Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What's Easier to Train: Technical or EQ Skills?

I was meeting last week with the managing partner in a technology consulting firm. They are in need of some EQ development. I asked how he knows and he said they have experienced consultants who have difficulty giving and receiving feedback, demonstrate bad behaviors when under stress, and seem to lose touch with how they are coming across to clients. All signs of low EQ alright.

He said they have had the habit of hiring for technical skills thinking the new employee can "pick up" the emotional intelligence piece. He said what they have realized is that the technical skills might have actually been easier to train and they may very well have done better to hire for EQ instead.



Monday, May 20, 2013

The Most Powerful Tool in Leadership - Coachability

We all have blind spots - behaviors we exhibit that are undermining our best intentions, harming our credibility, or damaging our relationships with others. Oft 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.  I call this readiness being coachableSomeone 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. 


Thursday, May 9, 2013


Last week I had the great pleasure to help a family business identify their core mission and vision. The best part? It was a winery. There was so much power in the room as we talked about honoring the family legacy and the land. We were onsite, and the warm sunny day in the vineyard set a magical backdrop for the conversation, as we heard birds and baby lambs in the background.

It came at the end of my busy week of coaching sessions and EQ training. It was on the drive out that it hit me how blessed me and my fellow executive coaches and development colleagues are to do the work we do. We impact people’s lives in a unique way.
First responders (police, fireman, doctors) are most helpful when things are bad. And we are glad they are there, but hope to never need them again.

Professional service providers (accountants, lawyers) are necessary evils. We wish we never had to see them again.

Mental health professionals (counselors, therapists) are best used when we are at a low point. We work to be healthy enough to stop seeing them again.

But I work with you best when you are not in crisis.
I build on your best traits.
I help you see when you have been blind.
I give you power you didn’t know you had.
I will leave a lasting and life-long imprint on your career and soul.
I take you to the deep end of the pool and force you to swim, but will never let you drown.
You can’t wait to see me again.

That is good work. And I actually get paid to do it.

Seriously, how freaking awesome is that?      

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ego Trap #6 - Follow the Leader

A great story from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In about how Robert Rubin, then secretary of the Treasury fell into Ego Trap #6:

Before becoming Treasury secretary, Rubin served as co-chairman of the board of Goldman Sachs. At the end of his first week as co-chairman, he noticed that Goldman was heavily invested in gold. He asked someone why the firm had taken such a big position. The startled employee answered, “That was you, sir.” “Me?” Rubin replied. Apparently, the day before he had been taking his initial tour of the trading floor and commented, “Gold looks interesting.” This got repeated as “Rubin likes gold,” and someone spent millions of dollars to please the new boss. (pg. 82)

So, what version of “Gold looks interesting” is happening to you in your organization?