Thursday, February 22, 2018

How Can More Women Get to the Top?

This week I am recommending this article from HBR. It is filled with specific data on the differences between male and female career paths for executive leadership. I especially appreciate the quote, Throughout the study’s assessments of female CEOs, a combination of four traits and competencies emerged as key to their success: courage, risk-taking, resilience, and managing ambiguity.” All of those traits are consistent with those who have high EQ…and most importantly they all can be learned and developed.   

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Are You Coachable?

Just a few of the misconceptions about coaching go something like this:  Coaching is for fixing problem behavior.  Coaching is just another word for mentoring.  Coaching isn't truly learning because you're being told what to do.  Coaching is for people who lack the natural skills or drive to be self-taught and self-correcting.  Sure, tell that to an Olympian.

Talent starts raw and must be shaped and honed.  The more it grows, the more it requires objective input to remain adaptable, in touch and dynamic.  Being coachable, or knowing you need outside advice, is vital to evolving and succeeding in the ever-changing business world.

We are exposed to coaching from various sources as a natural part of life, both in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.   Are you missing it?  In order to learn from these experiences, we must possess the maturity and foresight to see these growth opportunities when they present themselves.

Often, the best advice does not come from a certified coach or superior, but from more unexpected and informal sources like an employee, an exit interview, an overheard complaint, or collective body language in a meeting.

This foresight requires a readiness that must be present in any successful learning experience.  We call this readiness being coachable.  Someone who is coachable is open to seeing other perspectives without being threatened.  Someone who is uncoachable is righteous in their convictions and rigid when exposed to input from others.  

Paradoxically, we often hear the uncoachable describe themselves as being open-minded.  Translated, this often means that their mind will remain open long enough to receive the feedback and run it by their internal threat meter (the Ego).  Then, a quick risk assessment is performed to ascertain how much damage it poses to their internal belief systems and external image.

We all know someone like this, the ultimate workplace survivalist.  This behavior is known as control-minded.  They are prepared to hear what you have to say because it will remain in a controlled, mental waiting room while they decide the safest route to process (or eliminate) it.

Being open to hearing what someone has to say is not the same as being willing to allow it to challenge and change you.  Ego driven activities such as self-preservation, rationalizing, and image control waste so much time, little attention is paid to the merit or value of the feedback itself.  The message gets lost in the thundering, chest pounding of the Ego.

In contrast, someone who is truly coachable has set aside their Ego in order to raise their EQ.  Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the must-have ingredient of coachability.

Competencies such as transparency, active listening, self-awareness, intuition, optimism, and self-control are the bedrock of transformational learning and all stem from EQ.

The good news is EQ is a set of skills and can be learned. Research from the Hay Group shows that people who improve their EQ have the following things in common:
  • They don't bite off more than they can chew 
  • They are very clear about what the payoff for them will be if they change 
  • They are feedback junkies - they are tenacious about asking those around them for feedback
Are you coachable?  Do you operate from Ego or EQ?  Answer the following questions to gauge your coachability: (and then check your self-awareness by asking someone you trust to be objective to answer these about you)

1. Do you determine the worth of feedback based on who is giving it or do you spend time considering the rationale behind the message?

2. Have you asked for feedback on yourself in the last month?

3. Do you partner with others to develop yourself or prefer to handle that privately?

4. When is the last time you publicly admitted you were wrong?

5. Do you have difficulty turning down your mental talk so you can actively listen to others?

6. When is the last time you apologized to someone at work for your behavior?

7. When faced with personal feedback, do you focus on staying superficial and ending the encounter as quickly as possible or do you open up about how you feel about the feedback and ask clarifying questions to gain understanding?

8. When is the last time you asked someone to hold you accountable for certain behavioral goals?

9. Do people feel safe coming to you with feedback you may not like?  How do you know?

10. When it comes to your own performance, do you care more about appearances or real results?  How would your staff answer that about you?

11. When is the last time you listened to a contrasting viewpoint about something you felt strongly about and ultimately changed your opinion?

12. Do you catch your own mixed messages or contradictions?

13. What are three areas you feel you would benefit from coaching?  Ask your team to answer the same question about you and see how well you understand their perception of you.

14. Final and most important question:  How often do you receive meaningful feedback from others?  The amount of feedback you are given will be in direct proportion to the degree of coachability others see in you.

If you want to be credible, you must be coachable.  Employees will not be open to feedback from someone who dishes it out but cannot take it in return.  Leaders who are defensive and encourage an environment of celebrating only the successes will be rewarded with the same superficiality they embody.

Echoes or honesty?  Artificial harmony or authentic relationships?  Growth or status quo? You decide.

What if you are not coachable? What are you missing out on?  What you don't know can hurt you.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Month in a Minute

We have some exciting new projects going on to start the new year. In addition to visiting our current clients, we have also been working on a new video series coming soon, I'll post a link as soon as it's ready.  And, I was interviewed for a podcast.  We also have a new webinar on the horizon that will be available for FREE! We are hoping that by adding additional multi-media options, we can share the word about EQ to even more people. Please drop me a note for any formats in which you would like to see content. 

A few weeks ago, I was boarding a flight and as I was walking onboard, I recognized a pilot walking out the jet bridge. He was my former neighbor who I hadn’t seen in years...a lovely surprise. He was gracious enough to invite me into the cockpit and show me how the instrumentation worked and answered all my questions about air travel (I have a lot, I am super fascinated with flying). He was even daring enough to let this control freak sit in the Captain's chair!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Are Others Willing to Go the Distance for You?

I was recently interacting with a colleague and he mentioned to me that he works hard for all his customers but there are some in particular that he goes the extra mile for. I asked him what the difference was for those customers and he said, “I simply work harder for good people.” So what makes “good” people? Read on to see if you meet the criteria and ways to build more credibility that gets others working harder for you.

You know those people. When they need something, you put them on the top of your priority list or respond to them ahead of older requests. You put in extra time or effort for them. You are always willing to make adjustments or be flexible when they need it. Why do we do these things? What makes someone worthy of this kind of reaction to them?
  1. They always express appreciation for you and your work.
  2. They are always polite and respectful with requests of you.
  3. They reciprocate and give you the same responsiveness and extra effort in return.
  4. They are adaptable and seem to consider your needs along with theirs.
  5. They are consistently a pleasure to work with and don’t take out their stress on you. 
We all want to believe that we do these things all the time. Or think that when someone acts in these ways with you, you naturally respond the same way. But my experience is we don’t always do these things for everyone or we sometimes wait for others to make the first effort, then we start. I like to think of my interactions with others as an insurance policy. Whenever possible, I want to be accommodating and responsive because I know there will come a day when I need that from them. It’s like making a deposit before you need to make a withdrawal. I also know that there will be times when I am not at my best and might not be polite or adaptable so I need some credits to rely on to receive grace I don’t deserve in that moment.

Make it a goal to behave in these five ways dependably for 30 days. When you make a conscientious effort to do so, it could completely change your life.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Leader as Follower

A colleague and I were talking recently about some challenges he was having with one of his senior leaders. Through the mentoring and development process, it was becoming clear to him that his well-qualified and confident coachee did not see the importance of learning and feedback. My friend said to me, "I am concerned. He can't lead if he can't follow." That quote has stayed with me for weeks. It has made me think of the importance of always being the teacher and the student. Keeping an open mind and open heart to what we can learn from others is what keeps us grounded, respected, and wise. May this be a reminder to, once in a while, consider following your followers.

Even the best leaders allow themselves to be influenced by other leaders, peers, and their followers. When a leader can sit back and let others share in decision making it reveals a key Emotional Intelligence characteristic: humility. Being able to remain open-minded to different approaches and perspectives allow leaders to remain learners. The strongest teams are built by individuals who recognize each member's unique talent and leverage those strengths collaboratively. A leader who encourages others to teach and continually learn from others (regardless of rank) sets the example that leadership and followership are symbiotic: We lead better because we follow and we follow better because we lead.

Ask yourself how long it has been since you caught yourself on autopilot, doing something that has been done the same way for so long you could do it in your sleep? If you were learning it for the first time today, would you follow the same process? Would you ask for an opinion from another? The more competent we get at our jobs and the more comfortable we get at work, the easier it is to think we are done learning. After all, we know what we know.

Not all decisions should be made by consensus and leaders should not always defer to team input. No one wants to work for someone who cannot make independent decisions or only does things that are popular. Followership from a leader must be demonstrated when key opportunities present themselves. Be on the lookout for them. There is a chance that you don't know what you don't know.   

Thursday, January 18, 2018

EQ Can Make you Wealthy and Successful...

EQ can make you wealthy and successful, according to science—here's how to build yours

This week's blog article was written by CEO Elle Kaplan.  It's true, building a higher EQ really is the way. Fantastic article, Elle!  Click here for the original article.

Aspiring for more success and wealth drives most to concentrate on boosting their IQ levels for that competitive edge. While I fully advocate sharpening your skills and memory, for holistic self-development, there's an often overlooked factor that's equally important: building your EQ.

EQ, or emotional intelligence, is just as if not more vital for a person's growth. Extensive studies show that it plays a huge role in building one's personal and financial success. One even tracked a group of people from age one to 30 and found that EQ was the single biggest predictor of monetary success.

The good news is that one's emotional intelligence is something that can be shaped by habits to deliver wealth and achievement. Without further ado, see what traits you need to focus on to boost your EQ and future success:

1. Take control of your emotional state
Warren Buffett once said that "if you can't control your emotions, you can't control your money."

To shape your fate, you need to harness your emotions. Your mind is a powerful tool, and it can't work to full capacity if you're hindering it with irrational feelings, like anger. This is truer than ever when it comes to money, where emotional spending or investing can wreak havoc on your finances.

To manage your emotions, you need to see situations through a rational, long-term lens. Don't let temporary emotional states become permanent mistakes.

One technique that most successful people use, including Warren Buffett, is the 10:10:10 method. Before arriving at conclusions, ask yourself how this will make you feel after 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. Giving utmost consideration to your future self is key in creating a successful mental and emotional state.

2. Learn how to lead different personalities
For billionaire and hospitality titan Tilman Fertitta, one of the key secrets to success is being an adaptive people person. It's what helped his company, Landry's Inc., become one of America's most powerful and far-reaching restaurant corporations.

"People want to be led, but you've got to know how to lead different people," Fertitta says. "I treat everybody differently depending on how I've evaluated that person. And if you do it that way in business, you're going to be a lot more successful."

3. Be curious
Innate curiosity makes a child develop new skills. This is also the same case for adults who do not lose their curiosity in life. Even Steve Jobs acknowledged the fact that his voracious curiosity led him to succeed in life.

Research shows that curiosity prepares the brain for learning. It drives you to get involved in things you have not encountered before and therefore stops you from procrastinating. It also opens your mind to new concepts that are useful in order for you to progress in your endeavors. By being able to instinctively recognize gaps, you're able to generate tools to improve your performance.

4. Impose self-discipline
Discipline acts as your compass providing directions to your goals. It is like an imaginary voice inside your head telling you what to do or what to avoid depending on how you think it will be instrumental to your future success.

It is also a powerful tool when it comes to growing your wealth. Taking the time to impose self-discipline with the financial decisions you make today impacts your success tomorrow. By sticking to your long-term goals, regardless of ups and downs, you'll find returns that are more substantial over time.

5. Be empathetic
For Oprah Winfrey, leadership is all about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people to empower them.

We need to belong to grow as an individual and at the same time develop our own identity. However, along the way, we often neglect the significance of others in our lives as we focus only on ourselves. But if you want higher chances of success, you need to have empathy.

Our EQ feeds on how much empathy we have for other people. It is in our ability to recognize others' need that we learn to sacrifice and go the extra mile. If you only do things for your own benefit and forget about compassion, you'll find it hard to move forward as we will become difficult to work or get along with.

6. Handle rejection
On our quest for success and happiness, it's inevitable that things will not always go as planned. It's important to remember that progress is largely driven by mindset. Negative thoughts and feelings can often be hard to shake, causing our ability to focus on a goal that much harder. The best thing to do is channel them into means of motivation.

Successful people know how to move on and leave the past in the past. If you latch onto to your latest mistakes they will inevitably slow and bring you down. Instead, learn from them, see challenges as opportunities (sometimes to even bigger challenges), surround yourself with positivity and stop complaining.

7. Constantly seek out people smarter than you
In today's hyper-competitive business world, one might think that ultra-successful people wouldn't even give each other the time of day.

The opposite tends to be true, like with Former Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz, who said: "Don't be threatened by people smarter than you."

Whether it's meeting with a competitor to exchange information, or seeking out a mentor, the path to billionaire status involves constantly seeking out brighter and more talented people, rather than trying to squash them.

Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City serving high-net-worth individuals. She is also the Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager at LexION Alpha, her systematic hedge fund that will soon be open to new investments. It is one of the only women-owned and run hedge funds in the nation.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Want to Achieve Your 2018 Goals? Dig Deeper

This week's blog comes to us courtesy of Michael Schneider at Inc. Magazine.  Thanks, Michael!

It's an exciting time of year. You're in the process of closing out 2017 while simultaneously gearing up for a successful 2018. If you're like me, you've already started to draft a list of New Year's resolutions and have tons of ideas on things you want to accomplish to make 2018 your best year yet.

In 2017, these were the Top 10 New Year’s resolutions from Statistic Brain:

1. Lose Weight/Healthier Eating
2. Life/Self Improvement
3. Better Financial Decisions
4. Quit Smoking
5. Do More Exciting Things
6. Spend More Time with Family/Close Friends
7. Work Out More Often
8. Learn Something New On My Own
9. Do More Good Deeds For Others
10. Find The Love Of My Life

I don't want to crush your hopes, but statistically speaking, only 9.2 percent of us will actually achieve our wishes.

The reasons behind the loss of good intentions are vast. But, I am willing to bet that they all boil down to one thing -- a lack of sustainable motivation.

One of my go-to resources on the subject is Jen Shirkani's book Choose Resilience: Break Out of Your Comfort Zone Using the Power of Emotional Intelligence. In it, Shirkani (EQ expert) talks about the hurdles she's overcome throughout her life and the best practices that helped her choose resilience when everything seemed to be taking a turn for the worse.

Shirkani encourages everyone to find "the spark to move" (a source of sustainable energy). Through her experience, Shirkani has found that "the best way to cultivate that energy is to better understand why you desire the particular change in the first place."

Here are the eight common motivators that Shirkani says can help you choose resilience in the face of adversity:

1. Recognition
"You are energized by public acknowledgment and by being praised and valued for the things you do."

If this is the case, then a good strategy is to find an accountability partner or to tell others that you're working towards a specific goal. In my case, the fear of letting someone else down (other than myself) motivates me to push forward. 

2. Challenge
"The high you get from fixing things that others can't, you specialize in creative solutions for difficult situations."

If you feel a great sense of accomplishment after tackling a colossal feat, then it's a good sign that you're motivated by challenging work. To set yourself up for success, make sure to identify goals that allow you to take interpersonal risks and think creatively.

3. Opportunity for growth
"You feel most alive when you are learning, so you take opportunities to develop yourself..."

If this is you, then make sure that you set aside frequent opportunities through 2018 to work on developing your abilities. Most companies have budgets for this that no one even knows about. Make sure to voice your interest and map out a plan of attack to ensure you acquire the skills necessary for progression.

4. Career advancement
"You derive satisfaction from building your responsibilities at work and progressing up the organizational chart..."

More than likely, your organization has a succession plan that they can share with you if you're interested in moving up the ladder. The important things are to uncover those competencies early and start practicing them now.

5. Money
"You feel jazzed about working hard to earn bonuses, commissions, or financial rewards..."

If that's the case, then figure out your earning potential (merit increases, bonuses, and commissions) and post them everywhere you look. More importantly, develop a plan to ensure you hit your targets.

6. Making a difference
"You experience a sense of peace, happiness, and meaning when you work to improve the lives of others or contribute to society."

All this usually takes is a perspective change. Every day, all around us, are opportunities to serve others. Instead of dreading your work or the process of achieving your goals, envision that you're doing it for someone else, i.e., your manager, family, or in service for the greater good. 

7. Incentives
"You love the thrill of competitive activities and enjoy earning prizes associated with success..."

Whether it's salesman of the year, rookie of the year, or most improved, if you're motivated by recognition or contests, then ensure you frame your resolutions for 2018 around an incentive that is worth making sacrifices for.

8. Work-life balance
" You have more energy for participating or leading when you have flexibility in your schedule..."

For some of us, our most reliable sources of motivation are our families, friends, or hobbies. It's having the balance between goals and the people/things that inspire us. Totally immersing yourself in your aspirations can lead to early fatigue and burnout. It's counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to push forward is to take a break and enjoy the things in life that energize us.

If you've had a hard time keeping your resolutions, then maybe it's time for a gut-check. Tapping into one of these motivators could be the key to helping you achieve something never before possible.

Michael Schneider is a human capital specialist. He concentrates on talent management, specifically employer branding, recruiting, onboarding, and talent development. Schneider believes that people are an organization's most reliable form of sustainable competitive advantage and focuses on strategies to maximize their potential. He describes himself as a people geek, HR innovator, and, most important, an employee advocate.