Thursday, April 5, 2018

Learning to Delegate

Every leader struggles with delegation; how much to delegate? How important should the tasks that are delegated be? How do we know when someone is "ready" for the next level of accountability? Is there a balance between micro-managing and complete autonomy?

This points to the differences between management and leadership. Consider "the paradox of letting go" from Lao Tzu. This philosophy says "when I let go of what I am I become what I might be."

When I give up trying to be in control (management), I have greater influence (leadership). When I let go of my fear of failure (management), I am stronger (leadership). When I stop dictating to my team (management), I allow them to show me their capabilities (leadership). What I learn by trying to control others is that my team can follow instructions; what I never learn is the potential waiting inside them. Management is about power, leadership is about liberation. In the moments of greatest desire to control, consider letting go. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Intentions vs Behaviors

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Stephen Covey fan. I was recently reacquainted with one of his great insights on the way we judge others and ourselves. Inaccurate assumptions lead to mistrust, strained relationships, and disengagement. On the other hand, a judgment-free workplace promotes strong teamwork and loyalty - everyone wants a leader who is in their corner. Think about how you judge and are judged by others. 

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 intentions?  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, March 22, 2018

In-Placement: The Case for Permanent Temps

You have probably heard of out-placement services, but have you considered creating an in-placement plan within your company? Think of it as your own resume bank that would serve as your internal labor market. This could be tied to training and development plans, or career succession plans, or you could create a float pool of employees that fill in where needed.

Based on the old-fashioned concept of a secretarial pool, your in-placement service could provide full-time employees work within your organization where needed, filling many important roles on an interim or project basis. This would appeal to employees who like the diversity of work and enjoy learning new things.

This would benefit the organization by providing it with a flexible labor pool without the need for temps. Full-time employees are more dedicated, committed and knowledgeable about the company than outsiders. This valuable cross-training can lead to future leadership or permanent positions

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Confidence or Arrogance

A strong sense of confidence is important in any leader. Confidence is a thoughtful combination of multiple things: it's a recognition of your own strengths with a healthy dose of self-assurance that you are both competent and capable of getting the job done. More importantly, confidence is believing in other people and believing that they, too, have the strengths and abilities to accomplish and succeed. This fosters a secure team environment that promotes achieving a shared vision. Arrogance, on the other hand, is alienating in any professional environment. It sends the message that you are the only one with the skills and the ability to execute a job. It says you are past teaching and have nothing else to learn, either from others or about yourself. Arrogance communicates that you are resistant to teamwork and shared success. 

Leaders take note: your superior technical skills are not enough and believing that they are will trap you. By understanding the difference between confidence and arrogance it allows you as a leader to always be a step ahead while serving as a friendly reminder to keep your ego in check.  

Leading people to a common goal and conveying a vision with clarity and encouragement (especially in uncertain times) requires confidence. A healthy level of it can make you seem more competent and believable, especially when you can acknowledge your limits. Arrogance, however, is over-reliance on oneself expecting blind loyalty and just assuming that people will follow because you are, well, better.
Over-confidence lies more in a weak sense of self-awareness, where the over-confident person tends to take on more things than they can handle and fails to recognize their limits. It can come from carrying over positive reinforcement from one job to another, believing that because you succeeded before, you absolutely will again. This over-confidence can be checked, though. A humbling moment or a self-realization that you may need help with the task at hand will steer that confidence back to a manageable level. But while over-confidence is more of an innocuous misjudgment, an arrogant attitude can leave a leader scrambling behind the scenes, telling everyone he has it under control, when truly he needs to lean on the team members who are fully capable to complete the job. Some may even see a leader's arrogance as an artificial kind of confidence, one that is used to mask an insecurity.

The best way to keep your ego in check is to aim for a self-adjusting confidence. This means that in moving from project to project, you adjust your confidence level to the challenge and task at hand, drawing on your strong skills when needed but also being humble enough to ask for help. And while healthy confidence is always a positive attribute, a confident humility is even better and will only serve to garner you more respect and reinforce your ability to inspire a team.  

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hallmarks of a Hi-Po

Many organizations struggle with ways to identify a high potential employee - a "hi-po" - so this article provides a couple of hallmarks to keep a lookout for.

Recognizing 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 national experience in companies large and small reveals three important factors:

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 does outside activities, volunteers, 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.

Monday, March 5, 2018

EQ&You: What to Do With Feedback

I am happy to introduce my new bi-weekly micro-vlog series, EQ& You.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!  See you again March,19th. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Month in a Minute

February was our month to work hard to create new content for you. The best part is it’s all free!
  1. We have just published a new 45-minute webinar “Intro to EQ” – it is ideal for someone who wants to learn more about the benefits of increasing emotional intelligence, the ways it can be assessed, we provide ideas for use in your organization, and throughout the session, you can take your own self-assessment. Check it out.
  2. I was a guest of Dave Saboe’s “Mastering Business Analysis” podcast. We discuss the career advantages of using more EQ than IQ.
  3. I am also excited to share a new micro-vlog series (less than 2-minutes) that I will post bi-weekly. You can find it on our YouTube page, just subscribe to it to be notified when new videos are posted. Or you can subscribe to this blog and see them every Monday.
We are gearing up for a busy Spring ahead with several events on the calendar in Indianapolis, San Diego, Boston, Salt Lake City, NYC and Las Vegas.

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.