Archive for the ‘Organizational Culture’ Category

Resonant leaders practice conversations that inspire

CEO meeting with team of business associates

Article contributed by guest author Gordon Sanderson.

Research shows that consistently high performing organisations engage strongly with their people in a way that opens them up to greater connection, better cognitive ability and behavior that gets results. Their leaders look to build capability by focusing on strengths and what’s possible rather than weaknesses and compliance. We can gain insights into why this is so by considering how the brain responds to communication.

In response to a perceived threat or reward, or in response to change, the brain moves people toward an “approach” behavior or “avoidance” behavior. It either stimulates a stress response from our emotional brain, through the release of the stress hormone cortisol, or stimulates a positive state by stimulating the prefrontal cortex, the executive functioning part of our brain.

What we say and how we say it influences this. When a person perceives a threat in the shape of criticism, disregard, threat to status, independence, or lack of control, it induces an action in the brain that raises stress levels and reduces cognitive functioning. This result is avoidance behavior. The person withdraws to avoid more stress and in turn loses touch with their constructive self. In contrast, comments that arouse a positive emotional state increase cognitive functioning that allows a person to be at their best, open to new ideas, critical thinking, and engagement in positive change.

Leaders who inspire people use language that opens people up. They appeal to a person’s vision, their strengths and talents, what’s possible for them. They tend to ask questions of the other person rather than telling them “how it should be done”.

Five Tips for more inspirational conversations:

1-Ask questions that open up to vision.

Asking these questions keep people open to possibilities, curiosity and the ability to look at a problem constructively with a solution in mind rather than in an emotional way, which is not forward focused.

2-Acknowledge people for “who they are being”.

It’s easy to acknowledge someone for what they have done but to recognise them for the character that they are showing, connects at a deeper level. You have to be really watching and empathise with a person to genuinely get in touch with who they are being.It is a gift to the other person to acknowledge this and a powerful way of connecting.  Rather than, “you did a great job with that” try a statement that acknowledges the character they showed, such as: “You showed a lot of persistence to get that through” or “that took a lot of courage”. An additional note:  You cannot authentically acknowledge someone at this deeper level without having empathy.  Empathy requires presence, and presence in turn is a form of mindfulness, a stress reducer.  There is a term described by Dr. Richard E. Boyatzis of Case Western University in the United States  “executive renewal”, meaning that certain experiences invoke the renewal process  from stress in the body.  One of these experiences is empathy, and this is because you cannot be truly mindful and stressed at the same time.  Intentionally practicing empathy is one method of getting in touch with executive renewal.

3-Focus on the solution/outcome, not the problem.

Remaining solution orientated connects more with an outcome and allows a problem to be considered in a different way. Research shows that most meetings get bogged down in the problem and the detail. This is because the meeting loses sight of the objective, or never articulates it in the first place. Consequently the problem is all that is discussed. The result is long, unproductive meetings. Try, for example, “The objective of this meeting is to define a set of actions that will take this issue forward towards completion”. Get people to agree to the objective and commit to the outcome and then facilitate to that outcome.

4-Ask, don’t tell.

Ask questions that inspire rather than use statements that seek compliance. If you are opening up to vision this becomes more natural to do. If you focus on problems then it is easy to slip into conversation that seeks compliance.

5-Avoid conversations that will close people down.

Support people’s status. Statements like “let me give you some advice” or putting someone down in front of others arouses a threat response and people disconnect. Respect people’s status and autonomy. A threat to autonomy will close people down and, more importantly raise stress levels. You will lose connection. Ensure people feel connected to the larger picture. A feeling of being disconnected will result in “away” type behavior. Inspire people and they will reward you.

What will you do this week to inspire people through your communication?

Try a different approach to:

  • One on one conversations
  • Team meetings
  • Collaboration
  • Performance Reviews
  • Building Capability
  • Invoking change

 

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

What is the Impact of Social & Emotional Intelligence on a Business’s Financial Status?

Article Contributed by Guest Author Pam Watson Korbel

Larry Linschneider, CEO & Owner of Linschneider Construction Co. (LCC), has watched his highway construction business slowly decline since 2008 when the recession hit the United States.

During the last 18 months, new projects are starting at a rate of 1 per month versus an average of 2 per month previously.  Consequently, sales revenues are 60% of the norm and profit has slid 5 percentage points to 3% for the past year.

More importantly, work is not fun for Linschneider anymore.  His employees act like children so he stopped having staff meetings.  The managers who report directly to him lack motivation so he quit managing them.  The ‘yard’ where equipment and supplies are stored is messy and two safety incidents occurred there in the past three months.  Plus, at a time when it would make sense for Linschneider to be re-kindling relationships to take advantage of potential construction opportunities, he chooses to withdraw even more spending most of his time in his office on his computer.  And two ‘A Player’ executives with LCC are now shopping for jobs with the competition.

While the names, company and statistics have been changed in this scenario, it is all too common.  Unfortunately, Larry Linschneider and many of his executive peers have not read any of the current literature about the impact of emotional intelligence on a business firm’s financial status.  If Larry and other executives had this information, they would have learned:

  • Lack of personal awareness among leaders is the number one cause of declining and failing businesses.  Larry has given up all his personal power to the karma called the economy.
  • Employees take their cues from their leaders on how to act and as a consequence change their behavior to mirror the boss.  Larry’s job isn’t fun anymore because attitudes are contagious.
  • Research by Six Seconds shows that 76% of business issues are people and relationship related versus 24% technical and financial.  Yet, executives like Larry spend hours tweaking cash flow reports to improve profitability.
  • Sales in companies that put a high value on people and relationships internally and externally can be as high as 37% more.  Small and mid-sized companies that focus on high customer service still find opportunities during economic downturns.
  • Profit in these same companies runs 27% higher, largely due to a company’s ability to take work away from competitors who do not value service and loyalty.
  • Employees with high achievement motivation, empathy and self confidence are more productive than those with just high intelligence.
  • The Gallup Organization’s research shows that 75% of workers are disengaged in their jobs resulting from the lack of useful feedback, poor assignment of tasks, not seeing the value of their work and working in a negative work environment.  Retention of ‘A Players’ is critical during a recession because forward-thinking companies consider this a good time to steal them away.

The research on emotional intelligence and its impact on business is convincing: hard results can be derived with soft skills.  Do you get it?

Sales Managers as Empathetic Leaders

Article Contributed by Guest Author Pam Watson Korbel

As an interim sales manager, I have developed a new-found appreciation for Empathy and believe it may be the most under-utilized tool of business leaders.  My conclusion results from first-hand observation.  We expect our sales executives to show empathy to both clients and prospects.  Unfortunately, as sales managers we often do not display empathy to become role models for the employees we supervise.  Here are some examples:

  1. I heard a sales manager report that he told his staff directly, “If you think you’re a top sales person, then I don’t want to see you in the office.”   A better approach might be to provide a guideline to sales staff on how many hours a week to spend outside the office and what those activities should include.  Consider saying directly, “A top sales person spends 20 hours a week meeting with prospects and clients and attending networking meetings.”
  2. Some sales managers keep their staff on the telephone cold calling until they find success the same day.  In my experience, this backfires.  A pattern of no response from prospects leads to low energy for the sales person and becomes a negative cycle.  I give permission for my staff to change gears and work on a different activity in these situations to regenerate their energy.
  3. Too many sales managers focus on pushing paper and measuring numbers and don’t put enough time into ‘partnering’ with their staff.  Making sales visits with your sales executives provides opportunities to be a role model and a teacher and promotes trust.

Showing empathy to your sales staff is not weakness.  It shows strength.  Most sales managers walked along the same paths and could engender stronger performance from their staffs by being more empathetic.  Being a role model and a teacher are the productive methods to show empathy.

Coaching – A Powerful Tool for Organizational Success

Article contributed by Arul John Peter

I am soft skill facilitator based in Singapore (Asia) and have been conducting soft skills training for more than 25 years. Enabling managers as coach was not an area of my training activity. I was focusing on making each of my participant, a better employee or a manager, not paying much attention to make each of my participant a ‘multiplier’. This approach to my training changed following my participation in ISEI’s Social + Emotional Intelligence certification workshop and Leader as Coach program. The two training session brought about a new perspective on the importance of having a pool of trained and enabled managers as coaches. Managers who had been exposed to the managers as coach, find the approach useful in the workplace. It made them feel good about their contribution to people development.

Leading and managing in the 21st century is not an easy task. The need to get along with a whole group of stakeholders and move forward to achieve the vision and goals together demands a new set of skills. The Development Dimensions International (DDI), a global organization that offers solutions on talent management, identified ‘coaching and developing others as one of the five most critical skills needed on the part of managers and leaders for managing and leading the future, in its publication titled ‘Time for a leadership Revolution’. The remaining four skills are creativity & innovation, identifying and developing talent driving & managing change and executing organizational strategy. Invariably, developing these skills would require a high dose of coaching.

Research after research confirms that the benefits of coaching include the following:

  • Coaching improves teamwork and productivity.
  • Enable staff to take ownership to get things done
  • It improves the outcome of business strategies.

Coaching as a skill and development tool, allowing managers within an organization to help individual employees and teams perform at their peak. Training and developing managers to become coaches is probably the best way to bring about meaningful and sustainable changes within the organization. Having the services of a competent and certified coach/facilitator who could train and develop the managers to function as coaches is more effective. Coaches/facilitators who are trained in programs such as “leader as coaches,” offered by Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence would be able to take full advantage of Positive Deviant Initiatives,  a concept that is attributed to Tufts University. The managers who are trained to handle coaching sessions could amplify the positive and desired practices that are already working within the organization. Research and organizational studies confirm that solutions which originate from outside the organizations are not accepted easily by the internal stakeholders. It is the best practices that are identified by the key players within the organization, that make the organization successful. The best option is to identify key players and provide them with the relevant coaching skills and let them become the catalyst.

How is S+EI being used in European Institutions?

From ISEI: Please meet Macarena Ybarra Coello de Portugal. She is one of our certified coaches and currently doing social + emotional intelligence work with in the European Union, with the EU Parliament, Commission and Council.

From Macarena: I am Spanish and I arrived in Brussels in 1990 to do a specialization in European Law. I worked in the European Parliament as well as in the Department of European Affairs of a Chamber of Lawyers. Two years later, I created my own company, European Development Projects (EDP), a company which trains clients in the development of international proposals and implementing European projects.

More recently, my career has brought me into the world of coaching. I have received my coaching training from Spanish, French and English coaching schools, and received my Professional Certified Coach (PCC) designation from the International Coach Federation (ICF). I am also certified as a Master in Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and most recently I have become certified as an ISEI™ Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach.

I am also accredited as a Coach by the European Commission and therefore on the list of Official Coaches of the European Institutions. Only the 26 coaches on this list are authorized to work with European Institutions.

Working with European Institutions (Council, Parliament and European Commission) is an exciting challenge because of the incredible diversity of cultures, languages, nationalities and religions represented in the EU. For example, when I am doing Group Coaching, there can be 11 people and 9 different nationalities, all with different cultures and communications methods that must be expressed, heard, understood and communicated to all in the two primary languages (French and English). And sometimes these two primary languages are not even used by anyone in the group!

Since I’ve become certified as a Social and Emotional Intelligence (S+EI) Coach by the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence™, I am using all the S+EI tools, especially to bring very high-level and very diverse individuals together and create opportunities for teamwork, collaboration and progress. Sometimes the tone, the conversations, indeed the ambiance of the meetings can be difficult and awkward, and in my experience, the language of emotions, being very human and common to all, create a universal language of common understanding and help us move toward common ground. Different cultures communicate differently, and this can serve as the basis of a lot of conflict, and yet I am extraordinarily grateful for the Social + Emotional Intelligence certification which has given me the opportunity to offer customized learning opportunities, unique interventions, and specific workshops in a variety of topics relevant to our work in the EU, including for example, ‘Conflict Management’ and ‘Intentionality’ and ‘Building Bonds’ and many others based on the S+EI competencies. Thank you for hearing my story.

Macarena Ybarra Coello de Portugal
Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
Master Practitioner PNL
Social + Emotional Intelligence Certified Coach
European Development Projects – EDP Coaching Director
Brussels / Belgium

Developing Others—The Power of Listening

He was seated comfortably, three paragraphs into the lead sports page article when she approached him from behind his favorite chair. “Dad, I really need to talk to you.” She dangled her 10 year old, lanky legs over the edge of the chair as he distractedly muttered, “Uh, huh?” She begins her lengthy diatribe about an event that happened at school and the call he should expect from the teacher and that it wasn’t her fault but she was next to the kids who did it, etc. As she ends her monologue, he mutters, “Uh, huh. Okay. Sounds good.” She swings her feet back over the arm of the chair, onto the floor, and walks away feeling rejected and unimportant, knowing that when the teacher calls, her dad will be hearing it for the first time.

Have you ever done this to your kids? Has it ever happened to you where you knew someone wasn’t really listening? And how many times might you have done this to your employees? Instead of the newspaper, your attention is on your computer screen as you try desperately to keep up on incoming email. Or perhaps you are answering every ping on your smart phone? The only difference between home and work is that your family may be more forgiving than your employees and other work colleagues. Have you considered the cost to your relationships and your team’s productivity when you don’t listen?

Valarie Washington, CEO of Think 6 Results, writes in her article, The High Cost of Poor Listening, “60% of all management problems are related to poor listening,” and that “we misinterpret, misunderstand or change 70% to 90% of what we hear.”

Washington also writes, “There are no shortcuts to becoming a great listener and the price tag for poor listening is high. Listening well can cut down on misunderstandings, miscues, damaged relationships, missed opportunities and disagreements while building strong alliances, increasing knowledge and delivering better results, faster.”

Top executives listen more than they talk and when they listen, they set aside everything else, including the inner clamor, and listen with their full attention. They know that the only way to really know what’s going on, and to really hear what the other person is trying to say, is to listen fully to what’s being said and what’s not being said but is trying to be conveyed.

Great leaders are great listeners and as a result, their employees are more engaged, more passionate about their work, and far more productive. Is it time for you to sharpen your listening skills? To fully assess your Leadership competencies including your ability to coach and mentor others through genuine listening, contact the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence at Hello@The-ISEI.com or go to our website www.The-ISEI.com to learn more.

Inspirational Leadership

Ghandi did it.  Martin Luther King did it.  Oprah does it.  Dave Ramsey does it.  IT is inspired leadership.  These leaders had and have what it takes to inspire others toward a shared vision.  They are able to challenge the status quo and articulate a sense of common purpose that inspires others to follow.  These leaders generate enthusiasm for clear, compelling visions and have been able to create a sense of belonging to something much larger than themselves.

The same is true of San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH) known for launching “Sacred Work.”  SJCH leadership was inspired to care for not only the community members, but also the caregivers.  The team set out to make sure they were hiring folks with the right values systems in order to create a sustainable culture of caring.  SJCH hires based on the value, service to others, and today maintains a committed workforce and leadership team who believe healing the whole person and serving the caregivers as well as the community are key aspects of their mission.  As an unexpected benefit, SJCH has inspired a healthcare movement centered around “Sacred Work.”

Research conducted by Zenger & Folkman says, inspirational leadership is directly linked to high employee engagement—the psychological bond between an employee, the work, and the work environment.  Leaders who inspire and motivate followers see new behaviors, outcomes, attitudes, and emotions that translate to business outcomes such as higher productivity, more responsible behavior, greater organizational confidence, and initiative.  The employees of SJCH are a living testament to the validity of this research.

Are there actions you need to take to enhance your inspirational leadership?

  • Create a collaborative vision in alignment with your organization.
  • Set stretch goals to challenge your team and provide fulfilling work experience.
  • Communicate the vision frequently and enthusiastically.
  • Develop your people.
  • Be a model team player—put the needs of the team and organization above your own interests.
  • Foster fresh ideas and be open to trying them.

To fully assess your current competence in Inspirational Leadership and create a personalized development plan, contact the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence at Hello@The-ISEI.com or go to our website www.The-ISEI.com to learn more.

Looking for a Job? Increase Your Social + Emotional Intelligence

The end of summer signals the start of a new planning cycle for many organizations, including the planning that comes with bringing on new employees.  Businesses are beginning to think about how they will expand and/or contract over the coming months and what strategic hires they will need to meet their key objectives.

That person could be you, if you’re the right fit.

In human resources (HR) circles we call it behavioral interviewing.  Essentially we are attempting to identify how candidates handle themselves and others in challenging situations.  We are testing – assessing – their social and emotional intelligence by how they answer certain questions.  S+EI is the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships.

Behavioral interviewing questions might take the form of the following:

  • “Tell me about a time when you found yourself in conflict with another person in the workplace.  How did you handle it?”
  • “Have you ever found yourself working with a difficult person?  How did you handle that?”
  • “How do you go about building trust in the workplace and particularly on your team?”

Are you prepared for these (and many other similar) questions?

Taking time to improve your social and emotional intelligence will give you a competitive edge during the interview process.  High S+EI skills are necessary for managers and anyone who will be working in a team environment.

Here are a few quick tips for improving your S+EI and preparing for the job interview:

Identify your strengths and weaknesses.  List them out in a top five format then rank them with 1 being the best and 5 the worst under each of the headings.  Write down how you can leverage your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.  This prepares you for one of the most frequently asked interview questions—what are your strengths and what is your greatest weakness.  Knowing how you will play on your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses demonstrates your self-awareness, a key social and emotional intelligence competency.

Master conflict management.  If you are currently unemployed, dig deep for conflict situations in your previous position.  Dissect the interactions by depersonalizing them.  Figure out what you did, what hot buttons were triggered during the interaction, what you could have done better, what you learned from the interaction and how you can make it a win-win next time.  Knowing your own preferences in handling conflict and then managing your response to conflict positively going forward makes you a more desirable candidate for employment.

Practice teamwork and collaboration.  Employed or unemployed, you can practice the skills of teamwork and collaboration.  Volunteer to organize an event for a cause you believe in or sit on a local board of directors for a nonprofit organization.  Either one will provide you with rich experience in working with different types of people and managing your responses to them, another key S+EI competency.  People with high social and emotional intelligence skills are able to create a motivating and enthusiastic work environment (remember, emotions are contagious!).  They put the team’s overall goals ahead of their individual goals, and take the opportunity to share the credit for the team’s successes.  Volunteering and other community work showcases your abilities to create cohesive teams, and is just as valuable as what you have done in the office, so be sure to work it into your interview when the time is right.

These are only a few brief tips for helping increase your social and emotional intelligence and make yourself an attractive candidate for open positions.  If you’d like to learn more, please visit us at www.The-ISEI.com or email Hello@The-ISEI.com or call us at 303-325-5176.

How Jim Turned Things Around With Social + Emotional Intelligence

Liz*, head of HR for a well-known high-tech company, called to ask for some help with Jim, the Vice President of Operations.

Jim* has been with the company for 24 years, and has steadily been promoted throughout the years because of his ability to get things done on time and within budget.

He is off-the-charts brilliant, a hard-working technical genius, task-oriented, ambitious, and driven to succeed.  He has little patience for people who can’t keep up with him intellectually or operationally.

The Screamer!Some people consider him to be arrogant and condescending, and if something goes wrong, explosive.  He has a reputation for being a bully and a tyrant.

As the economy has started to turn around, the employees in his area have begun leaving the organization, jumping ship to the competition.  Decades of cumulative experience as well as trade secrets are walking out the door and directly into the waiting arms of competing firms.  Exit interviews indicate that the employees are leaving because of the way he treats them.  He berates people in public meetings, he calls them names, he has even been known to throw things in a fit of anger.

Liz is tired of hearing the complaints, and is starting to have trouble filling the vacant positions because Jim has developed a reputation in the industry and in the community as being a difficult boss.  Quality candidates have no interest in coming to working for him.  She has discussed this with him on several occasions, and he refuses to see that he has a role in the problem.  He insists that it is his job to keep things running, and that if they can’t stand the heat, they should “get out of the kitchen.”  The CEO is aware of the problem, but also values the fact that Jim has a tough job and gets things done on time and on budget, and doesn’t want to let  him go.

“Can you help?” she asked when she called us.  “It looks like we need to keep him, but we need for him to start treating people better so they don’t leave.”   I told her we would see what we could do.

The following week we went in to meet with Jim, and we also met with several members of his team.  Liz had been very accurate in her characterization of Jim, and had even underestimated, to some degree, the impact he was having on the people around him.  Several more already had their foot out the door.

We laid out a plan for Jim to enhance his awareness of his impact on people, including doing an emotional intelligence 360, and we began a coaching program focused on impulse control, stress management, and dealing with conflict more productively.  We worked with him on taking more of a “coach approach” to his style of leadership and management, seeking opportunities to develop, coach and mentor people rather than scream at them.  We showed him how productivity (and profitability) could actually be enhanced if he modified his leadership style.

Jim was resistant at first.  But when he saw the results of his 360, he could see he had some blind spots.  He even took his 360 report home to show his wife, and complained to her that people didn’t really know him or they wouldn’t have answered the way they did, and that he had to keep doing things the same way or “nothing would ever get done on time.”

She disagreed with him.  She told him that the report was absolutely on-target, and that she had experienced his negative behaviors, his arrogance, condescension, and contempt, yelling, and anger enough over the years, and that quite honestly, she was planning to end the marriage when their youngest child (currently 16 and a sophomore in high school) left home for college.

Jim was stunned.

She also told him that their older three kids (already out of the house) didn’t want anything to do with him, and that they felt estranged from their father.

He was speechless.

And then she told him that their 16-year old daughter, who had been seeing a counselor, had talked with her counselor recently about suicide, and that she attributed a great deal of her depression and inability to deal with high school to the way she was treated by her father.

Tough news indeed.

Jim discussed all this with his coach very soon after this conversation with his wife.

He asked to review the 360 results again, and agreed that perhaps he did need to work on a few things.  Together we put a plan together, which he began to approach with the same drive that he approached most other aspects of his work.  He identified goals and very specific actions he could take to improve how he was interacting with people.  He also decided he needed to acknowledge publicly that his prior way of doing things had not been effective.

He sat down and had a very honest conversation with each member of his team.  He apologized for his past behavior, explaining that he hadn’t realized just how difficult he had been.  He told them what he wanted to change, and asked for their support in making those changes, even asking them to help hold him accountable in his quest to change.  Every day, he practiced the new techniques for managing conflict, and for managing himself.  He learned new ways of communicating with people, learned how to understand what motivated them, and how to work and interact with them more effectively.

Today, Jim’s employee engagement scores are higher than any other department in the company.  His team is happy, turnover has decreased to almost zero, and they are producing more than ever in the history of the company.

And on the personal side, Jim’s marriage has improved (he’s working really hard here), and his relationship with his children has improved beyond measure.  And his youngest daughter?  She’s now a beautiful 17-year-old, happy, well-adjusted, and thriving socially and in school. *

*This case study is based on real events, but the names have been changed and the circumstances altered slightly to protect confidentiality.

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