War! Do you realise the impact it has on our IQ, EQ and FQ?

Just when we thought the world has thrown enough punches at us and we were ready to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get going after 2 years of a pandemic, we discover there is a twist in the tail and the tough times are not quite ready to recede.

Yes, I’m talking about Putin’s War in Ukraine (I call it that as it’s fairly obvious it’s not the will of the Russian people to go to war); the terrible recent event that impacts us all in more ways than you think.

Now, I’m no political expert but I just didn’t feel that I could blog about anything else this week; don’t worry I’m not hear to give a political analysis. I’m here to highlight the impact it has on all of our IQ, EQ and FQ.

Why can’t you just blog about the random stuff you normally write about?

Before the war started the ideas for this week’s blog had been start-up/EQ focused; either:

i) to write about the joy of finally arranging my first international holiday in over 2 years and the struggles to tear myself away from my start-up for more than 5 days for the first time since I started my own company or

ii) to write about the number of CVs and requests for help that had come my way in the last week from people who for different reasons are being marginalised out of the workforce

You’ll just have to imagine how each of those epic blogs may have gone (or maybe I’ll return to them in future) but for now let’s focus on Ukraine.

Why am I blogging about Ukraine?

I must admit I’ve become a little obsessed with the news since the war began. I almost can’t believe it’s happening but then as a person with Palestinian heritage, a good grip of modern history/current affairs, a sister that works in humanitarian aid and as a person who has spent time living in war affected countries, I am all to aware that conflicts are not that uncommon in the current age.

[In fact look at this screenshot of the website for the UNHCR, the UN Refugees Agency, where they list all the emergencies currently ongoing that they need help with; I found this when I was donating for the Ukrainian cause. You will see that most of these emergencies are driven by man-made conflicts]

How does Ukraine impact my world?

My thoughts in the last week have, in no particular order and certainly not exhaustively, been:

  • How could this happen?
  • This is shocking!
  • Is this more shocking than other conflicts? (I can’t help but be biased to Palestine’s conflict for example)
  • How can I help?
  • How does this end?
  • How does this impact my world?

Obviously some of these thoughts are more important than others and this isn’t the time or place to debate the answers to some of them.

Let’s talk about the indirect impact on businesses

However, I do want to talk about the last one with my business hat on. In the last week, as I talk to different clients, I have been fascinated by the range of business reactions:

  • Some have almost ignored it — “What’s it got to do with us?”
  • Some are positively making a benefit from it — “There’s opportunities to be made”
  • Some are suffering indirectly — “Things are going to cost us more now and we aren’t going to sell as much but we have to suck it up”
  • Some are taking a stand as much as they can — “Let’s stop selling products to Russia”
  • Some are trying to help — “Let’s send aid to the people of Ukraine”
  • Some have thrown a blanket around all their employees — “Let’s check all our staff are safe and talk openly about the situation”

In my opinion, it’s hard for companies to ignore. Even if you don’t think you’re involved, you workforce may be and as such their effectiveness blunted. It could be for any number of reasons:

  • You may have Ukrainian staff who are worried about loved ones back home
  • You may have staff that have friends in Ukraine who they are worried about
  • You may have staff with links to countries surrounding Ukraine that are concerned about their loved ones in those countries
  • You may have Russian staff that are worried about being vilified
  • You may have compassionate staff that are anti-war or involved in supporting those affected by war who are angry at the situation
  • You may have staff that can’t afford to pay their energy bills any more and are worried that costs will spike even more because of the war
  • You may have staff that have been planning for 2 years to fly to East Asia or Australasia and are frustrated that those plans have been disrupted by Western airlines not being able to fly over Russian air space any more

Literally the list goes on. Whatever the situation, the war finds a way to infiltrate the decisions you and your teams make (a company’s IQ), the emotions of your staff, customers and suppliers (the EQ) and also reduces your collective focus (FQ). These in turn will make whatever you want to achieve more likely to be less successful.

As an example, just this week I was running an important European session for a global company and although they told me that the war had no major impact on the business, this wasn’t to be my experience.

The session had one Ukrainian participant and several Russian participants amongst a group of 25. Although nobody talked about the war directly, there was definitely a tense environment and the level of psychological safety in the group was so much lower than normal that the impact of the session was greatly reduced.

What should businesses do in response?

Just like any major issue, I’d say the best thing is to talk about it with your company and your team.

Double down on EQ: Don’t assume you know what is going through their heads and don’t not talk about it. Hopefully they will be fine but if not, then at least you become aware of whatever challenges may exist and can start to accommodate them as best you can (be it with new policies, new decisions or whatever).

If you can lead with EQ then you will find that it helps release more IQ and FQ

A final thought

Anyway, that’s about enough from me on the subject. For now I just want to say that my thoughts and support is with everyone negatively impacted by this terrible war (and all wars) however that may be.

Let’s hope things improve by the time my next blog comes around…

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