Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Interview with Daniel McCarthy - The Man Behind "Great Leadership"

My guest this month is Dan McCarthy who is a fan favorite among HR and Talent Management professionals who regularly read his popular blog, "Great Leadership". If you haven't already seen it, I encourage you to check it out: www.greatleadershipbydan.com 

JS: What topics are most popular with your blog readers and why?

DM: Most of my readers are looking for very practical and effective ways to deal with people. It’s the stuff that they don’t teach in MBA curricula. It’s the same thing when I go out and talk to customers about their training needs, or coach senior executives. It always comes back to people issues.

Some of my most popular posts which still get lots of traffic are:

JS: From your perspective, what is the number one cause of leader derailment?

DM: According to CCL research, it’s problems with interpersonal relationships, difficulty building and leading a team, difficulty changing or adapting, failure to meet business objectives, and too narrow a functional orientation. Again, the one that consistently comes up with leaders I work with is the most is problems with interpersonal relationships, especially amongst the leader’s peers. These tend to be the leaders who get results but leave a scorched earth behind them. Eventually, it catches up to them, and they move on to repeat their act with another company looking for a silver bullet.

JS: If leaders could pick up one new habit, what should it be?

DM: I’d say having regular one on one meetings with their direct reports. I know it sounds like management 101, but I’m shocked at how many leaders just don’t understand the need to meet regularly with their employees. Their employees don’t get feedback, coaching, reinforcement, and the leaders are missing a huge opportunity to build relationships, coach, and keep abreast of what’s going on. Team meetings, emails, and written status reports are poor substitutes for F2F meetings, even if just for 30 minutes a week. “Lack of time” is a poor excuse – time is just an indicator of what’s important to a leader, and a leader’s #1 priority should be their people.

JS: What has been your best metric to use to measure the ROI of leadership development?

DM: I’ve been collecting leadership development over the years like some people collect rare coins. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Company performance. The ultimate measure, nothing else really matters. In most cases, consistent great company performance can usually be attributed to great leadership. And of course, lousy leadership is usually the root cause of business failures.

2. External perception of leadership. External perception can be measured by awards, such as CEO Magazine “Best Companies for Leaders” and hundreds of individual leadership awards (CEO of the Year, CIO of the year, CFO of the Year, etc…).

3. Internal perception of leadership. Internal perception can be measured in two ways. First, if you’re using 360 leadership assessments, you can maintain an aggregate score of a single “overall effectiveness” question, or run a report that aggregates the average score for all questions. Second, you can pull questions out of your annual employee survey pertaining to leadership and look for year over year improvement. You can also compare your leaders to other companies if you’re using questions provided by a third party vendor, such as Gallop or the Leadership Practices Inventory.

4. Succession planning measures. Keep tract of the number of key positions filled by internal candidates or the number of “ready now” candidates for each key positions (bench strength).

5. Individual Development Plan (IDP) progress or completion. Track the completion of development activity for key leaders and succession candidate pools.

6. Leadership development training measures. Use the basic Kirkpatrick measures, satisfaction, knowledge, behavior change, and business results. Easier said than done for the last one, but it works in some cases. For example, you would expect a decrease in turnover and improvement in sales after the implementation of a successful sales manager hiring or coaching program.

7. Finally, the easiest measure and perhaps the one that has the biggest impact on your funding and career opportunities: ask your key stakeholders. Regular meetings with your top executives and other key stakeholders will ensure you’re efforts are hitting the mark. These meetings are a great way to continuously assess current and future needs, communicate your accomplishments, and check for satisfaction.

About Dan McCarthy

Dan McCarthy is an expert in leadership and management development. For over 20 years Dan has helped thousands of leaders and aspiring leaders improve their leadership capabilities.

Dan is the Director of Executive Development Programs at the Paul College of Business and Economics, the University of New Hampshire (UNH). He is responsible for all administrative, fiscal, operational, and policy matters associated with the development, delivery, and marketing of Executive Development Programs at Paul College.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not represent the University of New Hampshire.

Prior to joining UNH in February of 2011, Dan was responsible for all aspects of supervisory, management and executive development, including succession planning at Paychex, Inc. Paychex was consistently named as a Fortune Magazine “Great Place to Work” a "Training Magazine top 125” training organization, and a Bersin “High Impact Learning Organization”.

Prior to Paychex, Dan was Director of Leadership Excellence and Culture Development for Digital and Film Imaging Systems at Eastman Kodak Company. He was responsible for talent management for approximately 150 executives worldwide, including succession planning, an executive talent exchange, and executive development programs.

He’s the author of the award winning leadership development blog “Great Leadership”the Great Leadership Development and Succession Planning eBook, and an influential voice in social media. He has recently begun writing for About.com as their Management expert.

He’s a member of the SmartBrief on Workforce Advisory Board, the CMED Advisory Board, and was named one of the Top 10 Digital Influencers in Leadership for the last two years. He is a regular contributor to Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, RadioINK, a national publication for radio management, HRExecutive Online, National Public Radio, Monster’s HR People, Human Resources IQ, SmartBrief on Leadership and Workforce, HR Republic, a leading HR publication in Asia, and other leading digital publications.

Dan also is a leadership development speaker, consultant, and executive coach. He’s consulted with companies on how to develop their leaders, and coached leaders from around the world.

He has a Master’s Degree in Human Resource and Organizational Development and an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. Dan resides in the Seacoast region of New England with his wife and two daughters.

You can contact Dan via email at danmccarth at gmail dot com and follow him on Twitter @greatleadership.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How to Be Emotionally Intelligent

The following article originally appeared in The New York Times, on April 7, 2015. 

What makes a great leader? Knowledge, smarts and vision, to be sure. To that, Daniel Goleman, author of “Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence,” would add the ability to identify and monitor emotions — your own and others’ — and to manage relationships. Qualities associated with such “emotional intelligence” distinguish the best leaders in the corporate world, according to Mr. Goleman, a former New York Times science reporter, a psychologist and co-director of a consortium at Rutgers University to foster research on the role emotional intelligence plays in excellence. He shares his short list of the competencies.

How to Be Emotionally Intelligent

by Daniel Goleman


Realistic self-confidence: you understand your own strengths and limitations; you operate from competence and know when to rely on someone else on the team.

Emotional insight: You understand your feelings.  Being aware of what makes you angry, for instance, can help you manage that anger.


Resilience: You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets.  You don't brood or panic.  In a crisis, people look to the leader for reassurance; if the leader is calm, they can be, too.

Emotional balance: You keep any distressful feelings in check - instead of blowing up at people, you let them know what's wrong and what the solution is.

Self-motivation: You keep moving toward distant goals despite setbacks.


Cognitive and emotional empathy: Because you understand other perspectives, you can put things in ways colleagues can comprehend.  And you welcome their questions, just to be sure.  Cognitive empathy, along with reading another person's feelings accurately, makes for effective communication.

Good listening: You pay full attention to the other person and take time to understand what they are saying, without talking over them or hijacking the agenda.


Compelling communication: You put your points in persuasive, clear ways so that people are motivated as well as clear about expectations. 

Team playing: People feel relaxed working with you.  One sign: they laugh easily around you.

Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. Dr. Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. Working as a science journalist, Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books) was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half; with more than 5,000,000 copies in print worldwide in 40 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Whistle Not Included

Is Coaching the Answer?

I was recently asked how to know if professional coaching was the best solution to assist someone with ongoing development, versus other options such as workshops or eLearning. I thought it was a great question, so in this week's blog we discuss when coaching may be the best development choice, including how to know who makes the best coaching candidate, types of coaching, and the benefits of hiring a coach to the organization.  Just to be clear, this article focuses on Business Coaching not Life Coaching.

To Coach or Not to Coach? A Guide to Decide

Just a few of the misconceptions about coaching go something like this:  Coaching is only good 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. Life coaches and professional coaches do the same thing. The reality is that for the development of some executive skills (including most of the Emotional Intelligence spectrum) coaching is the only technique that works. And it can be a game changer.

Who Makes a Good Coaching Candidate?

A coaching initiative will have the highest likelihood of success with certain conditions in place. The first thing to ask is how good of a candidate is this for coaching?
Before you get on the phone to hire an executive coach, ask yourself these questions:

  •   Is he/she currently performing at 80% with potential?
  •   Is he/she willing to learn?
  •   Does he/she historically not respond with suspicion or defensiveness when
  •    given feedback?
  •   Does he/she have ambitions for career growth? (laterally or vertically) 
  •   Does he/she seem goal oriented and motivated? 
  •   Do you see areas for their immediate development?
  •   Does he/she appear to lack in self-awareness?
If you answered "no" to more than one of these questions then the success of a coaching intervention may require additional time and effort. It doesn't mean the person isn't coach-able.  

Types of Coaching

Even without an ideal coaching candidate, there are many specific situations in which you can use a coaching solution effectively. Typically, executive coaching involves a fine tuning of key competencies (self-awareness, listening, influence, impulse control, collaboration) and performance coaching involves development of new skills (delegation, leadership, motivating others, strategic planning). Coaching will also improve those needing:

  •  An intervention to bring their job performance in alignment with standards
  •  Development of skills in a "High-Potential"
  •  Short term support through an On-Boarding period
  •  To be assisted in voluntarily transitioning out of the organization  
  •  A technique for providing on-the-job training
  •  Assistance through a transition and managing change (M & A, re-org, downsizing)

Coaching for EQ
If you are looking to develop some Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in the coachee (self-awareness, self-control, empathy, flexibility, influence, optimism, etc) then coaching is one of the most effective methods to employ.Research has shown that EQ is learned differently than other skills. Because it requires that we tap into the brain's limbic system, coachee's must participate in active learning - self-reflection, practice, and feedback - in order to change behavior. This requires a greater time investment and a personalized approach. A "how-to" guide to EQ or a one day workshop will not dramatically change someone's behavior, however, one-on-one coaching can be quite effective.  Plus, another reason that coaching becomes such an effective choice is that there is accountability built in. Executives are incredibly busy, and it is easy for self-paced learning to take a back seat to pressing issues: a pending coaching appointment keeps learning on the priority list.   

Benefits of Coaching for the Organization
If you have identified a good coaching candidate and know they need some EQ development, it is important to identify which results will make the investment into professional coaching worthwhile for the organization. The list of benefits include, but certainly are not limited to:

·  Higher Competence = Better Results
·  Increased Employee Engagement = Requiring Less Oversight
·  Greater Accountability = Fewer Problems Requiring 
Executive or HR Involvement
·  Loyalty = Higher Employee/Customer Satisfaction and Less ReWork
·  Employee Security = Less Reassurances
·  Bench Strength = Succession Planning
·  Retention = Profit
Think of your individual development plan (IDP) toolkit as a briefcase loaded with a series of folders. Your briefcase should contain folders marked "customized workshops", "eLearning", "public seminars", and "self development resources" among others. If your briefcase is missing the "coaching" folder, please consider adding it, as it is a vital tool within your development resources.