empowerment

The Authentic Leadership we need in times of crisis.

Leadership in a CrisisAuthenticity in troubling times like these is key to engendering trust in those that depend on your decisions and perspectives. This trust is key to keeping your people focused and positive in a crisis and to reducing stress in times of uncertainty. Post crisis this trust will be key to rebuilding and in leading the recovery.

Authentic leadership is composed of four distinct components.

Self-Awareness (“Know Thyself”). A prerequisite for being an authentic leader is knowing your own strengths, limitations, and values. Knowing what you stand for and what you value is critical. It’s important to understand that self-awareness underpins the development of the other components of authentic leadership.

Relational Transparency (“Be Genuine”). This involves being honest and straightforward in dealing with others. An authentic leader does not play games or have a hidden agenda. You know where you stand with an authentic leader. Because of this you can be trusted – if you say its going to be ok people are going to believe you.

Balanced Processing (“Be Fair-Minded”). An effective authentic leader solicits opposing viewpoints and considers all options before choosing a course of action. There is no impulsive action or “hidden agendas”—plans are well thought out and openly discussed. They are shared with and include followers. A fair leader can build consensus in the right way and bring people with him. People pulling together can make all the difference in a fight for survival.

Internalized Moral Perspective (“Do the Right Thing”). An authentic leader has an ethical core. She or he knows the right thing to do and is driven by a concern for ethics and fairness. The roots of authentic leadership come from ancient greek philosophy that focuses on the development of core, or cardinal, virtues. These virtues are prudence (fair-mindedness, wisdom, seeing all possible courses of action); temperance (being emotionally balanced and in control); justice (being fair in dealings with others); and fortitude (courage to do the right thing).

Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring out your authentic self.

Becoming an authentic leader is not easy. Hopefully you established your credentials before this crisis and so your people can trust you and you in turn can get the best from them. But sometimes it takes a crisis to bring out your Authentic self. Are you like Hal Moore, the “first onto the battlefield” and “the last to leave the battlefield” sort of leader? How do you show this?

When your people are operating in anger or anxiety they are, of course, not as effective. This at a time when a survival mode mindset and maximum effort is required. It takes a calm trustworthiness in a leader with a steady hand to help people with this. Remember you may not know all the answers but you don’t pretend to – you work with others to find them and then make the best decisions you can. It is as always, about caring for and empowering your people and showing humility and compassion in everything you do. Even the hard decisions.

It takes a great deal of self-reflection (getting to know oneself), and the courage to do the right thing. It involves a degree of selflessness. We are seeing during the Pandemic many authentic leaders stepping forward. And we are also seeing the opposite.

Soon you will be leading the recovery and how you lead now will prepare for a much more successful outcome.

2020-04-27T15:59:29+00:00April 27th, 2020|Authentic Leadership, Discussion, Employee Engagement, Leadership|

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

2019-06-14T11:48:41+00:00August 13th, 2018|Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Leadership|

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 and Teams

Emotional intelligence and teamsFor the past twenty years, important research has been done in organizations that backs up the claims made in the nineties relating to Emotional Intelligence and its importance by Goleman and many others. Research has shown that feelings and emotions have a direct impact on effectiveness, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line.

Emotional Intelligence has been shown to lead to better customer retention and long term customer relationships, and improved: Trust, Engagement, Influencing, Collaboration, Communication, Decision Making and Change Capability it also leads to Reduced Conflict.

Numerous studies explore the financial implication of emotional intelligence; particularly how higher EQ leaders produce more powerful business results. One such study tested 186 executives on EQ and compared their scores with their company’s profitability; leaders who scored higher in key aspects of emotional intelligence (including empathy and accurate self-awareness) were more likely to be highly profitable.  Leadership and Organization Development Journal 2009

Looking at the emotional intelligence of teams is important because most of the work in organizations today is done by teams. Leaders have a pressing need today to make teams work together better.

Modern businesses thrive when using teams to organize the work. Teams have more talent and experience, more diversity of resources, and greater operating flexibility than individual performers. Research in the last decade has proven the superiority of group decision-making over that of even the brightest individual in
the group. But the exception to this rule is when the group lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate. Then decision-making quality and speed suffer.

The important difference between effective teams and ineffective ones lies in the emotional intelligence of  the group. Teams have an emotional intelligence of their own. It is comprised of the emotional intelligence of individual members, plus a collective competency of the group. Everyone contributes to the overall level of emotional intelligence, and the leader has more influence. The good news is that teams can develop greater emotional intelligence and boost their performance.Teamwork performance improved by 25% in terms of goal achievement over standard functioning teams.

Most research has focused on identifying the tasks and processes that make teams successful. But just learning a script won’t make a good actor great; the actor has to be able to deliver the lines with real feeling. A piano student can learn the music of Bach, but she has to be able to play with heart to be really good. Successful teams can apply the principles of effective task processes, but they must also work together wholeheartedly.

Group Emotional Intelligence

In an article entitled “Building the Emotional Intelligence of groups,” Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff (Harvard Business Review, March 2001) identify three conditions essential to a group’s effectiveness:

  • Trust among members
  • A sense of group identity
  • A sense of group efficacy

To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms — the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits — that support behaviors for building trust, group identity and group efficacy. Group identity is described as a feeling among members that they belong to a unique and worthwhile group. A sense of group efficacy is the belief that the team can perform well and that group members are more effective working together than apart.

Group emotional intelligence is not a question of catching emotions as they bubble up and then suppressing them. It involves courageously bringing feelings out into the open and dialoging about how they affect the team’s work. If emotions are avoided, there is a false or superficial tone that “everything’s just fine.” Groups cannot work together without having personalities that butt up against each other. Admitting to this is the first step in clarifying and finding common ground upon which to move forward.

Group emotional intelligence is also about behaving in ways that build relationships both inside and outside the team. Building relationships strengthens the team’s ability to face challenges. In order to strengthen relationships, the group must feel safe to be able to explore, embrace and ultimately to rely on emotions in work. Emotions must be considered for the good of the group. Feelings count, but then there are the tasks at hand and the work that needs to be done. Team leaders must constantly balance harmony with productivity.

A team’s effectiveness can depend on how well it works together in harmony. A leader skilled in creating good feelings can keep cooperation high. Good team leaders know how to balance the focus on productivity with attention to member’s relationships and their ability to connect. There is even research that shows that humor at work can stimulate creativity, open lines of communications and enhance a sense of trust. Playful joking increases the likelihood of concessions during a negotiation. Emotionally intelligent team leaders know how to use humor and playfulness with their teams.

Creating good moods in employees may be even more important than previously thought. It is common sense to see that workers who feel upbeat will go the extra mile to please customers and therefore improve the bottom line. There is research to show that for every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2 percent increase in revenue. New research from a range of industries now reaffirms the link between leadership and climate and to business performance. According to Daniel Goleman in Primal Leadership (2002), how people feel about working at a company can account for 20 to 30 percent of business performance.

Part of understanding the emotional reality of a team is uncovering the particular habits ingrained in a team or organization that can drive behaviors. A prime example is the notion of “It’s just the way we do things here.” The team leader is effective when he or she looks for signs that reveal if such habits are working or not. It is the leader’s job to explore and expose unhealthy work habits in order to build more effective group norms.

In any group, people will eventually cross lines and confrontation becomes necessary. There must be a means for doing this that is firm yet not demeaning. The team leader sets the tone for this because of the position he or she is in. Caring confrontation is an art that can be learned and taught to both leaders and members. The use of humor can be very effective as a means for bringing errant members back into the group fold. The message is, “We want you as part of this group, your contributions are needed.”

These are the group norms that build trust and a sense of group identity for members: interpersonal understanding, perspective taking, confrontation and caring. They can be learned and developed wherever they don’t exist naturally. It may take some time and attention, but they are too important to be overlooked. Teams are at the very foundation of organizational effectiveness and they won’t work without mutual trust and common commitment to goals.

Building self-managing teams that have emotional intelligence

One of the first tasks of a team leader is to build greater team awareness. This is the job of each individual member of the team, as well, but the leader’s job is to instill a sense of responsibility individuals for the well-being of the team. In order to do so, Cary Cherniss, chair of a well-known research group on emotional intelligence, puts forth ground rules for teams. Everyone on the team should take responsibility for:

  • Keeping us on track if we get off track
  • Facilitating group input
  • Raising questions about procedures, asking for clarification about where we are going and offering summaries of issues being discussed to make sure we have a shared understanding
  • Using good listening skills to build on the ongoing discussion or to clearly signal that we want to change the subject, and ask if that is okay

This is an example of how a leader can create a self-managing team. What is important for the leader, emphasizes Cherniss, is to remind the group of its collaborative norms by making them explicit. Everyone can practice them because they are upfront and repeated at each meeting.

Clearly the setting forth of core values and operating norms is important to ensure that a team works smoothly together. But like most things, they must be repeated again and again. When values and norms are clear, teams can go about their work even in the absence of the leader.
In self-aware self-managing teams, members hold each other accountable for sticking to norms. It takes a strong emotionally intelligent leader to hold the team to such responsibility. Many teams are not accustomed to proactively handling emotions and habits. And many leaders have difficulty stepping out of the role of director in order to let teams self-direct.

However, when the values and norms are clear, and self-management principles are explicit and practiced over time, teams become not only effective, but also self-reinforcing. Being on the team leads to positive emotions that energize and motivate people.

Every company faces specific performance challenges for which teams are the most practical and powerful vehicle. The critical challenge for senior managers is how to develop emotionally intelligent teams that can deliver maximum performance. Teams have a unique potential to deliver results, and executives must foster self-managing and emotionally intelligent teams that will be effective. In doing so, top management creates the kind of environment that enables teams as well as individuals to thrive. So the Organisation can thrive.

Using Emotional Intelligence to improve business performance and culture

IMG_0968All business owners face the challenges of keeping employees motivated and engaged, ensuring good communication and helping to avoid conflict, whether the company is going through a time of change or not. For a small company this can be even harder, as they are often so focused on the day to day running of the business they can forget to support the most important factor in the business – their people. It goes without saying that running a small company can be both challenging and stressful. Often money is tight, which can create a sense of urgency and survival, and the corporate support structure is not available for employees. Yes, business success in a small company often relies on people performing multiple roles and going the extra mile. Employees need to be motivated and engaged to do this. Business owners may or may not have heard of the term Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – but most won’t have had time to consider what it could mean to their business or simply dismiss it as too touchy-feely or they think it’s related to the Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

In a small business it’s critical for people to manage their own impulses, communicate with others effectively, manage change well, solve problems and build rapport in tense situations. They also need empathy, and to remain optimistic even in the face of adversity. This “clarity” in thinking and “composure” in stressful and difficult situations is called ‘emotional intelligence’ and it is becoming increasingly important for SME business owners to understand this as an important business tool.

Research shows Emotional Intelligence is twice as important as IQ in predicting outstanding performance and EQ can be developed until well into our 40’s, so regardless if we are born as a leader or not, we can improve our performance by improving our EQ.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognise, understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others in an organisation. When you have high emotional intelligence you can recognise and understand your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and then use this knowledge to relate better, manage better and achieve greater success.
Emotional Intelligence consists of four attributes:
· Self- awareness – The ability to recognise and name your own emotions, and how they affect your thoughts and behaviours. It helps you understand objectively and accept your strengths and weaknesses. As a result you have more self-confidence.
· Self-management – The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, demonstrate and manage your emotions in healthy ways and take initiative and follow through in commitments.
· Social awareness – The ability to understand others point of view, their emotions, concerns, and needs, and show empathy.
· Relationship management – The ability of using social awareness to build and maintain good relationships, to communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, and manage conflict effectively.

Emotional intelligence can enable a SME business owner to build a high performing team and a great working culture, by improving the way they communicate, build relationships and create a positive working environment. In any company, conflict can lower performance. It affects wellbeing and focus and can create unnecessary stress. Having a good performing team is critical for the success of any company, but particularly small businesses, as teams are smaller and work closer together, often being more sensitive to conflict or emotional situations, as a result.

Becoming an emotionally intelligent leader

By becoming an emotionally intelligent leader you can motivate and inspire the people working for you, to work better, and be more fulfilled at work. Emotional intelligence can help business owners solve their retention and morale problems, improve information flow, getting people working better together and driving forward business objectives.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are self aware, they know their strength and areas of development, and they know how their behaviour affects others, and they can manage their emotions effectively.
In the past, emotions were often thought of as a set of characteristics that needed to be controlled as they demonstrated weakness and instability. It was believed that focusing on the task was the only way to increase efficiency.

However, now we know that in order to function professionally, we have to acknowledge and manage our own emotions and others to encourage smooth communication and avoid conflicts.

Managing emotions

Managing emotions though does not mean simply bottling them up or ignoring them, as this can often lead to stress. The consequence of employees bottling or ignoring emotions can lead to petty conflicts in the workplace which eventually spiral out of control.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman described emotional intelligence as knowing how one is feeling and being able to handle those feelings without becoming swamped; being able to motivate oneself to get jobs done; being creative and performing at one’s peak; sensing what others are feeling and handling relationships effectively. So how can we develop emotional intelligence? The reality is that some people are better than others at reading their own and other’s emotions, however, unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed if a business owner is prepared to implement some strategies.

Here are some tips to increase your emotional intelligence and that of your team.
· Ask for feedback, get to know your own strengths and weaknesses
· Pay attention to your team, notice their mindset, and emotional state
· Encourage open and honest communication
· Take the time to acknowledge and thank your team for their effort

The original article was sourced from Business Matters Magazine

Empowerment is the key factor

navy1I was once on a course at the IMI and my teacher was Prof  Terri Monroe from the University of San Diego. The module was leadership and she took a very interesting couple of days where she was a guide rather than a teacher. This unsettled some who were used to being told what to do next (despite being executive level management) but she was keen to let us evolve the learning and watch the leadership dynamics in the group. So she gave us all the leeway we wanted. I found this new and interesting.

She spoke about her work with the US Navy and how the dymanics of the armed forces had changed considerably from the “Over the Top” mentality of the past to one which recognised that fast decisions and reactions were key to meeting (and hitting) targets. Therefore management was focused on empowerment and leadership on Motivation – from command and control they had moved to enabling decisions to be made where “the rubber meets the road”.

Much is made of empowerment in business where the decisions can be made, where needed, at the coal face  – where your team meet your customers, where the sales are done and revenues generated and where knowledge is gathered about the customer and the environment. In our ever faster moving world the old chain of command idea means bureaucracy, slow response times, and lost opportunities. Empowerment is a critical success factor in the business world.

So I heard a story the other day about my oft quoted All Blacks Rugby team which illustrated it nicely. I often hold that they are the most successful team in the world overall because they all know what they are doing (as opposed to just the coach/captain) and they have an ability to adapt to expose newly discovered weaknesses. In a lot of sports and in some rugby teams there is the autocratic manager with the team plan who is handing out instructions about how the game should be played with all and sundry sticking to this plan until told to change. These changes are sent out via a “waterboy” or “doctors assistant” or shouted from the edge of the pitch or even bored into the players during the half-time break.

The All Blacks have a formidable world cup winning Manager – Graham Henry –  who from a distance looks like the autocratic type and although he is separated from his players during the game he does send messengers to and from the pitch. However the story goes that during one of his recent visits with his team to Ireland when the All Blacks won the grand slam (eg very strong and successful team) one of his messengers was corralled during a critical part of the Ireland game and asked what instructions he had sent out. “Oh none mate” came the reply – “I was asked to find out what the players were thinking of doing next“.

Now thats Empowerment.

Aidan Higgins

Can You Really Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?

Who wouldn’t want a higher level of emotional intelligence? Studies have shown that a high emotional quotient (or EQ) boosts career success, entrepreneurial potential, leadership talent, health, relationship satisfaction, humor, and happiness. It is also the best antidote to work stress and it matters in every job — because all jobs involve dealing with people, and people with higher Emotional Intelligence are more rewarding to deal with.

Most coaching interventions try to enhance some aspect of Emotional Intelligence, usually under the name of social, interpersonal, or soft skills training. The underlying reasoning is that, whereas IQ is very hard to change, Emotional Intelligence can increase with deliberate practice and training.

But what is the evidence? For example, if you’ve been told you need to keep your temper under control, show more empathy for others, or be a better listener, what are the odds you can really do it? How do you know if your efforts will pay off, and which interventions will be most effective?

Nearly 3,000 scientific articles have been published on Emotional Intelligence since the concept was first introduced in 1990, and there are five key points to consider:

1. Your level of Emotional Intelligence is firm, but not rigid.

Our ability to identify and manage our own and others’ emotions is fairly stable over time, influenced by our early childhood experiences and even genetics. That does not mean we cannot change it, but, realistically, long-term improvements will require a great deal of dedication and guidance.

Everyone can change, but few people are seriously willing to try. Think about the worst boss you ever had — how long would it take him to start coming across as more considerate, sociable, calm or positive? And that’s the easier part — changing one’s reputation. It is even harder to change one’s internal EQ; in other words, you might still feel stressed out or angry on the inside, even if you manage not to show those emotions on the outside.

The bottom line is that some people are just naturally more grumpy, shy, self-centered or insecure, while other people are blessed with natural positivity, composure, and people-skills. However, no human behavior is unchangeable. One good piece of news is that EQ tends to increase with age, even without deliberate interventions. That’s the technical way to say that (most people) mature with age.

2. Good coaching programs do work.

Good news for all you coaches and your clients; bad news for the skeptics. While no program can get someone from 0 to 100%, a well-designed coaching intervention can easily achieve improvements of 25%. Various meta-analyses (quantitative reviews that synthesize the findings from many published studies) suggest that the most coachable element of Emotional Intelligence is interpersonal skills — with average short-term improvements of 50%. Think of it as teaching negotiation and social etiquette — what the great Dale Carnegie called “how to win friends and influence people.” For stress management programs, the average improvement reported is around 35%. Even empathy can be trained in adults. The most compelling demonstration comes from neuropsychological studies highlighting the “plasticity” of the social brain. These studies suggest that, with adequate training, people can become more pro-social, altruistic, and compassionate.

And there’s a bonus: research also shows that the benefits of Emotional Intelligence-coaching are not just confined to the workplace — they produce higher levels of happiness, mental and physical health, improved social and marital relationships, and decrease levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). Admittedly, the programs studied here may be considerably more sophisticated than the more intuitive and eclectic approach of the average coach, but the point is that EQ can be enhanced with the right program. (And so if your approach isn’t working, maybe it’s time to look for a better one.)

3) But you can only improve if you get accurate feedback.

While many ingredients are required for a good coaching program, the most important aspect of effective EQ-coaching is giving people accurate feedback. Most of us are generally unaware of how others see us — and this especially true for managers. As noted , “it is remarkable how many smart, highly motivated, and apparently responsible people rarely pause to contemplate their own behaviors.”

A recent meta-analysis shows that the relationship between self- and other-ratings of EQ is weak (weaker, even, than for IQ). In other words, we may not have a very accurate idea of how smart we are, but our notion of how nice we are is even less accurate. The main reason for this blind spot is wishful thinking or overconfidence: it is a well-documented (but rarely discussed) fact that, in any domain of competence, most people think they are better than they actually are. Thus any intervention focused on increasing EQ must begin by helping people understand what their real strengths and weaknesses are.

Although fewer than 15% organizations evaluate the effectiveness of their coaching initiatives, there is strong evidence that using reliable and valid assessment methods, such as personality tests or 360-degree feedback, produces the best outcomes. For example, a controlled experimental study of 1,361 global corporation managers showed that feedback-based coaching increased managers’ propensity to seek advice and improved their performance (as judged by their direct reports) one year later.

4) Some techniques (and coaches) are more competent than others.

Although there is little research on the personal characteristics of effective coaches, there is some research on the methods that work the best. Clearly, some interventions to enhance Emotional Intelligence are more effective than others. The most effective coaching techniques fall under the realm of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Attempts to enhance psychological flexibility — the ability to accept and deal with (as opposed to avoid) unpleasant situations — are also effective. The most popular (not necessarily the most effective) methods are relaxation and meditation. Contrary to popular belief, interventions designed to enhance self-esteem or confidence are rarely effective and often counterproductive. But coaching is not pure science; it is also an art. As such, its success depends on the talent of the coach.

5) Some people are more coachable than others.

Even the best coach and coaching methods will fail with certain clients (just imagine trying to coach Silvio Berlusconi). This is hardly surprising given that many coaching engagements are arranged by HR for, shall we say, unenthusiastic clients. There is an old joke about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb. Just one — so long as the light bulb wants to change. On the one hand, Emotional Intelligence may enhance coachabilty — clients with better people skills, more empathy, and greater self-awareness are better equipped to improve. On the other hand, if you are sensitive to criticism, insecure, and worry about failure (all characteristics of people with a lower EQ) you should be more willing to change. Although there is not much research on coachability, a recent study showed that evaluating clients’ coachability levels at the start of the sessions can increase the effectiveness of coaching.

Many employee engagement surveys, such as Gallup’s and Sirota’s, have shown that managers are the major cause of employee disengagement and stress, and disengagement and stress have been shown to be major inhibitors of productivity and retention. In line, the American Institute of Stress reports that stress is the main cause underlying 40% of workplace turnovers and 80% of work-related injuries. Although  Emotional Intelligence coaching will not solve these problems, it may alleviate the symptoms for both managers and employees. So, with or without a coach, working on your Emotional Intelligence does pay off.

Original Article by Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic  – LINK Here

Leading in tough times

Many areas of the business world are in states of turmoil. At such times the need for leadership is paramount argues Nigel Nicholson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour (London Business School)

Many areas of the business world are in states of turmoil, with employees facing increasing pressures, cost cutting, threats to jobs and a climate of high anxiety.  This is amplified by the fact that it is shared – people see the whites of the eyes of uncomfortable bosses, or feel the emotions of others who share their position.  Some feel they are competing for survival.   At such times the need for leadership is paramount.  In fact this is not just a time of need, but a time of opportunity for people to reveal a new and perhaps unseen capability for leadership – people who can act with the wisdom and skill that today’s challenges require.

The history of leadership tells us  that leaders emerge to meet the challenges of their times. Over much of the last decade, we had been living in an era when key attributes need were for leaders with the mindset and skills needed to grow a business in a climate of abundance and opportunity. Of course, there are new growth opportunities in the present climate, but they are currently in small pockets. For many people, today’s economic landscape is bleaker; and, for all, it is uncertain. These times require a different kind of leadership from the expansionist ethos to which we had become accustomed. They call for a much more savvy and psychological style of leadership, one that is emotionally intelligent and visionary in order to lead people beyond their overwhelming immediate concerns.

It is in this spirit that I offer 10 rules for leaders who must step forward and excel in this business climate.

These depend upon a correct understanding of the psychology of threat and uncertainty. It is critical for leaders to comprehend the mindset of followers, especially in turbulent times.
Survival and success

Understand the psychology of pain, fear, threat and anxiety. This is both quite subtle and quite complex. The need is for leaders to understand correctly what people typically do and think in response to such feelings. Many of people’s reactions will not be what we are used to seeing from them.

Steady emotions. Buffer people, as far as possible, from short-term pressures, yet make sure that they have something meaningful to do. If a major part of their role has disappeared, create a project for them around something that needs doing.

Decentre. This means asking “smart” questions of individuals that help you gain deep insights into how they think and feel, so that you feel what it might be like  to see the world through their eyes. This can be extremely affirming. The process goes as follows:

Ask an individual how he or she feels about a specific event.
Listen and ask more questions to get closer to what the person is experiencing.
Paraphrase to them your understanding of their thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge the reality of what people are thinking and feeling, but help them to reframe, to see the situation from other perspectives. Although it feels as if there is no end to uncertainty, the world is changing and a new order will emerge. When it comes, we had better be in a state of readiness. An analogy might be that we have descended into a valley filled with fog. This does not mean we have no direction to go in, but it might mean we have to hold hands until we reach sunnier uplands. People need you to tell them that better times are coming that there cannot be a return to any previous state, and that our best hope is in staying close to each other and working together.
Develop a narrative that connects the past, present and future. This does not mean being a soothsayer  predicting the future. The future is not waiting to be discovered – it is something to be seized and claimed. It presents an opportunity. Knowing that  it will not be like the past doesn’t mean disconnect.  You need to be able to elucidate the golden thread that connects past, present and future; It is the identity of the firm and the people in it. Each company has a unique story, history and cultural DNA. Some of that is going to be reborn in the new order that will emerge.

Make the narrative personal. These tough times are  also part of your story. Leaders should be unafraid to tell people how they forge meaning, hope and belief out of such times. You have to do so with authenticity – speaking about your own feelings, learning, foibles, biases and so on, in a way that reveals enough of your own fallibility to bring you close to them but not so much as to shake their confidence. The formula is V-I-P: vision, identity and passion. You cannot have a personal vision and express it with passion if it does not connect genuinely with who you are, your identity.

Be close-up and immediate. People need to know the best thing for them to be doing right now. Show them how this connects with deeper and wider goals you continue to have as an organisation. Remember, in times of fear and crisis, people need much more communication than normal, and it has to be personal – face-to-face – not a barrage of emails.

Set mileposts. The future may be cloudy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have medium-term goals. Tell people what these are, but don’t tell them how to reach them. It builds confidence for people to feel empowered to work together to solve problems about on how to achieve specific goals.

Sacrifice and celebrate. Show that you are just as much a stakeholder as they are. By doing without certain things, you can show symbolically that your life is not business-as-usual either. Spend much more time than usual telling people when they do something right and celebrating achievements collectively to reinforce the sense that you are a community with a common purpose.

Look after yourself. Don’t be a poor role model by letting yourself succumb to stress, overwork and loss of balance. Show people that it is healthy to go home at 5:30 occasionally in order to take your partner out for dinner or a movie. Indeed, tell them that some days you will work a half day from home to get some serious thinking or project work done, rather than appearing to be continually chasing work in ever-decreasing circles. Finally, here’s a little exercise you can do to accentuate the positive.  First write down all the negatives that you are witnessing during the downturn.  Then write down all the positives.  You will be surprised.  These times are like a forest fire – even as they destroy they create the conditions for new growth.  We can see for example how inflated discretionary payment systems were a poor one-club golfer’s solution to the challenge of staff motivation.  Now we are free to create the kinds of recognition and reward that will really unite and motivate people towards building tomorrow’s capabilities.   It is the leader’s job to connect with people to help them fulfil their goals and those of the business – the present climate offers great prizes to those who can do this.

First Published August 2009

Business transformation is about people, people!

Business transformation is defined as a key executive management initiative that attempts to align People, Process and Technology initiatives of a company more closely with its business strategy and vision to support and help innovate new business strategies. Of this the People part is by far the most difficult and time consuming if its to be done right. It is important to take the time. Fudge the issue and you fudge the outcome.

We all know about “changes of strategy” and “responses to market demand” and “downsizing” and “new company initiatives” and such. We hear them all the time in the workplace and in the media and after years of promises gone awry, sceptics deliver a sigh everytime such terms are used. In reality most initiatives fail to reach even 50% of their target goals, and Mergers for instance fail in over 70% of cases to reach a goal where the combined unit is worth more productively than the two independent units. This is because of the implementation. The plan often does not allocate sufficient time and resources to handle the soft factors which are required to address peoples concerns, motivations and critically does not give the time required to adapt.

What looks great on a spreadsheet is often a nightmare to staff who suddenly are not sure:

  • They have a secure job
  • Who they will work with (their social group)
  • Where they work and where they sit (their place)
  • Whether they will be let do their job
  • Having established a comfort zone that works for them they are now asked to change it and it often is not communicated to them how much. They can be left for months at a time with these stresses hanging over their head. What about motivation?

I have experienced in conversations over coffee that many execs find soft skill learning difficult to pin down. Perhaps its because it needs more than academic understanding? Perhaps its because those good with numbers can be by definition poor with people?  Is it taught well? Or is the theory too new?  Remember it was not so long ago that Taylorism was in vogue. Most of the theories I was taught in College in the late 80?s are invalid now.

My view is that for many Managers and Experts the idea of engaging with people brings them out in a sweat. They prefer the predictability of numbers or technology or knowledge to real engagement and while the predictable part of the change is expertly managed they hope this will be enough to allow them to fudge the people issues. They hope the answer to the ultimate question is indeed 42.

Motivate Yourself First

I recently gave a talk before Cavan County Enterprise Boards recent Awards Dinner on the topic of Motivation, with reference to the current economic climate. The reaction to the talk was extremely positive and also the feedback was particularly interesting.

I told the group that there are times I think when we forget the basics and lose ourselves in worry about things we don’t really need. This leads to suffering on a personal level that is not necessary and totally within our own control. Cutbacks and reductions can have an overly negative effect on us if we do not see that often these are necessary to moving forward. Often we attach meaning to things that causes us grief and worry. The way to address this is to sit down and think about what is really necessary at the end of the day and what of those things we worry about  are supports to our Ego rather than to our well-being and happiness.

Entrepeneurs and Small business owners in particular need to remain motivated and optimistic despite the current travails and to influence and motivate those around them as well. Someone once said “Sincerity is the secret – if you can fake that you can achieve anything!”. Well it can’t be faked, the people around you have a good idea whats going on really. So the feeling of motivation has to be real and come from within. Taking action every morning to bring a positive outlook into play by focusing on the positive things in our life can set the mood for the whole day. And bringing it to work influences those around us particularly small business owners.

The folks from Cavan had an interesting perspective. They reckoned the Celtic tiger hadn’t done much for them and so they didn’t miss it. “We never had too much around here anyway” they said and so we don’t miss it either. And this from as chirpy and cheery bunch of people as I’ve met. You know when you see what some have lost in terms of happiness and clarity in their lives its great to see that some have held on to what matters.

2019-04-10T09:21:37+00:00March 1st, 2012|Discussion, Leadership, Motivation|