Discussion

/Discussion

Articles and Commentary

5 EASY WAYS TO BRING GRATITUDE TO THE OFFICE

This time of year is filled with swarming demands. You are juggling to-do lists, replies to investors, flittering holiday schedules. You have yearly success to evaluate and ugly sweaters to pick. It’s easy to feel like there is not enough — not enough time, not enough talent, not enough appreciation for the work you and your team are doing.

All this not-enough-ness leaves us feeling empty and depleted rather than full of comfort and joy.

Conscious leaders can gracefully combat feelings of scarcity by incorporating gratitude into the workday. Simple shifts towards thankfulness will inspire teams and provide hope and prosperity for the year ahead.

Here are five easy-to-implement ideas to inspire gratitude for your team and organization.

1. Make a list.

Take a break and grab a pen. Go sit somewhere quiet and make a list of what you are thankful for in your organization. Are there standout employees making a difference? Are you proud of new accomplishments or thankful for the light dancing across your keyboard as you type your next important email? Taking time to stop and make a list of what brings you joy at work can ground you. Then, take the time to share your responses with your team. When you lead with a vulnerable heart, this sets the stage for employees to follow, which leads to …

2. Acknowledge what’s going right.

Leaders are programmed to problem-solve. Addressing challenges and navigating unknowns probably led to your success. It is natural to jump right in and tackle obstacles with your team. A key shift towards leading with gratitude is to first recognize all the things going well right now. Start simple to build your gratitude muscles. The printer is working, and the lights are on. All members of your team arrived safely on time. Fresh coffee is percolating. Then you can move on to recognize the positive results of your team’s contributions. Last week’s demanding client is now thrilled with revision three of their blueprints. Perhaps you cut costs by changing suppliers and made five new connections leading to new sales.

Keep a running list with your team and review together at the end of each month. Celebrate your successes and confidently move forward to address new challenges. You can also…

3. Learn what your employees are thankful for in their work.

One-on-one meetings are essential to healthy workplaces. Providing space to share successes and voice concerns with a leader on a regular basis leads to better results. Rather than drag, these hours can be inspiring problem-solving sessions designed to provide insight on engagement and satisfaction at work.

Ask questions like:

  • What are you doing well?*
  • What are you working to improve?*
  • What roadblocks are in your way?*
  • How can we support you better?*
  • What about your work are you most thankful for?

These questions prompt employees to ponder which aspects of the job they enjoy and where they are thriving. They also uncover areas for improvement and perceived feelings of positive impact in their current roles. If employees struggle to identify what they are thankful for, you can work together to create a plan to make work more rewarding. Encourage them to go back to point number one and make their own gratitude lists. If they feel comfortable, invite them to share their responses with you.

4. Express gratitude for employee’s efforts.

Conscious leaders understand that people are vital to a healthy organization. With mixtures of personalities, preferences, and time available, you may feel unsure of how to express your thanks and appreciation to members of your team. Some folks love a good superlative, while others would prefer to melt away than stand on stage and accept an award. Take the time to ask what makes your employee feel special. Add a line to on-boarding paperwork to track favorite desserts or what movies they enjoy. Keep these notes in their file or their contact info on your phone. Then, when you notice a standout action, you can leave a note and a small token of appreciation on their desk. Too touchy-feely or out of budget? Jot a quick note-of-thanks email and click send. Or better yet…

5. Say thank you, in person, with an authentic heart.

My first job was a receptionist in a nail salon. I made appointments, put on jackets, and buckled folks in to the driver’s seat so their nail polish wouldn’t smear. At the end of each day, the owner would tell me, “Thank you for your work today.” No matter how many toe-nail clippings I’d swept or demanding women I’d navigated, I always felt seen and appreciated when my boss would say thanks. As an organizational gatekeeper, I’ve worked with many colleagues who say they like their work and they wish their bosses were more aware of how they navigate the frustrating parts of their roles. Employees want to be seen. Acknowledge the metaphorical toe nails and repeat the phrase, “Thank you for your work today,” with a sense of authentic appreciation as often as you can.

It takes time to see your people. When you choose to invite gratitude into your spaces and conversations, you can appreciate the positive impacts you and your organization make. Try out these ideas before the end of the year. With practice, you’ll be able to encourage your team to focus, with grateful hearts, on all you set out to accomplish.

This Article was written by Katie Huey of Conscious Company Media – Original here>

2019-04-10T09:21:19+00:00January 2nd, 2019|Discussion|

Making workplaces truly great: How management toxicity affects employees, and what to do about it

What matters – for employee engagement and productivity and, more important, for employee health – is the work environment and the work itself.

Two recent studies reveal that nearly half of India’s private sector employees suffer from depression, anxiety and stress. Demanding work schedules, high pressure for achieving objectives, and the “always-on” mobile phone syndrome are the top three culprits.

“Management toxicity” is affecting more and more Indians just as we see it in Americans and others around the world. Of 8 lakh suicides across the world annually, about 1 lakh are Indians. India is the world capital for diabetics; and cardio ailments are affecting people in their 30s and early 40s.

We wonder whether annual lists of “great/best places to work” have any sanctity, given that many employees from such listed companies frequently complain of toxicity in management. We question the ethical and serious bias of the agencies that do such ratings, because they try to sell their products and services to the companies they are listing. We suggested health-related data as an added criterion, and a shift in orientation of the rating agencies to “non-profit” for removing serious bias.

Chronic disease, caused in part by stress, is one reason that healthcare costs are soaring around the world. Because most stress comes from work, the workplace has become a public health crisis.

But workplaces do not have to be toxic and stress-filled. Our research uncovered two crucial elements that can build healthy work environments and that don’t cost much to implement. By providing people more job autonomy and social support, enterprises can create healthier workplaces that are less stressful and eliminate the many costs related to stress.

What matters – for employee engagement and productivity and, more important, for employee health – is the work environment and the work itself. Not having a boss who heaps scorn and abuse, because the health hazards of workplace bullying and incivility have been well documented. Having a private office or at least a workplace with comfortable temperature, good lighting, and acoustical privacy, ensures that the physical work environment does not impose stress.

A study of British civil servants revealed that the higher the person’s rank, the less likely that individual was to suffer from coronary artery disease. Why? When British epidemiologist Michael Marmot and his colleagues investigated, they found that the determining factor was the level of job control. Being micromanaged is stressful, and having more control over what you do and when you do it is positively associated with health and wellbeing.

The problem of micromanagement arises because corporations often promote people based not on their ability to manage others but for skills such as their capability with budgets or project management. Because many managers can’t manage, in the sense of coaching others to do their jobs better, one of the worst “sins” many employees encounter at work is being too tightly controlled.

As for the second element – social support – evidence suggests that having family and friends, and having close relationships have a direct effect on health, and that buffers the effects of various psycho­social stresses. People who were less socially integrated had higher mortality rates and higher rates of cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.

Changing the environment to make things better is not that hard. Just stop doing the things that create toxic work environments: Get rid of forced ranking, the “grading ­on ­the ­curve” performance review process made famous by GE; don’t pit people against each other in the guise of internal competition that results in a rat race in which people work crazy hours and travel excessively; invest in management processes where senior managers can mentor juniors; stop the transactional approach to employees by not viewing them as factors of production and trading money for work.

When people have hard times, provide them with help and support – meals, babysitting, companionship, time off and a signal that their colleagues and the company cares about them. With a supportive environment, people are healthier and more tightly integrated into the company.

Holiday and birthday parties, and events that celebrate shared successes such as product launches or project completion – almost anything that brings people together in meaningful context – helps build a sense of shared identity and belonging.

Original Article Jeffrey Pfeffer and M Muneer here: Times of India

Jeff Pfeffer is a professor at Stanford Business School; M Muneer is co-founder, Medici Institute

2019-04-10T09:21:19+00:00August 13th, 2018|Discussion|

Leadership Emotional Intelligence continues to be the top priority as change pressures increase.

Emotional Intelligence is the key Leadership SkillIt was over a decade ago that a survey by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business found that Emotional Intelligence skills such as vision, building relationships and developing people are more important to leadership success than typical leadership traits, such as external/market orientation, financial acumen and planning. This continues to be the case. We have seen the evolution and popularization of programs for Self Awareness, Self Control and Empathy, (all components of Emotional Intelligence) and also Mindfulness (a practice  we teach alongside Emotional Intelligence) as part of Leadership development globally. Working with Leaders at all levels we know that knowing what Emotional Intelligence is (competencies) and becoming an Emotionally Intelligent Leader are two very different things – it takes time to be the change that true understanding brings.

A very recent survey on Leadership at Henley Management College found that “Leadership today is complex, challenging and demanding, with leaders facing ‘wicked problems’ as highlighted by Grint in 2008 – problems with ’no right answer’ and often leaders look for the ‘least worst solution’ where there is no possibility of achieving a classic ‘win-win’ outcome.” their survey also found something we have come to know; that “everything moves faster because technology ensures that there is almost instant communication and 24 hour media coverage, with coverage of leaders’ decisions and actions transmitted worldwide in minutes. This creates a new challenge where it is almost impossible for an individual leader to deal with all the strategic issues in their organisation, so leadership has to become more devolved.”

They found too that Personal leadership development is individual and cannot be forced and that Leaders need time to achieve real personal change – often months and sometimes years. We would agree with this 100% at Adeo Consulting and this is why we work with leaders over time to create insight.

Knowledge communicated and understood by a client is not the same as insight which comes when true understanding is reached with a combination of mental clarity, experience and gut knowing.

We often start a relationship with a client for a 4 month program with extends to a relationship that last for years. Change takes time and when its deep change guidance is often needed.

Its been said to me; “Don’t mention Emotions to our leaders or they will run a mile”. You can imagine the industries and old school companies where lack of emotion is perceived as an asset. Such a skewed perspective is understandable given the way our education system works. But as I often say “Emotion is just information, and this information can be used to your benefit or ignored”. One should also consider what happens if your competitors get on board and you don’t? Leadership gurus such as Bill George continue to push the value of Emotional Intelligence – “Leaders Need a High Emotional IQ to Succeed”. The high level concepts of Emotional Intelligence and the lists of potential benefits have been around since the early 1990’s even before Goleman popularised the concept in 1995. That’s over 30 years and what has happened since is a massive increase in popularity after thousands of research papers and implementation in thousands of Organisations. One of Golemans studies done at Harvard (on Leadership Competency Models) found that 80%-90% of Leadership competencies are Emotional Intelligence Competencies. As he said “the Sine Qua Non” (something absolutely indispensable or essential) of Leadership. So true.

How Teamwork Powers Mindful and Effective Leadership

More effective teamwork results from a leader’s investment in their personal development of self-awareness, emotional self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

This is one of the findings from my in-depth interviews with 42 leaders exploring the role of mindfulness in strengthening their leadership capabilities. The study also included use of the Emotional and Social Competency Indicator (ESCI) model developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, and found all twelve of the leadership competencies present in the participants. Teamwork was the competency most highly referenced by the participants, who provided detailed descriptions about the value they had received from focusing on cultivating their own, and other’s capabilities to be better team members.

Teamwork is defined by cooperative rather than separate, or competitive work. It also includes working towards common objectives, and taking ownership of both positive and negative outcomes. Individuals with strength in this competency will be able to build and maintain working relationships, in addition to promoting an environment conducive to input from teammates. They will also be:

  • Supportive of other teammates or group members
  • Involved in facilitating cooperation
  • Appreciative and respectful of others’ opinions and suggestions

The leaders I interviewed linked teamwork to a variety of benefits, including greater innovation, employee autonomy, and business growth. They also reported that their improved ability to develop effective teams resulted in stronger relationships between teammates, and greater loyalty to the organization. Finally, participants credited mindfulness with helping them understand their own role in being a good team member in the context of relationships with subordinates, peers and superiors. Leaders tied these improvements to their effectiveness, directly attributing career success to the combination of greater team capabilities, and the willingness of others to help them.

How Leaders Create Cultures Conducive to Teamwork

Study participants demonstrated a working understanding of multiple leadership theories, such as Situational, Transactional, and Transformational. Their leadership behaviors, however, tended to be more reflective of the relational leadership theory and dispersed leadership approaches. Specifically, they understood the importance of being able to meet the needs of the people and groups they worked with, and realized that the definition of a good teammate may not be the same for everyone. They also knew that they, and members of their teams, may need to adapt
their behaviors in order to successfully align with the frequently changing goals of the organization.

Participants reported that investing in attentiveness to others had a powerful impact on the strength of their relationships. The HR head for a leading global manufacturing firm summarized this as “…the deepness of listening and relating to a person and helping them connect on an individual level so they feel valued and connected to you as a leader,” which he directly attributed to improved team performance. A leader with a Fortune 10 Firm also touched on the importance of being open to receiving feedback from his direct reports: “I asked for feedback and insights from the people that I work with, and therefore they felt comfortable giving it to me.”

The importance of following through on commitments to coworkers was also stressed by participants. For example, the senior legal counsel for a leading healthcare product manufacturer shared the positive impact that her previous managers’ interest in her work life balance had on their relationship. As a result, she made sure to care for her direct reports in the same way, and take on additional personal workload if necessary: “…I want to make sure that people when they’re o?, they’re truly o?…certainly something can wait or we’ll try to get something else done.”

Making certain to not be perceived by others as paying lip service to concepts such as participation, respect, and fairness was highlighted by participants. A Department Head for a major US Hospital Network illustrated this point when describing the way he interacted with a newly promoted manager on his team: “I’ve decided to allow space for her and her team to design the new model, and giving everyone space to have their own thoughts and ideas.” His comments echoed what other leaders had to say about the relationship between team performance and the leader
ensuring that each member feels valued and motivated to make continued contributions.

How to Create a Stronger Team

Leaders were consistent in expressing their belief that you need to pay careful attention to being a good teammate if you want to be a member and/or leader of a high performing team.
This includes study and refinement of team development activities, and active observation of whether or not your interactions with others make them willing to support you as a teammate. These aspects of cultivating teamwork were summarized by a participant who has held Controller and CFO roles for three leading corporations: “I’m being respectful and…really listening, really understanding where they’re coming from… and then reflecting.”

Some steps you can take to promote teamwork that were described by participants include:

  • Work with your team to agree on a formal description of a good teammate
  • Jointly design a plan to help each member become a good teammate
  • Create and maintain open feedback channels
  • Focus on a culture of improvement, aimed at learning from mistakes

It is also important to keep in mind that building trust with your teammates requires authentic and compassionate behavior on your part. This means
being available to openly discuss their fears and concerns, and working with them to find ways to manage these issues. Making a sincere e?ort to
help teammates manage stressful situations more e?ectively will also contribute to greater engagement, as will modelling the behaviors you expect
of others in the workplace.

Original Article by Matthew Lippincott (here)

2019-04-10T09:21:20+00:00February 15th, 2018|Discussion, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Team Performance|

Empathy Is An Essential Leadership Skill — And There’s Nothing Soft About It

I get tired of hearing about “soft skills,” even when it’s acknowledged they are important. No less a hard-muscled body than the U.S. Army, in its Army Field Manual on Leader Development (one of the best resource on leadership I’ve ever seen) insists repeatedly that empathy is essential for competent leadership.

Why? Empathy enables you to know if the people you’re trying to reach are actually reached. It allows you to predict the effect your decisions and actions will have on core audiences and strategize accordingly. Without empathy, you can’t build a team or nurture a new generation of leaders. You will not inspire followers or elicit loyalty. Empathy is essential in negotiations and sales: it allows you to know your target’s desires and what risks they are or aren’t willing to take.

Elsewhere I’ve proposed a short list of 5 essential cognitive capacities and personality traits that every leader who assumes great responsibility must have. Empathy is one of the core five. (The others are self-awareness, trust, critical thinking and discipline/self-control.)

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s experience, perspective and feelings. Also called “vicarious introspection,” it’s commonly described as the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. But make sure you are assessing how they would feel in their shoes, not how you would feel in their shoes. This is the tricky part.

I remember my husband taking me cross-country skiing for the first time early in our marriage. He was sure (putting himself in my shoes) that I would love the sport as much as he did. From the minute the skis were strapped on me, I absolutely hated it. Being generally clumsy and lacking good balance, the sensation of non-stop instability was anything but fun for me—in fact, it made me miserable. My husband kept insisting I would love it if I just gave it a chance. Naturally athletic and graceful, he couldn’t imagine the experience I was having in my shoes—now strapped tightly to long slippery sticks! It took years for me to convince him that my experience on cross country skis was utterly different from his. Fortunately, I discovered the pleasure of tramping around on snowshoes. The solidity and certainty gave me a chance to enjoy winter woods while he continued to enjoy sliding around on icy snow.

Like the practice of self-awareness, empathy involves scanning large sets of data, sorting out what’s noise and what’s essential information. The process is not so different from what a stock analyst does when scanning the market and looking for signals, anomalies and novel patterns that jump out and make him take notice, realizing something important is going on.

There is a significant business cost when leaders lack empathy. Just ask United Airlines which earned the dishonor of having committed “one of the worst corporate gaffes” ever, according to Bloomberg’s Christopher Palmeri and Jeff Green, when a physician was dragged off a plane to empty his paid seat for an employee. It took United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, three tries before his public response showed any empathy. Munoz’s first and woefully inadequate statement, “I apologized for having to re-accommodate these customers,” seriously missed the mark in attempting to relate to his customer’s experience. In his second statement, Munoz compounded the error by blaming the victim—describing the passenger as defiant, belligerent and disruptive. Only with his third try, when Munoz said, “I promise you we will do better,” did he demonstrate an empathic understanding of his current and future customers.

Lack of empathy is a major contributor to the tsunami of sexual harassment incidents that have dominated recent news and led to the departures of accomplished leaders. Commenting on an employee’s body or, worse, grabbing her, requires a failure of empathy. If a boss were able and willing to put himself in the employee’s shoes and understand how she would feel when subjected to his actions, he would be far less likely to do what he’s doing.

Can empathy be learned? To some degree. The capacity for empathy is an innate human trait, and like all of these, there is a spectrum of strength and weakness. Some people are more naturally gifted at quickly sensing other peoples’ experience. In fact, some of my clients have to be taught to put up an “empathic wall”—too much awareness of other peoples’ feelings cripples their ability to make decisions that lead to disappointment or bad feelings.

Very successful business leaders are often extremely fast information processors. With my clients who do not “suffer fools gladly,” I recommend taking a moment to deploy a bit of empathy—what’s behind a colleague’s wish to propose what immediately looks like a dumb idea? Follow with an empathic comment along the lines of “I can see why you got excited about that because it’s an important issue, but unfortunately it would raise compliance problems so we can’t pursue that route.” A 90-second investment of time can prevent the employee’s feeling humiliated and disaffected in the long-term.

If you’re naturally low on the empathy scale, at least know you have this deficiency and that there is a cost to it. You can learn to check yourself and do what does not come naturally: before you act, school yourself to think of the people who will be affected and what your action will mean to them. And try to remember to not just recognize but care about that impact on others. You can also make sure you have a trusted advisor who fills in the gap in your skillset. That advisor must be empowered to stop you if you’re forgetting that there are other people in the world and that their feelings and agendas are not the same as yours—and that these matter.

Whatever your natural endowment for empathy, your capacity for empathy and skill at deploying it waxes and wanes with your own physical and mental state. If you’re ill or tired, it’s hard to have empathy for anyone but yourself. If you’re in the throes of creative excitement, it’s disruptive to consider the perspective of others. And that’s fine, as long as it doesn’t last too long and you know to check back in with the human beings around you.

Don’t confuse empathy with making people happy or being nice. Sometimes you’ll suss out another’s perspective and feelings and purposefully ignore them. Or even use it to gain an advantage. Essentially empathy is a neutral data gathering tool that enables you to understand the human environment within which you are operating in business and therefore make better predictions, craft better tactics, inspire loyalty and communicate clearly.

Original Article in Forbes by Prudy Gourguechon here.

2019-04-10T09:21:20+00:00January 4th, 2018|Discussion|

Without Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness Doesn’t Work

Mindfulness Emotional IntelligenceMindfulness has become the corporate fad du jour, a practice widely touted as a fast-track to better leadership. But we suspect that not all the benefits laid at its feet actually belong there. Our research and analysis has revealed a complicated relationship between mindfulness and executive performance—one that is important for leaders to understand as they seek to develop in their careers.

Mindfulness is a method of shifting your attention inward to observe your thoughts, feelings, and actions without interpretation or judgment. A mindfulness practice often begins simply by focusing on your breath, noticing when your mind wanders, and then bringing it back to your breath. As you strengthen your ability to concentrate, you can then shift to simply noting your inner experience without getting lost in it at any point in your day. The benefits attributed to this kind of practice range from stronger relationships with others to higher levels of leadership performance.

Take, for example, Sean, a senior leader at a Fortune 100 corporation.  He will tell you that mindfulness played a critical role in transforming his career. He had been experiencing a serious performance plateau that was, he learned, an effect of his micromanaging and intimidating his direct reports. Obsessed with hitting his quarterly targets, he had pushed his people as much as they could stand and his team’s output was at a standstill. He feared being fired, or having to quit because of burnout from anxiety overload.

And mindfulness, Sean says, saved him. After an intensive training in the practice, he was better able to stop himself when his impulse was to jump in and control, and instead adopt a more supportive style, letting subordinates take on more responsibility. As he got better at managing his own anxious impulses, the resulting atmosphere dropped the gauge on stress for everyone. His direct reports trusted him more and did better quality work. Instead of quitting or being fired, he was promoted.

Sean was one of 42 senior leaders from organizations throughout the world who practice mindfulness and whom one of us (Matt Lippincott) studied at the University of Pennsylvania. They too attributed a wide array of benefits to their practice, including:

  • Stronger relationships with superiors, peers, and subordinates
  • Heightened output
  • Better project outcomes
  • Improved crisis management
  • Increased budgets and team headcount
  • Being trusted with sensitive organizational information
  • Positive performance reviews
  • Promotions

One executive even reported that as a result of his mindfulness practice his co-workers stopped turning around and walking in the other direction when they saw him coming!

But mindfulness isn’t magic; what was the mechanism at work in these executives’ transformations? One tipoff: several executives in the study reported getting feedback from colleagues that described improvements in areas like empathy, conflict management, and persuasive communication. These, it turns out, are what one of us (Dan) has described as core emotional intelligence competencies.

This connection with emotional intelligence was underscored in the interviews Matt conducted with the study participants themselves. Rather than describing a direct correlation between their mindfulness practice and increased performance, the leaders talked about increased self-awareness that led them to change certain behaviors. Those behaviors tracked with those Dan describes in the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI), an established rubric for gauging emotional intelligence. It is through improvement in competencies related to emotional intelligence, in fact, that mindfulness makes executives more effective leaders.

In Sean’s case, his mindfulness practice made him more aware of his own high levels of anxiety, and how that tended to impair his thinking. He realized that he had harshly high standards for himself at work, and held everyone else to these same rigid, perfectionistic expectations — for instance, that people, including himself, should be able to endure extreme workplace demands. By becoming aware of these tendencies, he also saw that while his workaholic ethic had gotten him his position, as a leadership strategy it no longer worked for him. Because it was well-nigh impossible for anyone to meet his unrealistic performance expectations — and he would berate them when they didn’t — there was a quiet rebellion brewing on his team and progress was at a standstill. With this understanding, he was able to identify two competencies where he could improve: self-awareness and self-management.

As a result, he adjusted his expectations to be more realistic, and sought his team’s input in setting their goals. These shifts led him to improve in other emotional competence areas as well. Sean began to listen attentively to his team members rather than just dictating what to do — ratcheting up his empathy. He adopted a more positive view of his direct reports and their abilities to reach targets, seeing them as allies rather than problems, an upgrade of the positivity in his outlook. He built trust by speaking of his own fears and vulnerabilities more openly, and spoke from his heart more, which inspired his team. We’ve seen in past research that improvement in these competency areas — achievement, conflict management, empathy, positive outlook, and inspiration — improve a leader’s effectiveness, and Sean’s case bore that out.

The exercise of mindfulness started Sean down the path of improvement as a leader; it allowed him to see where he needed to improve and allowed him to become self-aware enough to modify his actions. But the improvements themselves were in the realm of emotional intelligence.

We believe that by focusing on mindfulness-as-corporate-fad, leaders run the risk of missing other opportunities to develop their critical emotional skills. Instead, executives would be better served by deliberately assessing and improving their full range of emotional intelligence capabilities. Some of that work may well involve mindfulness training and practice, but it can also include formal EQ assessment and coaching. Other tools and approaches include role-playing, modeling other leaders you admire, and rehearsing in your mind how you might handle emotional situations differently. By understanding that the mechanism behind mindfulness is the improvement of broader emotional intelligence competencies, leaders can more intentionally work on all of the areas that will have the strongest impact on their leadership.

Original article in HBR by Daniel Goleman and Matthew Lippincott here.

From Burnout to Superstar: Mindfulness at Work for Next Level Leaders

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl

Have you ever sat in a meeting, feeling like you might be called out as a fraud at any moment? Have you ever stared at a computer screen, procrastinating yet again, so afraid that your work won’t be perfect that you’re unable to even begin? If so, you’re in good company. The vast majority of elite leaders that I’ve coached in top-tier organizations have had these same anxieties at some point. Ironically, the more gifted the leader, the more paralyzing their fears can be. I believe that it is often the underlying fear of failure that drives many of the top performers to push themselves as hard as they do to achieve. They are rewarded early in their careers for their efforts, however, over the long run, these same tendencies can lead to burnout and even self-sabotage. Of all the cutting edge modern leadership research available, it turns out that the solution lies in the ancient wisdom of mindfulness practices.

Mindfulness is defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of ones thoughts, emotions, or experiences in a moment-to-moment basis; a state of awareness,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Research shows that these mindfulness practices can decrease stress, anxiety and depression, while increasing positive emotions and vitality, all of which leads to enhanced performance.

Almost any activity can have a meditative effect, if done with intention and presence. Some of more common mindful activities include distance swimming, running, walking, surfing, being in nature, yoga, singing, dancing, painting, playing an instrument, or simply sitting and focusing on your breath.

Meditation and mindfulness is the secret super power of next-level leaders, allowing them to harness the gifts inherent in their drive to perform, while maintain the ability to stay calm and present, and to respond vs. react in any situation.

Original Article by Lindsay Sukornyk and Huffington Post here.

Two Simple Words That Help Drive Employee Engagement and Company Results

Employee EngagementWhen you put people first, profits follow.

You don’t get to be in the 100 Best Companies to Work For, for 19 years in a row, just by luck.

So when I saw that one of my local firms had achieved that goal, I went to meet with them to find out just how they had done that.

When I asked Stephanie Slate, Director of Talent Acquisition at JM Family Enterprises, a $14.9billion company, how they achieved such great levels of employee engagement, Stephanie’s put me straight right from the get go.

“Firstly,” Stephanie said “we don’t call people employees, we call them Associates. This is critical to our corporate culture because we want people to feel that they work with us, and not for us.”

“Secondly our high associate engagement comes from a simple philosophy of People First. This is has been embedded into our culture, and it’s this that really makes the difference.”

Now, to be honest, People First is not a concept that I was hearing of for the first time.

In fact, I would say that the majority of CEO’s talk about People First cultures, but given that 68% of staff in the US are disengaged, clearly not everyone is walking the talk, so what is JM Family doing differently.

Stephanie said, “To create the People First culture, you need to have leaders who live the culture, which founder Jim Moran did, as does current CEO Colin Brown, and you need to recruit people that fit into that culture to both to maintain and strengthen it.”

Cultural fit is the most important recruitment quality that JM Family looks for in potential.

If a candidate has amazing skills but won’t fit the culture, then they don’t get hired. Stephanie mentioned that JM Family would even hire people with a great cultural fit and train them in the skills needed for the position, such is the importance of cultural fit to them.

So what does a People First culture look like?

During our conversation, there were several key themes that kept re-emerging, and these were.

  • Respect
  • Caring
  • Communication and Connection
  • Empowerment
  • Opportunities
  • Appreciation

Respect

JM Family wants their associates to feel both valued and respected. They encourage the new associates to ask questions, to be curious, and they listen to them, even the new associates.

With every new change that comes along, one of the first questions to be asked by senior management is “how will this impact our associates?’

Caring

The company cares about its associates, and it shows that by offering an excellent benefits package, but the caring extends well beyond that. They have medical staff and daycare services on site at main locations; they have several programs they have implemented and support that helps associates in times of hardship.

They even have a LifeCare Program, which is like an Associate concierge service that helps with non-work related issues. Stephanie said that she had used that service to help find a florist for her wedding.

Communication and Connection

Communication is key to ensuring that your associates feel like they work with you and not for you. During the onboarding process, all new Associates get to meet with a Vice President for a day, the Executive Management Team and are invited to a group Q&A session with the CEO.

They get to speak with them and ask them questions first hand. This not only helps the communication flow but also helps to make good connections between the new Associates and the Executive Management team.

I was also surprised to see that everyone calls the CEO by his first name and are very comfortable to approach him. This was something that I actually witnessed rather than was just told about.

Empowerment

Associates are encouraged to ask questions and to challenge things, although this has to be done constructively and in ways that will benefit the company. They also encourage associates to try new things and to learn from their mistakes, rather than to punish or criticize them for it.

This helps to create an empowered workforce that is proactive when they see opportunities to benefit the company.

Opportunities

One of the key reasons people cite for leaving their employers is a lack of career development and opportunities. When a company takes an approach where they hire for cultural fit and willing to train for a position, and they have five different divisions, there will always be opportunities to either advance or to try something different.

Appreciation

Appreciation is one of our most basic needs, after food, shelter, and safety, and JM Family do a great job at showing their Associates that they are appreciated. They have regular appreciation dinners and awards, and they also have a peer to peer appreciation program which allows people to recognize their colleagues for great work that they have done. Sometimes great work goes unseen by management, but programs like this allow for people to be recognized by their peers and for their efforts to be brought to the attention of the management.

So it’s great that JM Family has been ranked in the Top 100 companies 19 years in a row, but what does all this mean to the bottom line?

JM Family’s staff turnover rate is 7.1 percent, which is well below their competitors, which helps to reduce cost, which increases profit.

Their staff stays with the company 10.1 years on average, which compares very favorably with the national average of 4.2, and are happy to recommend the company, and the majority of new hires come from referrals which help to keep down recruitment costs and ensures that any open positions are filled quickly.

They have achieved record revenues in each of the last five years, with an average revenue growth of around 12 percent per year since 2011.

When you put your people first you create an engaged, excited and empowered work force, which helps to keep costs down and revenues growing.

Original Article by Gordon Tredgold- here

 

Emotional Intelligence Myth vs. Fact – By Daniel Goleman

Goleman Emotional IntelligenceIs Emotional Intelligence the same as being “nice” or “polite”?

Does Emotional Intelligence just mean you have a lot of empathy?

Is Emotional Intelligence only for women or men who want to “get in touch with their sensitive side”?

After 20+ years of writing and speaking about the science behind Emotional Intelligence and its importance in work settings, I still come across people who believe one or more of these myths about EI. The author of a recent article in Scientific American fell into the “EI is just about empathy” trap. And an article in Harvard Business Review equated being nice with Emotional Intelligence. The assumption that Emotional Intelligence is related to a man’s “inner female” was raised in a comment to one of my posts about the Emotional Self-Awareness competency.

Each of these exemplify misleading stereotypes about Emotional Intelligence. And they equate one narrow slice of these abilities with the whole. But Emotional Intelligence is much more than just being empathic or nice.

If someone asked you for a short definition of Emotional Intelligence, what would you include in your definition?

Here’s what I mean when I say Emotional Intelligence: It is the capacity to recognize our own feelings and those of others, to manage our emotions, and to interact effectively with others.

Clearly, these are human qualities beyond gender or any superficial differences among us, and refer to a healthy balance of a wide range of abilities.

The model of Emotional Intelligence my colleagues and I use includes the four domains below. Within those domains are twelve competencies, learned and learnable capacities that contribute to performance at work and in life.

Yes, you’ll find self-awareness and empathy on the list of competencies. You’ll also find positive outlook, conflict management, adaptability, and more. Each of the competencies focuses on a specific way that individuals can be aware of and manage their emotions and their interactions with others.

When I say “contribute to performance,” I don’t say that lightly. My colleague Dr. Richard Boyatzis from Case Western Reserve University and I developed this list after reviewing the competencies that companies themselves indicated distinguished their top-performing leaders from more average performers. Decades of research by Dr. Boyatzis, Korn Ferry Hay Group, and others show that higher levels of skill with EI competencies translates into better performance. Here’s just some of the data related to the different competencies:

More Complex—and Powerful—Than “Nice”

Emotional Intelligence is key for leaders at all levels of organizations, regardless of industry. Before you discount the value of Emotional Intelligence in the world of work, make sure you’re considering its range. And, read the research. Decades of empirical research demonstrates that Emotional Intelligence is more complex—and powerful—than simply being “nice.”

Written by Daniel Goleman  – link to original here

2019-04-10T09:21:22+00:00April 6th, 2017|Discussion, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership|

Emotional Control was key to Irish Rugby 6 nations Victory over England

Joe Schmidt and his team did a wonderful job on the emotional management of the Ireland team on Saturday last. With so much on the line and in such a cauldron of intensity and pressure they played angry and cool – a potent combination.

Rugby is a funny old sport for many reasons. Such as the fact that a 6ft 11in second row can play alongside a 5ft 9in who is 8 stone lighter, that you move forward by passing backward and that you beat seven shades of **** out of one another and shake hands with and cheer the opposition afterwards.

The physical and mental challenge particularly at the top level is daunting and I remember meeting many Americans on rugby tours, who can’t believe we play this game without padding and helmets like American Football. To be up for the challenge, to be able to give the sort of effort for this period of time requires a teeth gritting intensity of emotion that has to be raised and then maintained for the full game. Different players get there in different ways, some use anger, some fear and some pure will.

To meet some of the challenges of “putting your body on the line” requires getting into a state of mind that ignores pain as required and which ignores what you are putting your body through. Two 16 stone centres run into one another at speed, there is a 32 stone collision magnified by the momentum, there is effectively a car crash, inertia, g-force and falling to the ground without the ability to use your arms (one pair is protecting the ball and the other pair is making the tackle). When they get up after the first tackle all they have to do is do it another 20 times, while running 7-10 miles in 1000 directions at 10 different speeds while staying aware of every attempt by the opposition to invent a way around them.

So this requires emotional regulation. Fast thinking (as per nobel winner Dr Daniel_Kahneman) of the sort required to react fast and make decisions in milliseconds is generally emotional in nature and it is also supported by good habits learned over years. Slow thinking – meaning thinking with the linear process-driven side of your head about the game and staying cool to make the right tactical decisions is different. Too much emotion can cause this part of your brain (with plans-logic-control) to be hard to access as your amygdala ( the part of your brain which has a primary role in the processing decision-making and emotional reactions) goes too much into fight or flight mode and your thinking and some of your habit based learning suffers or shuts down. Too much pressure to perform also shuts it down – interestingly a psychologist once told me we are most vulnerable to this as teenagers right around the time of the leaving cert (!).

It is well known by cognitive psychologists that too much pressure causes the player to use the same pathways to perform a skill that he or she used while learning the skill – like learning to drive versus experienced driving which is almost automatic. This is illustrated in sport by a study that showed that soccer players in the World Cup taking penalty kicks in the shootout to decide a game’s outcome are twice as likely to miss if they are kicking “not to lose” rather than kicking to win their game. Same goal, situation and ball but just a pressure difference.

Look at the pivotal role of the coach and/or leader in all of this. Trying to get the players ready to function with the punishment and intensity yet trying to keep them thinking so they play cute but also to their maximum physical capacity. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking pressure off. Joe Schmidt the Ireland coach has shown the skills to do this alongside the leaders in the team. Think of the narrow window through which he must motivate and engage his team. Enough intensity but not too much. Enough pressure to perform but no too much. Last Saturday was a masterclass.

Organisational and business teams who understand and use emotion rather than ignoring it – benefit from it hugely through increased performance and better outcomes in almost every area. Motivating and generating the most enthusiasm you can while keeping pressure off your team so they feel the freedom to try things, to innovate and be agile while keeping an eye on the strategy and tactics is a big challenge but necessary to be competitive in the 21st century organisation. Schmidt’s Ireland team demonstrated a level of tuned motivation and performance that was made possible by emotional understanding and control.

In rugby the famous warm-ups before matches with banging of heads etc are becoming less common – one such a man from Munster once told me about was of a French team they were playing in a club game who brought a cockerel into the dressing room before the match. During the warm-up in the dressing room my friend’s team could hear all sorts of shouting and bellowing en Francais reverberating through the thin walls. The French team ran out first and as my friend’s team passed the door to their dressing room as they followed them out, they looked in to see blood and feathers all over the place and no cockerel. “After seeing that” he said “we let them have the ball”

Aidan Higgins BE MBA of ADEO Consulting is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist working with Leaders and Teams in Ireland and the UK. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.