Monday, September 17, 2012

Building Leaders


Many leaders spend so much time running defense and managing from crisis to crisis, they've become blind to the fact that the leadership abilities of their team members are untapped and languishing.  The more they do themselves, the less they teach their team, the less engaged the team becomes.  The performance results follow the same downward cycle.
So managers complain that the weight of the world falls on their lap and employees complain that their bosses are over-involved, controlling, and horde opportunities to shine in the organization.  Not surprisingly, leaders are frustrated and burned out at the same time team members are uninspired and underperforming. Most individual contributors are capable of far greater leadership potential than they demonstrate (perhaps even more than they themselves may believe possible).  The catch is, oftentimes someone else has to have the patient attention to look for it, nourish it, and expect it from them.
It is our responsibility and our privilege to cultivate and call upon leadership qualities in each member of our team.  What sort of qualities should we be grooming? Problem solving beyond their scope of responsibility; holding themselves and other team members accountable; being outspoken and honest about their thoughts, opinions, and ideas; searching for solutions, not just someone to pin the blame on; taking ownership of projects or problems before they are asked to do so; moving from "why me?" to "because I can".  
Building leaders is not something that happens by default - it can only happen by design. Consider these strategies to raise the leadership quotient in your team:
Encourage and expect contrary thinking.  Settle for yes's and nods and that's all you'll get.  Great leaders don't want echoes, they want fresh perspective.  Practice ending meetings with "So, how would you approach this differently?", "Walk me through the pros and cons as you see it", "What are some other ideas we can come up with together?"
Role play the "If it were your decision to make how would you handle it?" problem solving scenario.  How would they see it if it were them at the helm and not you?  Would they become more engaged if they felt you would follow their advice?  Would they care more about the end result if they shared in the accountability?
Question everything that is delegated up to you.  Watch that you don't fall into the common leadership temptation of feeling you aren't doing your job unless you are fixing other people's problems.  This is a subtle yet powerful dynamic that allows many employees to shirk responsibility by taking advantage of their leader's need-to-be-needed.  Do they really need you to get involved or does it just make it easier on them?
Build teamwork by facilitating inter-team conflict resolution.  Encourage team members to conquer conflict head on with each other instead of making you the referee.  Check their skill level in this area first.  When you're beginning to build leaders, it is important to be involved so you can assess the current conflict management skills in your team and identify areas where they need further skill building.  Provide them the necessary training through workshops or one-on-one coaching.  Then, be consistent in empowering them to face it and fix it on their own.
Assign high-visibility projects to team members based on special talents.  Provide equal opportunity to projects that allow employees to learn new skills, work in an area of interest, or have visibility that will help move their career along.  Ask an employee who is in need of a particular learning opportunity to partner with you on a project.
Autopsy successes and failures as a team.  Make this a standard practice in a special team meeting and take each member through the "My role in this was ___" exercise.  Make sure you go first.  Accountability is a learned behavior that starts at the top.
Conduct regular Problem Exploration Meetings to analyze, investigate, and solve issues that plague your department or organization.  Teach your team to focus on CAPABILITY instead of RESPONSIBILITY.  Help them think critically about problems that they may not be responsible to solve but are capable of solving.  This approach builds global leadership skills that will extend far beyond their narrow job scope.
NEVER allow victim thinking.  Challenge powerless statements and realign their focus from others behavior to their own influence over the situation. 
 
Get ready to start sharing the floor.  Some bosses will have to peel their hands off the reigns while others will happily pass the leadership torch around.  Either way, if you are consistent in patiently employing these strategies and modeling these behaviors yourself, you might just be surprised to learn what your team is capable of.  You can build leaders at every level, jumpstarting a contagious environment of personal accountability.  And just imagine how much better your job will be when you can actually spend time doing the things you enjoy. 
 Leadership is a renewable resource and worth the investment.  Tap into it now.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Onboarding Yourself Using EQ

For the last few years organizations have been focused on creating engaging onboarding programs to replace their old stand-alone "orientation" day. The research has been conclusive that a bad onboarding experience of an employee results in higher turnover in the first 90 days. And to their credit, many companies have taken 100% responsibility for the onboarding experience of the workforce. But what about the other side of that equation? Shouldn't a new employee also be responsible for their own new-hire experience? We think so.

Michael, a new employee we recently met with started a new job with a dreamy expectation that the position would be custom made to be a perfect fit for him, that his manager would make adjustments to meet his needs, and that he had finally found a culture better than his last one. As tempting as that way of thinking is, it's time for a reality wake up call. You are setting yourself and your company up to fail if you think that way. As a new employee, you have a responsibility to use some Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to ensure the success of your onboarding experience by doing some of the following. Your whole employment experience and career path at the organization depends on it:

  • Spend the first 30 days using your eyes and ears, not your mouth. Simple statements made by well-meaning new employees are an instant source of annoyance and red flags for bosses and new co-workers. Comments like "At my last job...", "I know a much better way to do that...", "We did that so much better where I used to work". No one feels good about someone coming into their "home" and telling them how to run it. There will be the appropriate emotionally intelligent manner and timing to share your fresh insight and ideas. You need to earn the right to share it by being a respectful and educated "guest" first. By using the foundational Emotional Intelligence skills of self-awareness and self-control, you can choose appropriate opportunities to provide constructive input, but do it sparingly in the first few months.
  • Introduce yourself and build relationships proactively instead of waiting for people to come to you. People are busy. If you landed lunch with your new boss on your first day, consider yourself fortunate to be perceived as a priority. Using the social skill aspect of EQ, reach out to your new peers and invite them to have coffee or a meeting and focus on first learning about what they do, what they did before this, their schooling, what they enjoy about the company, etc. IF they ask, share your own, and if they don't simply share your hopes for your current position and ask how you might help with their goals. People help those who help them first.
  • Don't expect the culture or other employees to adjust to you.Odds are the company culture has been around a while. There won't be a sudden change in the dynamic of how people communicate, how work gets delegated, when deadlines are due, or how training is done, merely because of your presence. Think something could be done in a more efficient way use your empathy to try and figure out the why behind the current approach and give yourself time to evaluate your first negative assessment. After a few months you will have enough experiential evidence to provide a sound a profressional case for change.
  • The behaviors you used at your old company that worked well there may not transfer well to your new company. That's right, the things that earned you praise before may now get you in hot water. Don't assume that you can plug and play the way you behaved before in your new job. Use your social awareness
    to find people in the organization who are good models for behaviors that breed success in your new company. Watch them, meet them, learn from them. They are your new unofficial guides for what can stay from your wealth of past learnings and what's got to go.
  • Don't assume you know everything about the company because you did online research during the interview process. Learn the history of your organization as told by those on the ground, not just what made it on to the website. Understand legacy practices and why they were put in place. Check your ego to show respect for others who have been there before you, no matter what their role is.

Getting the right employee hired is only half of the equation; the organization also has the responsibility to provide a new employee with tools to be successful. And, the new employee must also understand their part in getting well integrated into a new organization.
 
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Delegating

Him: 
"I'm disappointed that Eric isn't taking the lead in our weekly staff meetings like I asked him to."
Me: 
"Did you give him the date you wanted him to start?"
Him: 
"No."
Me: 
"Did you lay out what preparing and running the meeting entails?"
Him:
"No."
Me:
"Did you explain to him what's in it for him to do it so it doesn't just feel like more work?"
Him:
"No."
Me:
"So should you be surprised he didn't do it?"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Recognizing Self-Awareness

A client who is using one of the EQ skills, Self-Awareness, as a performance metric asked me to share some hallmarks of it in order to better recognize it when reviewing others. This list could also be applied to candidates when you are interviewing them as well:

Emotional Self-Awareness:
• Communicates feelings or moods proactively
• Doesn’t take bad moods out on others
• Consistent in demeanor and attitude (predictable)
• Admits struggles or weaknesses
• Takes time to process information instead of being impulsive or rash
• Shares information about their triggers or pet peeves
• Is open to feedback in a non-defensive way
• Is comfortable sharing feelings
• Demonstrates an understanding of how their feelings and emotions impact the reactions of others

Social Self-Awareness:
• Recognizes the impact they have on others and is sensitive to it
• Laughs at themselves (self-deprecating)
• Stays present and mindful in meetings
• Acknowledges other communication styles
• Comes across with low ego
• Adjusts own communication preferences to meet the needs of others (does not take a one size fits all approach)
• Asks others for feedback on ways to improve, even if it’s hard to hear
• Shares self-knowledge of how they are seen by others

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are You Coachable?

Coachability – The “It” Competency We all have blind spots – behaviors we exhibit that are undermining our best intentions, harming our credibility, or damaging our relationships with others. Often times, we learn about our blind spots through a harsh comment from another or in feedback that may not be tenderly given. It can hurt to hear, or come from an unexpected source, and be so far from our intent that it can sting like a literal slap in the face. Instead of the tempting response to reject the information outright, we must have 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. Benefiting from this insight requires a readiness that must be present in any successful, self-directed learning experience. We call this readiness being coachable. Someone who is coachable is open to seeing other perspectives without being threatened: they “get it”. On the flip side, 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 means that their mind will remain open long enough to receive the feedback, run it by their internal threat meter (the EGO), and then ascertain how much damage it could do to their internal belief systems and external image. 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 beneath 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. 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): • Do you determine the worth of feedback on who is giving it or do you spend time considering the rationale behind the message? • Have you asked for feedback on yourself in the last month? • Do you take yourself so seriously that it is difficult to laugh at mistakes for fear of looking dumb or incompetent? • When is the last time you publicly admitted you were wrong? • When is the last time you apologized to someone at work for your behavior? • 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? • When is the last time you asked someone to hold you accountable for certain behavioral goals? • Do people feel safe coming to you with feedback you may not like or agree with? How do you know? • When it comes to your own performance, do you care more about appearances or real results? How would your staff answer that about you? • When is the last time you listened to a contrasting viewpoint about something you felt strongly about and ultimately changed your opinion? • What are three areas that coaching could help you develop? Ask your team to answer the same question about you and see how well you understand their perception of you. • Final and most important question: How often do you receive rich feedback from others? The amount of feedback you are given will be in direct proportion to the degree of coachability others see in you. Leaders who acknowledge their own blind spots can be powerful role models for the reality that we are all a lifelong work-in-process. Leaders who are defensive and unable to admit mistakes will be rewarded with the same superficiality they embody. Denial or accountability? 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. To learn more about Penumbra’s performance coaching services, please visit our website at www.penumbra.com.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Victim Virus

Winston Churchill once said, "Responsibility is the price of greatness". As much as we preach about leadership accountability in setting employees up to achieve greatness, the other side of that two way street is making sure you have employees who are willing to take ownership and get what they need to succeed, regardless of whether it may be difficult, time intensive, or unpopular. I was once running a leadership develop program with a Senior Living provider, and noticed a community team with issues. There was no collaboration on the team, bad attitudes, and undermining behavior. Yet, census was good so it masked a lot of issues to management. I met with the Executive Director (who had only been there 6 months) to discuss the team dynamics at her community. I was starting to wonder if she was either clueless about what was going on, or had no control over it. After I shared my perception of the group, she agreed with my assessment (“Ok”, I thought, “She’s not clueless”). She went on to explain the reasons for the team’s dysfunction. First, that the team was mourning the loss of the previous Executive Director and she hadn’t been given a chance to measure up to very high expectations; second that in her first six weeks on the job she’d had medical issues that caused her to be out of the community for 2 of those weeks; third, even though she had an assistant Executive Director she often brought issues for her to solve instead of dealing with issues on her own; fourth, that when she tried to hold her department heads accountable they would say one thing, but do something different and she was unable to document actual performance; and fifth, although she agreed she had some employees that probably needed to be removed, she was unable to fire anyone because her Regional Manager said no. Are you starting to get the picture of what this Executive Director has? Yes, the dreaded Victim Virus. The "Victim" You know the type - the "no-one-ever-explained-it-to me", "nothing-will-ever-change", "I-prefer-a-pity-party-to-problem-solving", "the-environment-made-me-do-it" kind of person. They are masters at the blame game - dodge, deflect, defend, repeat. From an Emotional Intelligence standpoint, a victim attitude is often a symptom of low self-awareness, optimism, influence, and self-control. This mentality is most commonly associated with the habit of blaming everyone or everything else for what happens in their life. This is the self-fulfilling prophecy that says "I am the victim of this situation and am powerless to change it". This is the quarterback hiding under the bleachers. The truth is, there are very few situations where we are actually victims, where we are stripped of the power of choice. More often we choose to perceive ourselves as powerless because it's easy to feel that people around us control our destiny. Instead of communicating about issues and standing up for our needs with supervisors, coworkers, or family members we back down, say nothing and surrender to the sense that we really can't make a difference. The "it is what it is", "I am what I am", "they are what they are" cop-out. Victim-hood is the opposite of identity theft. It is identity abdication - a life subtly given away, passed off as someone else's responsibility to decide who we are, what we stand for, and the choices we make. The Virus So how is the workplace affected by this attitude? I have chosen the term "Virus" for a reason; victims spread their attitudes like germs and they attract each other and multiply in much the same way. In communities where this virus lives are often filled with drama, lack accountability, spend time finger pointing and waste time rehashing the same problems. Consider how corrosive the Victim Virus is in teams and organizations from the perspective of authors Connors, Smith, and Hickman who examined the effect of victim attitudes in hundreds of organizations over two decades. Documented in their book, The Oz Principle, they describe this destructive force by concluding that "if left uncorrected in an organization, victim attitudes can erode productivity, competitiveness, morale, and trust to the point that correction becomes so difficult and expensive that the organization can never fully heal itself or its people". Spotting The Victim Virus All of us possess a victim tendency to some degree or another. The way to recognize it happening is through increased self-awareness. It is often subtle and others' behavior seem to justify our desire to blame them. Or perhaps we have had a hand in creating these "victims" by silently condoning the signs and symptoms. Before looking for it in others, first ask yourself: • What was my role in this? • Did I set clear expectations for others and clearly communicate my desired outcome? • Could I have used my influence skills more instead of feeling caught in a power struggle? • How much time have I spent stewing over the issue instead of on ways to solve it? • Do I complain more than confront? • Do I rehearse and rationalize my reasons to myself to prove to others that it wasn't my fault? • Was there anything more I could have done to ensure the successful outcome of this situation? • Is addressing this mentality overlooked in our performance review/management process? • Have I created an environment where this type of attitude is tolerated? How do you spot an active carrier of The Victim Virus on your team? Answer these questions: • Do they demonstrate a habit of ignoring or pretending not to know about their accountability? • Do they deny their responsibility and blame others for their predicament? • Do they cite confusion as a reason for inaction? • Do they wait for others to tell them what to do? • Do they claim they can't do what is necessary to solve the problem? • Do they wait to see if the situation will miraculously resolve itself? The Victim Virus is an employee engagement killer. Employees who take ownership and accountability will not tolerate an environment where victim-hood is tolerated. The ones who are actually willing to step up will step out instead. Consequently, one of the most urgent and profitable leadership imperatives today is to find and eradicate The Victim Virus in every corner of your community and organization. Make it start with you. Start today.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing?

As an executive coach, I see the dynamic of strengths being overused to the point of becoming weaknesses. It is not that uncommon to see someone who is successful by building a career on their gifts, only to have them start to plateau, or worse, struggle to meet performance expectations as a result of not being able to adjust to a changing environment and shifting performance demands. Allowing our strengths to automatically guide our behavior can lead to stagnancy and career damaging mistakes. What you’re loved for today, can be tomorrow’s write up. Without a balanced assessment of how we should behave, one that is rooted in self-awareness and a sensitivity to the bigger picture of organizational objectives and the individual goals of those around you, negative reactions and results can catch you by surprise really fast. And, I know that the workplace is filled with mixed messages….people are often promoted because of their strengths, so when the pressure is on they naturally lean into them. But, I try and advise them to be mindful about that…sometimes it can be too much of a good thing. 

There have been some great books published on the value of discovering your strengths, and playing to them instead of focusing on improving your weaknesses. Not a bad philosophy. However, what happens when something good gets overused? Usually it swings from a positive to a deficit. Any strength over, or inappropriately used, becomes a weakness. For example, if I am open-minded and nimble, flexibility may be my genius. But, if I am too flexible in too many scenarios I may come across to others as wishy-washy, spineless or scattered. Or, if I am always methodical and organized I may appear bureaucratic, too linear, or rigid in situations that require an immediate creative response.

The key is to use your collection of talents, skills and strengths at the appropriate levels. This requires you to be recognizing your behaviors and reactions, accurately reading the environment and people in it, and responding in ways that are best suited to what’s happening in front of you – in other words – it requires you to use your Emotional Intelligence. So what should you do? Instead of automatically applying the same behaviors or outlook to new problems, stop and ask yourself these questions: 
  • Am I doing what is comfortable to me versus what the situation requires? Don’t fall into the trap of being on auto-pilot and using what is easy instead of what’s going to be most effective. 
  • How can I use my other skills to leverage a better approach to this problem? Instead of applying your problem solving skills to go straight to identifying a root cause, consider stretching yourself to try a completely new approach. For one week, track your immediate tendencies to respond and take a different course of action. 
  • Could doing the opposite of my instincts pay off in more credibility? On some occasions your team needs you to be something you’re not. To find out, ask at your next one-on-ones with your supervisor…what value do you see me bringing to the team and what is missing that I can add to the team dynamic? Typically decisive? Sometimes they need you to be passive. Ordinarily kind-hearted? Now they need to see you demanding. 
  • Am I thinking inside my own box in terms of what’s “right” and “wrong”? If you catch yourself thinking in “shoulds," chances are your judgment blinders may be on.

Holding fast to your concept that you know best and the way things should be done or how people should behave is one of the quickest ways to alienate others and weaken your position of value to the team. Creativity, influence and high impact results are the fruits of the open minded. Don’t always come across as the smartest person in the room, even if you are. Make a list of the projects, goals or interpersonal situations from the last two years that didn’t work out as you had hoped and explore each one to uncover if maybe an overuse of some skills resulting in a lack of balance could have contributed to the outcome. The goal is to leverage your unique talent briefcase and use each of your strengths to its maximum potential. And, despite how tempting it is to think more is better, it’s not.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hallmarks of a hi-po

Many organizations utilize talent assessment tools such as a “9-box” or talent map and use metrics such as performance reviews, manager input and results/accomplishments for determining who the top talent is. One area that often brings up some controversy is the notion of “potential”. It remains a nebulous, somewhat elusive concept to quantify. Some base it on academics, some base it on a career trajectory and some base it on a “learning agility” assessment. When it comes right down to it, our experience reveals three factors as most important to look for: • Coachability – someone who shows humility even if they went to a top tier school or got high academic marks, who openly admits not knowing something or making past mistakes, someone who demonstrates that they don’t take themselves too seriously, someone with high self-awareness and knows what they are good at and can express what their purpose in life is • Ambition – someone who routinely goes above and beyond, who did outside activities, volunteered, or worked while going to school, someone who shows a pattern of putting in extra effort at work, someone with a direction or personal goals they want to achieve in life, someone who has demonstrated being able to learn something new fairly quickly, a history of being able to think on their feet, someone who isn’t afraid to speak up and share new ideas or strategies without coming across as cocky or know-it-all • Realistic – someone who understands that even despite hard work, promotions and other perks do not happen immediately, someone who does not have a sense of entitlement (they happily do grunt work), someone who is grounded in the reality that life requires a lot of effort and persistence and doesn’t always seem fair, yet they maintain a positive attitude instead of being a victim Naturally, many factors influence how much potential can be realized in an employee (style of their leader, company resources, opportunities to be stretched, incentives, and organizational culture) but someone missing one of these three factors should be a red flag that no matter what is on paper, they may not be a hi-po.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A study in Emotional Intelligence from Southwest Airlines

I was traveling on Southwest today and the crew that started our day was led by a cheerful and friendly lady named Jennifer. It was particularly noteworthy because it was 5:45am. She and her crewmates handled the flight well, I sat next to an 83 year old woman and when she needed assistance Jennifer was attentive and kind – high Emotional Intelligence. I was on a “direct” but not a non-stop which meant I stopped at a layover city but did not deplane. At the layover, there was a crew change. When the new crew boarded, Kristin immediately noticed and mentioned a problem with the overhead storage bin and not so kindly informed a passenger they had to move their bag. At one point, she needed to get something out of her own suitcase and held up the line of boarding passengers so she could get her things and be able to walk back to the front of the plane – low Emotional Intelligence. The last people to board was a family of four, and it’s not so easy to find seats together at the end of the boarding line so Kristin called to the back of the plane and asked the rear cabin attendant to try and hold 4 seats, or at least 2 and 2 so the children wouldn’t have to sit alone. I thought, “Great, maybe we will get some EQ with this crew too.” By push time, the rear attendant came up and said, “Well I got into it with the mom.” And went on to explain that she had only held 3 seats not 4 and when the mom got upset, she told her that they couldn’t guarantee seats together if they are in the last boarding group. That started bantering back and forth between Kristin and her, “I told them there was no guarantee we could give them seats together.” “The mom kept saying, ‘She asked you to hold 4 seats, I heard her’. Well I didn’t hear you say 4 seats, I only heard 3…” “I did say 4, but parents with kids are the worst…” “I guess I am going to get another nasty letter written in about me. Oh well, it’s been a while.” An innocent mistake, an intended good deed. But in its delivery, they demonstrated no EQ. I kept thinking of it had been Jennifer in the back, she would have apologized profusely for misunderstanding the number of seats needed. She would have owned her part in it and with a smile, worked with what she had. And I am pretty sure the family would have been a lot happier with their choice to fly Southwest. EQ isn’t about huge behaviors. It’s about how you handle the little things.

Friday, May 4, 2012

EQ Does Not Equal Pushover

I was recently presenting at a leadership conference on Emotional Intelligence and shared with the audience that someone with high EQ understands they cannot expect to always be comfortable, expecting the world to do the adjusting. Instead, they realize that often they must make the adjustments and that will mean they are the ones to be uncomfortable. At lunch, someone asked me if using EQ as leader meant that you were a pushover, because in order to keep others comfortable you just give them what they want all the time. True? Read on. At the heart of Emotional Intelligence are three R’s: Recognize, Read, Respond. Recognizing (Self-Awareness) your own tendencies – strengths, weaknesses, moods, drives, emotional states; Reading (Situational-Awareness) the verbal and non-verbal signals of your environment to accurately assess it and its response to you; and Responding in ways that are most appropriate based on the evidence gathered around you and within you. When this is applied to managing others, powerful leaders (high EI) are able to recognize their downstream impact on others, recognize when their own moods are influencing others’ performance and their ability to voice ideas or challenges to them, and recognize when they must own their disruptive, albeit often unintentional, behavior when they need to and take the necessary steps to adjust, repair and learn from the situation. He or she is able to read the emotional make-up of their direct reports and connect with them on a level that meets the follower’s needs, which may or not be the same style as the leaders’. They do this through empathy, seeing each employee as an individual and complex person with unique talents, needs and perspectives. Which is the opposite of one-size-fits all leadership. He or she takes responsibility for responding in appropriate ways – by not taking out bad moods or misdirected or exaggerated performance intensity on those around him or her. And by providing praise when and how someone needs to hear it by clearly communicating expectations and desired outcomes instead of doing management by mindreading and assumptions. Leaders with high EQ are not just “yes” people. We have all had to hear bad news, and the way it is delivered is critical. EQ helps you to be fair but firm, assertive and sensitive. It allows you to show care while holding people accountable because you have made enough of an emotional investment in them to drive their engagement and loyalty to you; approaching each employee as a unique asset and resource, taking the time to tap into their internal motivations, passions and talents. A leader with high Emotional Intelligence doesn’t do this spontaneously or in a vacuum, instead, they mindfully practice “learning” their employees as a daily habit. Most who have learned to do this report it is their highest leverage leadership behavior - an important shift with huge impact for all. So, I guess it is true, one might say, high EQ does give people exactly what they want.

Friday, January 20, 2012

2011 Travel Summary

It's time to publish my annual travel stats for 2011:
136,911 miles, 8 airlines, 29 airports

Total delays: 14.55 hours (includes credits for early arrivals)
Percent of all flights with a delay: 25% (70% of those were delayed more than 15 mins)
Average delay (all flights): 58 minutes
Percent of delays not weather related: 56.67%

Percent of flights with a delay by airline:
Southwest (50 flights) 26% (77% of those were delayed more than 15 mins)
United (49 flights) 22% (64% of those were delayed more than 15 mins + one missed connection caused an arrival delay of 2 hours 50 mins)
US Air (7 flights) 28% (+ one cancelled flight due to mechanical caused a delay in return by 1 hr 45 mins)


Average delay by airline:
Southwest: 50 minutes
United: 31 minutes
US Air: 42 minutes


Not much change in the sad state of airline passenger experience. The FAA Reauthorization funding has still not been approved, airlines are flighting against transparency on fees, TSA remains questionable in its effectiveness, and airlines continue to complain they can't make any money. What an industry.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reasons for Not Getting Feedback

If you have ever wondered why people don't give you feedback that you need, there are 3 common reasons:

1. Even though you say you want to hear it, you get defensive and make excuses for your behavior to the point where it makes it so difficult for others to be honest, they don't bother.

2. They have given you the feedback multiple times in the past but nothing seems to change. Instead of wasting their time, they stop telling you.

3. They are concerned about retaliation. It has not been safe to give you honest feedback in the past without negative consequences to them.

So, if you have gotten feedback via a 360 assessment or performance review that surprised you, honestly ask yourself if any of the 3 conditions above could be the reason why you haven't heard it before.