Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

What’s keeping you from getting there?

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

The alarm goes off and you jump out of bed with the best of intentions. You have a long to-do list and today is the day you’re going to check those boxes. Check, check, check, check, then – oh. There it is — that one task — the one you’ve been avoiding. That one that has been looming over your head like a dark and thunderous storm cloud, carrying in its dark and grey shadows a sense of dread and trepidation. And with each day that passes without working on it, the bigger and stormier that cloud gets, to the point where it begins to wake you at night and give you that sick, pit-in-your-stomach feeling when you think about it. You know that you have to start on it. But instead of diving in and tackling it, you jump on social media, and before you know it, you are watching videos of cats jumping in the air when they spy a cucumber lying nearby. And at the end of the day — that sick sense of dread is still there. Can you relate?

Procrastination is a choice we make that can really eat at our drive for achievement. I like how Christopher Parker put it: “Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” So true!

To procrastinate means to avoid doing something that we ought to be doing, and most likely, spending time doing ‘more enjoyable’ things in place of the task at hand. This avoidance can take the shape of spending time on less-urgent matters or simply running from the task completely. Achievement drive is a valuable competency of emotional intelligence and without it, we find it hard to accomplish our goals. People who are overflowing with achievement drive set high professional (and personal) standards and continually strive — yes strive — to not only meet those standards, but to go above and beyond. Those without it tend to do only what’s required of them and don’t like to stretch themselves to accomplish challenging tasks.

“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” — Mason Cooley

In grad school we were given the task of developing a research project around our topic of study and to go out and gather responses to a specific set of questions, recording the answers with a scientifically-based and statistically-reliable methodology. The project contributed to a good portion of our semester grade and was going to take more than a couple of hours to complete. “It’s a good idea that you get started on this one early”, our instructor stated. I immediately started worrying about what topic I would choose and whom I would include in my focus group. But instead of going home and at least brainstorming some ideas, I tucked the assignment away and tried not to think about it for the next few weeks. With each passing day the project grew bigger and increasingly fearsome than it actually was, until it seemed larger than life itself. This is an impossible assignment! I’ll never finish it on time! Before I knew it I was waking at night sick with worry, but when the daylight came, instead of working on it, I did everything else BUT the project so that when night came again, the dread settled in my bones like a life-sucking parasite.

At the last moment, literally, with about four days to go before due date, out of desperation, I dove into that assignment, and to my surprise, discovered it was very interesting and even — dare I say — fun? I wished I had more time to spend on it but due to my procrastination I only had a couple of days to work on what turned out to be my favorite assignment of the year.

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” — H.P. Lovecraft

Remember when Indiana Jones had to step out into nothingness to discover the only way across the ravine? Sometimes taking the first steps into a daunting task can feel that way.

A good way to avoid letting it become seemingly impossible is break it down into smaller, manageable steps…and sometimes forcing yourself to put one foot in front of the other, stepping out into that hazy unknown. Letting a project sit too long untouched can slow down your traction. The sooner you can begin to chip away at a task’s monumental stature the sooner you’ll realize it’s not as prodigious as it seemed. And you might find you enjoy the views along the journey.

 

How to do this?

A simple place to start is to create an action plan:

  • Define the project and make note of the deadline.
  • Take a moment to anticipate how you will feel when you accomplish this project and jot it down.
  • Make a to-do list of the steps needed to take to accomplish the project. Set timelines for each step. These can be daily or weekly, depending on the length of the project.
  • Pick your team. Who will help you, whether it be for research, or task-sharing, or simply to lean into as a source of encouragement? Many hands make light work.
  • Push to the front of the line. Each day, if possible, work on this project first. Allowing yourself to do other tasks may take you off course and prevent you from taking necessary steps toward the goal.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Each step achieved puts you one step closer to the grand finale. If it helps, create a visual display to show how much of the project you have conquered each step of the way.

Learning to break down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks can help you avoid procrastination and become more results-oriented, pushing through the uncertainty that often goes hand-in-hand with something that feels overwhelming. Learning to become more action-oriented and thus develop achievement drive can help you begin to take more risks and work toward a higher standard of excellence. The downside is that you may not get to watch as many cat videos on YouTube. But the sweet taste of accomplishment that comes from reaching your goals and finishing projects will most likely be a bit more satisfying.

“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” — Thomas Carlyle

Why You Don’t Actually Need Work/Life Balance

yinyangArticle contributed by guest author Aimee Teesdale

Years ago, I was struggling to do what I thought I was supposed to do: study, graduate, find a job, work… I believed that all I needed to do was figure out the right work role and then everything else would fall into place for me.

Like many people, I also assumed I would have my work on one side, and my life on the other, and I would simply switch between the two every day. A successful person, we are told, carefully manages both of these, i.e. they find that elusive “work life balance”.

In coaching others, I’ve met countless people who struggle with this same “imbalance”. Our jobs feel disconnected from the rest of life. At work we’re supposed to dress differently, speak differently, behave differently. It’s as though we put on a mask when we enter the workplace; the mask of a “teacher” or “manager” or “accountant”. The idea is that true professionals never allow their messy emotions to get in the way of their jobs. We’re not meant to let the “life” part creep into the “work” part. Our hopes and dreams are not relevant. Our disruptive opinions are not workplace appropriate.

And what about our authentic selves? What about our deeper yearning for purpose? About our fears? Well, there’s a place for that, but it’s only later in the day when you get home, and finally get to take off the mask. Only then are you allowed to “be yourself”.

I’m a big fan of the concept of balance in life, but something about this just didn’t sit right with me. The more I worked with people who experienced this, the more I learnt that the problem wasn’t that people failed to find balance between their professional and personal lives, but that they saw them as two separate things to begin with.

Balance vs. Alignment

I originally believed the right role for me was “psychologist” or maybe “HR consultant”. At the time, I had just ended a long-term relationship that left me feeling completely lost; struggling with making friends in a big new city, launching a career, and finding my place in the world.

During those challenging years, I worked hard on my own personal development. I travelled. I pushed out of my comfort zone and found my passions. I worked on my professional development too, by training hard as a personal performance life coach and starting my own business. Which was all great.

But the real magic happened when I realized that my private life and professional life were really two different expressions of the same thing. I had an epiphany: development in one inevitably led to development in the other.

I quickly found out that my career was the most fulfilling when I approached it as a whole, authentic person and not simply as someone who was playing a part, or wearing a mask. I realized that so many of my clients weren’t struggling with work/life balance but rather with a lack of alignment between the two.

Emotional Intelligence is the Key

When I learnt to bring my genuine self to my work, my world changed.

When I learnt to let go of fear of change, fear of rejection, fear of failure and fear of the unknown, my work became something truly exciting.

Your success at your chosen profession is so much more than your achievements and your qualifications. While they’re important, your skills and experience are only a small part of what makes you the complex human being you are. You are also blessed with emotions, thoughts, beliefs and dreams, and by cutting this part of yourself out of the workplace, you limit what you’re capable of, and stunt your development in both areas.

Personal and professional success are not zero-sum; rather, they both stem from the same source: emotional intelligence. Cultivating self awareness, knowing how to take control of thoughts and emotions …these are the skills that transform you from a cog in someone else’s machine to something much more powerful. A thinker. An entrepreneur. A creator or healer.

Today, I would not be able to help my clients in my professional life were it not for the insights I gained in my personal life. And my personal life would not be as rich as it is now without the skills I am learning in my professional life. I was only able to really grasp this when I stopped seeing work and life as two things that ought to be separated.

Your hopes and dreams are not just something to bring out of hiding when your work is done for the day. How can you develop the courage to bring your complete, full, wonderful, flawed self into your work, right now?

• Instead of finding ways to squash yourself into a pre-defined role, ask how you can create a role of your own
• Remember that you are not solely defined by the work that you do, or the title that goes along with it
• Instead of finding ways to separate out the personal and professional, deliberately blend them. Become curious about the ways your personal development can fuel your professional development – and vice versa

Coaching Toward Freedom

cage

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

 

Hurdles. Obstacles. Hang-ups. Shadows.

Many of us are aware of the things that slow us down in life, that keep us caged up. Some we can put a name to and others remain obscure. But whether they take the form of an event from the past, or a discouraging thought, a looming dread, or a fear of the unknown, or — fill in the blank — we all have issues, like bars on a prison cell, that prevent us from living the life we dream of. Oh, the joy if we could be set free from these chains that seem to continually prevent us from moving ahead!

What is freedom anyway?  Merriman Webster defines it like this:

  1. The absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
  2. The quality or state of being exempt or released from an oppressive burden
  3. Boldness of conception or execution

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freedom)

Is there anything in life you do out of necessity, or because you feel like you have no choice?  Are you currently experiencing any heavy burdens you’d like to be released from? Do you wish you had a little more boldness in creating a new idea or carrying one out?  Dr. Gary Wood, psychologist, life coach and author, says this:

“Coaching should be all about helping people to live a life of freedom.”

Working with a social and emotional intelligence coach can help you begin to take steps toward a freedom you’ve not yet experienced. Or better yet, becoming a social and emotional intelligence coach can enable you to help others do just that! Imagine learning how to help others become more self-aware, then showing them how to manage their behavior based upon that newfound self-awareness, empowering them to be free to make the behavior changes they’ve been longing for. Imagine setting others free from relationship woes by teaching them to learn how to tune into the emotions of those around them, and understand how navigate and manage those relationships toward health.

Consider becoming a social and emotional intelligence coach to lead others toward the freedom of living out who they truly are to the best of their abilities.

Who should I choose to lead?

handsinairArticle contributed by Amy Sargent

When looking to fill a managerial position, promoting a reliable, hard-working employee seems to make sense, and happens often.  We think, “She’s such a good staff member and consistently completes her projects with expertise – she’s the obvious choice to lead our team”

But the gulf between being a doer and a leader can be vast, especially if the individual lacks social and emotional intelligence – specifically, the competency of coaching and mentoring others.

A Gallup study released in 2015 found that approximately 50% of the surveyed employees left a job to get away from their manager. The impact of this kind of turnover on a company’s bottom line can be staggering, leading us to conclude that it is imperative to get the right person into leadership roles.

How can you spot someone who has this ability to lead— one who can sense the team’s capabilities and give them the tools and experiences that will help them develop to their fullest potential? Keep an eye out for these three telltale qualities:

  • They take time to learn about and get to know their coworkers. They have a good grasp of the personal goals of those around them, and understand the hurdles that may be preventing him/her from reaching them.
  • They show a genuine interest in helping their colleagues improve their performance and at times have provided solid support and direction when needed.
  • They demonstrate on a regular basis that they clearly recognize both the strengths and blind spots in their teammates, yet treat each individual with the same amount of respect.

To put it succinctly, I’ve modified Brian Tracy’s quote below, substituting the word “managers” for “people”:

“Successful people [managers] are always looking for opportunities to help others.  Unsuccessful people [managers] are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’” – Brian Tracy

So what qualities are yellow flags when choosing a manager? Someone who may potentially struggle as a leader probably doesn’t like to delegate and believes that individually, they can do the best job. They are restless in meetings, especially when collaboration is necessary. They are annoyed at having to share details of their personal work projects with others and don’t enjoy communicating the details with teammates. They may resent having to receive and give feedback and only do it when necessary (at performance reviews, for example). They find it a waste to time to connect with their colleagues on a personal level and most likely don’t know the names of their teammates’ spouses, children, and pets. Time spent with coworkers after-hours is minimal. They are feared more than liked and others do not naturally turn to them to share struggles, doubts, or missteps.

Just because an employee is coming up short in the area of coaching and mentoring others, though, doesn’t mean you should write him/her out of your managerial prospect book forever. Social and emotional intelligence can be learned, and with the help of a trained coach, a solid self-assessment—and a willingness to learn – an individual can begin to develop and hone his/her interpersonal skills and move toward a managerial mindset.  And if you’ve got the skills, consider setting aside time to mentor him/her toward growth by modeling both in and out of the workplace what good coaching and mentoring looks like.  Benjamin Franklin summed up the value of coaching and mentoring others like this: “The greatest good you can do another is not just share your riches, but reveal to him his own.”

Taking the time needed to put the right manager in place will have positive long-term effects on your organization.  In an article in Forbes.com, contributor Amy Rees Anderson puts it like this:

 “When good leadership is in place in a company, it can be felt throughout the entire organization…The result of good leadership is high morale, good employee retention, and sustainable long-term success.” 

Lessons in Empathy from Hollywood

hollywoodArticle contributed by guest author Dawn Cook

Coming out of the theater after watching Schindler’s List, I couldn’t go home because I was too melancholy.  My friend and I both needed to go somewhere to shake off the somber feelings the movie stirred within us.  When you get to the end of the movie and you realize you were completely caught up in the story and feeling the emotions of the characters, you know that’s great acting. The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest are other examples of great acting.  The actors got you to empathize with their characters.

 So how do they pull it off?  How do they draw you into their story?  They have to really get into the heads of their characters and understand their motives, thought processes and emotions.  They have to become the character in their minds.  Think Dustin Hoffman in Rainman or Sean Penn in I Am Sam. They totally embraced the character. That’s what I call deep empathy!

In the workplace, empathy is one of the most underutilized emotional intelligence skills, yet it’s potentially the most influential.  True empathy means not just putting yourself in someone else’s shoes or seeing it from their perspective; it’s really understanding what the other person is saying and feeling without judging it.  Do you think Marlon Brando balked at saying his line, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” because he judged it as unnecessary?  No, totally he owned it!

Too often we listen just long enough to get the gist of the issue and we jump in with our solution.  Today’s fast pace dictates we move quickly to solve and move on.  Unfortunately nobody told our brains that was the game plan.  If we don’t feel like we’ve been heard and understood and that the person really gets it, our brains sense a threat and we go into flight or fight mode.  It’s basic instinct. Essentially we will resist whatever solution they offer.  I was coaching a leader recently who said when his team brings him an issue, he listens for how it’s going to impact him and responds to that – and only that.  His team says he doesn’t really listen; he just jumps in with a solution.  The consequence?  The solution doesn’t address the entire issue and the team is frustrated.

Of course most any skill can become a weakness if overused.  This is true for empathy.  In the movie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Vivian Leigh, who played Blanche Du Bois – the character who had a mental breakdown in the story, empathized so deeply with her character that she had a mental breakdown herself not long after making the movie.  She thought she WAS Blanche Du Bois. So it is possible to have too much empathy.

At the office, showing too much empathy could look like not delegating to your team because you know they have a lot on their plates and you don’t want to overburden them.   Instead, you do the work yourself on evenings and weekends, leaving you with no work/life balance.

Hollywood’s lesson?  Be willing to fully empathize with others when you need to find solutions, address conflict, or influence outcomes.  But know when to draw the line on your personal boundaries.

Thank you for reading.  Make it an awesome day!

Navigating the challenge of change

changes next exit

Article Contributed by Amy Sargent

 

I like change.

At least I say I do.

But when a shift in circumstances actually occurs, especially if it falls into the ‘major life change’ category (events affecting health, job, and personal relationships), I notice the tone in my “change is good!” statement is tinged with a touch of that sneaky joy-killer we call fear. Though I feel excitement for new opportunities that lie on the horizon, I have to admit I first play out all of the worst-case scenarios. I feel a general sense of dread. I procrastinate. I begin waking up at the haunting hour of 2 a.m., heart pounding, thoughts swirling with all of the ‘what if’s’.  I suddenly get all nostalgic about how good things were the way they were. And worst of all, I shut down socially and go into what I call Ultra-Planner Mode, attempting to work out every detail of every possible storyline of every possible situation that could possibly unfold. It’s a fear of the unknown. And a lot of us have it.

I love this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

Having the ability to catalyze change is a competency of emotional intelligence, and is valuable as we lead and contribute to the success of our teams. How are you doing at initiating, managing and dealing with change?

Here are some indicators that your ability to catalyze and roll with change could use a little nurturing.  You:

  • Tend to put your ‘head in the sand’ and refuse to recognize the need for a shift
  • Fill your time with distractions vs. dealing with necessary actions
  • Find yourself saying, often, “…but it’s the way we do things around here…”
  • Tend to reminisce about the ‘good ole’ days’ more than you look ahead with anticipation
  • Resist thinking about the future and planning for it
  • Allow negativity about impending change to take root before it even happens

As a leader, the ability to clearly communicate change has a great impact on how your team reacts and responds to the change. It’s helpful up front to establish a guiding coalition to confirm that the change is in line with the vision and mission of your company. Be sure to address when the change will take place and how the change will impact those involved. Be concise in explaining how things have been and how you see they could be better. Attempt to deliver a message of the positive effects this shift will have on your team, company, etc.  Generate and celebrate short-term wins as the changes take place. Empower action in your teammates to be a part of making the change happen.

If you find yourself struggling with either leading change or adjusting to one that has been dealt to you, it’s OK. Most of us grapple with the sharp turns our lives can take, especially if we were not expecting it. But there’s no reason to stay in a place of fear, or negativity, both of which can breed an inability to move forward. Here are some suggestions to help not only survive but thrive a change:

  1. Do your research. Make an effort to truly understand the why’s behind the shift and not run with your preconceived (often negative) perspectives.
  2. Break up the hurdles that seem impassible into small, manageable tasks. Write them down and set time frames on completing them.
  3. Voice any concerns you may have with a safe person (close friend, coach or counselor). Sometimes just talking it through can give you a fresh outlook.
  4. Take action, even if it is just one small step. Doing something alleviates the fear of the unknown.
  5. Remind yourself of the overused yet true cliché: change is good. It can give you a much-needed fresh breath of air, and present new and exciting prospects if you let it.

Here are two good books on the topic if you want to deepen your ability to catalyze change:  Leading Change and The Heart of Change, both by John P. Kotter.

The 4 reasons your employees are looking for a new job

They tell you it’s because they were offered higher compensation or found something closer to their career goals, but is that really why they looked elsewhere? Studies show that the four primary reasons for people quitting their jobs are:

  • I don’t like my boss
  • I feel no empowerment
  • I don’t like the internal politics going on
  • My manager/boss doesn’t recognize my accomplishments

 

“What do these four things have in common? They can all be tied back to poor leadership, specifically the leader’s emotional intelligence — how in touch a leader is with their professional emotions and those of the people they lead.”      — David Hults

 

That’s a strong statement.

When an employee quits, you have choices. As a leader, you can do the easiest thing and dismiss the employee as ‘not a good fit’, fill their spot with a new warm body, and move on. Or (and this is the more challenging route to take), you can stop and reflect upon your leadership style to see if it is having a negative effect on your team members. Are you an inspirational leader, one who motivates others to reach their fullest potential? Does your leadership style guide and mobilize individuals to feel a sense of belonging within your company, inspiring them to jump on board with the vision and pursue their roles with excitement and passion? Or is the way you are leading others causing them to feel disengaged, undervalued, and dismissed?

Inspirational leadership is a quality that can be developed, with the help of self-assessment, a coach, and a willingness to modify the way you’re currently doing things. If you sense your leadership could be one of the reasons your team members are “moving on”, here are some solid goals to begin working toward:

  • Articulate your company’s vision in a way that compels your team members to want to be a part of it.  Share with them your passions about the ‘why’ of company direction.
  • Be open to creative ideas and fresh perspectives. Maybe it doesn’t actually have to be your way or the highway.
  • Be authentic.  Your employees can see right through any attempts of putting on a facade or being someone you are not.
  • Openly discuss high-level issues with your team members and seek their input.
  • Attempt to match each individual’s talents, skills, and aspirations with the tasks/opportunities at hand to avoid micro managing. To do this, you will have to get to know your team members, and learn what really motivates them. You may be surprised that what motivates you may not motivate them!
  • Don’t forget to share the credit for successes with ALL of your team members — not just those you feel are most important. Remember everyone on your team plays a role in your team’s accomplishments.
  • Act with integrity at all times or your employees will not respect your leadership.

Want to dive more deeply into this one? Read David Hults’ interesting article here:  Your leadership style reveals your emotional intelligence

Assessment Skills – One Key to Effective Leadership

Article Contributed by Guest Author John Drury

As someone involved in people development, you probably know that leaders need to have well-developed assessment skills.

They have to know how to assess an environment, talent, people, products, the market and more. It’s no longer OK to guess. There is too much information available today to wing it. Leaders have to know what’s going on and when to move.

They have to know how to make decisions and what criteria to use. They have to be able to sift through the noise and get to the heart of the matter – and the only way to do this is to learn how to assess.

Assessing is often the big gap in leadership. No one ever teaches you, yet it’s an expected skill. No one hires for it, yet they expect you to be good at it. Being really good at assessing is a must if you’re a leader.

Leaders who have developed their Social + Emotional Intelligence will become good at assessing everything around them, starting with people. The truth is that the better they get at it the further they are likely to go.

Learning Assessment Skills starts with honest self assessment. Usually those who have an accurate assessment of themselves are also those who have become secure enough to invite constructive feedback. And then act on that feedback by making appropriate adjustments to their behavior. This inevitably leads to becoming more adept at building real and open relationships.

Social + Emotional Intelligence development will impact positively on your capacity to accurately assess yourself, your relationships and your environment. In this way, S+EI will make you a more effective leader.

 

Coaching for Emotional Intelligence

Jan
Bright, talented 20-something employee at an international consulting firm. Exceptional analytical and writing skills. Less-than-exceptional people skills.

REASON FOR SEEKING COACHING: After a disastrous performance at her first and only client meeting—according to her supervisor, she interrupted, invalidated, lectured and demonstrated a lack of respect—Jan’s been benched. She knows her career options will be limited if she continues to be relegated to data analysis and report-writing, so she’s sought coaching voluntarily.

Steve
VP of manufacturing for a global satellite television company, charged with overseeing plants around the world. Able to get work done on time and under budget while still ensuring high quality. Unable to communicate respectfully to his supervisees.

REASON FOR SEEKING COACHING: Steve’s supervisees have described him as hot-headed, hostile, demanding, dictatorial, abrasive, rough around the edges and even toxic. Several talented employees have left the company because of his management style, and disengagement is a problem among his remaining supervisees. His company has asked him to work with a Leadership Coach to become more respectful of others.

Richard
Business analyst and liaison to the IT department in an insurance company. Known as “the nicest guy at the office.” Also known as “the guy who never says no.”

REASON FOR SEEKING COACHING: With so much on his plate, Richard ends up working nights and weekends to finish the tasks he’s taken on, and assignments still go uncompleted. He feels like he can never get ahead, and sometimes feels like an impostor. Plagued by self-criticism and indecision, he’s enlisted a coach as he decides whether to stay in his position or seek work elsewhere.

Q: What do Jan, Steve and Richard have in common?
A: They all lack social and emotional intelligence.

Defining S+EI
Social and emotional intelligence (S+EI) is the ability to be aware of our emotions and the emotions and concerns of others and to use that information to manage ourselves and our relationships, both in the moment and over the long term.

Early emotional intelligence (EI; sometimes written as EQ) researchers and theorists included Peter Salovey, John Mayer, David Caruso and Howard Gardner, aka the father of the concept of multiple intelligences. The concept of EI entered the public consciousness in 1995 when Daniel Goleman published his best-selling book, “Emotional Intelligence.” Goleman, then a science writer for the “New York Times,” took the concept of EI out of the realm of academia and made it accessible to a general audience. In addition to piquing the public’s interest in EI, Goleman’s book sparked substantial research; as a result, we now know that EI is a better indicator of personal and professional success than cognitive intelligence (IQ).

More recently, the conversation surrounding EI has broadened to include social intelligence; i.e., relationship management and the outward manifestation of EI’s internal component. Perhaps the best way to think about the concept is through the Four-quadrant Model (shown below), based on Daniel Goleman’s work.

Self Other
Awareness Self Awareness Other Awareness
Management Self Management Relationship Management

S+EI and Coaching
Having strong S+EI supports masterful coaching. By being aware of the emotions coming up for us in the coaching interaction, as well as attuning ourselves to the client’s emotional state, we can better manage the coaching relationship. We’re able to pick up not only on what’s being said, but also what isn’t being said, and we’re able to better understand and support the client’s growth and development.

Incorporating S+EI work into coaching also provides a common language—an emotional vocabulary—that can make it easier for the coach and client to have difficult conversations. This is particularly important for clients who feel overwhelmed by their emotions, as well as for clients who have been taught to repress or discount their emotional responses. Finally, the work of cultivating S+EI adds skills to our coaching tool kits that make us far more effective. As coaches, our primary interest is in helping our clients achieve success. Given the demonstrated importance of S+EI in shaping future success, it follows that coaches skilled in S+EI coaching are better able to support their clients.

Intelligence in Practice
The ICF Core Competencies call on coaches to help our clients create awareness—of themselves, of others and of the situations they encounter. Awareness is also the foundation of S+EI, with self-awareness as the starting point. After all, we can’t be aware of the emotions others might be experiencing if we don’t have the ability to be aware of what we are experiencing; we also can’t manage our emotional responses without this awareness and understanding.

In their daily lives, all three of the clients introduced at the beginning of this article displayed a lack of self-awareness; as such, this needed to be the first area of coaching intervention. One way to increase clients’ self-awareness is by showing them how they’re seen by others. Soliciting direct feedback is one way to gather this information; this is how Jan learned about clients’ negative perceptions. A 360-degree-feedback assessment can also be used to collect this information. This approach proved useful for Steve, yielding feedback that helped him see how his frequent blowups impacted his subordinates, peers and supervisors.

One activity recommended across the board for fostering emotional self-awareness is emotional tracking. The coach can provide clients with a comprehensive list of emotions and request that they track what they’re feeling throughout each day for a week. This kind of steady, sustained self-reflection helps clients become more aware of what they’re experiencing in the moment. It also expands their emotional vocabulary, giving them a better understanding of and language for the nuances of what they’re feeling. For example, are they feeling anxious, or apprehensive? There’s a difference. Are they feeling enthusiastic or exhilarated? Again, there’s a difference.

Jan and Steve initially pushed back on the idea of tracking their emotions, saying they were too busy, but with encouragement each gave it a try. Not surprisingly, Richard said yes immediately when presented with the idea.

Jan came to her next coaching session, spreadsheet in hand, saying she was surprised by the exercise. “I didn’t think I even had emotions!” she exclaimed. The exercise helped her identify moments when she’d become defensive (when a client questioned her data analysis, for example), and her interpersonal communication skills improved as she tuned in to this reaction. Over time, she developed the ability to read her clients, and discovered that what she heard as criticism was in fact clients’ confusion about details of her reports. She became better able to respond in a helpful manner and a pleasant tone of voice to their lack of understanding when she realized it was about them, not her.

Although Steve wasn’t as thorough as Jan, he completed the exercise with enough frequency to discover a pattern to his anxiety and frustration—those moments and situations when he was most likely to blow up at the people around him. Steve’s coach asked him to think about these emotional triggers and consider his usual reaction, as well as the impact this reaction had on people around him. (The 360 assessment provided useful context here.) Steve observed that his frustration first showed up in his body, with a tensing of the shoulders followed by a clenching of fists, and he was able to come up with several new, more constructive ways of responding to his triggers.

Richard tracked his emotions on an hour-by-hour basis over the course of the week. Like Steve, he identified some patterns to his emotional responses, and came to the session feeling that his self-awareness was significantly heightened. He realized he felt resentful when people asked him to do things outside his job description, manipulated when asked to tackle low-priority tasks and paralyzed when asked to take on other people’s responsibilities. Richard and his coach brainstormed together to explore new responses to these requests and design new actions, such as setting boundaries and priorities. He even began to experiment with saying “no.”

S+EI is squarely in the public consciousness and offers a promising area of growth for coaches. With literally hundreds of tools for assessing and developing S+EI at our disposal, coaches can ensure that our own S+EI competencies are well-developed, while also working toward a theoretically sound coaching practice that empowers our clients’ own S+EI growth and development.

CASE STUDIES
According to a case study by Six Seconds Consulting’s Joshua Freedman, Sheraton Hotels saw a 24-percent increase in market share in those markets where they introduced S+EI training and coaching.

In a 1998 article for the journal “Psychological Science,” David C. McClelland reveals that PepsiCo generated 10 percent more productivity and experienced a whopping 87-percent decrease in turnover by recruiting and developing managers with high levels of EI.

According to a case study published by the organizational consulting firm Genos, S+EI programs at IBM are driving significantly higher employee engagement levels.

In a 2007 case study published in the journal “Organisations & People,” Sue Jennings and Dr. Benjamin R. Palmer report that Sanofi-Aventis, a French pharmaceutical company, saw a $2 million-plus-per-month increase in sales after providing S+EI training and coaching to sales representatives in a development group as compared with sales reps in a control group which did not receive the training and coaching.

Salespeople at L’Oreal trained and coached in S+EI brought in $2.5 million more annually in sales than their counterparts in a control group that did not receive coaching, Lyle M. and Signe M. Spencer report in “Competence at Work: Models for Superior Performance” (1993).

Copyright © 2013 Laura Belsten and ICF

Do High Performers Always Make Great Leaders?

Article contributed by Lisa L. Custardo, CC-SEI, MBA, CPA, CGMA

According to Duncan Mathison, Managing Director of Executive Coaching for DBM, a human capital management firm, “The most commonly cited reason employees leave companies is their unhappiness with their manager.” In fact, “The top 10% of the managers in a company will have half the turnover rate of the middle 80% and two and a half times less turnover than the bottom 10%”, he says. “Good leadership makes a huge difference in not only retention but overall company performance.”

So, as professionals, what can we do increase the effectiveness in ourselves and our managers to secure the optimal level of human capital that effectively sustains the rising expectations of our company’s operational, financial, and leadership performance? Hire the right people – with the right talents – put them in the right place – and, treat them right. Right? Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Mathison goes on to state, “The skills that make a high performer are NOT the same skills that make good leaders. Research shows that only 29% of those employees who are high-performers have the potential to be great leaders. Two qualities make the difference. First, great managers have high emotional intelligence; they know themselves better and handle themselves well with others. Secondly, they are very good at learning and applying what they learn to improve their skills.” Ah – therein lies the key.

In my personal and professional opinion, if you are looking to increase your skills and awareness in the area of emotional intelligence, and/or that of the managers in your organization, you are in exactly the right place! In working directly with the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence and the coaches & practitioners certified to administer the self-assessment Social + Emotional Intelligence profile (SEIP), you will likely find yourself in perfect company to gain the best insight, knowledge and tools that put you, your employees, and your company at the best pivotal vantage point for professional success.

Outlining 26 significant areas identified as critical in socially and emotionally intelligent individuals, teams and organizations, the SEIP material has been highly recognized as the most comprehensive, statistically-reliable, scientifically- validated instrument on the market today. Including such important areas as stress management, emotional self awareness, innovation & creativity, resilience, managing conflict productively, integrity, personal power and agility, powerful influencing skills, catalyzing change, teamwork and collaboration, communication, building trust & bonds, and inspirational leadership, it’s no wonder Mr. Mathison and DBM site emotional intelligence as a critical factor for professional and organizational success.

For anyone aspiring to be a top executive, or even a great manager for that fact, I offer the following recommendations, as laid out by DBM, including a few additions of my own:

  • Find an organization that invests in employee development
  • Challenge yourself to improve your ability to work with others
  • Seek out feedback
  • If you are a manager, get an executive coach to help you develop the leadership skills for the next level of responsibility
  • Invest in yourself and those around you by becoming more aware about the level of your own emotional intelligence strengths and limitations and develop a stronger sense of social awareness, understanding, and influence
  • Learn what the behaviors look like in those that demonstrate strong emotional and social intelligence and model them regularly
  • Go the extra step of identifying and  improving areas within the competency areas of social and emotional intelligence that you personally see as vital for your own self-development and that of your organization

Recommendations as set forth by DBM – Zenger and Folkman, The Extraordinary Leader

Are you part of the 29% that Mr. Mathison refers to as, “high-performing professionals who also have the potential to be great leaders?” If so, how do you know AND what are you effectively doing to amplify and sustain your leadership talent and that of your organization, in helping your company rise to an exceptional level of performance?

I look forward to any input, comments, suggestions and/or additional recommendations for those aspiring to great leadership.

My highest regard,

Lisa L. Custardo

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