Emotional intelligence is a red-hot field in management right now. Showing high EQ (shorthand for Emotional Intelligence) can be quite difficult, though. Anyone who has had to resist strangling an idiot coworker (let alone dialing up the EQ) knows this. But there is difficult and then there's difficult.
The entire Patriots team faced the latter after a play that never works, quickly dubbed "The Miami Miracle," actually worked and ended the critical game in a shocking loss for the Patriots. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look:
You will see it again. Many, many times. So will the Patriots, in their nightmares. Which is why it was a bit surprising how the undisputed leaders of the vaunted franchise, star QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, responded afterward. Both men are known for their spicy and snarky responses, especially Belichick.
Instead, here were there responses (edited for brevity):
"There were a lot of things we could have done better. Miami played hard, made one more play than we did. We missed opportunities. We need to coach it better and play it better."
"They made a good play and executed it well. It shouldn't have come down to that, we left a lot of points on the board. On that key third down, that was a terrible play by me. I was just not thinking. The play should never have happened. Credit to them. They made a lot of great plays. I've had a lot of tough losses but we've got a lot of football left. It's disappointing when we lose, we all wish we could have done better, I wish I could have done better. We'll just get back to work."
Why this demonstrates high EQ (and how you can emulate it)
So often leaders make excuses in the face of catastrophe. They lose focus, turn to blaming others and in general undermine rapid recovery.
Brady and Belichick would have none of that. Instead, both leaders acknowledged that as a unit they could have done better--and as individuals, they also could have done better. Even in the face of a disastrous outcome in business, when leaders spread accountability equally, including and starting with themselves, it helps the healing process and moves the entire team towards what comes next.
That's learning from the mistakes that led to the catastrophe and then "getting back to work," as Brady pointed out. It's realizing that there are a lot more games to play. There's a lot more market share to be won. There are many, many more quarters to increase profits and shareholder return.
Both men also gave credit to the competition. I've seen all too often, after a disastrous market share report, leaders dismissing competition or attributing the results to unethical competition playing dirty. Meanwhile, the scoreboard still shows they got their tails kicked.
Don't let bad results cloud what really happened on the playing field. Give credit where it's due and dig into why it's due. Then dig in some more, work hard, and don't let it happen again.
Brady also hinted at a point that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made in his own post-game comments. Gronkowski said, "I've never been a part of anything like this. This is going to test our character."
,That's what a catastrophe will do. Showing high EQ in the moment is a way to ace the character test starting right in the immediate aftermath.
Your business may never face such a hail-mary crushing defeat from competition like the Patriots did. But the best play in the playbook is to respond with emotional intelligence.