authenticleadership

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

Authentic Leadership rises to the top

Authentic_LeadershipLeadership theory and practice has evolved through the last few decades partly due to increased understanding and partly through the change in followers and what followers want. In 2014 Authentic Leadership is becoming established as a style of Leadership most suited to the modern context. It focuses on who the Leader is, why the Leader is doing what they are doing and what is the Leaders “Brand”. Bill George, one key exponent of the Authentic Leadership model, teaches it as part of the Harvard MBA. Bill drove the company’s share value at Medtronic from 1.1 Billion to 60 Billion in 10 years with this Leadership style.

Authentic leaders are self-motivated individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions. They show their true selves to people around them. They do not act one way in private and another in public and they don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. They really are team players putting the mission and the goals of the organization ahead of their own self-interest doing the job in pursuit of results rather than for their own power, money or ego.  They do what Bill George calls “leading from their heart”, rather than just their minds building and sustaining the leader’s legitimacy through honest trust based relationships with followers are built on an ethical foundation. They truly and openly value follower input, rather than paying it lip service, which drives motivation, agility and engagement.

By building trust and generating enthusiastic support from their subordinates, authentic leaders are able to improve individual and team performance. This approach is at the core of our Leadership Development at Adeo Consulting as an alternative to leaders who emphasize only profit and share price over people and ethics. As Bill George says, most people can get the metrics right but can they do the hard bit – the soft or people skills. Can your Leaders empower, motivate and engage their people and align them with the organisations goals – for their own reasons?

Key Skills for Authentic Leadership:

1. 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. Moreover, self-awareness is needed in order to develop the other components of authentic leadership.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Great leaders continually self-develop. They improve not only their organisations but themselves. They see this as key to adapting to the constant change in their environment and as a natural reaction to competition in their market-place. If your Leaders become dead in the water, so will your Organisation.

Aidan Higgins

Re-Learning Leadership

Learning LeadershipIt is said that we learn our parenting skills from our parents. We learn from what we observed in childhood. We are also impacted by the culture we were part of and the environment in which we lived. Parenting is often instinctual and we distinguish right and wrong from our values system which often gets severely tested, especially when our children start to have minds of their own and are developing their own system of values. The day you say “because I said so” can be a real turning point for some.

Leaders often learn the same way. Learning Leadership involves spending a lot of time absorbing behaviours from our leaders, in a culture that influences (but of which we might be unaware) and in, usually, one environmental context. Unlike most parenting skills perhaps the skills and behaviours used when we were learning leadership are not appropriate now – but as leaders we still do or “go with” what we know. In the last four decades the organisational context has flipped over every 10 years – grow, cut back, grow, cut back. On top of that each generation of workers gets more knowledgeable, more technological, has different motivations and owns more of the key competencies and skills of the organisation.

An interesting recent article in the Economist  commenting on the Anthropologist David Grabers article “Bullshit Jobs” points out that this trend will continue. As more competitive advantage will come from the interaction between skilled workers and the coming technologies more repetitive jobs will be automated. So more and more of the “power” will move from centralised control and command to the outer edges of the organisation. We have discussed this before in our story about the US Navy and their understanding of the importance of empowerment following modern changes in warfare technology.

So do leaders who have learned skills from their forebears and from older cultures and older contexts adapt? Well some do. And many don’t. There are many addictive qualities to the old authoritarian style and egalitarian behaviour. But this just doesn’t cut it in a modern organisation. Disappointing results from the US in the recent Gallup report (2013) on the US workplace noted that while it has been proven that employee engagement is absolutely key to organisational performance – poor engagement is costing the US 450 billion to 550 billion dollars annually. It also shows that different generations require different engagement (therefore leadership) practices. Often however the strategy is akin to the old saying – “When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail” – we do what we have always done because we stay inside our comfort zone.

So what do leaders do? We need to become more transformational and also more authentic. We need to update our skills but also change who we are as leaders. This can be done with gaining understanding, getting a change in perspective, observation and developing those required behaviour changes. This is not the same as those standardized management skills often sold as “Leadership Training”. The good news is that some leaders are changing. Reports from the US show that 43% of CEOs and 71% of Senior Executives say they’ve worked with a coach. And 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.

I work with leaders. I talk with leaders. I know fear of change is often a big obstacle. Time is also a big issue but sometimes an excuse. The feeling that you are handing over your power to others can be scary. However the power is shifting in any case and a new form of leadership is required. I often find leaders trapped by assumptions who can easily transform their leadership if shown the way. Remember the old adage “where there is a will there is a way”. But first you need the will.

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

Mentoring – The five most important questions to ask.

Many of the issues you may find in your organisation can be teased out by looking deeply at yourself from a third perspective via Mentoring or one to one coaching. It may be difficult to see clearly unless you step off the dancefloor. Remember – if there is a problem in the group and you can’t see where its coming from it might be you….

1. What is it that you really want and why?

With passion comes greater success so it is important to understand what you are trying
to achieve and why. It is also important to be clear on the goals of the business
and also ones goals as an individual. Where you can align personal
motivations with business goals you can expect significant improvements
in results and even enjoy the process.

 

2. What are you doing well?  What are you good at?

If you can get a perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of “you” as well as those of
the business overall one can re-schedule and rearrange more easily so
that those strenghts come to the fore. It is also important of course to
understand what you are doing well right now and why.

 

3. What is stopping you getting where you want to go?

Often we have roadblocks on our path to success. Some of these are organisational and
some are thrown up by our inner software – or our self saboteur. Can you
see all the roadblocks, challenges or weaknesses in your company from
your point of view. Do you have difficulties making non-personal
judgements about people or processes that damage your ability to meet
your goals?

 

4. What can, will or would you change?

Culture is “the way things are done around here” – often more difficult to change than you
might think-  but of course it can be done with the right method.
“Norming” is a tendancy to meet the expected results – for example if the goals are
aspirations but you really believe you won’t get there – then you will
find a way not to. “Insanity”is doing the same thing and expecting a
different result. Its human nature to stick to what you know – but if you
really re-think the nature of success, work out the blockages and
implement willing change then you can really surprise yourself.

 

5. What are your priorities and where can we help you most?

There are many things you might like to chage but like many things it boils down
to a Pareto 80/20 rule. 20% of the things you do will make 80% of the
difference. So choose your 20% carefully.

If you want to explore these ideas, and more, contact us – we’d love to see what you want to show us and to hear what you have to say.