Thursday, October 20, 2016

Want to Raise Your Emotional Intelligence? Focus on These 3 Components

Written by Tamara Rosin for Becker Hospital Review
October 17, 2016

What was regarded in the past as a "soft skill" has emerged as one of the most critical determinants of career and leadership success: emotional intelligence.
"Most often, success or failure in a job comes down to how we manage ourselves and how well we manage relationships with our co-workers, not how much we know," Jen Shirkani, CEO of talent management solutions provider Penumbra Group, said at the AMN Healthcare 2016 Workforce Summit in San Diego.
The ability to manage one's emotions and relationships is tied to emotional intelligence, which is defined as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others.
A leader's EQ — emotional quotient — has a direct effect on the way he or she communicates with others, approaches challenges and reacts during crises. It is also a significant influencer of employee engagement, which has hovered near 30 percent since 2000, according to Gallup.
While one could reasonably assume that those at the top of the corporate hierarchy have the highest EQs, this is not the case, according to Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. His research shows EQ scores increase with rank from direct report to manager, but steeply decline beyond that. On average, CEOs have the lowest EQ.
Why is that? "Once leaders get promoted they enter an environment that tends to erode their emotional intelligence," Forbes wrote of Mr. Bradberry's findings. "They spend less time in meaningful interactions with their staff and lose sight of how their emotional states impact those around them."
Ms. Shirkani argues emotional intelligence is largely garnered through experience, not learning. However, determining an EQ score and identifying problem areas can help leaders improve their communication and overall leadership techniques, she said.
Ms. Shirkani outlined three tenets of emotional intelligence, or what she coined the 3Rs.
1. Recognize who you are socially and emotionally.
2. Read people and situations accurately.
3. Respond appropriately based on who you are interacting with and what the situation calls for.
Each of the 3Rs can be applied when it comes to key EQ skills, according to Ms. Shirkani. For instance, one of the most important factors of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which encompasses both emotional and social self-awareness.
"Social self-awareness becomes quite important to long-term career success, but it's a moving target," said Ms. Shirkani, who noted many professionals plateau or derail in their careers because of a lack of self-awareness. "People assume bad leaders are the way they are because they don't get any feedback, but sometimes just the opposite is true." In some cases, the leader is so beloved among their closest colleagues that they are shielded from candid feedback that could help them gain an accurate sense of self-awareness. In this scenario, leaders must recognize others' perceptions of them, read the particular situation at hand and respond appropriately, perhaps by asking a trusted co-worker for honest feedback.
When it comes to empathy, another major factor of emotional intelligence, Ms. Shirkani said it is easy to assume more is better. But in healthcare, "too much empathy in a physician isn't always better," she said. Physicians must keep some emotional distance between themselves and the patient to remain objective and make the smartest clinical decisions. However, there is a balance. Physicians with higher empathy scores tend to fare better when they are sued for medical malpractice, according to Ms. Shirkani. Here too, physicians must employ the 3Rs on a situational basis.
Self-control is a third significant factor of emotional intelligence. When we hear "self-control," we tend to think of employing meditative breathing or some other coping mechanism to prevent ourselves from displaying anger or having an emotional outburst. But like empathy, self-control must be scaled up or down depending on the situation. Ms. Shirkani gave the example of a meeting between a hospital administrator and the family of a patient who had a negative experience in the hospital. As the family members grew angrier and more emotional, the administrator deliberately became calmer in an attempt to pacify the situation. However, the administrator's calmness had the opposite effect — the family interpreted her calm tone as apathetic or not understanding the gravity of the situation.
While leaders may not be able to change the aspects of their personality that others find unappealing, adding communication and thinking strategies such as the 3Rs can help improve their interactions with others, and ultimately lead to higher career success.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Month in a Minute

Top: Steve, Me, and James Symons CEO of LockNCharge; Bottom Left: Me
with Lee Self; Bottom Right: Meeting room in Nashville at Alkermes
September was a whirlwind, but filled with a lot of fun. It included getting to work with Renaissance Executive Forums, at their Washington DC All Member meeting with Lee Self and her group of CEO’s. Another highlight of the month was working with a new client, LockNCharge who invited me and Steve to work with their global team convening in Madison WI.

I heard a story this month that I really enjoyed and thought I would share it with you. A man was on a white water raft trip, it was his first time and despite many places during the ride when he thought for sure they would tip and land in the water, their guide deftly guided the boat around the rapids and they never went over. Being quite impressed with the guide, at the end of the day the man asked him how he learned to be so skillful, assuming he had just been on hundreds of rides to learn the maneuvers. To his surprise, the guide said he hadn’t been on that many boat trips, but instead focused on “reading the water.” He mentioned to me that it was a great metaphor for EQ and the importance of reading the environment and adapt accordingly. 

Sounds exactly right to me!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

6 Ways to Bring EQ into Your Organization

Once people find out about EQ, they often want to share it with others and integrate it into their own organizations, so we get asked for our advice on the best ways to introduce the topic and entice others to work on their own EQ.

Here are 6 ways to bring EQ to your organization:

   1. Host a lunch and learn – Bring in a speaker or give a presentation yourself on the topic of emotional intelligence. You could highlight some examples of high and low EQ behaviors that are observable within your organization along with some tips on how to develop it in yourself.

2. Adopt 360-degree assessments, including for the executives – These types of assessments provide quantitative and qualitative data on someone’s effectiveness and give an immediate measurement of social self-awareness, we use and recommend the ESCI .

3.Tie EQ to personal values – Every executive has a business metric they are most focused on, things like increasing revenue, better profit margin, reducing errors, increasing stock value, reducing employee turnover. All of these can be tied directly to an EQ initiative so you can make a business case that more EQ can benefit the company’s bottom line, and who says no to that?

4.Start a book club – Pick some of your favorite books on emotional intelligence and provide a copy to those interested. Once a week or once a month get together and discuss a chapter as a team. Ask and encourage examples of ways EQ is being demonstrated in daily interactions with others.

5. Look at your performance reviews – If you do annual, formal performance ratings there is a very good chance that you are measuring EQ behaviors already without calling it that. Some examples include; teamwork and collaboration, positive attitude, professional conduct; adaptability with change. So, by adding EQ training you are supporting the skills employees are expected to demonstrate anyway.

6. Conduct an EQ talent study – This is a powerful technique to identify the skills your high performers have that your low performers lack. By using a validated EQ assessment and a group report, you can better recognize the critical skills that predict success in a role and then use that data to do better hiring and promotions and identify training needs.     

There are numerous benefits of bring emotional intelligence into your interviewing, management, and coaching practices and creatively weave it into your talent management strategy.    

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Video Interview with Greg Hawks: CEO of Hawks Agency

Last September I spoke at a SHRM conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.  After scoping out where my room was going to be, I started setting up a small table outside with stacks of Ego vs EQ.  Suddenly, I heard someone shout, "Jen! Jen Shirkani! Hi, my name's Greg Hawks, and I'd like to interview you on Periscope!"

I had no idea what Periscope was, and I had no idea who this infectiously energetic man was, well technically he did tell me his name.  After a rapid 90 second rundown of what he was actually going to be doing, I said "Sure," and away we went.

He has become an extremely supportive peer, thoughtful friend, and is a captivating speaker.  He has grown his business exponentially over the past 12 months, and I couldn't be happier to have him as my guest in this month's vlog interview!  

Watch here.

As a Corporate Culture Specialist, Greg brings an expansive leadership portfolio to your service. For two decades he’s mentored leaders, developed teams, crafted culture and empowered employees. He’s intensely motivated to grow high capacity performers who work, serve and sell with excellence, consistently.

As a Keynote Speaker, he is an enthusiastic character. His style, wit and energy consistently capture the attention and imagination of audiences. His forward thinking contributes fresh perspectives that work. He’s annoyingly optimistic, contagiously energetic and slightly mischievous. People tend to like him and he gives killer keynotes!  To learn about Greg and Hawks Agency click here, or contact:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pausing Technology...If Only For an Hour

I was facilitating a workshop last week at a client we have worked with for several years. They are a successful firm that has had continued growth for many years. I noticed something about the participants that caught my attention. They were all actively participating, using paper and pens to take notes and giving me pretty consistent eye contact. It is sad to say this experience is becoming more and more rare. When I facilitate or speak today, I am often looking out at just the top of heads because attendees are looking down at phones, iPads and laptops.

Some people claim that they hate to write or can’t read their own handwriting and want to take electronic notes which I understand, but I can also tell you that every time there is a physical laptop barrier between me and you, a degradation of quality and communication occurs. You will likely only receive half of what I am sharing as you also respond to emails, look at your calendar and read social media alerts. And you also minimize your coworkers’ ability to absorb new information as well, distracted by your typing on the keys, or wondering what you are working on not related to the meeting topic.

One reason that group in front of me that day was so attentive? Their firm has a strict “no electronics in meetings” policy. The three owners of the business comply with it and role model its importance so everyone else follows the rules too. I am convinced it is one of the reasons why they are so successful, and would encourage you to implement one in your office too.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

How Are You Being Judged?

Seeing It From the Other Side 

Stephen Covey has said that we judge others on their behavior and we judge ourselves on our intentions. What would happen if we reversed that thinking?

Wouldn't your team be more creative if they experienced less judgment in the workplace? Wouldn't there be less stress if everyone felt accepted and understood? 
Consider doing a brief, but easy exercise to learn more about perceptions.

Imagine seeing yourself from someone else's point of view. They do not have the benefit of knowing how you think. They do not get insight into your rationale when you make decisions. They only see what you do and what you say. For one week, spend the last 10 minutes of each workday writing down the names of the people you interacted with that day and, thinking about your behavior only, list the adjectives they would give if asked to describe you. Now make a list of everyone you interacted with and how you judged them that day.

On the flip side, since we don't have the ability to read someone else's mind, we make a lot of assumptions about why someone behaves the way they do. What if you spent one week conscientiously assuming everyone had the best intent?  Even bad behavior can be driven by someone trying to do the right thing and being stymied by the actions of others. Catch yourself before judging someone else negatively and instead consider any and all positive motives. Choose one of those. 

Done earnestly, this will be a very enlightening exercise increasing your self-awareness and empathy.
What have you got to lose?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Month in a Minute

Clockwise from top left: Presentation at  SMPS, Speaking at the Nebraska State SHRM confrence, Taylor Shimberg and me at Altman Vilandrie & Co., Steve and me at SHRM, Angela and me at SMPS

August was a very busy month for us at Penumbra, highlights including the SMPS Conference in Philadelphia and the Nebraska State SHRM Conference plus work with new clients in New York, Boston and Utah.
Funny story from the road. I was on a Southwest flight with a stop in a city that required me to stay on the plane, we had to wait for the local passengers to deplane and new passengers to board before continuing on. Every time that happens, the flight attendants make an announcement:
“For those of you continuing on with us please remain seated and we will come through and count you. Then you can get up and change seats or use the restrooms: one in the front and two in the back.”
There was a couple sitting next to me and the woman turned to her husband  and said, “Well I have to go #2 so I will have to wait for these people to get off and go in the back.”