Emotional Intelligence

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.

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.

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.

Emotional Intelligence: The Secret Sauce That Makes A Good Leader

Emotional Intelligence: The Secret Sauce That Makes A Good Leader: Some people managers struggle with being good leaders and cannot understand why: They are experts in their fields, work hard, and communicate with their direct reports in a comprehensible and explicit manner. And yet, those direct reports don’t seem to be happy, engaged, and most importantly: productive. Something seems to be missing.

In many cases, the problem starts with the selection criteria for new leaders: Often these individuals are selected because of their job performance and their expertise. Those criteria, of course, make perfect sense but they are not enough. There is a third requirement that is often neglected but crucial for good leadership: emotional intelligence.

When emotional intelligence is missing:

Have you ever witnessed someone lose their cool at work? How suddenly facts, arguments, and reason become irrelevant because a decision maker has a meltdown? Or how, at a meeting, the moderator is holding a monologue rather than engaging with the other participants and encouraging different viewpoints and ideas? Those behaviors are signs of a lack of emotional intelligence. And if leaders lack it, the consequences for their teams can be devastating.

From self-awareness to self-control:

Emotional intelligence is important for being able to control your emotions because it requires a high degree of self – awareness. When you are able to look at your actions and words from an outside perspective and see how they impact other people, you are much more likely to deliberately control your conduct towards others and therefore avoid negative consequences of your
behavior. This is especially important in conflict situations or when you feel under pressure.  The famous quote from the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird“ says it all: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Empathy skills are crucial for good leadership. If you are able to empathize with others, you’ll be more connected to those people. This will lead to a higher level of trust, performance, and engagement and not just obedience and compliance. There is even solid evidence that empathy will not only make you a better leader, but also boost your own performance: For example, the study “Empathy in the Workplace“ shows that empathetic leaders are viewed by their bosses as better performers.

Emotional intelligence can be learned:

This is the good news for people who feel disheartened because they’re afraid they just don’t have significant emotional intelligence. There are three behavior sets you need to acquire, all of which are connected with empathetic listening:
Recognizing cues, verbal as well as nonverbal (e.g. tone, facial expressions, body language). Pay attention to what people are saying and what they omit saying.
Deciphering cues, which involves understanding the meaning of the said and unsaid messages and making educated guesses about underlying motivations and emotions.
Responding adequately, which involves showing others that their message was received and encouraging them to keep speaking their minds.

Good leadership is about connecting to your direct reports, about understanding their motivations, aspirations, interests, and fears. This will enable you to support their individual professional development which in turn will lead to more engagement and higher productivity. There are professional leadership coaches who specialize in this field. If you feel you could benefit from an expert showing you the ropes in this regard, find one. It could make all the difference.

Original Article in Huffington Post by Thomas Buus Madsen here

2019-04-10T09:21:22+00:00February 13th, 2017|Discussion, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership|

Former SEAL on using Emotional Intelligence for Effective Leadership

Emotional Intelligence for Effective Leadership in SEAL Teams

The ability to be perceptively in tune with yourself and your emotions, as well as having sound situational awareness can be a powerful tool for leading a team. The act of knowing, understanding, and responding to emotions, overcoming stress in the moment, and being aware of how your words and actions affect others, is described as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence consists of these four attributes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

“There are no extraordinary men… just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.” – William (Bill) Halsey, Jr.

As a Navy SEAL veteran, entrepreneur, and leader of one of the fastest growing digital marketing agencies in the country, I have experienced many emotions and become very aware of how those emotions can have a positive or negative effect on my ability to inspire and lead a team. Many individuals try to shut off their feelings, but as much as we distort, deny, and bury our emotions and memories, we can’t ever eliminate them. You can learn to be emotionally independent and gain the attributes that allow you to have emotional intelligence by connecting to core emotions, accepting them, and being aware of how they affect your decisions and actions. My past experiences in combat required me to develop emotional intelligence quickly. A skill that takes constant improvement but that has been beneficial in current leadership roles.

Emotional intelligence is widely known to be a key component of effective leadership. Understanding how the brain operates and how the emotional response system works should also be a factor in where we place team members within our organizations. Being able to relate behaviors and challenges of emotional intelligence on workplace performance is an immense advantage in building an exceptional team. One of the most common factors that leads to retention issues is communication deficiencies that create disengagement and doubt. A leader lacking in emotional intelligence is not able to effectively gauge the needs, wants and expectations of those they lead. Leaders who react from their emotions without filtering them can create mistrust amongst their staff and can
seriously jeopardize their working relationships. Reacting with erratic emotions can be detrimental to overall culture, attitudes and positive feelings toward the company and the mission. Good leaders must be self aware and understand how their verbal and nonverbal communication can affect the team.
SEAL training taught me many things, including how to build alliance among a team, make quick decisions in high stress situations, and communicate effectively amidst chaos. Emotions and adrenaline run high in stressful and potentially life threatening situations, but for people that haven’t had the training, it can be difficult to stay calm and make good decisions under pressure.
To help understand your emotional intelligence competencies, I would recommend determining where you stand on the below elements.

Self-Assessment:

Without reflection we cannot truly understand who we are, why we make certain decisions, what we are good at, and wherewe fall short. In order to reach your maximum
potential, you must be confident in who you are, understanding the good with the bad. Those that have a strong understanding of who they are and what they want to work on, can improve themselves on a regular basis. On the battlefield, a soldier’s heart is revealed. You see actions of heroism as well as shameful acts of cowardice. Sometimes you don’t even know what type of person you are until you have been put in a situation that pushes you to the limits. Empathy and Compassion: Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they may feel or react to a certain situation. When one has empathy, the capacity to feel compassion is open. The emotion that we feel in response to suffering that motivates a desire to help. The more we can relate to others, the better we will become at understanding what motivates or upsets them.

Emotional Restraint:

Self- control is a critical part of emotional intelligence. You need to understand how you feel before you react in a way that you may regret later. This is important in conflict resolution. It doesn’t do any good to say things that will not help to resolve the situation. A leader’s responsibility is to create order within organization and form a unified culture with positivity at the core.

Relationship Building:

You can’t make deep connections with others if you’re distracted. Many of us have families, other obligations, and a crazy to do list, but building and maintaining healthy and productive relationships is essential to one’s ability to gain higher emotional intelligence. We must recognize that everyone has a different perspective due to their background and ideals. The key is to find common ground and know that what you do and say can have a positive or negative effect on someone. This includes the tone of your voice, facial expressions, and body language.

Effective Communication:

In the SEAL teams you have to do three things flawlessly to be an effective operator and team member: Move, shoot, and communicate. Communication being of the utmost importance. mis-understandings and lack of communication are usually the basis of problems between most people. Failing to communicate effectively in a workplace leads to frustration, bitterness, and confusion among employees. Effective communication can eliminate obstacles and encourage stronger workplace relationships. When employees know their role within a company and understand how they benefit the overall direction and vision, there is a sense of value and accomplishment. Good communication results in alignment and a shared sense of purpose. One of the things that motivates me to be a better leader is having a positive effect on people. Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool and I hope to continue to understand how it can contribute to exceeding goals, improving critical
work relationships, and create a healthy, productive workplace and organizational culture.

This article was co-authored by Brent Gleeson and Dyan Crace. Original on Forbes here.

Boost a Team’s Emotional Intelligence for Better Business Results

emotional_intelligence_mapWhen emotional intelligence is mentioned, there may be agreement that it’s indeed a great thing for someone to be more relatable, more self aware and better at controlling impulsive behavior.

But does the emotional intelligence of a team really have bottom-line consequences?

While a strong consensus may not have existed before, that is changing as more companies recognize the value of EQ. Many organizations are now hiring for emotional intelligence (EQ) and evidence is mounting that EQ pays off in higher sales and productivity, and lower turnover.

Consider, for example:

  • A large cosmetics company that now hires for EQ have on average sold $91,000 more than salespeople who were not hired before the new system was set up.
  • The International Journal of Organizational Analysis finds that EQ competencies were positively linked to team cohesiveness.
  • Manufacturing supervisors who received EQ training cut lost time accidents by half and formal grievances by 20%. Plant productivity improved $250,000 over set goals.
  • Firms with high EQ managers found 34% higher growth profits.

“Emotional intelligence really is the secret sauce,” says James A. Runde, author of “Unequaled: Tips for Building a Successful Career Through Emotional Intelligence,” and a special advisor and a former Vice-Chairman of Morgan Stanley.

Runde says that too many employees don’t realize that “brains and hard work are not enough” to give them a successful career, and too many leaders don’t understand how the lack of team EQ skills hurt performance for the team and for the organization.“In the era of artificial intelligence and virtual reality and robots and drones – all those things are wonderful and productive, but for people trying to succeed in a solutions business, you’ve got to have people who can relate to other people,” he says.

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, there are five elements that define EQ:
1. Self-awareness.
Those who are aware of their emotions don’t let them get out of control and are honest with themselves about their strengths and weaknesses. They work to improve and become better performers.
2. Self-regulation.
As they are aware of their emotions, these people don’t let themselves get too angry or jealous and don’t make impulsive decisions. They show thoughtfulness, comfort with change, integrity and the ability to say no.
3. Motivation.
Those with high EQ are very productive, love a challenge and are effective in whatever they do. They know the importance of working for long term success.
4. Empathy.
They are adept at recognizing the feelings of others, even when they’re not obvious. They’re good listeners, honest, don’t stereotype others or rush to judgment.
5. Social skills.
People with high EQ are easy to talk to and are eager to focus on helping others be successful. They are team players who are good communicators, help resolve disputes and are relationship builders.

Emotional Intelligence boosts business in several ways

Marian Ruderman, senior fellow and director of Research Horizons at the Center for Creative Leadership, is also an associate member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence.
“You may have the smartest, best idea, but you won’t be able to execute it if you can’t relate to people,” she says. Ruderman says that she doesn’t believe leaders pay enough attention to EQ on their teams, partly because they may lack the “vocabulary” to discuss EQ and its implications. She says that as more organizations focus on processes and not just tasks, EQ will become a much more important part of the success equation.

“I think people used to be more homogenous in the way they worked, but now we must all work together and it’s much more diverse and we must all find ways of working together,” she says. “That means teams must embrace EQ.”

It’s also important to realize that just because a team has emotionally intelligent members does not mean it will automatically lead to an emotionally intelligent group, points out research in Harvard Business Review from Vanessa Druskat and Steven B. Wolff. Further, building team EQ can be more complicated because teams interact at more levels, both as a group and individually, they say. The most effective teams have the “emotional capacity” to face difficult situations and seek feedback on processes, progress and performance and set up norms to respond effectively to the emotional challenges a group confronts daily. They have a “cando attitude,” they say, and are optimistic, positive and create an affirmative environment.

Ruderman suggests that any leader trying to get teams to develop greater EQ is to begin with “why it’s important.” One of the ways to do that is by making the business case of how EQ can bring greater bottom-line results now and in the future, Runde says. “People might think that books on EQ belong in the psychology section of a bookstore, but they really belong in the business section,” Runde says. He adds that if organizations don’t prioritize EQ, “then you will be just a run of the mill service provider,” he says. “Sure you’ll get business, but you’ll never become a trusted advisor. You’ll never be the company a client calls before they call anyone else.”

Runde says leaders must help team members understand they have to: Turn client relationships into revenue. While it’s important to build relationships, employees must understand that relationships are assets that are only worth something if they are turned into revenue. Employees need to build relationships, learn to look for new business, ask for the order and then get
the transaction.

Be an advisor, not a vendor. When making a pitch to a client, don’t focus mostly on your company’s credentials and a bunch of charts and graphs. Instead, craft a “can do” pitch that addresses the positive outcome the client wants rather than a bunch of technicalities or the “plumbing” that will be required, he says. “Subtly shape the selection criteria to fit your strategies,” he says.
Don’t push too hard. Competitors may exaggerate the truth, beefing up their own capabilities and promising big outcomes or deeply discounted prices.

That’s why it’s critical for leaders to encourage employees to not be “pushy” with clients so that the clients feel they’re being rushed into a decision. Personal connections are still important even when dealing with tough competitors.

Be good listeners. “Some people listen to respond, and some listen to listen,” he says. “It’s the people who listen to listen who learn the most and establish trust.” Only when clients believe your team has their best interest at heart will they trust enough to reveal their goals and issues. Once that is understood, then a range of options can be crafted for the client. “You are not a used car salesperson simply pushing to close this deal,” he says. “You want a loyal client who will come back again and again with their problems.”

Stay in touch. Once a deal is closed or a project is finished, maintain open communications with the client and be alert to how stakeholders are reacting to the finished deal. Changing markets may mean the project needs to be fine-tuned over time – or even redone. Creating long term client relationships requires “a significant investment in time and cost,” but can even lead to a client calling your organization to implement a deal originally pitched by a competitor, he says. “That’s because you’ve put in the time with these people and they trust you,” he says.

Adapted from Original Article by Anita Bruzzese on Fast Track October 2016

Leaderships good intentions have a big blind-spot.

Leadership and CultureModern organisational leadership requires a whole new set of perspectives and competencies. Competition is no longer just for market share but for the right people. The performance of those people must be leveraged through developing engagement which means ensuring empowerment and motivation.

Leadership strategy in the business schools emphasises Vision and Mission first – which are different things – although surprisingly so many leaders do not get the difference. They are about purpose and direction. The Vision sets the purpose and the Mission the direction/goals/objectives. This difference is critical particularly as new generations of knowledge workers are more interested in the former than the latter.

Microsoft’s vision, famously, was ”a computer in every home”. It was about empowerment of the individual, in a time when computers were available only to large organisations. Great idea, great purpose, great results.

The challenges for large organisations are based around the ability to innovate, the ability to adapt (agility) and the ability to attract and retain great talent. Organisations which have the first two tend to have the third. Why? Because a company that is good at innovation has the space and ability to take risks that allows autonomy and learning to blossom. Environments like this allow people to make a difference and to grow and learn and they are highly motivational. The opposite of this approach kills companies. Read this report on Nokia for example: Nokia.

We do not motivate people, we create the environments that allow them to be self-motivated.

Agility means the ability to adapt, so autonomy and authority must be pushed out to the coal face, to the people that work with the customers or consumers. If you give your people these freedoms and coach them to enable accurate risk assessment and decision making you again create that motivating environment.

The millennial generation, today anyone below 35 years old, own many of the competencies required to thrive in purposeful organizations and are coming up on 50% of the available talent pool. Organisations must provide the motivational environment to attract this talent or they will wither and die.

But most good Leaders know this. The challenge is how to implement this in their organisation. Where to start? One issue is the lack of recognition of the culture that exists. Like a fish in water they are not aware that water is all around them. I know myself of the highs of gaining an understanding at a training course or conference and going back to the organisation full of good intentions. And then slowly and surely forgetting them as the organisational norm floods in and quenches the fire.

The main blind-spot is culture recognition. As Peter Drucker famously said:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Cultural change is key to improving organisational performance. It must be done in tandem with the process. Processes are easy to see and change particularly for the solution finding leadership style. Culture is the Mammoth in the room.

Culture change is possible of course with a plan, a communications strategy, time, and the will to make the changes. It requires true emotionally intelligent leadership; walking the talk, resonating the why and communicating the purpose throughout the organisation while sustaining the will to make the changes against constant opposition. This is the secret to turning good intentions into great results.

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.

Why Mindfulness is key to conscious leadership.

Mindfulness is seen as a dirty word in some organisations. It’s often put over in the box with words like “meditation”, “awareness” and other such “tree hugging hippy crap” (Cartman). To some it belongs in the word of the spiritual and should be kept away from words such as “competencies”, “capabilities” and “skills”.  It doesn’t help that the word is appearing all over social media, in the papers and I saw it again yesterday – on a colouring book.  It doesn’t help that it is misunderstood and worse, grabbed by some who do not understand it and shoe-horned into irrelevant contexts.

It is important for leaders and managers in organisations not to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Mindfulness is a key part of awareness and Emotional Intelligence which many will know is critical to successful Leadership.

So what is it? And what the difference between it, awareness and meditation (often confused).

I define Mindfulness as the process of observing your own thoughts and emotions as they arise – without judgement.  Antony DeMello likened it to driving a car. You are watching where you are going, hands on the wheel and eyes on the road but you are scanning for a change in engine noise, a flat tyre or a change in weather conditions. It’s a process going on underneath your conscious active thought process.

Similarly, in the work environment if you are mindful, you become conscious of your habit of mind, your stressors, and your emotional state and so you are more likely to take right action rather than follow an automated response. This is just one reason why Mindfulness as part of Emotional Intelligence benefits leaders – because once they are mindful, they do not avoid or ignore emotion but use it as information, and understand it so they can make whole, clear decisions. Ironic then, particularly with the preconceptions of some, that being Emotionally Intelligent results in being less impacted by emotion.

Meditation is the actual practice of sitting (or sometimes for the more advanced student, walking) and bringing your focus of attention to something in the present which clears your mind so that you can step back and watch your thought processes and feel your emotions so that you know what is stressing you most and also how you feel about things.  When I teach leaders Meditation as part of our Leadership and Emotional Intelligence courses at ADEO Consulting there is often discomfort first (at having to be still) and then surprise and even delight.

According to the Insead business school (2013) “As little as 15 minutes of meditation can actually help people make better, more profitable decisions, by increasing resistance (for example) to the sunk cost bias”

So we practice Meditation and Mindfulness regularly to become aware. An aware individual knows who they are, how they feel and what they want.  Awareness is critical to happiness, amongst other things. Often we seek happiness in ways that are unsuccessful because we are not aware of what we want. We get to the top of the ladder and there’s “no THERE there”.

It is well known that CEO’s like Rupert Murdoch, Bill Ford, Arianna Huffington, Rick Goings (Tupperware) and Mark Benioff (Salesforce.com) as well as many others all meditate and use Mindfulness. In my experience the practice itself is easy, but a challenge is finding the time to do it. It is also true that leaders find it hard to let go of the doing/action drug for long enough. Perhaps a clearer understanding of its benefits to you as a leader and as a result to your organisation will help you move it up your list of priorities.

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.

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