Emotional Intelligence

September 25, 2018

Are you really coaching your employees?

Famed NFL coach Tom Landry said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.”

coaching word cloudLandry’s words apply in every coaching situation, from coaching football players, rising executives, or the employee on the front line. It’s all about how the coach approaches the coachee.

In his book, Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman identifies six leadership styles that he categorizes as resonant and dissonant styles. In other words, six styles that either “prime good feelings in those we lead” or they don’t.  One of the four resonant leadership styles is coaching.

We use coaching in the workplace to develop employees as well as to address performance problems. When we coach, we

  • help employees identify strengths and weaknesses to determine what to develop.
  • encourage them to work towards long term self-development goals
  • provide assignments that stretch their abilities.

I have been fortunate in my career to have had a couple of managers (Deborah and Hunter) who did a great job at coaching me to stretch myself, to do more, to be more. When I think back on what made them so good at coaching, three things come to mind right away.

Coaching tip: Build Trust

First, I trusted them.  Both earned my trust by showing me that they cared about me both professionally and personally.  I could talk with them about anything and know that they would hold what I shared with them in absolute confidence.

Coaching tip: Ask Questions

One mistake that managers make when they think they are coaching is that they simply tell the employee what to do. Real coaches ask questions.  The two managers who effectively coached me did so by asking me questions, such as:

  • “What did I think about XXXXX.”
  • “How did I think I could best achieve YYYYY.”
  • “What roadblocks do you see?”

Coaching tip: Provide Feedback

Lastly, Deborah and Hunter provided ongoing feedback. With these two, performance review time never held any surprises. If there were issues, they gave me feedback at the time the issue arose.  If there were opportunities for growth or improvement, they were giving me that feedback in the moment.  And their feedback was always specific, always included examples, and always helped me grow.

Coaching is a powerful tool for performance development. Every manager needs to have this skill as a tool in their toolkit.  That’s why we coach managers individually and also train managers and leaders on how to use this tool more effectively.  If we can help you or someone on your team, contact us.

August 6, 2018

Do you know your leadership style?

When you search the phrase “leadership styles” on the Internet, you get a lot of hits.  There is a lot of information on what that means, how many there are, and which are the best.  There are suggestions on how to determine your style.  But do you really have a leadership style? Do you really only lead one way?

How we lead is one of the topics we cover in our Rising Stars Women’s Leadership Boot Camp.  Too often, in thinking what it means to be a leader, we look at leaders we admire and try to emulate them. At Ignite Succeed, we don’t really buy into that.  Let me explain why.

Emulating leadership styles

Let’s say that in choosing who I want to lead like, I look to the past and choose Abraham Lincoln or Queen Victoria.  Or I choose someone more current day, like Angela Merkel or Colin Powell. Each of these leaders (and many others I could have chosen) have individual strengths and skills that make them strong leaders. But the thing is, those were their strengths and skills, developed in their culture through their experiences. The strengths and skills work for each of them based on their individual personalities, beliefs, and values.

I didn’t grow up during the American Civil War or in 19th century England.  I didn’t grow up as a German woman or as a black man. My life experiences and opportunities, my culture and challenges, are vastly different from those leaders, just as your experiences, opportunities, challenges, and culture are different from mine. Does that mean that we can’t learn from history? We absolutely can.  But we must  always put things in a personal context. We need to look at how we lead based on our individual strengths, skills, experiences, values, goals, and intentions.

Leadership and emotional intelligence

To individualize leadership styles, we use the framework that emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman has outlined in his book Primal Leadership. Goleman defines six styles of leadership based on 25 emotional intelligence characteristics.  These six styles create a leadership toolkit from which leaders choose depending on what they are trying to achieve.  For example, if a leader needs to rally a team to make a big change, the leader needs to inspire the team to follow, to achieve, to rally round.  Goleman identifies that as a Visionary leadership style.  He outlines five specific emotional intelligence skills required to use that style effectively: inspiration, self-awareness, self-confidence, empathy, and transparency.

Goleman’s six leadership styles — visionary, democratic, coaching, affiliative, pace-setting, and commanding — are divided into resonant and dissonant styles.  The four resonant styles (visionary, democratic, coaching, affiliative) are ones that employees feel positive about, they resonant with them.  The two dissonant styles (pace setting and commanding) can have a negative impact on employees, that is, cause dissonance, if they are used improperly. Pace setting, for example, is used to drive a well-developed team toward a short-term goal. It should only be used for short durations or you risk burning employees out.

How leadership styles can fail

I remember working for a pace-setting boss.  It was the go-to style in his limited toolkit. There were never any down times. Everything required working at a frenetic pace, and everyone stayed at a virtual point of exhaustion.  I didn’t stay in that job too long because I didn’t want to live my life at that pace. That leader was missing some of the key characteristics of the pace-setting style: empathy, collaboration, and communication. Don’t get me wrong. I am goal driven, an achiever, and like to excel.  But I also want the opportunity to learn new things, stretch my skills, and have new experiences.  It’s hard for those things to happen under a pace-setting leader.

Understanding when to use each of these leadership styles, and even more, knowing which of them come naturally to you and which don’t, is a great way to strengthen yourself as a leader. For the styles that don’t come naturally to you, you can work to develop the underlying emotional intelligence competencies that will enable you to use that style effectively.

This is an important piece of our boot camp and of our manager training workshops. We love watching the lights go on in people’s eyes as they begin to understand where they are and where they want to go as leaders. Reach out to us if type of information would make you or your employees stronger.  We have a boot camp in September, or we can bring this training to you.

February 8, 2017

Fear and Intuition

Those are two emotions every leader faces. You KNOW in your gut what you should do, say, or act upon in a particular situation. But the FEAR creeps in –

  • I can’t do that
  • we can’t close the line down to fix that
  • upper management won’t agree

Can you even imagine what Christopher Columbus experienced when he decided to set sail around the world?

He was being told the earth was flat and he would fall off the edge. That is real FEAR! But his intuition was telling him something else – there was a world out there waiting to be discovered. As a leader, I’m sure he had to get his followers in a positive state of mind to get on the three ships!

So how do you use intuition as a tool to be a good leader? According to experts on decision making here are seven things to do:

  1. Listen better – ensures you get more of the situational information you need
  2. Reflect on a decision before implementing – look for “unintended consequences”
  3. Examine your beliefs – are they congruent?
  4. Communicate – explain the reasoning behind your intuition
  5. Learn to recognize and interpret your emotions
  6. Create the right learning environment – intuitive decision making gets better with practice. You and your team will progressively make better intuitive decisions
  7. Use situational assessments and case studies – understanding previous outcomes or patterns help improve the intuitive decision making process.
October 4, 2016

Whose shoes are you walking in today?

A tip for Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month

Warning.  I am going to make a Star Trek reference.

Man putting on woman's red shoe

Commander Deanna Troi was the counselor  for the Federation starship Enterprise (Star Trek: The Next Generation). What made her so good at that job was that she was an empath by birth.  Because she could actually sense the emotions of everyone on board, she could, in effect, see through their eyes and walk in their shoes.

Here on planet Earth, what good is having strong levels of empathy?  Let’s clarify exactly what empathy is. In the context of emotional intelligence, empathy is “your ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people.” How does that help you in the workplace?

Empathy enhances your ability to:

  • Communicate with people more effectively according to their emotional cues
  • Promote collaboration in the workplace by seeing situations from co-workers’ viewpoints
  • Anticipate the emotional response of coworkers in stressful situations
  • Create strong and lasting relationships.

Build Your Empathy

But what if you have low levels of empathy?  Following are five things you can do to build your empathy:

  1. Attempt to see things from others’ perspectives before responding to your peers at work or family members.
  2. Observe nonverbal behavior to evaluate the negative or positive emotions of others.
  3. Develop stronger active listening skills, allowing others to finish their thoughts and then ask questions versus making statements.
  4. Consider how others will feel as a consequence of your actions or statements. Not only what you say, but how you say it.
  5. Be genuine about expressing gratitude toward others.

Because ~90% of everything is communication, we call all become more effective at work and at home by considering others’ viewpoints and attempting to walk in their shoes.

September 9, 2016

Self-reflection: A high performance skill

A tip for International Self-Awareness Month 

More than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greeks urged us to “know thyself.” Plato, Socrates, and many learned men who followed have written about the importance of spending time in self-reflection. They all recognized that self-reflection was key to self-awareness and self-awareness is key to being a strong, valuable contributor to society.ego man reflection in mirror on a white background

Today’s world is vastly different from the world of the ancient Greeks.  With our constant connection to the workplace, the demands for social media participation, and even the 24/7 news cycle, little time is left to consider the “why” questions that those ancient intellectuals pondered so deeply.

High performers are self-reflective

High performers make time to ask “why.” They hold up a mirror to see why both mistakes and successes happened. They set aside quiet time for meditation or to write in a journal or seek feedback from friends and colleagues. And they use the information they gather from this self-reflection to make changes and improvements that propel them forward.

High-performing managers and leaders encourage their team members to spend time in self-reflection, gathering “lessons learned” and developing best practices.  For high performers, self-reflection is a standard part of the process, never an afterthought.

So how about you? Do you schedule time for self-reflection? Does your daily routine include tools to build your self-awareness and strengthen your emotional intelligence?  No? There’s no time like the present to get started.

August 18, 2016

Habits and emotional intelligence

How do you rate?

Are the habits that underpin your management style supporting your goals and your team’s level of productivityOld Habits - New Habits signpost in a desert road background

A new Fast Company article looks at the habits of champions, with a nod, of course, to the 2016 Olympics.  The article calls out six habits that will benefit all managers. All six require strong levels of emotional intelligence:

  1. Picture yourself winning
  2. Always strive for improvement
  3. Stay focused and positive
  4. Do what you love
  5. Learn from setbacks
  6. Push through rough patches

The Tie to EI

You need strong levels of self-awareness, self-control, and self-motivation, three of the five aspects of emotional intelligenceto successfully develop these six habits. If you have low levels of these personal competencies, you will struggle with one or more of these, and in turn, your team will struggle.

If your level of self-awareness allows you to paint that picture of success (or winning) and role-model getting through tough times and learning the necessary lessons when tough times occur or setbacks hit you, your team will benefit. Employee retention and employee engagement will be strong.  If you lose your focus and positivity because your self-control or self-motivation is low, that will cascade negatively throughout your team and could result in high levels of employee turnover if, as a leader, you are doing what you love, the passion you feel will flow up and down your organization and strengthen employee engagement.

August 3, 2016

Do You Multitask?

As women, we are all going to say a big resounding YES! We all may think this is a good thing – we get more done when we multitask, right? The answer is really NO!

Many studies have been done recently on multitasking and the research has determined that we are just “switch-tasking” – going between tasks. It usually slows us down AND we make more mistakes.

There is actually a stop/start process in the brain that wears us down.multi-Tasking

Multitasking is one of the no-no’s of time management. We will be more efficient if we focus on one thing at a time —- 20% to 40% more efficient — according to research. t is more efficient to do things in batches – pay bills, answer emails, make phone calls, etc. When you multitask, you never get “in the zone” for the task at hand.

According to “12 Reasons to Stop Multitasking Now”, some main reasons to stop:

  • You’re missing out on life.  When you are doing 2 things at once, you miss obvious things right in front of you
  • Your memory may suffer – people in their 60s to 80s will have a tougher time than people in their 20s and 30s
  • Productivity experts suggest handling things once – multitasking makes this virtually impossible

So next time you think you are multitasking, stop and become aware that you are switch-tasking. Then give yourself a time limit. See if you complete your task in less time. Bet you surprise yourself in how fast you get things done!

May 25, 2016

The “Ins” and “Outs” of Motivation

twins on trampoline1What if we could still be like these two tiny terrors on the trampoline?  Bouncing through life, motivated by the moment and by the possibility of what’s next.  As adults, motivation works a little differently than it did when we were children.

Sources of Motivation

We all have two sources of motivation — internal (intrinsic) and external (extrinsic).  Internal motivation, or self-motivation, is a part of our emotional intelligence. It is what drives us to excel, to meet and overcome challenges, to get up in the morning when things are less than rosy. It is part of the interpersonal continuum of EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation.  The good news about EI is that we can improve it. Low self-motivation can be strengthened.

External Motivation

Then we have external motivation.  I will tell you that the two girls bouncing on the trampoline are motivated by cookies, Barbies, and playing outdoors.  That’s what they value, what motivates them.

In adulthood, we have refined our values a bit. Wherever you are in your life, either just starting out, or at the end of your career, the things that motivate you most strongly are the result of your life’s experiences.

Our external motivators, our carrots and sticks if you will, are the things that drive all of our decisions — from the kind of car you drive, to who you choose as a significant other, to the music you listen to and the books you read. Generally speaking, we don’t change these at will. You can’t go to a self-help book and learn how to have different motivators.

Using Motivation

What you can do, though, is understand what yours are. And you can learn what motivates the people you work with and live with.  In doing that, you can speak to others in terms of what they value.  You can even teach yourself not to roll your eyes when someone is talking about things that are total “de-motivators” for you.

Great managers have learned this. They know that motivation is unique to each individual employee.  They understand that not everyone is motivated by the next raise.

When you look at your team, your family, your friends, do you understand what they value? What motivates them?

May 25, 2016

I Feel You! Empathy as a management skill

Are you familiar with the old saying about the value of walking in someone else’s shoes?  When we think about the five traits of great managers, empathy is a key component of at least two of them. It is at the heart of building trust and of motivating with employees.empathy

Among the competencies of empathy that Daniel Goleman (the emotional intelligence guru I often reference) talks about are the abilities to understand and develop others and political awareness. These address both individual and group situations.

Build Trust

As a manager, one way to build trust is by recognizing what is going on with each of your employees from day to day, whether they are experiencing tumult, are in a place of satisfaction, or feeling unchallenged by the status quo. Empathy enables you to know when to offer employees stretch tasks and to recognize the most effective time to make course corrections

This level of “being in tune” creates that feeling that you really do “care” about your employees, and their level of trust increases. They become more engaged.

Your level of political awareness can be trust-building as well. Political awareness in this sense is about your ability to “read the room,” to recognize the flow of emotions in a group, and to act on them appropriately.  Political awareness allows you to more strongly advocate for your employees.  You will recognize when the moods of those in decision-making groups are more in the space you need them to be to reach the decision(s) you want them to reach.

So, how is your level of empathy?  The good news is it isn’t set in stone. If you are feeling low on the empathy scale, you can improve it with a little bit of effort.


November 10, 2015

7 “Be’s” to Build Your Social Skills and Create Stronger Relationships

[Part 6 of a 6-part series]

Social skills are the final aspect of emotional intelligence (EI). We’ve worked through self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy, leading up to this aspect of building strong relationships with emotionally intelligent social skills.

image from TTI Success Insights

image from TTI Success Insights

Like empathy, social skills govern what goes on between you and other people. Think of social skills as your “proficiency in managing relationships and building networks. Thomas Hatch and Howard Gardner identified four separate abilities as part of interpersonal intelligence. Those are:

  1. Organizing groups (a strength of leaders)
  2. Negotiating solutions (a strength of mediators)
  3. Personal connection (a strength of team players)
  4. Social analysis (a strength of therapists, counselors, etc.)

Individuals who are strong in all of these skills smoothly connect and build relations.

To help you build your own skills, following are seven “be’s” that will strengthen your people-connecting and relationship-building skills.

  1. Be accountable. When you create a miscommunication or a negative interaction, take accountability quickly, and then look for ways to make amends.
  2. Be curious. Find an area of common ground to discuss by asking questions about the other person.
  3. Be empathetic. Notice when emotions are taking over an interaction. Look for ways to improve the emotional tone of the situation.
  4. Be other-focused. Appeal to the uniqueness of the other person and show a genuine curiosity for their well-being.
  5. Be present. Maintain eye contact and show interest in what others are saying.
  6. Be proactive. Join a professional association or special interest group to practice connecting and communicating with others.
  7. Be self-aware. Know what message(s) your body language is communicating.

Now that we’ve looked at both dimensions of emotional intelligence – intrapersonal (self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation) and interpersonal (empathy and social skills) – you can begin to identify where you need to build your skills. If you would like to find out your actual emotional quotient, email me to set up an online assessment.

(Return to Part 5: Five Empathy-Enhancing Tips to Strengthen Your Team)

(Begin at Part 1: The ABCs of Emotional Intelligence: Your EQ)

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