Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Men's Wearhouse CEO: Ego or EQ?

George Zimmer, founder of Men's Wearhouse was summarily terminated this week with little explanation. A great Washington Post article written by Jena McGregor summarizes the situation. I particularly noted this comment:

According to reports, one retail industry analyst speculated that Zimmer, who transitioned out of the CEO role in 2011 to become executive chairman, may have had trouble letting go of the reins, a common problem for founders.

Ego Trap 4 at it's destructive work: Not Letting Go of Control.

To see the whole article, go here:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Interview with Bob Dolan from MIT

I am excited to introduce a new interview series on the Shirkani's Musings blog. My first guest is Bob Dolan, Career Advisor for MIT Postdoctoral Scholars. We share a similar belief that Emotional Intelligence is a vital ingredient for job success. Here are his thoughts on the subject:

JS: What do you see as the ideal balance to maintain between technical knowledge and emotional intelligence for Postdocs?

BD:  I believe the optimal balance is 50-50 (for everyone).  Although all of the Postdocs I work with have incredible technical expertise in their field, in order for them to be effective they must possess the workplace required behavioral attributes to be successful.  Ironically, they do have many of them but are not aware that they have these skills.  They are so focused on their profession that they have not noticed they have actually worked in collaborative environments.  Many of which were multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary.  Several have mentored grad students and managed several initiatives in their labs which are an indication they also possess some form of leadership skill.  I have also observed that many possess strong communication skills and have delivered several presentations and have been published many times.  So I view it as a lack of self-awareness that prevents them from recognizing they do have many of the EI attributes.  Only through probing questions do they reveal them and then they move forward in a more confident manner.

JS: From your experience, what do employees that make the most successful career transitions do differently than others?

BD: From my experience both in industry and in career services my observation shows that successful transitions occur for several reasons.  First, if the transition is a different profession, the technical knowledge and experience must be obtained before they can be considered for the new role.  By doing a gap analysis and understanding what they need to do (self-awareness) is critical to any transition.  Next is motivation.  They need a strong drive to achieve and a propensity to pursue their goals with high energy and enthusiasm.  Finally, they need social skills (EQ) to effectively assimilate into their new environment. They should display the ability to build relationships and find common ground among their new co-workers.

JS: I know you often advise former military personnel who are transitioning to civilian roles. In your opinion, what EQ skills do they often bring with them that employers can benefit from?
 BD: Working with the military is very interesting and humbling for me.  I mostly work with those who have recently been discharged, or who will be discharged in the near future.  I run programs at Hanscom AFB in Lexington MA and have worked with many who spent time in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.  They all possess incredible courage and strength of character, but when I ask them how they feel about transitioning into the civilian workplace they are timid and nervous.  Many believe that they don’t have the skills that employers want.  However, after discussing their work and asking questions they reveal that they have essentially all of the skills that employers want.  The top five EQ skills that they all consistently display are leadership, team work, communication, initiative, and adaptability.

Bob Dolan
About Bob Dolan:
Bob joined the MIT Global Education and Career Development Center and has held full-time and seasonal roles since 2005. He is a Certified Job Search and Career Transition Consultant with experience in the field of Career Management since 2001. In addition to assisting military personnel transition into the civilian workplace, Bob is also a guest speaker at several universities and career venues in the Boston area. Before joining MIT, Bob had a private Career Consulting practice and worked with clients across multiple industries. 
Prior to choosing a profession in Career Services, Bob worked in several industries as a member of Corporate Finance Management teams. Bob holds a BS in Business, an MBA, and worked in the Publishing industry, Chemical industry (polymer sciences), and 12 years in the High Technology telecomm sector.  Bob served six years in the US Army with the 1st Battalion 182nd Infantry Regiment.  As a hiring manager for over twenty years, Bob brings a unique blend of "real world" and career services expertise to his clients. Since 2003 Bob has been on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the Career Counselors' Consortium of New England.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson's Butt Slap

Last week, NFL player Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson was in court and was caught on tape and seen by those in the courtroom when he butt slapped his attorney. It seemed an innocent move, done as an "atta boy" but a very good example of the power of emotional intelligence (EQ).

Part of EQ is responding in appropriate ways based on how you read the environment and what is most appropriate behavior. In many cases, as with Johnson's, perfectly appropriate behavior in one situation can be completely wrong in another if you lack situational awareness and accurately reading the environment.

The tipping point between high and low EQ is subtle but incredibly important. It requires presence of mind and an ability to manage impulsive reactions. Poor Chad, it happens to the best of us. Just usually not so publicly.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Going to Houston? Stay at the Hilton North

Last Thursday, I worked all day in Boston, led a program and then participated in meetings. I flew that afternoon out of Logan to Houston, not arriving until 9:30pm. It was a long day and I was tired and hungry but the options at the Houston airport meant a bottle of water and a bag of chips for dinner.

I arrived at the Hilton North around 10pm and was greeted warmly by four staff members waiting at the front door. One of them was Manny Adarkwa, a chef in the hotel restaurant. He immediately grabbed my suitcase (50 pounds heavy - yes, lot's of shoes), waited for me to check in and assisted me to my room. I wondered how he could possibly know how much I needed a helping hand after such a long day. I sincerely thanked him and wished him a wonderful evening. He then made my night, returning shortly with a plate of fruit, cheese and crackers. I never mentioned that I missed dinner, he just knew somehow. I was supremely impressed with the level of guest service and genuine hospitality. I stay in a lot of hotels and this one is a rare gem.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

There's No Crying in Business

One of the emotional intelligence skills is emotional self-control. Those who lack it often have difficulty managing their emotional reactions to situations and may lash out in anger or break down in tears. I won't pretend that crying in a business meeting is not a credibility killer.

I have spoken with many of those that cry when overwhelmed by a situation and ask, "How am I to best deal with this when you start crying?". Most tell me to keep the meeting going while they try and compose themselves. So that's what I do. I bring in a box of tissues and keep the meeting going.

But I am a woman and I think men stop dead in their tracks when a woman in their office starts crying. This is a great article from a self-disclosed crier that explains why men have difficulty ignoring it. Most importantly, it provides strategies for those of you who tend to cry easily on how to maintain your emotional self-control and earn more credibility.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Wisdom of Titans by William J. Ferguson

Part of my summer book series has included The Wisdom of Titans. For any business leader, this book is for you. William does a fantastic job sharing the stories of many successful entrepreneurs and their very different paths to success. This book takes different ideas and lessons and really reinforces the power of following your dreams and how you can achieve them. From the stories of the Marriott’s who remind us that you have to stay grounded with your business, to Julia Stewart who clearly demonstrates the power of influence, to Sam Zell who says his “Eleventh Commandment: Thou should not take ones self too seriously”, the stories are filled with practical answers to questions all business owners ask themselves. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to learn from recognized business founders who want to learn multiple paths to success.  

Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg

Part of my summer book series has included Lean In. If you’re a woman in the working world this book is a must read. It is targeted for woman of all ages and raises our awareness of the role we are playing in our own lives. Sheryl’s ideas go far beyond leaning into ones career but rather leaning into who you are as an individual and what you can offer for the future. I appreciate her balance of documented research combined with her own personal experience. I promise, once you start reading you will not be able to put it down. I plan to recommend this to all of my clients.

The CEO Code by David Rohlander

Part of my summer book series has included the CEO Code. This book is a great “Go-To” handbook for shaping leadership techniques to help your company succeed. I really like how David takes military principles and applies them to teach crucial leadership lessons. I particularly like his chapters on Resolution and Repetition and his reinforcement of the power behind being an emotionally intelligent leader.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Quin - EQ in Action

This week I got the pleasure of working with Holly Breuche and her new team at New York’s luxury hotel, The Quin ( which opens in a couple of weeks. I was so impressed with the teams' overall enthusiasm and interest in EQ. She has assembled some inspirational A Players: Shanelle, Hercy, Miriam, Sean, Guia, Michel, Kimberly, Steve, Orlando, Dennis and Enada. The group left with a keen understanding of the importance of demonstrating high emotional intelligence as department managers and leaders.

A hotel opening tests everyone’s stress tolerance, flexibility and empathy, and Holly’s insight to provide the training prior to the big day shows she has both high IQ and EQ! Having emotional intelligence can truly make or break a workplace culture and I felt very positive after leaving the team members of The Quin and I can’t wait to see their future success.