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Archive for February, 2009

There’s a saying that goes your “IQ gets you hired but your personality ‘EQ’ gets you fired”. Whilst there is of course much truth in this I suggest an Employer can help Employees develop their EQ (Emotional Intelligence or EI) so that their IQ gets them hired and their EQ gets them promoted.

What is EI and why is it important? Confusion still abates about what is EI, in my coaching I define it as an intelligent system for the processing of emotional information. So EI cuts across the cognitive and emotional systems.

All good coaches use some form of EI in their work and ‘awaken’ the EI of their clients. I prefer to use the following 5 broad subtypes in explaining EI. Each of these components is broken into various subcomponents.

  • The first is intrapersonal intelligence, which is composed of emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, self-regard, self-actualization, and independence.
  • The second is interpersonal intelligence, which comprises empathy, interpersonal relationship, and social responsibility.
  • The third construct is adaptability, which divides into problem solving, reality testing, and flexibility.
  • Fourth is stress management, which comprises stress tolerance and impulse control.
  • The fifth contains measures of general mood, which is composed of happiness and optimism.

So if the above 5 traits do not convince you about the value of EI – what about this – – Emotion is the power that CONNECTS human beings to everything they CARE about! Emotions are among the primary determinants of behavior and achievement at work, impacting upon individual productivity, satisfaction, well being, and social climate.

Emotions are real-time indications of how well we think we are coping with day-to-day challenges and demands. EI provide us with invaluable information about ourselves, other people, and the various dynamic transactions that we share inside our organizations. This information filters through to us because our feelings reflect spontaneous emotional responses to the appraisals and interpretations we make of ongoing events in the workplace. By tapping into the rich information that emotions provide us with, we can often alter our thinking and behavior in such a way as to allow us to negotiate organizational challenges in a more adaptive (and indeed productive) manner.

One aspect of EI is Empathy (a subset of interpersonal skills). Empathy refers to the awareness of other’s feelings, needs, and concerns. At the individual level, empathy is a person’s ability to sense and understand other people’s feelings, concerns, and perspectives.

Empathy also implies taking active interest in other individuals’ concerns and feelings, and responding to other individuals’ unspoken feelings. In other words, when we are emotionally in tune, we can put aside our own personal agendas for some period, in order to be receptive to other people’s signals.

Empathy is essential as an emotional guidance system, piloting us in getting along at work, it is a meaningful predictor of quality performance in the job environment. According to scientific reserach individuals high in empathy are more capable of relating to other group members within a professional organization (Williams & Sternberg, 1988). In addition, the ability to empathize with others and relate to the feelings of others may play a role in the formulation of superior goals, plans, and strategies.

Empathic ability is particularly important when the problems to be solved
require reconciliation of conflicting opinions in a manner that is acceptable
to diverse people working within an organization.

So if thought of as the equivalent of a ‘‘social radar,’’ empathy is crucial for success in the business world. We know it is important to listen empathically to the customer’s point of view and to see reality from their perspective.

Furthermore, empathy is a critical component of conflict resolution and negotiation skills. The best negotiators can sense which points matter
most to the other party and gracefully concede them, while pressing for
concessions in points that do not carry such emotional relevance to the other party.

I am often asked can EI be learned and the short answer is YES. People can be trained on the ability to accurately read the subtle social cues and
signals given by others. In so doing, these individuals can accurately determine the emotions being expressed by their colleagues and learn to understand the perspective taken by others with whom they interact.

So as you can see EI and empathy in particular is a crucial skill – indeed I would go as far as to venture that people skills are the one skill that we must all learn for all aspects of our lives.


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This post is a primer for the coaching we do with Leadership and Self-Awareness.

Put simply a Leader can not be an Authentic Leader without self-awareness. The top three coaching objectives that Leaders ask us for at the start of an assignment are:

  1. Leadership – developing interpersonal and team leadership skills.
  2. Self-awareness – becoming more aware of my shortcomings and growth opportunities as a leader, and understanding the origins and history of my behavior in work and its impact on others.
  3. Life development – balancing personal and professional roles more effectively.

Self-aware people are honest about themselves with themselves and with others. They also understand their values and goals. When you are self-aware you know where you are headed and why.

Because the decisions of self-aware people interrelate with their personal values and convictions they find their lives more energizing. To quote Leonardo da Vinci: “One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”

Working on self-awareness requires that you take responsibility for your part of the difficulties you face. Understanding that only you are responsible for your life and actions, the choices and decisions you make are yours alone, you can not hold anyone else accountable for your choices. How you choose to react in situations or lead your life is yours and yours alone.

To help you start developing your self awareness consider keeping a learning journal, just try it for 30 days and write honest observations on the following:

  • Thought patterns – your self-talk patterns, what are you saying in your mind?
  • Emotional patterns – what are your usual feelings?
  • Behavior patterns – your usual actions – how you behave in different situations, write down the situation, your actions and others response As you keep your notes reflect on them, how was your mood, were your actions appropriate, did you cause distress to others or yourself.

In his book, How Life Imitates Chess, the Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov wrote “The key to success – it’s not enough to work hard and to study hard into the night. You must also become intimately aware of the methods you use to reach your decisions. Self-awareness is essential to being able to combine your knowledge, experience and talent to reach your peak performance”

Lack of self-awareness and the ability to control our own emotions may be the biggest obstacle to increased personal and professional competence in relationships and life satisfaction. You cannot manage yourself adequately if you ignore what you need to do to change. Ignoring your feelings does not make them go away; it just helps them to surface again when you least expect it. James Allen wrote this aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” and “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts”.

When you become self-aware you can learn to overcome the dysfunctional thought patterns that make up your negative thoughts – you become a more authentic leader, someone that people willingly follow and trust.

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Here’s the Executive Coach Tips of the Day from my Twitter:

  1. Recognize the skills and traits you don’t possess, and hire the people who have them.
  2. Read Leadership & Self Deception by the Arbinger Group – http://tinyurl.com/bojbzy (I am not affiliated)
  3. Never deal with another person simply as a means to an end.
  4. A vague value system can lead to chameleon decisions. Or as the Beatles so aptly put it’ being a nowhere man’
  5. what you need to know as the leader is what motivates your people, not what motivates you.
  6. to be a leader means you can never demean anyone. You have to find that thing in them which is great, and bring it out

Please follow me on Twitter and get these tips and other inspirational and motivational quotes daily. Designed to challenge, support and guide you.  ColinUdeLewis

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There’s a Zen story of a frog that was swimming happily in a river, minding his own business. Suddenly, he heard a voice calling out to him. Swimming toward the sound, the frog saw a scorpion standing on the riverbank. The scorpion said, “I need to get across the river. Please give me a ride.” The frog was skeptical. “I know your type,” he said. “Scorpions sting. How do I know you won’t kill me if I try to help you?” The scorpion said, “Why would I do that? If I kill you, I’ll die too, because I can’t swim.” This made sense to the frog, and he agreed to take the scorpion across the river. The scorpion crawled on to the frog’s back and the frog slid into the water. But halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger. “You fool!” the frog croaked. “Now we’ll both die! Why on earth did you do that?” “I couldn’t help myself,” the scorpion admitted. “It’s my character.”

Just like the scorpion a person’s character (or as some like to call it ‘personality’) determines motivation and ambition and dictates the way a person relates to his or her internal and external world. It colors the nature and quality of one’s relationships with others and influences the way each person pursues his or her goals in life. Personality shapes ideals, values, beliefs, patterns of information-processing, and leadership style. It also affects a person’s moral compass—that amalgam of moral, ethical, and motivational principles that guides an individual through life.

Can a person change? I had always understood that a person could not change just like a leopard could not change its spots. I have since found that claim to be totally false – a person can indeed change, but the person has to want to change!

Yet I am constantly confounded by people’s lack of will power to change!

For example what if a doctor said you had to make tough choices in the way you think and act – or your time would end soon? Would you change? Well the scientifically studied odds are nine to one – only a 10% probability that you will change your lifestyle with a life or death situation – to me that is just shear ignorance and a waste. Dr Edward Miller, dean of the medical school and CEO of John Hopkins University indicates that in the United States alone about 600,000 people have bypasses every year, and about 1.3 million people have angioplasties (at a total cost of about US$ 30 billion).

According to Dr Miller approximately 50 percent of the bypass grafts clog up in a few years, and the angioplasties in a few months! According to Dr Miller the way to decrease the number of patients returning for repeat surgery is a simple change to a healthier lifestyle, but as the numbers indicate that change is rare. “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle”, says Miller “and that has been studied over and over again. Even though they know they have a bad disease and they know they should change their lifestyle, for whatever reason, they don’t”. This is how Dr Peter Ubel put it in his book Free Market Madness. “I witnessed dozens of patients, their voice boxes removed because of throat cancer, who, despite having a chance of avoiding a cancer recurrence, still insisted on smoking through their tracheotomies.

This is a good time to introduce the word ‘Karma’. In Sanskrit, the word literally means “act, or action” but has the deeper meaning denoting the entire cycle of cause and effect. Put another way – are you planting any seeds right now you’d rather not see harvest? We must become very aware of the seeds we’re planting. And, of course, plant the seeds that we look forward to seeing blossom. The best way to understand and maximize the use of karmic law is to become consciously aware of the choices we make in every moment, those choices can be little lies that bloom into big problems.

What thought or habit pattern do you have in your life right now that you KNOW is not bearing the fruit you want to see?

Now is a good time to change it!

In his book “The Power of Intention” Dr. Wayne Dyer said “True nobility isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be.”

So what’s your answer – would you change? Do you have the willpower the determination to change something – then start now.

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I would recommend watching this Ted video from the 2009 meeting – my take on Virtue –

To be virtuous means to be perfectly rational and to know both how to act in private life and with respect to one’s friends, business associates, fellow citizens or countrymen, or indeed other members of the human race

In the latest release from TED2009, psychologist Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.

All Audit Committees, Board Members and Executives can learn from this truly inspiring talk at Ted:

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/462

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Every day I put an Executive Coach Tip of the Day on my Twitter feed. Here’s the list from last week:

  1. An authentic leader is consistent and not a sort of chameleon, changing colors for certain groups
  2. Realise there is never a Right Way to do a Wrong Thing.
  3. A leader is only as successful as their team, hinder their growth and you hinder your own.
  4. Behind every managerial decision or action are assumptions about human nature and human behavior.
  5. No leader achieves anything of true, lasting value alone. Therefore, building great teams ought to be your highest priority.

If you truly follow these practices I am sure you will start to see major changes and boost your potential. Follow me at Twitter.

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“Here is Edward Bear coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump on the back of his head behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming down stairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.” —A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Are you falling into passive mediocrity at work or in your life? I know this may sound simple but you need to stop and contemplate exactly what you want and make a plan so that you will no longer sleepwalk through your days.

IF YOU WANT SOMETHING, DO SOMETHING.

What humans have accomplished came as a result of identifying problems, finding solutions, discovering that those solutions created problems, and then finding ways to solve the new problems which boils down to creating a plan and taking action.

We know in our business processes that any potentially effective problem-solving process involves recognizing the problem, defining the outcome (goal), and planning what to do about it. For our own goals it is no different – It also requires that we develop an understanding of how we block ourselves from achieving our goals and how to get unblocked. It also includes the desire to change, getting involved in the process of change, and restrictions. In other words you stick to activities that lead to your goal. J. Paul Getty said: “The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him–and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires.”

Why is it then that so few set goals and maintain them (yet those few are the ones that achieve sustainable success). Much of it is because we allow day-to-day frustrations to rule our way of being. In Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver woke up one morning and found himself tied to the ground by thousands of small threads attached the night before by tiny people called Lilliputians. The story of Gulliver’s encounter with the Lilliputians suggests a universal human experience. Many of us at times feel like Gulliver— bound by restraints and frustrations. While no one “thread” can tie us down, collectively they can.

And while major life frustrations, such as the loss of a valued relationship, can prove especially frustrating, research has shown that the little frustrations of life, such as being stuck in traffic or missing the train, can accumulate and affect our physical as well as our emotional well-being.

Goals help you overcome these daily frustrations, they give structure and organized direction to your life. Just identifying two or three important results in the areas of your life you wish to accomplish provides you with a purpose and sense of direction.

Without purpose our minds are dulled by the ‘ordinariness’ of our days. A mind without inspiration or purpose falls into accepting a mediocre, unsatisfied life which is also one of the biggest contributors of frustration with yourself and those around you – are you really a good boss, partner, parent, friend when the little things frustrate you?

Achieving small steps in your purpose (or life goals) increases happiness, well being, satisfaction and self-confidence, which motivates you to do more and makes you more enjoyable to be around.

People are biologically hard-wired to feel happier when they recognize they have some sense of control and choice over their lives, which is what setting goals and taking action gives them. They change from feeling like victims of life’s circumstances, or at best passive bystanders, into someone who knows they can make a difference.

“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream; you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.” —Diana Ross

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