JS: In your experience, what is the most common reason executives derail?
TT: There are a couple of common reasons that cause executives to derail. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has an impact on both.
Most of us as executives need to have a strong ego to get to where we are. Learning to manage that ego such that others can learn, succeed and develop is, in my opinion, one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a true executive leader.
The most common derail EQ area is executives who fail to make the transition from individual contributor to leader. They continue to do the things that made them successful earlier their careers without evolving their style. It is the perpetual challenge inherent in shifting from individual or manager to executive and ultimately to being the strategic leader. These are the executives who have difficulty delegating and who cannot distribute decision making and responsibility with authority to his/her staff. Executives with high EQ know that their roles have changed. They understand that while they may know how to do “it” and perhaps can even do “it” better, it’s essential to the development of their teams and to their own development to not do “it.”
The second most common cause for executive derailing I’ve experienced combines a number of aspects of EQ. Having spent almost my entire HR career in high technology, surrounded by brilliant technologists and scientists, I’ve seen more than my share of very, very smart executives who were not schooled in the art of leadership or communication. The ability to create and communicate a vision, engage others in that vision, understand employees as individuals and create an environment of responsibility and accountability needed for job satisfaction and personal development are not skills generally taught as part of engineering degrees and often not as part of MBA programs.
JS: Because your organization is heavily focused on technical skills, what role do you see EQ playing in career success at Broadcom?
TT: Broadcom, even more than most technology companies celebrates innovation and technical competence. Innovation is a core value at the company and we celebrate these individuals who embody those skills and values. As the company has grown, the need for high EQ technologists has grown, adding the need to demonstrate those skills through broad-based leadership. We need our technical heroes (called Fellows and Distinguished Engineers) to mentor others. They need to develop and mentor the next generation of innovators and can only do that through demonstrating strong levels of EQ. It becomes a virtuous cycle, as each level of technology professionals develops those around them. The “newer” engineers may have more current technical knowledge and are expected to share up, down and sideways. The more experienced engineers help integrate the current technical skills and knowledge, coach others in how to communicate and mentor others, etc. Ultimately in today’s workplace, while “experts” are valued, experts who exhibit EQ are the resilient survivors companies work to retain.
JS: Admitting weaknesses can feel vulnerable and some may not want to appear weak or to be struggling. In your opinion, what benefit is there for an executive to recognize their own EQ deficits and seek coaching?
TT: We have made “coaching” a privilege and a statement of the company’s commitment to executives. When we provide an executive with a coach, it is a sign of our belief in the executive and his/her potential. We view coaching as “the last few feet” in the long journey, meaning that for executives, it is intended to help him/her polish (improve) a last few skills in the tool box. When successful executives share openly about the benefit (coaching) the company is providing him/her, rather than being viewed as weak or struggling, the executive is demonstrating EQ. Often his/her success is viewed as connected to the coaching process.
About Terri Timberman:
Ms. Timberman is an HR industry leader with more than 30 years of experience in innovative organizational design, development and strategic planning. She joined Broadcom in March 2009 after serving in senior HR positions at Planar Systems, Inc., AMI Semiconductor, Inc., Radisys Corporation, Merix Corporation, Tektronix, Inc. and TriQuint Semiconductors.
Ms. Timberman serves on the Boards of Directors of Broadcom Foundation and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), and is a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum of Oregon (ALFO). She is also the executive sponsor for Broadcom's Diversity and Inclusion strategy and Employee Engagement Group program that includes the Broadcom Women's Network, the Multi-cultural Network and the Aware Network.