Thursday, June 14, 2018

EQ Does Not Equal Pushover



I recently presented at a leadership conference on Emotional Intelligence and shared with the audience that someone with high EQ understands he or she cannot always be kept comfortable, expecting the world to do the adjusting to them. Instead, they realize that often they must make the adjustments and that will mean they are the ones to sometimes 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. Think it's 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, recognizing when their own moods are influencing others' performance and their ability to voice ideas or challenges to them, and recognizing 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 and 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 leaders with high EQ do give people exactly what they want.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Month in a Minute

Speaking at SNHU on Teamwork, Consensus, and Collaboration

Ahhhh, how is it the first Thursday of the month again? 

We hit the ground running in May with visits to clients in UT, MA, NY, ME, CA, NH, and TX. We spent a lot of time this month sharing assessment data, from EQ reports to leadership style via a 360, to change style preference, to personality type. Whether it's an online formal report or a pen and paper self-assessment taken during a session, they provide such great insight into our behavioral patterns and allow for powerful self-reflection we don't normally have the time to do. If you haven't taken one, I would encourage you to do so. It's a fantastic learning tool for the development of EQ.  

Top: John Jones, Steve, Me, and Cason Shrode of Cassity Jones, Bottom Left: Me and Jennifer Kinville of Eastern Oil, Bottom Right: EQ Workshop at CompHealth


When we were in Texas, Steve and I had dinner with an old colleague of ours we worked with over ten years ago. It was so nice to see him and learn about his life since our last contact. It's easy to lose touch with people, and in the consulting world, it's common to only reach out when you need something. There are several people who won’t return phone calls or emails when they don't need me, only to get the call or email from them when they are changing jobs or need some work. I am never too motivated to help them. Relationships matter, never blow someone off. 



Friday, June 1, 2018

Leadership Litmus Test



Loss of sleep, strained relationships, loss of productivity, injuries and sick leave, increased customer complaints - these are just a few symptoms of unresolved conflict in the workplace.  "Unresolved conflict represents the largest reducible cost in many businesses, yet it remains largely unrecognized." (Dana, Daniel 1999). Measuring the Financial Cost of Organizational Conflict.

Seems this would be motivation enough for leaders to identify and resolve workplace issues.  Yet managers and employees alike seem more willing to step out than to step up to the challenge of constructive confrontation.

Almost 50% of people have considered changing jobs in order to avoid confronting an issue, and 12% actually left the job to get away from the person or problem, according to a study conducted by the University at North Carolina. 

It seems that in the scheme of everything we have to conquer on our formidable to-do lists, delivering some direct, honest feedback would be the least of our management worries.  Not so.  We have found that many leaders would rather procrastinate as long as possible before sitting down with a boss, peer, or employee to deliver just a few minutes of raw feedback - or Straight Talk, as we call it. 


Straight Talk is the practice of initiating a dialogue to voice contrasting opinions, needs, ideas, hurts, disagreements, and observations, in a constructive and direct manner.  This is sharing instead of stewing, asking rather than assuming, and solving instead of blaming. 

Many people we coach suffer from a lack of self-awareness simply because they are out of touch with how their behavior impacts others and how they are perceived in turn.  No one has dared give them the very feedback they need to hear the most.  Even better, they actually want it too! 

A survey conducted by Lore International Institute of over 500 employees from all types of organizations and industries, found that 92% listed HONESTY as the number one thing they wanted most from a manager. 


Yet working with both novice and seasoned leaders alike, we have found that the number one reason managers tend to put off employee performance appraisals is because of a fear of confrontation.  What does this "fear of confrontation" really mean?  What are we afraid might happen if we get real with others?

The most common obstacles managers cite for why they avoid approaching a troubled employee include:

  • Fear of embarrassing the employee or hurting their feelings
  • Fear of looking like a fool
  • Fear of upsetting the status quo
  • Fear of damaging a good relationship or demotivating a good employee
  • Preparation and confrontation requires too much time and energy
  • Unable to predict the employee's reaction
  • Fear of defensive reactions
  • Feels intimidated by the employee
  • Hard to measure the performance problems
The truth is, strong leaders, learn how to balance support and candor, truthfulness with empathy.  Sadly, many leaders deceive themselves and others when they publicly proclaim a commitment to accountability, integrity, and standards of excellence, but instead cheat others out of vital growth opportunities by withholding or "packaging" the truth. 

When we sugarcoat or avoid performance or behavioral issues, we are choosing to place our temporary comfort level above the wellbeing of the other person's present and future professional life.  To confront is to care. Others may choose to use or lose our feedback, but we owe it to them to give it anyway.  

General Colin Powell said it best - "Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It's inevitable-if you're honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: You'll avoid the tough decisions, you'll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you'll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset."

"Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally "nicely" regardless of their contributions, you'll simply ensure that the only people you'll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization."

The good news is that Straight Talk is not a skill you're born with, rather it is a learned ability that improves with the right techniques and diligent practice.  Spend some time thinking about crucial conversations you have put off. 

Ask yourself -what do either of you truly gain from your silence?  Would you want others withholding important feedback from you?  Are you prepared to receive Straight Talk in return?


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Coaching EQ is Contagious


Being successful in business requires more than just a good education, years of experience and smarts. It also requires insight, social skill, and sensibility. To climb the career ladder, leaders must also be able to control impulses, read situations and people, influence others, and manage stressful situations. Easier said than done.  

The EQ Advantage

Researchers call this emotional know-how Emotional Intelligence or EQ.  Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills that include one's ability to recognize their own impulses and moods and the ability to read situations accurately and respond most appropriately depending on the situation or person they are dealing with. 

You've probably heard it called "soft skills," "people smarts," "social savvy," or "street smarts."  EQ is all of this and more.

According to research conducted by Daniel Goleman, author of several bestsellers on EQ, "In a study of outstanding leaders, we found that emotional competence accounted for more than 80% of the ingredients of star performance." 

Emotional Intelligence initiatives in the workplace have been linked to:
  • Greater productivity
  • Increased sales
  • Employee happiness
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Effective leadership

Being strong in technical skills creates value for the organization, but at some point, those who lack Emotional Intelligence fail to achieve the results they need to within their departments, from their peers or in themselves. Some will hit a plateau in their career, some will change jobs frequently and some are forced to step down from management responsibility.

Stumped to understand why many overlook the role their behavior has on others and how the good they set out to do is swallowed up by the pitfalls common to those with low EQ:
  • Contradictory behavior/Mixed messages
  • Short temper
  • Inappropriate comments
  • Impatience
  • Low self-awareness/Out of touch
  • Insensitivity
  • Arrogance

It is always difficult to see well-meaning employees trample their own good intentions through misguided efforts and a lack of understanding of what makes people want to work with them. 

Having EQ is contagious, acting as a catalyst to enhance the work experience for everyone. Therefore, developing Emotional Intelligence in one often benefits a whole team. And because EQ is a collection of skills that can be learned, real results can be seen from increased awareness, practice, and coaching.

Using EQ to Decode Challenging Behaviors

Developing Emotional Intelligence in others does require your ability to build the willingness in another to look at their own behavior and be open to making a change. Consider some of the characteristics that coaches say make some employees nearly uncoachable and the EQ development needs behind them.

The Don't-See-the-Need-to-Change, or Always-a-Victim, or Denial-of-the-Problem-Employee

Employees who fall into one of these categories are products of low Self-Awareness.  They see the performance issue as someone else's misinterpretation or perpetually play the victim.  These employees have "blind spots" that keep them from seeing the issue from a reality-based, objective point of view. 

No matter how vividly the problem and their contributing behavior is described to them, they lack the skills to self-examine, to identify the drivers behind their behavior, and the insight to know how to fix it. 

Like all EQ skills, Self-Awareness is a competency that can be taught but it is difficult, in-depth and time intensive.  This is an area where one-on-one coaching can be very successful. A multi-rater (360°) feedback tool can also be very helpful.  

The Defensive or Emotional Employee

We've all known the challenge of dealing with employees who deflect all responsibility for the bad stuff.  Or the individual who complicates and distracts a performance discussion by erupting into a puddle of emotion. 

Then there's the special case who does both.  These employees have an excuse ready before you're done talking.  There are few pet peeves more commonly cited by managers than an employee who always finds a responsible party to foot the blame.  
Behind this annoying behavior lies low Self-Control

By failing to control their initial reaction and allowing their desire to distance themselves to take over, these individuals emotionally hijack themselves.  Their ability to actively listen and critically think about the feedback being presented to them is impaired by their impulse to flee or from the discomfort of the situation or attack the messenger. 

The Disengaged Employee 

These are the clock watchers.  The "do as little as possible for as long as possible" employee.  Somehow, somewhere their batteries died.  But they keep outside appearances tidy enough so no one gets close enough to find out.  This sad scenario often describes employees who have low Optimism and Influence.   

At some point, these employees stopped believing in their ability to impact positive change.  They see Influence as being in the hands of others.  They have lost the passion to speak up and step up for what they want.  For these employees, a willingness to receive performance feedback is not the issue, caring enough to change is.  

Learning to see the EQ need behind the problematic behavior helps leaders to shift from focusing on the symptoms to digging deeper into root causes and long-term,
collaborative solutions. 

Employees who feel understood have a much greater motivation and capacity for change.  Suddenly a "lost cause" employee has the potential for improvement after all. 

If you desire to shift from managing to coaching, it's time to learn more about harnessing the power of Emotional Intelligence.  This brand of smarts can be learned.  

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Months in a Minute

Clockwise from top left: Steve and me at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Steve and me at Commonwealth in Waltham, MA, Book signing in Las Vegas for the National SHRM conference, Me speaking at the CA Mortgage Bankers Assoc. in La Jolla, Work Truck Show questions, Me speaking in NYC for Highgate Hotels
March and April came with more change, our office has moved from Bedford NH to Mesa AZ. We brought the team together for the move-in weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather and do some business planning for the rest of 2018. Being based in the Phoenix area should make travel to all cities easier and give me quicker access to popular conference cities like Las Vegas, San Diego, and Salt Lake City. But, no worries if you are on the East Coast, we will still be routinely visiting your area. I have still spent a lot of time in NH the last two months, and it seemed this winter would never end. Flying through Chicago in late April we were delayed due to snow and time to de-ice. But it's time for some optimism to return, we have turned the corner to better weather and a lovely Spring! 

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.