-performance systems. These systems are proven to drive client data collection, conversion, average transaction value, retention and referrals, while increasing associate and client engagement and loyalty.

1: Transform The Industrial Revolution Mindset

The first step in nurturing an emotionally intelligent business model is to teach people to think differently, at the top and at the front-line. For senior managers, the shift requires letting go of Industrial Age command-and-control mental models, adopting open-minded empowerment, and eventually, promoting the self-management of their associates. Yes, self-management is the future of business. Executives who are used to being bosses, directors and managers must now master inspiration, coaching and practice as a way of life. Front line associates must also shift from the separation of their personal and professional lives into a self-accountable, seamless life where they live their good morals and values at work daily. Importantly, everyone must fearlessly and objectively confront the often-painful facts of their personal performance, and their team's performance, in a compassionate and empowering way.

"Today, luxury and retail customers are saying 'enough is enough!' Mediocrity is no longer acceptable," observes Christine Russo, retail executive and professor of graduate studies at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. "Shopping experiences that involve understaffed, unkempt stores, or insincere commission-driven associates who lack emotional intelligence are no longer tolerated. The consumer simply has too many options that are unique, curated and personalized."

The entire organization must develop a learning and growth mindset, and recognize that emotional intelligence is not just a trait; it is a set of skills that can be mastered with specialized learning, coaching and practice by almost everyone, regardless of genetics. Finally, everyone must internalize the reality that the mastery and expression of emotional intelligence will drive individual career success in the twenty-first century. It will also drive the competitive advantage of any organization.

2: Simplify The Definition Of Emotional Intelligence To Achieve Organizational Scale

Current definitions of emotional intelligence are not just controversial, they are often too complicated to be practical, actionable, or measurable. After conducting numerous research studies on E.I., and finding academic definitions impractical for the real world, Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza created his own working definition in 2010, simply by asking clients in surveys and focus groups what human traits they value most in sales associates. Pedraza's definition of emotional intelligence is a core set of humanistic skills and behaviors that can be mastered over time to build and sustain high-performance peer and client relationships. Companies achieve these goals not by focusing on financial objectives, or through robotic training to help teams avoid negative behaviors. They succeed by focusing on four powerful, positive behaviors that both associates and clients say make them feel cared-for and special: expertise, deep empathy, trustworthiness, and generosity. The deliberate mastery of these four behaviors, and the flourishing individual creativity of expression they unleash in each associate, drives significant increases in sales and profits over time. This simple, powerful definition of E.I. is designed to capture the 20% of core behaviors that account for 90% of an extraordinary associate and client experience in a learnable, actionable, and measurable way.

3: Build A Holistic E.I. System

Many companies attempt to develop people and customer experience skills by using online and classroom training and testing. Some of this training is finally interactive, which is a good thing. However, most corporate training fails the "economic value created" test. This dehumanizing training fails to increase performance that leads to significant increases in sales and profits, which are the truest measures of value created by and for associates and clients.

"A company that engages its workforce now will provide not only good jobs and good customer experience today, but will be best-prepared for whatever the robotics revolution brings," says Zeynep Ton, professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and author of "The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits."

"It's easy to forget that technology rollouts require an engaged frontline, but even in the future, robots won't just walk in the door, wave to the old employees on the way out, and get to work," says Ton.

Corporate training programs too often produce few measurable positive effects, and they suffer from Industrial Age methods that disempower and discourage the human capital within a company. The successful execution of high-performance client relationship building starts with cultivating strong, humanistic relationships with associates using a holistic approach to human development. This requires multiple inputs and multiple interdependent steps.

A successful corporate E.I. system requires the optimization of associate selection, inspiration, empowerment, creativity, collaboration, compensation, education, metrics, practice, coaching, and recognition. This system is supported by data, analytics and technology. Seamlessly integrated, these elements serve a common humanistic purpose, supported by a set of values and standards that people share and embrace. Without a systemic approach to building E.I. skills, most companies are stuck pretending that they are training their people while their people pretend to learn and execute, resulting in mutual frustration and poor performance.

4: Empower Your People To Transform Themselves

Research in education and high performance proves that one of the most powerful ways to effect lasting change is by empowering your front-line people to design the content elements that make up a high-performance client relationship system. The first reaction of most CEOs, and executives from human resources, training, and the front line is that associates cannot be trusted to do what only experts can do. Luxury Institute's years of experience in executing its Luxcelerate system prove the exact opposite. Many luxury and premium brand leaders were trained to design and manage Industrial Revolution work, and today what they have are decades of expired experience, not expertise. They lack expertise in inspiring and empowering people in the modern era. Through the successful Luxcelerate system, Luxury Institute has facilitated dozens of sessions where the best-of-the-best front-line managers and associates have developed inspiring brand relationship values, client experience standards and processes, and daily behavioral metrics for their high-performance client relationship system. The front-line people, often millennials, are also empowered to train themselves and each other, thoroughly and successfully, with only a few professional trainers. They use technology platforms to get certified, and other technology to reinforce learning. Managers at all levels are taught how to use evidence-based coaching, while associates are also taught how to be coached. Most importantly, the Luxcelerate system empowers and teaches people to become intensely and objectively, self-aware of their skills, emotions and behaviors through specialized self-measurement, self-assessment, self-coaching and self-correction conducted in a nurturing way. The key purpose for this is deep absorption plus self-accountability in mastering operational skills that are fully integrated with E.I. skills. The results are inspired associates who execute their operational responsibilities while using nurturing and caring E.I. skills to build long-term, high-performance relationships that drive sales and profits.

5: Leaders Must Exemplify E.I.

One of the major challenges in executing an E.I.-powered, high-performance client relationship system is the resistance of many senior executives raised in command-and-control management systems, and who lack E.I. skills. It is fascinating to witness CEOs who lack E.I. skills awkwardly attempt to coerce and command their people to embrace the very skills that they lack. The greatest challenge and damage, however, comes from middle-level human resources, training and front-line executives who fail to use E.I. skills in their day-to-day interactions with associates, and even with customers. These corporate trainers and front-line managers cannot possibly engage associates and customers effectively because they have only been trained to "manage, sell and service," not to build human relationships. Those who may have E.I. skills may have seen them diminish due to lack of practice in a command-and-control environment. If fact, many humanistic leaders may have been criticized in the past for being too emotional and not operational, or tough, enough. Today, it lacks credibility to ask front-line associates to embrace humanistic skills unless their immediate leaders are demonstrably masters and consistent practitioners of the best E.I. behaviors, too. This is one of the greatest leverage factors in building E.I. skills in an organization.

6: Build Creativity And Teamwork Into Every Interaction

Google has spent millions of dollars on research to determine how to best harness creativity and teamwork in the workplace and has generously made these available to all organizations. The three most relevant insights that apply to building a high-performance E.I. system successfully in your organization are as follows: First, individuals can be identified for having creativity, yet, everyone can significantly improve their creative skills. In executing the Luxcelerate system, individuals are inspired to develop the four skills of E.I., yet each associate is empowered to use their own creativity to demonstrate their expertise, empathy, trustworthiness and generosity. They do this daily, in a uniquely personal way with each peer and client with whom they engage. Second, creativity and teamwork are dramatically improved by having a diverse group of people. The inclusion of women and minorities is a non-negotiable requirement for high performance. In the Luxcelerate system, all elements are creatively designed and developed by highly diverse, multi-cultural front-line teams and then enhanced by other diverse front-line teams. Finally, the most critical factor in top-performing teams is psychological safety, which is defined as how comfortable team members are in sharing ideas and being vulnerable with one another. During all Luxcelerate workshops, the first order of business is to create psychological safe spaces where fear, guilt and harsh judgments are suspended, so that people can share their most intimate feelings and use their creativity to develop a humanistic, high performance client relationship system using fun and effective processes. The results are relationship values, client relationship standards and processes, behavioral metrics, coaching and practice techniques that associates enthusiastically embrace faster and better over time.

7: Stay The Course In The Face Of Resistance

Transforming an organization where command-and-control has been the norm into one based in E.I.-driven high performance client relationship building, is an enormous, yet necessary, task. Executives must know that they will face resistance in many forms. Senior management and middle-level executives will fear losing power to empowered front-line associates, or balk at placing trust in people whom they feel are far less educated and equipped to make decisions. Front-line staff will also be leery of jumping wholeheartedly into what they may justifiably perceive as simply the newest in a long line of the latest and greatest human development fads. Training programs are doomed to deliver inferior results if employees withhold commitment. Fortunately, companies that have used robotic and transactional training techniques for decades are at last empowering associates to design and live in a new and humanistic culture that incorporates elements of emotional intelligence. This transformation takes some getting used to as a credible concept, and it is why each Luxcelerate project involves a "messy" absorption period to allow senior management to give trust, and earn trust, while nurturing everyone in the humanistic, newly-empowered behaviors that they have created.

After successfully completing a recent Luxcelerate project that improved her store performance 50% by consistently bringing out the loveliest human qualities of her associates, one luxury boutique manager read an article warning that artificial intelligence might soon make her, and her associates, obsolete. After assessing what she had accomplished by months of mastering emotional intelligence skills, she stated unflinchingly, "I am now more confident than ever that our E.I. skills will help me and my team to build deep, genuine client relationships that robots will never replicate." With contagious enthusiasm she exclaimed, "Bring on the robots!"

Emotional Intelligence Drives Performance

Retailers and luxury brands have benefited tremendously from the intelligent application of technology to streamline business and to deliver actionable insights throughout the organization. As technology continues to progress, there will be additional opportunities for improvement, along with further transformation of jobs and the very nature of work. "Forward-looking management teams understand that incorporating a program of high-performance emotional intelligence complements the application of technology by helping humans become more thoughtful, empowered, and productive," says Pedraza. "Embracing emotional intelligence while taking advantage of advancements in artificial intelligence will increasingly be the mark of successful organizations in the twenty-first century."

For more information and additional insights visit www.LuxuryInstitute.com, or contact Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza directly with questions ([email protected]).

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