Spiritual Leaders Fight Against Intolerance

These days we cannot switch on the TV or web without having to confront intolerance. We see it internationally, nationally, and locally.

It even affects our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.

An Increasingly Intolerant World

We live in a world that is increasingly intolerant, one in which violence, untruthfulness, hate, mutual criticism abound, and people constantly and deliberately do hurtful things to others.

People’s approach to other is frequently one of:

  • Opposition
  • Confrontation
  • Rejection
  • Polarization
  • Widespread intolerance

People are paid lots of money to be intolerant, and they gather around them a large following of insecure people who delight to find their own intolerant attitudes supported by celebrities and leadership figures in politics or religion. These political, social, and religious “leaders” whip their followers into a frenzy over issues that are not central to their original vision, leading to catastrophes like ethnic cleansing, or even to the deliberate, destructive intention of labeling others to demean or destroy them.

People develop skills that foster intolerance, challenging people and especially leaders to be equally skilled in opposing it.

Ignorant and Uninterested

Intolerant people are generally uninformed or ignorant, either by force of circumstances or by a deliberate closed mindedness—a desire not to learn what other people think or feel. Their deafness to others’ views and their unwillingness to search for common ground give rise to hatred for anyone who thinks differently than themselves.

Closed mindedness atrophies thought, but since knowledge is the basis of love it also stunts any ability to grow in understanding and love. Closed mindedness is not a normal characteristic of human beings who innately search for meaning, understanding, and enlightenment.

But, people are trained and initiated into closed mindedness generally by social, political, educational, or religious figures.

Some local groups or entire nations are known for their open-mindedness, and others for their closed mindedness. However, intolerant behavior is now a serious cultural problem that demands the attention of spiritual leaders who should model and teach tolerance

Rejecting a Bigger Picture

Most people do not think they are intolerant. Rather, they have false justification for their behavior. Many think they are being principled, consider their views the only acceptable ones, and see any attempt to understand others as weakness. Our society is riddled with extreme fundamentalism in politics, choice of political parties, judicial practice, approaches to foreign policy, and all sorts of issues in religion.

Litmus tests are everywhere, and any divergence from the acceptable, myopic views is rejected, and those who hold different views are despised.

Some of the most complicated contemporary issues receive simplistic answers from people who will not or cannot think things through. Such people often act like bulldozers, flattening all other ideas in their path.

Rejecting Intolerant Behavior

People who seek spiritual depth in their leadership need to reject all forms of intolerant behavior. This will mean first and foremost accepting the need to constantly learn anew, to appreciate that some change and adaptability guarantees the genuineness of values we hold. Never to change means always to live in the past.

We must have exceptional listening skills to understand others’ words, their deeper yearnings, their struggles, and their hopes.

We will need to be people of genuine dialogue, even with others who lack such skills. We can read and study with the desire to be more informed. From time to time we should rethink our own views, either to conclude in reaffirming them or to change them when we notice a loss of focus.

So many drag along behind them ideas from the past, emphasize what dedication used to be two thousand years ago. Intolerant behavior that closes the door on new ways of thinking and doing leads to myopic approaches that quickly destroy society—civic and religious. Spiritual leaders must react to this and give birth to tolerant behavior in every aspect of an organization.

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——————–
Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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Articles of Faith: Strong and Courageous Leadership: The Joshua Effect

This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series
here. Published only on Sundays.

An ongoing misperception in leadership is that a strong leader is an authoritative one. For centuries, it was acceptable that a leader must take control of his team and environment with boldness and a dogged determination to get the job done.

In the generation of our parents and grandparents who grew up at a time in history when more than half the men were veterans, the culture was established that “subordinates” followed a chain of command.

That belief was bred in the generations after, and today we still find leaders who are commanding, controlling, and micromanagers.

Finding a Better Way to Lead

To understand a more effective way to lead, we can find one of the best examples in a warrior leader profiled in the Bible.

Joshua was given authority to succeed Moses as the shepherd who would usher the Israelites into Canaan. What made Joshua a successful leader is that he was able to take the helm without disrupting the original plan. Moses had started the journey and nearly completed it before his death.

But then Joshua was instructed by God to complete the trip. He was told three times by God to “Be strong and courageous” suggesting that his efforts would not be without danger and fear. Sometimes those who are given the opportunity to lead feel that the only way to get through the tough times of a mission is to lead by intimidation, threats, and punishment.

This never works. Those who do find that morale declines as does job performance. Joshua helps us to understand that having authority does not mean being authoritative.

On Real Trust

We find in Joshua 1:10 that he “ordered” the officers of the people to go through the camp and tell them to get ready to cross over the Jordan River and enter into hostile territory. He prepared the men to fight the enemies who would surely come against them as they entered in.

But Joshua reminded the people that he had assurances from God that they would have success. He trusted God. He just needed to get the people to trust him as the leader appointed by God on the heels of a phenomenal Sherpa like Moses. He pulled the teams together and encouraged them to support one another.

Then the most satisfying words that any leader could hear came from the people:

“Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses.”

Then just like God they encouraged him to be strong and courageous.

Winning Loyalty and Respect

How did Joshua win the loyalty and respect of this people?

He had three things working in his favor:

  1. The people knew he had been coached and mentored by an established and wise leader like Moses. He had learned from one greater than he, and he was open to correction and training.
  2. He exuded confidence but not cockiness. He was humble enough to know he would not be able to take the land on his own. He would need the help of his team.
  3. He delegated responsibility to the officers and allowed them to go through the camp and give orders to the people in preparation for the big move. He did so without interference. He trusted his people to do what he’d asked them to do, and then he stayed out of their way.

All leaders can learn from Joshua’s confident and inclusive manner of leadership. He was strong but not overbearing, courageous but not arrogant, focused but not inflexible. Inasmuch as he was all these things, he was also wildly successful and prosperous.

Follow his lead.

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———————
Betty Parker, CPLP

Betty Parker is President of Sharper Development Solutions, Inc.
Her daily goal is to turn Managers into Leaders through Training and Coaching.
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On Leadership and Reaching Beyond Wonder

Wonderment

Leadership is understanding the balance between the push for purpose and the need for action. Human beings are drawn to thoughts of what’s possible and what could be. We are built for a focus on a brighter future.

But a critical leadership skill is to the ability to link today’s actions to that possible future.

It’s an ongoing dance between helping people get excited about the wonderful future possibilities while not getting stuck in a “wonder” mode.

 Anchoring to the Future

Highly successful leaders are exemplary at creating a cultural anchor to aspirations for a better future. This is where the organization is successful as a result of a philosophy or guiding principle.  Successful leaders speak about it every chance they get.

Creating a culture where people are thinking about how to get things done through the lens of that philosophy is exemplified here:

  • Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes.” ~ Tony Hsieh
  • Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel.” ~ Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kellarher
  • “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” ~The first of Google’s “10 things” (that are the foundation of their culture)

What all of these statements/sentiments have in common is they are guiding principles or the guard rails of how decisions are made in these organizations.

  • Nothing is done at Zappos that would ever undermine the customer experience.
  • Southwest will seldom hire someone that is not fun or has a good sense of humor.
  • Google won’t tolerate people that don’t abide by their “10 things.”

Leaders in these many other organizations work very hard to speak about and act on these principles or “purpose.” Each of their actions emanate from them.

So why isn’t it easy just to say things like this and every company turn into Zappo’s?  Don’t most organizations have “guiding principles” or Mission Statements?  Why don’t people just get on board and make it happen?

Linking Actions to that Future

Many  leaders don’t take the next logical step.  They forget to create causal links between the future they’ve been sharing and the actions necessary to take to get there.

There is a a tendency to believe that people should just understand why an action, task, or project is necessary to get to that intended future.  But the truth is they do not.  If leaders don’t intentionally make that causal link, then people will make up their own meaning.  Usually this meaning is neither powerful nor is it attached to an intended future.

This can lead to outcomes that are not in line with that intended future:

  • Irate customers – My wife’s recent interaction with a car dealership while trying to get a refund. She dealt with the folks from the “back office” until she wrote a letter to the owner of the dealership and put something out on Yelp that she got no service.
  • Lost sales – Ron Johnson’s failed strategy at JC Penny. SO many employees didn’t know how to act or what they were to do differently in the new paradigm.
  • Bad publicity – As evidenced by the recent recorded call regarding a customer trying to cancel their Comcast account

The list is really endless.  But the bottom-line is that when people don’t know how their role, action, task or project fits into the bigger picture, they are left to wonder.  The result is almost never that good.

So…

So what can a leader do?

A simple and direct method is to make sure that every role, task, or project links directly to the future that the leader has envisioned.

If the leader’s vision of the organization is to revolutionize how people buy clothing products on the internet by delivering the best customer service, then each process that is developed needs to be in line with that intention.

A Great Example

For example, the new employee training must be grounded in delivering a unique and powerful customer experience.  This training should be so intense that at the end of it people are given the opportunity to leave the company with pay.

You can imagine that the conversation about developing that new employee training was something like this:

“We need to create an on boarding experience that ensures the people we hire understand that every action they take should be in support of the customer experience.  At the end they should be able to determine if they see themselves in that future.

As opposed to this:

“Okay, we need to create an on boarding program that gets people in and out in about a week.  It should teach them all our most important processes and make them aware of our employee code of conduct.”

Leaders must not only create the vision of the future, but tie everything back to it. Without anchoring and linking, leaders can leave people in a state of wonder.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

When people are left in a state of wonder they do things like this:

I was checking out at a big box store with my elderly Mom and some small kids in tow.  A pair of $8 shoes I was buying rang up for $10.

I questioned the clerk on the price.

She said “No they rang up for $10. You can go back there and check it yourself.”

I wasn’t about to do that, so I just settled up for the $10 and left the store frustrated at the experience. Grrrrrr… 

When I got home, I pulled the shoes out of the box and guess what. The actual price tag on the shoes said $8! I was right all along! Grrrrrr… 

The next day I went back to the customer service department for a refund and happened to be waited on by the same sales clerk that insisted the shoes cost $10.

When I showed her the price tag on the shoes she said, “That wasn’t my fault; it was the cash register. I can’t help you.”

Uuuuummmmmmm………

The moral of this story: Don’t leave your team in a state of wonder.

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———————
Anil Saxena

Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb | Blog | (847) 212-0701

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On Leadership, Feedback and the Fuel of Achievement

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

The experience of giving and receiving feedback at best is a wonderful and enlivening experience, and at its worst can de-motivate and drive wedges between managers and their reports.

As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said “People join companies but leave managers.

So is it the sole responsibility of managers to look after feedback? This theme invites you as a leader to take a more global view of feedback by fundamentally re-framing why it is needed, how it is done, what might be the overall benefits, consequences which can arise and what is everyone going to do about it?

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.” ~ Jack Canfield

Feedback Gone Wrong

A major Achilles heel of typical feedback is that it is only viewed as an interaction between a manager and an individual report or possibly a team. It’s often one-way traffic and an unpleasant experience for those receiving feedback. Reasons for this may arise from poor manager awareness, poor training, pressure, etc. but perhaps the most pernicious is patchiness in the quality and quantity of feedback.

Interpersonal feedback functions best as an integral component of an organisation’s overall multidimensional communications system. The intention is to establish an atmosphere where senior management elicits information, opinion and perceptions from their staff, acts on them and reports back on their actions.

6-Stage Process for Feedback

Jack Stahl’s (Revlon’s CEO) 6-stage process for feedback aligns organisational conversations and manager – report feedback.

 

  Individual & Organisational Feedback
Stage 1 Value the person/people
Stage 2 Identify personal/organisational challenges
Stage 3 Provide targeted meaningful feedback
Stage 4 Identify and agree areas for improvement/development
Stage 5 Identify and agree benefits and consequences of improvement options
Stage 6 Commit your support and reaffirm person/staffs effort and value

 

Feedback is generally most effective when considered as part of staff engagement efforts as described by Gruman and Sacs in their research published in Human Resource management Review.

Setting the Tone

It’s vital for leaders to set the tone by encouraging an overall culture of open information exchange to develop (supported by robust and accessible HR & IT systems) making it possible to:

  1. Provide safe environments to build trust based on knowledge and rapport.
  2. Exchange authentic criticism and affirmative feedback
  3. Establish a cultural norm based on accepted feedback behaviours.
  4. Create feedback based on personal and organisational accountability

Steve Jobs says it all in his interview on managing people and the Apple ideas-based ethos.

He said, ideas always beat hierarchy.”

Re-framing Our Perceptions

If we re-frame our perception of and intention for feedback to mean honest, authentic, empathic, creative, effective  and productive conversation across an entire organisation then great things will follow.

Your Actions Today

  • Does your organisation have a communication system aligned with interpersonal feedback practices?
  • Do your reports get to provide feedback on you do you listen and do you act on it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 most effective) do you know how effective your feedback to reports actually is?
  • Does your organisation act upon synthesised from all staff feedback?

Recommended Reading

Feedback Revolution: -From Water Cooler Conversations To Annual Reviews — HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK – Peter McLaughlin

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Articles of Faith: Leadership, Legacy and Grasping the Wind

Leadership Double Glasses
This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series
here. Published only on Sundays.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23, NLT

A month ago I finally began to appreciate this proverb. A month ago, I died and was rudely shocked back to the operating table by a wonderful team of well-meaning surgeons. How were they to know that I was thoroughly enjoying the total peace and joy of having truly let go?

Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless–like chasing the wind. NIV Ecclesiastes 4:4

It took a heart attack and an all too brief visit to heaven for me to accept that anything I have been doing on this earth is no more than a striving after the wind.

But surely that wasn’t me. I wasn’t doing what I do for my success because I was envious. Surely, I had much better motives than that?

Some Context…

I should back up a little and give you some context:

I am a leadership coach and mentor, and the marketplace is my ministry. My mission is to impact lives, to be a lighthouse for people struggling to find meaning and direction in their careers and help them get in balance and make headway towards their own purpose and mission in life.

I love helping people and I’ve been working hard these past few years to expand the business and grow such that I can impact more lives. And perhaps you are beginning to notice what happens as soon as I talk about this. It’s all about me, and it’s all about doing.

Feeding on the Myth of Better

As I reflect on the months leading up to my taste of mortality, I realize that I had been striving to achieve something worthwhile, and I had chosen to feed on the myth that I had to be better, to do more, to compete to win in this world. I had unwittingly re-joined the rate race. I was on the hamster wheel of life running to keep up and falling down exhausted.

In the months prior to my heart attack, my thought life had been quietly and insistently repeating: “What are you going to do? What are you going to do?” All because I wanted to get on with things and stop wasting time.

I may not have consciously been competing enviously with other, more successful, and more spiritual people in my line of work. Even so, I did want to be known for doing it better, if I am to be completely honest here.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. Proverbs 3:5  (AMP)

Learning to Let Go

When was I going to realize that I am simply not smart enough to run my own life, let alone build this business and ministry into something that, in all humility, is a worthwhile legacy?

Trusting God. So often this is a last resort: “Well there’s nothing more I can do, all I can do now is trust God.” Proverbs 3:5 does not say, “…with a little bit of your heart”, nor “…rely on some of your own insight and understanding.”

Am I utterly barmy?

[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. Jeremiah 17:7 AMP

I Want to Be a [Most] Blessed Man!

I’ll guess that you. Like me, have heard many wondrous testimonies of instant miracles, overnight turnarounds, miraculous healings and effortless overcoming of addictions. I love to hear them. And then my thinking starts to buzz inside like a mosquito in the bedroom: “Why God why? When God when?” Consciously, I chastise myself for such unchristian thoughts and repeat Proverbs 3:5 until I drown out that mosquito. Only for it to come back a little later just as I let my guard down.

If I can’t ‘guard’ my heart, perhaps I can ‘let not it be troubled’?

Jesus left me His peace (John 14: 27) and thus enabled me to “let not” my heart be troubled, nor be afraid. However, I still struggle to get comfortable not knowing when, why or where and just trusting God.

On REALLY Letting Go

It’s easy to tell someone to “let go.” I’ve shared this “wisdom” with many. But then I started to wonder how we actually can let go.

Before they shocked me back to the operating table, for a short while, I felt that peace and joy of having chosen to finally, and completely, let go. Oh, I cannot begin to describe how good it felt. For now though, it seems I am not finished here yet.

I didn’t struggle to completely trust the surgeons and staff at the hospital… Perfect strangers. I had no qualms about letting them be utterly in charge. Yet, in spite of the overwhelming evidence in my own life that He is always there, I keep taking the reins of control back from God.

I know Jesus will never leave me, nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). I know that when I keep my eyes on Him, everything works out for good (Romans 8:28). And then just like Peter (Matthew 14:29-30), I get distracted by the circumstances around me.

Distraction is a jealous seductress. It lures me away from my peace and sabotages my joy in rest.

Let Go, Let God

It is time to throw my own retirement party and let God.

Striving after the wind is all vanity. I will still strive. I will strive to enter that rest and not fall into the same disobedience as those in the wilderness by trusting in myself (Hebrews 4:11). I shall get comfortable not knowing what or how or where or when or why and trust Him. Pray for me.

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——————–
John Kenworthy

Dr John Kenworthy is Chief Success Officer at AdvantEdge
He serves clients with his Potential to Performance Success System
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

 

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On Leadership, Anxiety and Stressful Decisions

Making Tough Decisions

So as a leader, do you feel like you are forced to make decisions much quicker and under more stress than you would like? Are you finding yourself in an anxious state when decision-time is near? And how do these decisions work out for you and your team?

Chances are that making great decisions while you are feeling anxious and stressed just might surprise you…

On Making Decisions

There is no escaping it: we all have to make decisions:

  • Some will be small and inconsequential whilst others will change the course of world history.
  • Some we can mull over and others must be instant; we may not get a choice.
  • The one thing we hope for is freedom to make decisions objectively based on best information and in a calm frame of mind.

But most often life is just not like this. We are faced with rapidly changing, high stakes emotionally charged decisions that fuel anxiety and over time cause emotional and physical stress.

Wouldn’t it be great to sit back let the anxiety subside and then decide? If you were a field commander faced with the possibility of being overrun by the enemy YOU DON’T HAVE TIME – DECIDE NOW!

“Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety. ~Rose Kennedy

On Anxious Decisions

There is a strange but eventually understandable phenomenon where anxious decision makers are more likely to seek external advice, are less able to discern good from bad advice and will accept advice even from people with conflicts of interest. The greater the intensity of anxiety and stress the more driven to habitual and external advice we become.

Maturity is achieved when a person accepts life as full of tension.”  Joshua L. Liebman

Re-framing anxiety can free us from seeking questionable advice and making inappropriate habit-based decisions. Fear drives anxiety and when we misunderstand the physical sensations triggered by fear, excitement, uncertainty, time pressure and importance we view the decision from a skewed perspective.

On Living In Reverse

Well, the good news arising from the basic research of Soares and colleagues is that “Stress-induced changes in human decision-making are reversible.

For those of you with a neuroscience inclination the author’s general conclusion can be interpreted as “chronic stress biases decision-making strategies in humans toward habits, as choices of stressed subjects become insensitive to changes in outcome value“.

Using functional brain imaging techniques, they demonstrate prolonged exposure to stress in humans causes an imbalanced activation of specific brain networks governing decision processes.

Importantly and reassuringly, a longitudinal assessment of the stressed individuals showed that both the structural and functional changes triggered by stress are reversible and that decisions become again goal-directed once the stress is removed.

Stress As An Option

I can hear you saying something along the lines of, “but the stress never goes.” This may be true, but you can alter the way you perceive the stressors and adopt mitigating measures such as mindfulness meditation, yoga or tai Chi to offset the downsides of pressure and stress. All of these practices have been proven to reduce physical symptoms of stress.

Stress is an ignorant state.  It believes that everything is an emergency.”  Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

Q: How can you re-frame your perception of anxiety generating situations? Let’s assume you can’t simply sit waiting for anxiety to subside or rely on advice or look for perfect solutions?

A: Don’t wait until you’re faced with high stakes instant decisions.

  • Start small and become accustomed to physically and emotionally sensing anxiety associated with small low impact decisions.
  • Appreciate the small buzzes you get next time you have to select from a complex menu, or your partner asks for a decision on which dress or suit they should buy. This is what I call “decision-making homeopathy.”

It gets you comfortable with the physical and mental sensations of anxiety. Then later up the stakes by taking notice of your reaction to decision-making in increasingly stressful situations until you know you can make decisions under heavy incoming fire.

Your objective isn’t to squash anxiety but to function effectively alongside it, doing what must be done.

If you don’t believe me then take a short while to watch Kelly McGonigal’s fantastic TED talkHow to make stress your friend” where she shows you that stress can actually protect you and help you live longer; it’s just how you view stress that matters.

Your Actions Today

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 rate your anxiety prior to, during and after today’s decisions?
  • Whose advice did you seek for today’s decisions?
  • Did this advice alter your decision?
  • How anxious do you feel others are when they make decisions (scale of 1 to 10)?
  • Did they seek you advice?
  • Did your advice bias their decision in your favour?
  • Did you make decisions based on habit or adaptation to new circumstance?

Recommended Reading

Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan by Francesca Gino

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

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On Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Low EQ Dunce

4 Eye-Openers Leaders Must Know in Evaluating Emotional Intelligence

The commercials on television today talk endlessly about treatments for “low this” and “low that,” but unfortunately, we don’t hear much about low Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Here are some symptoms:

  • You know that you are brilliant, yet you find yourself reacting with impatience and anger with others who just don’t get it.
  • You have noticed that others don’t seem to get your humor, or your jokes, or don’t seem so interested in your great stories.
  • Maybe your feedback to a teammate failed to come across the way you had intended.

Low EQ

If as a leader at work, at home or in your community you have any of these symptoms, you’re possibly suffering from low Emotional Intelligence.

For most people, EQ limits a person’s career and influence more than IQ. So what are we talking about here? What indicates good emotional intelligence? It’s really about being aware of and responding effectively to emotions—our own and those of others.

In many ways, good EQ is similar to the common courtesies that were emphasized more in previous generations. After all, the old saw about “counting to ten” when we felt anger was about as scientific as you can get.

We now know that the emotional part of the brain (the Amygdala – /əˈmigdələ/) reacts four times faster than our cognitive quarterback in the pre-frontal cortex. In simpler terms, learning to slow down our response to emotional situations can keep us out of trouble.

Using Your Brain

The Amygdala is part of the limbic system and is the source of our natural protective response for flight or fight. For many who train regularly for combat – military, law enforcement, athletes—tapping into this source of high energy for a crisis response helps performance.

But away from the job, that same response can get you in trouble—hence the term “Amygdala Hijack.” But to some degree, all of us use and misuse this natural instinct to fight or flee—to dominate or withdraw.

So, the key to good emotional intelligence is awareness. Until we become aware of our emotions and predict where they will take us, we’re clueless as to how to manage them; and that’s what we really want to do. Likewise, an awareness of the emotions of others helps us manage our response to facilitate the most effective interaction.

Two Tests and Four Steps

Like the nourishment of vitamins in our bodies, let’s digest the following four steps of emotional intelligence to get healthier as a leader –

1. Recognize your own emotions.

Awareness usually requires practice. For example, you are in a meeting and Bob says something that you know is absolutely wrong.

“How could anyone be that stupid,” you think.

Your first instinct is to call him out and show him how wrong he is. But you’ve been down that road before and know that will only embarrass Bob and ultimately make you look small. Besides, you may not even know all the facts that are behind his opinion.

Fortunately, you recognize that you’re angry and you’ve learned to coach yourself to hold back on your response. You slow it down and engage your cognitive quarterback to come up with a plan B.

2. Manage your emotions.

You’re a quick thinker and now your mind is running through options for an effective way of responding. Your goal is to respond with honor and respect because that’s one of your personal values. You remind yourself that Bob is a bright guy, too. Also, you’ve heard from your leadership coach that listening is a really good tool.

One option you remember that might work is to say something like, “Gee Bob, I had not thought of it like that before. Can you explain the logic of how that would work?”

Of course, tone of voice and body language are very important to pulling this off because they are two of your strongest communicators of emotions. Once Bob gives his explanation, more than likely you will see that he’s not stupid at all—just operating with a different perspective. But in any case, you’ve managed your emotions and maintained your decorum—signs of a good EQ.

3. Recognize the emotions of others.

On the way back from the conference room, you run into Jane, one of your peers, who seems a bit down and overwhelmed. You’re depending on her to deliver the data that you need for the next step of your project and the deadline is tomorrow.

Your immediate fear is that it’s not going to happen. Now that you’ve been working to raise your EQ, you mentally push back on your fear and consider what your teammate is up against and how her confidence and energy are sagging.

It doesn’t take an EQ genius to realize that putting a guilt trip on her is probably not a good idea, but what can you do?

4. Respond appropriately/effectively to the emotions of others.

Because you’re not fear-motivated, you focus on encouraging Jane. After all, she does good work and what she needs right now is an emotional boost. So you choose to show her some empathy and encouragement, telling her that you understand things are difficult right now and asking if there are ways that you and your team can help.

You also offer to listen to her challenges and brainstorm with her on solutions. (By the way, this is one of the most helpful things you can do for an extrovert; they unusually need to talk to think effectively.) You close out by reminding her that she is a great teammate and that you have confidence in her judgment.

The Silent Strength of EQ

Having good EQ may sound somewhat soft, but it’s actually very powerful because it’s about being the most effective we can be. It begins with awareness—we can’t manage what we don’t recognize—and then it’s about managing our own emotions and our response to others.

In the simplest terms, it’s about reading the situation and then acting in the most effective manner. It does get easier with practice, and it makes you the kind of leader that others want to follow. Try it and see for yourself.

“Good leaders know who they are—their strengths, weaknesses, passions, talents, and values. And, developing leaders always starts with self-awareness.” – Lee Ellis

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——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: venturebeat.files.wordpress.com

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