Posts Tagged ‘Teamwork’

Why Can’t We Get Along?

Article submitted by Amy Sargent

Disagreements are a normal part of everyday life. Gather more than one person in any room, even a virtual room, and given enough time, there will be variances of opinions. And this can be a powerful thing. Many of our innovative ideas come when we are exposed to fresh perspectives.

The Blame Game

The problem arises when we let our differences erupt into conflict, and start playing the blame game. At this point, it’s no longer a matter of disagreement, but a struggle for power. And suddenly, we’re just not getting along.

Learning how to resolve conflicts can lead to more cohesive work teams and healthier relationships at home.

But getting along, especially with those we don’t particularly like, and definitely those we don’t agree with, is easier said than done. Many of us are conflict-avoiders, so when disputes erupt, we shy away from resolve. A common tactic to avoid conflict is to place blame on the other person.

We learn at an early age that blaming can sometimes get us out of trouble…at least temporarily. As a child, pointing the finger at one of my ornery brothers “saved” me, countless times, from getting grounded, which made it appear to be a lucrative strategy! As we move into adulthood, many of us do not learn conflict resolution skills, and carry this childish behavior into our grown-up relationships, both at work and at home. It doesn’t take long to realize that assigning blame becomes a hindrance to healthy, happy connections with others. Sure, the technique may seem to protect our self-esteem, but it does nothing to move us toward resolve.

In her article, Workplace Blame is Contagious and Detrimental, Susan Krauss Whitbourne shares this: “Unlike other games, the more often you play the blame game, the more you lose.” Other studies show that casting blame is contagious, and negatively effects creativity and productivity [https://www.livescience.com/8018-workplace-blame-contagious-detrimental.html]. Nancy Colier, in a Psychology Today article, says this: “[Blame] blocks your personal growth, damages your relationships, and gets in the way of your own well-being.” [https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201601/4-steps-stop-blaming]

Avoiding Action

Blaming allows us to avoid action. Yet action is the very thing needed to heal rifts.

Pat Ladouceur, in an article entitled, Who’s Fault Is It?, says, insightfully, “Blame separates people from your values, beliefs, and commitment. If the problem belongs to someone else, then you have a reason to dig in your heels. You miss an opportunity to grow, to stretch, to challenge yourself. You might miss a chance to change the way you think or act, or a chance to be deeply honest: by sharing your fear, or disappointment, or sadness in a heartfelt way.” [https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/whose-fault-is-it-how-blame-sabotages-relationships/]

Ladouceur goes on to say, “Blame creates inaction. When someone blames, it’s as if they’re handing over control of the situation. “I can’t change until you do,” is the implicit message. The solution is in their partner’s hands.”

Self-Awareness

We all blame others from time to time. It is a learned behavior, a very human behavior. But it is something we can learn to do less of. Self-awareness, the first competency of emotional intelligence, can pave the way toward growth. But sometimes we have blind spots, and may not recognize how often we’re making someone else carry the responsibility for our own actions.

“People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.

— J. Michael Straczynski

How do you know if you’re a finger pointer? Try the following test, developed by Nancy Colier. Ask yourself these questions, and answer with either yes or no:

  1. Would it be normal for you to respond to someone with a problem by telling him why he is to blame for his problem?
  2. In relationships with friends and family, do you often find yourself pointing the finger? Do you tell others how and why they are wrong, using phrases such as You did it, or, It’s your fault?
  3. When you confront difficulties or inconveniences, is it common for you to identify and ruminate over who or what is to blame? 
  4. When you are upset or in a difficult situation, do you frequently blame someone for making you feel the way you do? 

Colier states, “If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you are a blamer. If you answered yes to multiple questions, then your blaming behavior may very well be compromising your relationships, your well-being, and your personal evolution.”  [https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201601/4-steps-stop-blaming]

How did you do?

If you’re a blamer, no shame. You are not alone. But if you are interested in growth, development, and relationship health, both at home and at work, at some point the blame has to stop. Whitbourne goes on to say this, “Learning to tell when you need to own up to your role in a bad situation will help you grow from your experiences, and ultimately help you achieve more fulfilling relationships.” [https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201509/5-reasons-we-play-the-blame-game]

Making Shifts

No matter how long you’ve been playing the blame game, you can start today to make a shift. Here are ten ways to get along with others better (and lay down the blame):

1-Set an intention to stop blaming. As with any goal, it’s helpful to be clear about your intentions. Say it aloud, share it with a trusted friend, write it down. It could be as simple as, “I intend to own my own role in my conflicts” or “I intend to stop blaming others.”

2-Tune in. Notice when you shift blame and take note. Is it when you are around a certain person? Is it only at work, or only at home? Is it when you know you’ve done something in opposition to your values? Is it when you are hungry, or tired, or emotionally spent? A great first step to stop playing the blame game is to simply notice when you blame, and why.

3-Develop your empathetic skills. It’s hard to show empathy toward someone when you’re angry with them…and it’s the last thing you’ll feel like doing! But try, difficult as it may be, to put yourself in their shoes. Ask open-ended questions as you seek to understand their perspective. Listen without judgement and ask clarifying questions. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying — you just want to validate their feelings. The emotions they are feeling — anger, frustration, irritation, injustice — most likely are very similar to what you’re experiencing. The feelings are legit — as are yours. Express clearly, emphatically, and often, that you understand how they’re feeling.

4-Seek a fresh perspective. Have you noticed that when you’re in conflict, it’s all you can think about? It’s the first thing which pops into your head in the morning, and the last thing you ruminate on when you lie down to sleep. Sometimes it can even prevent a good, restful sleep! This consumption can be detrimental to conflict resolve, because the longer you obsess on a particular topic, the bigger and more difficult it seems to become. You need a breath of fresh air. Get outside, engage in some exercise, talk to others (about anything but the conflict), watch a movie, read a book…anything to help you get your brain off the topic for a reprieve. Taking a ‘break’ enables you to step back and put your conflict into a larger-world perspective.

5-Name it to Tame it. Often when we shift blame, it’s to avoid uncomfortable feelings such as guilt, shame, hurt, disappointment, anger, etc. I get it. Negative feelings are no fun! Which emotion(s) are you attempting to avoid by pointing your finger? Be specific. Try to think of these emotions, as much as they may make you squirm, as dear friends, willing to tell you the truth. Emotions provide valuable insights into what’s really going on. Instead of stuffing them inside or pretending they’re nonexistent, allow yourself to name them, feel them, and note why they are there. Journal or talk to someone about these emotions.

6-Learn to say “I’m sorry”. Yes, they’re two of the hardest words to say when you feel wronged, yet so very powerful. Obviously, conflict is rarely one person’s fault. The Latin root of the word speaks for itself. Conflict comes from assimilated form of com “with, together” (see con-) + fligere “to strike”[https://www.etymonline.com/word/conflict#:~:text=conflict]. Remember, it takes two to tango. Own your contribution to the problem –even if you didn’t ‘start it’ — and apologize for the hurtful things you’ve said and done. Don’t wait for the other person to apologize first, because you may be waiting a long, long time. You can’t control their actions, but you can control yours.

7-Take Constructive Action. Instead of ruminating ’round and ’round on who’s fault it is, instead, shift your focus on what you can do to turn things around. Read a book on conflict resolve. Enroll in a class. Take on a new project. Help them out. Offer a kind word. Treat them to lunch. Not only will constructive actions help you focus on something other than the conflict, your energy will be repurposed elsewhere, pointing the way to personal and professional growth.

8-Decide to forgive. There is a phrase, “Hurt people hurt people.” Each of us have been hurt at some point or another, and each of us (whether wittingly or unwittingly) have hurt others. Recognize that conflict happens, and, even if someone is not owning their role in it, you can still choose to let go of trying to bring some sort of punishment or penalty upon them. It doesn’t mean you need to become best friends. But you can free yourself by forgiving yourself, and the other person, for the poor behavior.

9-Seek out the help of others. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Behavior change is much more palatable — and effective — when you have others walking alongside you. Enlist the help of a coach or counselor. Find a trusted friend or colleague who will speak the truth, and spur you along your new path. Choose a mentor and spend time learning from them.

10-Celebrate your wins. Congratulate yourself when you are able to own your role in conflict, and stop assigning blame. Big changes consist of small, day-to-day steps in the right direction. Try reflecting on your improvements at the end of each week, and keep a journal detailing your growth. Share your successes with a trusted friend, family member, or mentor and find ways to celebrate your growth.

Shifting habits such as blaming others can be difficult to do, and does not happen overnight. Offer yourself grace as you move in a new direction. You may never reach ‘perfection’ (does it even exist?), but keep moving, step by step, toward a new way of behaving. In doing so, you’ll begin to experience new levels of health in your relationships — and find that you actually can get along with others…even if you don’t agree with them!

“Everybody is responsible for their own actions. It’s easy to point the finger at somebody else, but a real man, a real woman, a real person knows when it’s time to take the blame and when to take responsibility for their own actions.”

— Marcus Smart

Leading with a coach approach

“The greatest good you can do another is not just share your riches, but reveal to him his own.” — Benjamin Franklin

Article contributed by Amy Sargent.

Very few situations create more resistance than the tasks we’re forced to do. Maybe it’s tracking expenses, or meeting with someone who makes you uncomfortable, or having to reach a sales quota to keep your job. When we have to do something, we often don’t want to, and find every excuse to avoid it. But when we’re motivated  and inspired to accomplish something, especially by intrinsic motivation (the type which draws from our internal values, resulting in ‘feel good’ rewards), we can hardly wait to get started.

More often than not, inspiration does not happen in isolation. Our motivation usually comes from others, often from someone in a leadership position. Think of the last great thing you accomplished. Did you complete the entire feat alone, or were there others who were part of the process, possibly by your side every step of the way, encouraging, bolstering, and inspiring you to be successful?

Some people seem to be gifted with the ability to see other’s potential and take action to help them be the best they can be.  In reality, the skill set they possess can be learned. These rare specimens show a genuine interest in helping others, and take the time it takes to thoroughly understand others’ hopes and dreams. They are able to help others recognize their strengths and also their areas of growth, understand their personal and professional values, and guide others toward moving past hurdles which may be tripping them up. They are able to give constructive and timely feedback when needed, and truly have a heart for the long-term development of others as they stretch toward excellence.

We call these people coaches, or mentors. And when these qualities show up in a leader, we’re inspired. Jack Welch said this, “Being a leader changes everything. Before you are a leader, success is all about you.  It’s about your performance, your contributions, about getting called upon and having the right answers. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.  Your success as a leader comes not from what you do but from the reflected glory of the people you lead.”

The old style of leadership where the boss has all the answers can prove to be very demeaning to those who work with him/her.  When teammates don’t feel like they have a voice, or the environment is not a safe place to exercise their voice, they soon will shut down and not speak up.  This quickly makes the idea pool quite shallow. Because innovate employees are often some of the best, they will no longer be interested in working there.

How can you tell if you’re an old-style leader?  If you can say yes to the following, you may want to shift how you manage others:

  • You direct, dictate, and do most of the talking
  • You presume and assume
  • You manages only for results
  • You solve problems in isolation
  • When things go awry, you assign blame

“Sometimes a person just needs a little inspiration or a different thought to get them propelled in the right direction”. — Tondeleya Allen

On the other hand, leading with a coach approach can inspire and empower your best employees. What is a coach approach? Coaching is a developmental process designed to help individuals and teams achieve and sustain top performance in support of the organization’s goals. It’s a venue for promoting discovery, learning, growth and higher levels of performance. It’s a collaborative effort where the coach serves as a strategic thinking partner, and manager and employee think and plan together. Think of it as an ongoing partnership, a sustained alliance.

Those who lead with a coach approach tend to:

  • guide, empower, and listens a lot
  • explore and discover
  • manage the development of employees
  • create partnerships with employees to collaboratively solve problems
  •  take responsibility when things go awry.

Learning to lead with a coach approach is about understanding the needs of those who work with you.  Here are a few things that people are looking for in someone who is managing them. They want to:

  • Know what is expected of them
  • Have the opportunity to do their best every day
  • Make a contribution
  • Be recognized for their work
  • Have someone at work care enough to encourage their development
  • Have their opinions count and be heard
  • Have the opportunity to learn and grow
  • Be respected

There are many benefits of being a leader who inspires others to be their best. First of all, it makes the manager’s job easier and reduces turnover and associated cost. It increases productivity, improves work quality, and promotes innovation (because the environment is a safe place to take risks). It provides clarification of the manager’s expectations, and “stretches” people to reach for bigger goals, to name a few.

In other words, people who are led with a coach approach become satisfied, engaged employees. Research shows that organizations with above-average employee satisfaction scores also had:

  • 38 percent higher customer satisfaction scores
  • 22 percent higher productivity
  • 27 percent higher profits

Learning to incorporate a coach approach to leadership can help you go from being a good leader to a great leader.  And along the way, you’ll be able to bring others along with you toward that greatness.

“Great leaders can inspire their people to unprecedented feats, convey grand visions of the bright future that beckons, rally the people to heroic efforts in defense of their country or their beliefs.” — Will Peters

13 Ways to Be More Collaborative

Article submitted by Amy Sargent.

Boy, are people cranky these days! And for good reason, right? Our norms have been turned upside down, and, combined with fear, uncertainty, financial strain, and worry — it’s a sure recipe for contentiousness.

Just take a look at just about any social media page. People can post the most innocent of comments — or not — but no matter, there’s always someone, or some-many, who will jump on their soapbox and argue, call names, sling insults, and make snide remarks, sometimes just to be disagreeable. Why is it when things get tough, we tend to throw teamwork and collaboration out the window?

Some would say it’s human nature and can’t be helped.

“Bad temper is its own scourge. Few things are more bitter than to feel bitter. A man’s venom poisons himself more than his victim.” — Charles Buxton

Oxford Language Dictionary defines human nature as “the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits of humankind, regarded as shared by all humans.” Why, then, if it’s something we all share, are some people kindhearted, uplifting, and encouraging, while others seem prone to be the thorn in everyone’s side?

It comes down to choice.

Contrary to popular belief, we get to choose how we react to the emotions we are feeling. Every single one of us can either choose the path of collaboration, or, decide to go down the path of contentiousness. We have the choice to either fall victim to our emotions and allow them to take us down the spiral of negativism, cynicism, and criticism, or use them as a vital source of data which can lead to greater connectivity and cooperation with others, leading to healthier, happier relationships.

No matter your circumstances, no matter how tough things are, no matter how utterly frustrated you may feel, you get to choose how you respond.

Experiencing negative emotions is normal. But we don’t have to act out on them. So why does it feel like poor behavior sometimes is an automatic reaction, one that can’t be helped? The answer has to do with how our brains are wired. When presented with stimuli which trigger a strong emotion, the signal first arrives to the emotional part of your brain, and communicates that you either need to fight or take flight, without delay. It takes another six seconds for the signal to hit the rational part of your brain and allow you to use reason in choosing your next steps.[How to best manage the six seconds that can change your life (for the worse)].

If you choose to react within those first six seconds, chances are your choices may be clouded by the hot emotions you’re feeling. Those are the moments when we shoot back that feisty text, fire off a heated email, or exchange hurtful words in a disagreement. This out-of-control response is a result of an amygdala hijack, a term coined by Daniel Goleman in 1995. The amygdala, the part of the brain designed to respond quickly to  threats, in order to protect us from danger, can interfere with our functioning in our day-to-day lives where perceived threats are now rarely a matter of life and death. 

If we delay reacting by just a few more moments, allowing the brain to take the emotional stimuli and process it with the rational part of our brain, we have a much greater likelihood of making a thought-out, cooperative and productive decision. [Amygdala Hijack and the Fight or Flight Response]

Easier said than done.

Becoming a team player, and leading others toward collaboration, takes emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-management, other awareness, and relationship management, to pull it of. These traits often don’t come easy. But with some focused effort and the help of a social + emotional intelligence coach, you can take steps in a new direction.

If working collaboratively with others is not one of your strong points, here are some things to try to work toward  a more cooperative approach:

  • Hit pause. When you feel your temper rising, take a break. Inhale deeply, step away, take a walk — anything to give your brain a chance to bring reason to the table.
  • Look for opportunities to team up with others. Instead of going it alone on your next project, find a few others to collaborate with and let them know you’d really appreciate their input.
  • Enhance your listening skills. When others offer their insights, even if you don’t like what they’re saying, tune into what they’re trying to communicate and take a genuine interest in learning more. Understanding their motivations may help you be more open to a differing viewpoint.
  • Keep others informed as to your goals, projects, timelines, and successes along the way. Communicating with others helps them feel like part of the team.
  • Be sure to say thank you to those who are working with you. Gratitude goes a long way in building rapport with others. Some people thrive on public recognition while others appreciate a private “thanks”. Learn your team members and be generous with your appreciation.
  • Lead without dominating. Seek out ways you can ask for input and allow for time and space for others to come up with suggestions, ideas, etc…especially those who may be quieter or less assertive.
  • Give validation freely. Letting others know their input is valued, even if the ideas presented are not ones you’d necessarily incorporate, goes a long way in building a cooperative spirit. An old proverb says, “In a multitude of counselors there is safety.” A variety of ideas, even the ones which sound crazy or far-fetched, can contribute to finding successful ones.
  • When conflict arises, attempt to resolve it sooner than later. Unresolved conflict can eat away at cohesion. Though avoiding hard conversations may seem easier in the moment, they’ll need to take place eventually. The sooner you can resolve disagreements, the sooner you can move forward toward your goals.
  • Treat everyone with respect and courtesy. There’s never a time when it’s OK to be rude, distasteful, or demeaning. No matter the job title, position, or lot in life, practice treating all people with high regard.
  • Share your resources with others. Don’t be an idea-hoarder. Who knows if your insights may spark imaginative ideas in others?“

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

  • Allow others to take credit. Your innovative ideas may spur others to come up with creative ways of doing things…so much so that they may forget the original idea came from you. That’s OK. Exercise enough personal power to not need to have all the credit all the time.
  • Empower others to be successful. Good leaders look for ways for others to be successful. Which of your behaviors turn others off? What hurdles may be keeping others from feeling like part of your team? What needs do they have? How can you go out of your way to meet those needs?
  • Get to know your colleagues. Learn their spouse’s names, ask about what their kids are up to, and seek to understand their motivations and personal interests. When team members feel understood, and appreciated, they’re much more likely to be strong contributors.

Learning to get along and work well with others will enhance your own sense of well-being, as well as contribute to happier, healthier relationships and a greater sense of community…something we all could use more of these days.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

4 Disciplines Create “The Advantage” for Growth

Article submitted by guest author Pam Watson Korbel

In my years of consulting, a few common issues arise for small and medium-sized businesses that always inhibit their growth:

  • Infighting among the executive team;
  • Failure to get out of the weeds and take the time to plan for growth;
  • Poor communication cadences leading to problems with culture and productivity;
  • Lack of appreciation for the need for a strong employee base.

One book tightly delves into all these topics – The Advantage (Jossey Bass, 2012) by Patrick Lencioni.   Known as a fable writer, in this book Lencioni focuses instead on the “how to’s” of organizational health.  I recommend it for executive teams in any industry.

Building upon the same premises that Jim Collins (Built to Last and Good to Great) and Verne Harnish (Scaling Up and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits), The Advantage starts out by laying a foundation of four disciplines necessary for strong organizational health:

1.  Build a cohesive leadership team – Anecdotally, I have found that when members of a leadership team spend a lot of time together, professionally and socially, their growth rate is faster than those who do not.  Interestingly, the personal bonds often spur the commitment to the business more than the professional bonds.  Lencioni espouses team building and makes a strong point that it is a process not an event.

2.  Create clarity – Lencioni lays out six strategic questions that every leadership team needs to answer on behalf of the company.  Beyond answering “why” the firm exists and what the culture is, the Lencioni system provides a framework for setting priorities.

Most importantly, it helps a leadership team to focus on less than a handful of matters at a time; completing them before it progresses to a new set of priorities.  In my experience, mid-market companies fail to advance when everything needs to be done today.  I have seen many companies improve revenue and profit just by reducing the number of initiatives for the company and for individuals.

3.  Overcommunicate clarity – Smart people who lead entrepreneurial growth companies often assume that their employees are as smart and agile as they are.  Generally, the employees who fit this description leave your company and start their own.  Which leaves you with people who want stability and consistency along with understanding of priorities.  And that requires that you develop a strong communication system within your company so that employees always know what is important and then they can execute.

4.  Reinforce clarity – The Advantage concludes by laying out a foundation of hiring the right employees who fit your culture and then providing high-quality feedback to each so that they are motivated to excel.  Especially in today’s knowledge-based industries, involving staff in decisions and direction keeps them motivated.  And as Ken Blanchard (The One-Minute Manager) says, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

The bottom-line is that reading and implementing The Advantage in your company is a simple, direct way to encourage financial growth while engendering a strong team of supporters.  Lencioni lays out a process to address the four disciplines and implement them that leadership teams can manage effectively with coaching.

You can study this system by reading the book and you should also check out The Advantage app, which includes an overview of the content plus an organizational health assessment. For help with the four disciplines and implementing The Advantage, contact Pam Watson Korbel.

Do you play well with others?

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

“This job would be easier if people weren’t involved.”

It’s one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek sayings.  While true, as most of our conflict comes from interactions with others (though we all do struggle with self-conflict from time to time), most of us wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for those around us — peers, colleagues, supervisors, employees, customers, clients are a vital part of any business. But working collaboratively with others can be difficult, frustrating, and downright annoying at times.

At some point in most relationships, conflict is going to happen whenever there is more than one person in the room. And our conflict management skills, which are a competency of strong emotional intelligence, are what can make the difference between frustrating, unresolved disagreements or enabling conversations where all parties can pursue the best possible solutions.

We all have a role when it comes to conflict, whether we are the vocal one who loses our temper or the quiet doormat that stays silent.

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.”  — Wayne Dyer

It’s no monkey business:  learning how to navigate conflict can increase our sense of well-being and job satisfaction and contributes greatly to the quality of relationships both at work and at home.

How well do you play with others?

Ask yourself the following questions and see how many you can answer yes to:

  • I can see potential conflict before it arises and help de-escalate the situation.
  • I can handle difficult people with tact.
  • I can lay down my own expectations and be open to hearing the perspectives of others.
  • I can manage tense situations with diplomacy.
  • I can create a safe space for all parties to share their perspectives.
  • I can help all parties involved understand the other perspectives in the room.
  • I can hear diverse opinions and find a common ideal.
  • I can orchestrate win-win solutions.

Five Conflict Styles and when to use them

We all have our own ‘style’ when it comes to conflict resolve, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow and learn other approaches that may better serve us and the situation at hand. In 1974, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilman created the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument, which identifies five styles of conflict. There are situations that arise when some styles work better than others. Here is a quick guide:

1-Competitive/Controlling – A quick and decisive action is needed (vital in emergency situations), or the other party would take advantage of cooperation on your part.

2-Collaborating – The issues (and/or relationship) are too important to be compromised and the objective is to integrate differing viewpoints.

3-Avoiding – There are more important things to tackle, there is no chance of achieving your objectives, the parties need time to “cool down” or take time to gather more data.

4-Accommodating – You realize you are wrong, or understand that the issues at hand are more important to the other person and/or you need to build ‘credits’ with that person.

5-Compromising – It’s too risky to be too controlling, both parties are committed to mutually exclusive goals, you need a quick or temporary solution under time constraints.

Time for a Shift

How do you know when it’s time to shift your approach to conflict resolve? Simply put, when your approach is not working.  Losing friends left and right? Colleagues can’t stand you? Coworkers shut down and won’t share their perspective with you? Feel agitated and stressed when conflict is discussed? People walk all over you in meetings?  You are the only one talking in meetings? You get what you want but no one is alongside you to enjoy it?  If you find yourself in a confusing or disturbing conflict, try asking yourself these honest questions:

  • How was my behavior received by others?
  • How did I feel during the conflict?
  • How much do I care about the outcome?
  • What were my expectations of the situation and did they match up with reality?
  • What judgments did I make about the others during the conflict and were they accurate?
  • What did I want to see happen? What did they want to see happen?
  • What is my investment into this situation? What is theirs?
  • Am I acting in an old pattern of behavior that no longer serves me?
  • What can I say/do going forward to optimize the outcome?

Which of the five conflict resolve styles is your primary ‘go-to’ when faced with conflict?  Does it serve you well in all situations or could you stand to develop a new approach? If you struggle in the area of conflict resolve, good news! Behaviors in conflict resolve are learned and can be changed. Finding a social + emotional intelligence coach to walk alongside you to make behavior shifts can be a great place to start.

“When team members trust each other and know that everyone is capable of admitting when they’re wrong, then conflict becomes nothing more than the pursuit of truth or the best possible answer.” —  Patrick Lencioni

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?

How do Expertise and Social & Emotional Intelligence Relate in Your Career?

Article contributed by Virg Setzer,MSOP

In my past blog comments I discussed two of the Nine Essentials to Career Success – Ownership and Mindset.  This week I am addressing the third essential, Expertise. 

What is Expertise?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines expertise as:  expert skill or knowledge in a particular field” and Expert as, “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area”

In the business world it is not at all uncommon to hear the phrase, “what is his or her expertise?”  In an interview, “tell me about your expertise”, or as senior leaders discuss key successors, the individuals expertise and overall capability is frequently a major discussion.  Sometimes expertise is described using different terms, such as what is his talent, but it all boils down to what is the special capability an individual possesses.  What is the capability or expertise that person has that sets them aside from others, in effect gives them a competitive advantage.

Expertise – Critical for a successful career.   There are many attributes necessary for success, but Expertise is clearly one of the essentials – it is in fact essential to continually build and enhance one’s expertise.  Expertise is not simply the special knowledge gained from focused education and experience. We all know of many people who have a vast resume of educational accomplishments, degrees, certifications, etc., yet are not all that effective in their performance.  Expertise is gaining that special knowledge and associated experience, but most importantly expertise is the ability to employ and apply your knowledge and skill in real world situations, and to do so in a highly effective manner.  Often there are people who are equally qualified in terms of education and experience, but it is the real expert who is able to apply it to achieve maximum performance.

Is expertise limited to technical or functional areas of knowledge and experience?  The ability to effectively employ and apply one’s capability encompasses a number of factors.  Those that are successful likely do not think of their capability as including social and emotional intelligence competencies, yet as we consider Personal Competence and Social Competence, we might make a case that all twenty-six competencies in some way have an impact.   A few however are key contributors to the successful application of expertise.  I believe those that may have the greatest impact are:

  • Organizational awareness: Reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships; being able to “size up” a situation and plan an appropriate response.  This is critical in applying your expertise in any organization.
  • Integrity: Maintaining high standards of honesty and ethics at all times.  A must to build credibility.
  • Initiative & bias for action: Readiness to act on opportunities.  The term, “timing is everything” does in fact often apply in business – this competency is a major contributor to successful application of expertise.
  • Personal agility:  Readily, willingly, rapidly and effectively anticipating and adapting to change.  Our rapidly changing global and technological world requires personal agility now more than ever.
  • Communication: Listening attentively and fostering open dialogue.  Essential for every effective relationship.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness:  Possessing diplomacy, tact and interpersonal skills, and knowing how to use them to ease transactions and relationships with others; the ability to relate well and build rapport with all people.  Application of expertise cannot be completed in a vacuum – interpersonal effectiveness is essential.
  • Powerful influencing skills: Wielding effective tactics for persuasion.  A sub-set of effective communication, but also critical to success.
  • Building Bonds: Nurturing and maintaining relationships, cultivating a wide network; connecting with others on a deeper rather than superficial level.  Essential for a continued effective relationships.
  • Coaching & mentoring others: Identifying others’ development needs and bolstering their abilities.  Developing others supports and helps affirm your expertise.
  • Building trust: Being trustworthy and ethical when working and relating to others; ability to establish a bond of trust with others.  Trust is the foundation for successfully employing your expertise.

Building Your Expertise:

Building one’s expertise is not a quick or simple process.  It is also a never-ending process.  As people begin their business careers they may start to build their expertise based upon their educational background, undergraduate and graduate educations – the knowledge they acquired in school.  Over time expertise is expanded and the educational expertise supplemented as experience occurs.  The understanding gained from application in the workplace and on-going learning is vital to enhancing one’s expertise.

Building your expertise also takes into account the topic in my last blog – Mindset – building your expertise requires a “possibilities mindset” – a mindset of continuous learning and development.   I doubt that there is a formula or template for how to build your expertise?  But I encourage everyone at every stage of your career to periodically conduct a self-assessment of your expertise – an Expertise Audit.  Ask yourself, what really is my expertise?  What is the value I bring to the workplace?  Where do I have holes or voids in my expertise?  Have I only focused on developing my technical and functional knowledge and skill or have I also considered the social and emotional competencies associated with effectively deploying my expertise?  How do I best test what my expertise is?  What do I use to compare my expertise against?  Who can give me meaningful input about my expertise?  What actions must I take to improve and enhance my expertise?

Real Expertise sets you apart – it gives you a competitive advantage – consider how you can achieve that level of expertise.  Expertise is one of the Nine Essentials to Career Success – it cannot be taken lightly.  Whether you are 20 or 70, I encourage you to continuously build your expertise and in turn enhance your career!

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.

The Importance of EQ (Emotional Quotient) over IQ

Article contributed by Christene Cronin, CC

The article below by Jessica Stillman says it all. It is more pleasant to work with someone who is approachable, respectful of others and a team player than someone who is not. If you had your choice between the two to work with, who would you pick?

We spend a large amount of our time in the business world trying to earn a living so that we can put food in our mouths and a roof over our head and as well, for some just the enjoyment and self- satisfaction gained by doing something you love or are good at. So why should we have to accept a position where we have to work with people who are not respectful of others. Why is it that people think it is ok to bully or abuse others to meet their needs? Are they even aware of their own behavior?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) teaches us about awareness and management of ourselves and others. And the benefits gained by this affect everyone involved; employees, employers, customers, vendors and the company. Within EI’s 26 competencies there are topics that range from behavioral Self Control, Integrity, interpersonal effectiveness to communication, conflict management, leadership and teamwork. These are all valuable skills which create an effective and productive environment to work in as well as increased profits for the company we work for. Sounds like a “win win” situation to me don’t you think?

And it looks like the time has come where we are taking a stand in the work place and saying “let’s do better”!

Keeping Calm Under Pressure Is More Valued Than High IQ In Today’s Job Market via War Room by Jessica Stillman on 8/22/11

It’s a complicated world for business out there with technology changing at a breakneck pace, markets roiling and politics anything but predictable. In such a difficult environment, you might think that brains would beat all other considerations when it comes to appealing to employers. But a new survey suggests that’s just not the case.

To find out what qualities and skills employers are emphasizing in the current crazy job market, CareerBuilder polled 2,662 private sector U.S. hiring managers about their priorities. Rather than finding high demand for big brains, the survey uncovered surprisingly strong evidence that at the moment EQ trumps IQ for job seekers. The statistics clearly show emotional intelligence (EI) is highly valued:

• 34 percent of hiring managers are placing greater emphasis on emotional intelligence when hiring and promoting employees post-recession

• 71 percent value emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ

• 59 percent of employers would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low EI

• For workers being considered for a promotion, the high EI candidate will beat out the high IQ candidate i75 percent of the time

So what exactly why did the hiring managers feel emotional intelligence is so important? Those with high EI excelled at staying calm under pressure, resolving conflict effectively, behaving with empathy and leading by example, according to respondents.

CareerBuilder suggests a couple of possible explanations for the findings. First, volatility and economic gloom are putting pressure on businesses and threatening jobs, leading to stressful times at many offices. With anxiety on the increase, the ability to handle the pressure and maintain a mature and sensible working environment is more valuable than ever.

Also, CareerBuilder notes, with unemployment so high, employers can afford to be choosy, demanding not only brute brain power but also the ability to work productively and pleasantly with others. “The competitive job market allows employers to look more closely at the intangible qualities that pay dividends down the road — like skilled communicators and perceptive team players,” commented Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

This post originally appeared at BNET.

Keeping Calm Under Pressure Is More Valued Than High IQ In Today’s Job Market

www.businessinsider.com

Emotional intelligence is more important than big brains.

Avoiding Career Derailment with Improved Social & Emotional Intelligence

A recent Right Management survey about leaders and the competencies that most impact their success reveals the importance of developing social + emotional intelligence for individuals throughout the organization, and especially at the top.

The survey results indicate that the number one factor contributing to the failure of senior leaders is the inability to build relationships and a team environment. In fact, 40.2% of leadership turnover was attributed to this one derailer.

This is significant.

It is also preventable.

Increasing an individual’s social + emotional intelligence in the competency areas of building bonds, building trust, and teamwork/collaboration goes a long way to ensuring the organization’s investment in talent pays real, measurable dividends by averting unnecessary leadership turnover and growing employee engagement and commitment.

HR professionals who add social + emotional intelligence training as a key component of their leadership on-boarding and continuing development program create a competitive advantage for their organization and contribute to business transformation in their industry.

Need some proof? Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceutical Company increased the organization’s emotional intelligence by 18% and saw a 600% ROI (Cherniss, 2003). PepsiCo began initiating emotional intelligence training in the 1990s and has seen over a 1000% ROI, decreasing executive turnover by 87% (McClelland, 1998). And Andrea Jung, Chair & CEO of Avon says, “Emotional Intelligence is in our DNA here at Avon because relationships are critical at every stage of our business.”

Each of these organizations saw the value of developing social + emotional intelligence competencies in their leaders and made the commitment to transform their organizations and produce unprecedented results.

If you are interested in bringing social + emotional intelligence assessment, training and coaching into your organization, contact any of our Social + Emotional Intelligence Certified Coaches at the Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence. We can be reached at Hello@The-ISEI.com or go to our website www.The-ISEI.com to learn more.

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