Avoiding Emotional Pitfalls at Work

pitfall_guyFrequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Do you agree? Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below.

  • Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.
  • Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

Pitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.

trap-jump-pitfall

  • Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.
  • Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.

people-puzzle

  • Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.
  • Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.
  • Pitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.
  • Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. People can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

angry-redhoop

  • Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.
  • Better EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.

Manage Your Resilience Meter: Your Guide to Positivity, Productivity and Well-Being

resilience_meterppt_rev2Managing resilience in today’s fast paced world of high expectations is tough.  Change and challenge are often the norm whether it comes from a new program being unveiled, a complete reshuffle due to a merger or parents moving into a care facility.  Too often the challenges become just too much and frequently trigger inflexibility, feelings of overwhelm and loss of composure.

You can build your capabilities so challenging times don’t take you out.  Watch your resilience meter grow to full potential! Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills are fundamental to managing these stress points and maintaining health and well-being.  Six EI skills are pivotal to building your reservoir of emotional reserves: emotional self-awareness, self-regard, impulse control, stress tolerance, optimism, and flexibility.  A healthy use of these skills will build your positivity and create the leverage to promote success at the workplace and personally.

Resilience is of growing interest as researchers demonstrate its influence on physical and mental health, well-being, the aging process and overall quality of life.  Additionally there is growing recognition of the benefits to teams and workplace productivity with a resilient workforce.  There is also a connection with the willingness to take on risks and to explore creative options. If we feel more positive about ourselves and life, we have the energy to experiment.

You have many strategies available to help expand your resilience.  This article will provide tips and strategies as well as review some of the key recognitions about resilience and its connection with positivity.  The root for the word “resilience” is “resile,” which means “to bounce or spring back.” Thus a key part of the definition of resilience is to bounce back.  The definition has expanded to include the ability to contain challenges and to develop reserves that can be tapped into when one is faced with environmental pressures and demands.  When we speak of resilience, we are referring to the ability to keep things in perspective so that many potential challenges are simply taken in stride.  When a large challenge surfaces, there is likely to be stress, but the reserve strength built with resilience allows us to contain the issue rather than going down a negative and downward spiral that starts feeding itself.

Assets and resources within us, our lives and our environment facilitate the capacity for adapting and bouncing back when there is adversity.  Our resilience is likely to ebb and flow not only across our lifetime but even across the day or week if there is a lot going on.  Yet, the more habits we have developed to build and maintain our positivity, the less we will give in to negative emotions and the more we will intentionally seek positive emotions that will enhance our capacities.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity, Crown Publishing, (2009) and Love 2.0, Hudson St. Press, (2013), has provided a great deal to help us understand the field of positivity, which is closely related to resilience.  Should you be working as a coach or team facilitator it’s likely you’ll use the two concepts interchangeably.  As a lead scientist in the field of positivity, Fredrickson demonstrates through her research and that of colleagues that living with a high level of positivity has measurably positive results.

Benefits of Positivity / Resilience

•    Psychological benefits include being more optimistic, more open minded and more willing to check out possibilities.  First, being positive feels good!  Being open minded is critical to noticing and considering multiple options to a challenge.  It means that money, resources, or possibilities aren’t left on the table because our vision is too narrow to see them.  Negativity constricts our thinking and our vision.  It’s costly!
•    Mental benefits include expanding awareness and mindfulness.  It opens our thinking capacity to new possibilities. With positivity we can be better at savoring what works instead of being focused on what doesn’t.  Right away you can see the difference in your stress levels and the toll taken when you are focusing on the positive compared to the negative.

•    Social benefits pay out at the individual, team and workplace levels.  With positivity we have more resilience. Emotions are contagious, thus sharing positive emotions and actions creates an upward spiral of expanding relationships, which then creates reserves for getting through hard times and conflict together.  Resilience is indispensable if collaboration is truly going to occur. There is also interesting research showing that when we approach people with an emphasis on positive engagement racial bias is reduced or disappears.  Positivity, p. 67-68. That has amazing potential!
•    Physical benefits include a higher quality of life and a longer one.  As Barbara Fredrickson writes “positivity is now linked to solid and objective biological markers of health.  For instance, people’s positivity predicts lower levels of stress-related hormones and higher levels of growth related and bond related hormones. Positivity also sends out more dopamine and opioids, enhances immune system functioning and diminishes inflammatory responses to stress.  With positivity you are literally steeped in a different biochemical stew.”  Positivity, pp. 93-94. Thus positivity results in lower blood pressure, less pain, fewer colds and better sleep.  Rest assured for this and the many other health benefits she cites, she backs her assertions up with research citations.  There is even research showing the power of hugs, wonderful, feel-good, authentically caring touch.  Now we knew that, didn’t we!
Three studies reported in a 2006 article on resilience and positivity later in life found that daily positive emotions serve to moderate stress reactivity and mediate stress recovery. They found that differences in psychological resilience accounted for meaningful variation in daily emotional responses to stress. Higher resilience predicted that negative emotions wouldn’t be as impactful, particularly on days characterized by heightened stress. Additionally they found that the experience of positive emotions functions to assist high-resilient individuals in their ability to recover effectively from daily stress. “Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life.” By Ong, Anthony D.; Bergeman, C. S.; Bisconti, Toni L.; Wallace, Kimberly A. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 91(4), Oct 2006, 730-749.

Tips and Strategies
Use your emotional intelligence to grow your positivity and be more resilient.  This is an internal strength so the key skills to grow, which are found in the EQi 2.0 are: self-regard, emotional self-awareness, stress tolerance, flexibility, impulse control and optimism.  The key team competencies focused on in the TESI are Positive Mood and Stress Tolerance.

You can expand your individual resilience by:
•    Redefining productivity from working on emails to getting with someone
•    Prioritize meditation, fun and family
•    Recognize that you are a part of something bigger than yourself
•    Embrace your bigger YES!
•    Develop your 2% Solution as I describe in my book, Life’s 2% Solution.

Team resilience can be expanded by:
•    Recognize that positivity and trust go hand in hand because positivity supports deepening relationships.  Develop positivity deliberately.
•    Social connections are at the heart of team success so take time for building connections – and emphasize it even more if you have a virtual team.  Do something fun together, have a pot luck lunch, and start meetings with going around the team and asking everyone to comment on something particularly interesting or important to them.
•    Our sense of connection drives our willingness to be helpful.  This is the heart of collaboration.  Create connections, have team members work in small groups and then take time to reflect on the experience.  Build awareness of the interpersonal connections as well as of the objective details of the project.

Avoid Emotional Intelligence Pitfalls at Work

pitfall_guyFrequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Do you agree? Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below. Listen to our recent webinar on these pitfalls and then let us know your thoughts and additional pitfalls you see on our blog

Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.

Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

Pitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.
Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.

Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.
Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.

Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.

Pitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.

Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. As we described in an earlier article, people can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.

Better EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.

How’s Your Resilience Meter?

resilience_meterGive yourself one of the best gifts available – expand your resilience. Sustainable behavior change is a lifestyle change, not a whim. That’s very much the truth for expanding your resilience. Scientist and leading scholar in the field of positive psychology, Barbara Fredrickson reports that in their entire research program in resilience they found that the key active ingredient supporting those with higher resilience is positivity, which includes openness and a better ability to keep things in perspective and see the bigger picture.

A frequent challenge raised by our coaching clients relates to managing their resilience. They may talk about putting up with one challenge after another as a new program is being unveiled until they finally lose their composure. Or the challenge may be significant personal issues that are taking so much of their energy and drawing upon their flexibility dramatically that when one more thing happens – at work, at home or anywhere they become unusually inflexible, emotional or just walk away leaving things unresolved.

Stephan (not his real name) is a good example. Most of the time, things are fine; he can manage work and personal demands. He has a good education, a reliable job with mid-management responsibilities, and a loving family. Just like happens to most of us, each of these good parts have challenges. His parents are in their 80’s and require a lot of attention. Recently his dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and his mom has arthritis to the point she can’t take care of him. His teenage children need a great deal of time from both he and his wife. It’s hard, yet he keeps telling himself that in a few years it’ll be easier. For now Stephan is committed to giving his all to helping his parents, his kids, serving at his church and then there’s his job. His position has a lot of stress with it and most weeks require 45 to 50 hours of work plus his commute. Usually he juggles everything well enough. Then his boss informed him that the big report he and his team have worked on for two months is needed in two days instead of the two weeks they were supposed to have to complete it well. Stephan hit the roof. He yelled at his boss, refused to meet the deadline. Told his staff to just quit and take the rest of the day off. It wasn’t a pretty picture. That was a few weeks ago. Stephan is working with the aftermath of his outburst, as well as what brought him to it, in coaching. Our focus includes understanding his challenges and building ways to stay in touch with his resilience meter to help guide his behavior.

Strategies for Expanding Resilience

You, just like Stephan, can choose from several strategies to expand and maintain your resilience. Six of the sixteen EQi skills particularly support resilience strength. Act now to support your health and well-being by following a resilience enhancing strategy such as:

  • Meditation.
  • Recognizing that you are a part of something purposeful that’s bigger than you.
  • Expanding your happiness through gratitude or embracing and valuing your connections with others.
  • Building your optimism by expecting what works to keep on happening and get even larger.
  • Embracing your Bigger Yes – by living priorities that call for time with loved ones, time to exercise, time for you – all which expand your stress tolerance capacity.
  • Perceiving yourself with healthy self-regard by being able to view your strengths. challenges, and neutral zones and feel good about who you are.
  • Exercising your emotional self-awareness by noticing your emotions, recognizing how you feel and why and continuing to call forth positive emotions.

Resilience is the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, or adversity; it’s a form of buoyancy. Fortunately, your resilience can be expanded – it’s a personal skill that may have some components of genetic predisposition but can be influenced and grown as one of your most reliable assets. However, it does require continuous upkeep. Growing the skill requires awareness and practice. Your journey is one of developing new habits that may not only change your social and psychological take on life but may well improve your health as well.

Six Emotional Intelligence Skills

There is a strong connection between the strength of your resilience and 6 of the 16 skills measured by the EQi 2.0: stress tolerance, emotional self-awareness, self-regard, optimism, happiness and flexibility.

These EI skills are ones that are more self-oriented rather than other-oriented because resilience is an internal state. You’ve probably heard that you need to take care of yourself before you have the strength and resilience to take care of others well. The metaphor most call to mind readily is when oxygen is needed on an airplane you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you start helping others. You know why – you’ll black out quickly and be a problem rather than a help if you don’t start with your mask. Life is that way as well. Though it may be easier for some to focus on the tasks, including attending to everyone else’s needs, you will be better in all ways if you start with you first – and then remember to keep prioritizing your needs!

Barbara Fredrickson

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, author of Love 2.0 and Positivity, which I highly recommend, provides copious research on the beneficial effect of resilience and the field of positivity. I’m blessed to be taking an online training with her. She talks about changing people’s daily diets of positivity with the goal being to change what we notice and to influence the practice of our habitual positive and negative emotions. One effective strategy she emphasizes is loving kindness meditation. What’s different about Barbara’s work is that it primarily occurs in the laboratory – her laboratory and her joint work with many other leading scientists. The blessing of her research is she is documenting what so many coaches, trainers and others have believed to be true.

Research results by Barbara and her colleagues are documenting that there are improvements on cognitive, social, psychological and physical resources for people using certain positivity practices. Whether you practice meditation or other resilience enhancing strategies, I encourage you to choose a practice or two from the list I provided above or another resource you have and take good care of yourself.

Avoid Emotional Intelligence Pitfalls at Work

Frequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Do you agree? Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below. Listen to our recent webinar on these pitfalls and then comment with your thoughts and additional pitfalls.

Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.
Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

Pitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.

Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.
Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.

Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.
Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.

Pitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.
Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. As we described in an earlier article, people can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.
Better EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.

Take Your Team to the Oscars

The Help, Moneyball, and The Descendants – these Oscar nominated movies demonstrate ways of understanding team and individual emotional and social intelligence.  The Oscar nominated movies and some other great ones we highlight demonstrate interesting tips for team and individual awareness.  This is a great way to build team engagement and knowledge on how to improve skills.  It always helps to have a model so our discussion is organized around the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey® (TESI®), which includes the seven key skills we’ve found teams need for building their ESI.

We list two movies for each of the 7 skill areas and discuss the first one.  We hope you’ll comment on our blog site and contribute to this fun learning opportunity for all of us!  We thank the many people involved in making these movies for the great entertainment and the remarkable ways in which your work teaches us.  We enjoyed the movies we are reviewing here and recommend them to you.

Team Identity:  The Help and Of Gods and Men

Team identity measures the level of pride each member feels for the team as a whole, and how much connection and belongingness members feel to the team.

The Help:  The team is composed of African-American maids in Jackson, Mississippi at the dawn of the civil rights movement. A plucky new college graduate who grew up there is horrified with the way her grown-up school chums relate to their maids. So she asks one to tell her story and eventually they all get involved, and what’s been going around for so long starts to come around at last.  The maids had always given each other emotional support; this project brought them together in an act of tremendous courage to have more of a sense of pride, possibility and certainly belongingness to their team.

Motivation:   Margin Call, Albert Nobbs

Motivation is a competency that measures the team’s internal resources for generating and sustaining the energy necessary to get the job done well and on time.

Margin Call: In this case the team is made up of professionals in a financial company who have just realized they are holding tens of millions of dollars worth of worthless stock.  They decide to sell it to their clients the next day in order to save the company. This is capitalism at its worst, and the few conscientious team members cannot change the self protection trend. At the end of the day the conscientious ones are unable to shift their corporate compliance habits, the result is disaster for the company’s investors.  This is a movie your team could see in order to strike up considerable discussion about appropriate motivation and to ask when do we stick with the pack and when do we break free?  It can be a great start to discussions about ethics and how to find win/win answers.

Emotional Awareness: I Am, Iron Lady

Emotional awareness measures how well team members pay attention to one another and demonstrate acceptance and value for one another.

I Am: Tom Shadyac, the highly successful movie director for Jim Carrey films such as Ace Ventura pet detective has everything and lives like it until he has a bike wreck and his life is in peril. He discovers that he’s gotten it all wrong as has everyone around him it seems, so he takes a film crew and begins asking knowledgeable people such as Desmond Tutu the Nobel laureate, Noam Chomsky the political theorist and Coleman Barks the poet and Rumi translator: “What’s wrong with our world?”and “What can we do about it?” Their answers are a consistent formula for living sustainably in relationship with each other and the environment.  Some of the key concepts in the film are: cooperation is in our DNA; the truth of who we are is we are because we belong, technology and the human narrative are beginning to come together; we are geared at a primordial level to feel what each other feels.

This is more a film about an individual leader than a team, but the ideas are ones the team can see and extrapolate concepts and values they want to notice and promote in one another.  Iron Lady is listed as the opposite of emotional awareness.  Margaret Thatcher is portrayed as paying primary attention to herself and unflinchingly adhering to the beliefs she developed as a child rather than learning and responding to new ideas and populations.

CommunicationWe Bought a Zoo, Beginners

Communication provides information on how well team members listen, encourage participation, share information and discuss sensitive matters.

 We Bought A Zoo: This movie tells the story of a major attempt to start over after the death of a spouse and mother. The hurting family leaves their old house, old neighborhood, old school, old job and buys a house in the country that is home to over 40 species of animals and an unusual assortment of people who take care of the animals.  The team becomes the father, the zookeepers and the two children, all learning how to work together to get this challenging small business into start up mode and to turn a profit. The father is the team leader.  He is now the employer of the zookeepers, the food and shelter sponsor for the animals, and the source of love and guidance for 2 children. Most of the movie he’s afraid he’s just about to let everybody down but he keeps taking his own advice to his lovelorn son: “20 seconds of insane courage will deliver something totally magical.”  Fortunately it works and the results are as heartwarming as humorous.

Team members can pick up lots to talk about in terms of which zookeeper or other team member they most identify with and how the different personalities help promote or challenge team success.

Stress ToleranceHappyThankYouMorePlease, Moneyball

Stress tolerance measures how well the team understands the types of stress factors and manages the intensity impacting its members and the team as a whole.

HappyThankYouMorePlease:  This delightful film will reduce your stress just by watching it. When 9 or 10-year-old Rasheen gets left on a subway by mistake a group of 20 somethings come together like an ad hoc team on his behalf. He didn’t know his parents or how old he was and was not interested in any more help from social services, but he turned out to be a great teacher of love just as life was providing some great opportunities for practice for his young adult care takers. For example, a geeky guy wants to develop a relationship with a woman who can’t grow hair because of a medical condition. She doesn’t feel worthy of his adoration but tells her friend who found the boy “Let’s be people who deserve to be loved.”  Part of the lesson is for everyone to learn to feel loved.

This is a great film to show a team with generational differences.  It’s a heartwarming way to appreciate the generation entering the workforce.

Conflict Resolution: The Descendants and Of Gods and Men

Conflict resolution measures how willing the team is to engage in conflict openly and constructively without needing to get even.

Of Gods and Men: In March 1996, an Islamic terrorist group kidnapped seven French Trappist monks from their remote monastery in Tibhirine, Algeria. They were held for two months and then killed.  At the heart of this atrocity is a tale of heroic faith, steadfastness and love, captured in the sublime film “Of Gods and Men.” It is perhaps the best movie on Christian commitment ever made.  This is a powerful movie and one of the best released in 2011 about real team work. The monks made a very difficult choice in the face of certain danger to stay together, practice their faith and be with their Muslim community.

These men were not shy with each other, they got angry, they blamed, they acted like victims, they wept, they hid, and they each eventually realized that they were expressing these emotions in response, not to the people and the world around them, but rather in response to their perceptions and judgments of that world. This recognition is what enabled them to fully surrender their lives to the service they provided the local community, and receive the spiritual grace that sustained them through the ending of their time on earth.

Positive MoodHugo, Midnight in Paris

Positive mood measures the positive attitude of the team in general as well as when it’s under pressure.

Hugo: This is an extraordinarily charming film about children and adults and how courage looks and feels and is practiced from both points of view. There are two small teams, one of children, one of adults.  Ultimately the two teams come together as one, but major challenges are faced first. It’s also a beautifully made movie.

Ask you team what elements of the movie help them have a sense of “can do” that they can bring back to their team.

Don’t forget – take your team to the movies.  Have fun and learn!

EQ 360 Builds Success, Prevents Derailment

Whether caused by blind spots, habits, or lack of awareness, failure to recognize how others experience the way we engage is a key contributor to leadership derailment.  When we don’t notice that we lose people’s attention because we talk too long or we scare folks away by being too demanding, we miss vital information.  Instead of recognizing the responses and making strategic changes the head this type of head in the sand leader keeps on keeping on right into a diminished career.  So how can this be prevented?  After all it is challenging to accurately discern how others are responding, and even harder to know what triggered particular responses from peers, direct reports or others.

A client we’ll call Melinda found an answer. She kept her job and is much happier now thanks to her working carefully with her EQ 360 results.  She heads a key program as senior vice president for a high profile non-profit.  She managed a department in charge of launching new programs and convincing key investors to fund her organization’s programs.  Her staff needed to be inspired and to receive detailed overviews on expectations and expected ways to engage in order to demonstrate the organizational mission.  She did this well.  However, when she reported up to the high profile board of community leaders, Melinda had lost so much credibility that the CEO thought he was going to have to let her go.  The board wanted big picture, quick and strategic feedback yet Melinda was giving them long winded analytical analysis that bored most and angered some.

The CEO wanted to keep Melinda but wasn’t sure he could. We used the EQ 360 to help her recognize her specific challenges and learn ways to change her habitual way of engaging. Board members, her boss, peers and direct reports all rated her and the results were included by each category so she could see who was perceiving success and where specifically people were struggling with her engagement. She needed to enhance her awareness of how she communicated to different groups and modify her approach accordingly. Key EI skills she needed to sharpen were her:

  •  Reality Testing (by expanding her political savvy and paying attention to how to communicate instead of habitually engaging with the same style with everyone)
  • Emotional Self-Awareness by recognizing that when she felt worried, she gave detailed explanations and further lost the Board.
  • Assertiveness by fine tuning her listening skills so she could be more effective with her assertiveness.  Melinda didn’t have any problem speaking up, but she too often wasn’t strategic in how she spoke.
  • Optimism by recognizing that when she started her 360 work she was feeling defensive and less than sure that she could make the changes and that was aggravating her didactic habits.  If she could trust in her many skills and tap into her flexibility, Melinda could make changes more effectively.

EQ 360 Assessment

The EQ 360 is an assessment in which an individual rates his or her own skills and others who know him or her in a variety of ways also answer the same questions.  The results graphically show how the individual perceives his or her skills in each of the 16 EI skills measured by the EQi and then presents a comparison to how others see those same skills. The results are shown by the different rater groups of boss, direct reports, peers, family/friends or others, such as clients.  The overall goal is to accurately understand one’s skills and how they are expressed and to have a similar perspective between the individual and the raters.  However, it is quite likely that there will be differences, and it’s possible the differences will vary between rater groups.  For example, the boss may be in agreement with the individual, the direct reports may rate him or her higher and the peers may have lower ratings in some areas.  The raters’ responses are reported with three or more to a group, except for those of the boss.  That confidentiality supports candor.

Value from a 360

The EQ 360 provides the opportunity for gaining considerable value.  How much is actually gained depends most on the attitude and willingness of the individual.  The capabilities of the coach and support from the boss and organization also make a difference.  The potential value of a 360 assessment used in the workplace can come from:

  • The opportunity for everyone to be more reflective: The individual receives considerable data that invites introspection and reflective awareness. Raters are asked to take about twenty minutes to answer the questions and that causes them to shift from day to day tasks and think about how the individual engages and displays skills.  Hopefully, the rater takes some time to reflect on what part of the engagement they are responsible for as well.  It is a two way street!  And finally if you have a leadership group each having their own 360 and then meeting to discuss what they have learned and opportunities, the invitation for deepening the reflective awareness is large.
  • Light is shined on blind spots: This is probably the best recognized value of the 360 by organizations.  We can easily move along in our lives thinking we’re doing fine while totally missing the mark with our direct reports, for example, and be incredibly wrong.  Melinda found that not only did she have a problem with the Board but that she had taken so little time to engage with her peers that they didn’t know her well. This resulted in mediocre ratings from them.  Coaching discussions helped her realize the value of working with her peers to herself and the organization.  This reframed “I don’t have time for lunch with Jose” to “I can’t afford to miss lunch with Jose.”  The blind spots can also be about behaviors.  Melinda may think she has great stress tolerance skills, but family/friends might report they miss her and are worried about her health because she works so much.  Direct reports might reflect she has low stress tolerance because they experience the anxiety that taking a new project on creates, and they are often given much of the work.  The resulting resentment from staff brings on a handful of other challenges.
  • Balancing skills to build congruence.  This is one of the most important benefits of the EQ 360.  The 16 skills reflect important information on their own, but no skill is an island.  Every skill is more powerful when exercised in context of highly related EI skills.  For example, the effectiveness of assertiveness is tied to skills in empathy, impulse control and optimism.  For more information see Marcia’s article on The Four Corners of Empathic Assertiveness.
  • Rater group congruence: If direct reports, peers, the boss and others have considerably different views of an individual’s performance, it’s a problem.  Success in an organization is a multi-dimensional endeavor.  The 360 points out problem areas and supports strategic focus in building relationships.
  • Horizons are broadened when the leader takes time to look at feedback from people he or she works with regularly, consider the information carefully and prepare a focused response.

The EQ 360 should always be used for the right purpose, which is for individual growth and it requires a trained coach who will help sort through the information and guide the person in their growth process.  Most importantly, the individual needs to bring a willing attitude to the process.  Willingness to learn and make a few strategic changes can result in phenomenal career benefits.  It did for Melinda.  She expanded her mindfulness, carefully prepared for Board meetings and practiced how to respond at the level they expected.  She built relationships with her peers and found they had much to share and she enjoyed her work more because of the valuable relationships.  Melinda’s boss expects her to be a vital part of the workforce for a very long time.

Can Virtual Teams Demonstrate Emotional & Social Intelligence?

by Marcia Hughes, Donna Dennis, James Terrell

When Manuel cut off Maria and implied her research was simplistic during the recent team webinar, most of the other team members checked out and started doing email. Maria wiped a tear away and swore to herself that she wouldn’t risk participating again. The Team Leader, who is a top notch engineer and is signed up for his first management training class next month, said nothing. This interaction cost the team and the organization in terms of engagement, trust, and willingness to take risks with one another, yet nothing may ever be done about it. Virtual teams face big challenges in being able to connect at an interpersonal level. They are challenged with non-verbal communication, conflict resolution and forming a strong identity. Virtual teams are likely to struggle more than other teams in using their brain biology support system of mirror neurons, spindle cells and oscillators, which Dan Goleman and Richard Boyatzis recently described as core to using social intelligence (Harvard Business Review OnPoint, Spring 2011).

Yet no matter how big the challenges virtual teams are proliferating. So what should a good leader and organization do? Applying a team centered model to measure and build ESI (emotional and social intelligence) will provide the framework for understanding and proceeding successfully to build measurable team ESI skills. First, let’s understand what we mean by ESI and by a virtual team.

ESI is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.

Another way to think about ESI is that it encompasses your ability to recognize and manage your own skills and to recognize and respond effectively to those of others. These skills, or their lack, are exhibited daily by individuals, leaders and teams. The question is how well these engagement skills are demonstrated. The answer is to have a deliberate process for expanding the skills the particular team needs.

Virtual teams are teams that are working from dispersed locations so that they do not have the opportunity to work together face to face frequently.

ESI challenges for virtual teams include:

  • Developing emotional awareness of one another
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Developing trust
  • Communications challenges prevail due to:
    • Confused or ignored commitments on response time to one another
    • Lack of visual and non-verbal cues
    • Often cultural and language differences
    • Lack of emotional and social tags that create a sense of connection
    • Relying on email to get work done

These challenges need to be taken seriously because they can cost the organization, team and individuals in many ways including through lessened engagement, decreased productivity, higher turnover, and missed creative opportunities. Fortunately, these challenges can be addressed. By using a solid model through which the team members are given a voice about their functioning as a team their ESI can measurably grow.

The model we explore using is the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey® (TESI®), which is composed of seven scales that measure a team’s strengths or challenges. The survey is an internal 360 on team performance as it results from team members responding confidentially to a survey about their team performance. With the data in hand from the survey, the team can frankly discuss their strengths and opportunities as well as their different experiences of being on the team. Best of all they can then create an action plan to support their development. Later the team can retake the TESI and measure their progress, which will be depicted through a pre-post chart.

7 TESI Skills & Opportunities for Virtual Teams

Team Identity reflects how well the team connects with one another and demonstrates belongingness and pride in the team. It also includes role and responsibility clarification. Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Making agreements and keeping them- trust builds through keeping commitments in virtual teams
  • Establishing communication agreements, e.g. response time
  • Clarifying roles & responsibilities
  • Creating a logo or motto
  • Naming themselves

Communication reflects how accurately the team members send and receive emotional and cognitive information. It indicates how well they listen, encourage participation, share information and discuss sensitive matters. Communication indicates the extent to which team members acknowledge contributions and give feedback to one another. Trust must be built faster in virtual teams and if key components are not attended to early, the team is not likely to have the foundation it needs to get work done at a distance. Trust is initially built by making and keeping agreements. Thus strong communication strategies will support the team in moving forward to experiencing trust beginning with trusting the communication process. Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Establishing a communication process with understood time commitments
  • Practicing active listening virtually
  • Setting up conversations in pairs – virtually have coffee or lunch
  • Building reflective skills

Emotional awareness measures how sensitive and responsive team members are to each other’s feelings. Does the team value and respect negative as well as positive feelings? This scale measures the amount of attention the team pays to noticing, understanding, and respecting the feelings of its members. Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Taking a personality assessment and use the information, such as the MBTI or Emergenetics. Understanding work preferences will facilitate smoother interactions with team members.
  • Working with the TESI to build understanding of preferences.
  • Matching technology to task
  • Telling stories about something that happened when working alone
  • Asking questions and listening, checking out the accuracy of what is understood

Motivation is the competency that shows the team’s level of internal resources for generating and sustaining the energy necessary to get the job done well and on time. It gives feedback on whether creative thinking is promoted and whether competition is working for or against the team. Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Setting stretch goals
  • Intentionally reinforce what works
  • Catch each other succeeding and talk about it- make sure team members know this is a part of what they need to do as well

Stress Tolerance is a measure of how well the team understands the types and intensity of the stress factors impacting its members and the team as a whole. It addresses whether team members feel safe with one another, and if they will step in if someone on the team needs help. Stress tolerance reflects the level of work/life balance that the team is able to achieve including its ability to manage workload expectations. Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Talking about a non-work joy
  • Agreeing to all go for a walk at the same time
  • Getting up and stretch during the virtual session

Conflict resolution scores show how willing the team is to engage in conflict openly and constructively without needing to get even. It measures the ability to be flexible and to respond to challenging situations without blaming one another. Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Expanding dispute resolution skills
  • Pacing one another
  • Practicing paying attention

Positive Mood reflects the positive attitude of the team in general as well as when the team is under pressure. Positive mood scores indicate the members’ willingness to provide encouragement, their sense of humor, and how successful the team expects to be. It is a major support for a team’s flexibility and resilience. Virtual Teams can grow this skill by:

  • Going to the movies together (in different cities)
  • Supporting team members in setting up a time for two to use Skype or an equivalent and have a drink together, be it coffee or…
  • Making a big and consistent deal of celebrating successes!

There are many resources that will support your ability to use these resources. Attend or watch our webinar on this topic, our books Developing Emotional Intelligence: Exercises for Leaders and Teams, The Handbook for Developing Emotional Intelligence, A Facilitator’s Guide to Team Emotional and Social Intelligence, A Coach’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence, The Emotionally Intelligent Team, and Emotional Intelligence in Action, Second Edition.

We welcome your contacting us for more information.

10 Actions to Make Your 2012 a Year of Authentic Success

emotional intelligence authentic success

Does this picture reflect a conversation between your ideal self (how you would most like to live) and your real self (how you really live)?  Authentic success integrates these two parts into a happier and more successful you.  Our article was so successful as a way to frame moving into the new year, that it’s back by popular demand.

Authentic success begets peace of mind because you are living and working in accordance with your values, strengths, and your sense of purpose instead of living in conflict.  Reaching this highly desired state requires personal awareness.  Without it you will be missing the joy from your current wealth by only focusing on what hasn’t happened.  Happiness and optimism, both components of emotional intelligence, are vital to experiencing authentic success.  The following 10 Actions are based on years of research in the fields of emotional intelligence and positive psychology and set forth choices you can make to change the quality of your life in 2012.

10 Actions to Make Your

2012 a Year of Authentic Success

1.    Define happiness.  Know what you are looking for when you are seeking happiness.  True happiness isn’t the quick food fix; even Belgian chocolates bring a temporary response.  As an article by Carlin Flora, “The Pursuit of Happiness” in Psychology Today states, “The most useful definition – and it’s one agreed upon by neuroscientists, psychiatrists, behavioral economists, positive psychologists, and Buddhist monks – is more like satisfied or content than ‘happy’ in its strict bursting-with-glee sense.  It has depth and deliberation to it.  It encompasses living a meaningful life, utilizing your gifts and your time, living with thought and purpose.  It’s maximized when you also feel part of a community. And when you confront annoyances and crises with grace.  It involves a willingness to learn and stretch and grow, which sometimes involves discomfort.  It requires acting on life, not merely taking it in.  It’s not joy, a temporary exhilaration, or even pleasure, that sensual rush – though a steady supply of those feelings course through those who seize each day.”

Action:  Happiness is closely tied to being aware of what success truly means for you.  Write your own definition of what Authentic Success means to you and intend to live in synch with your truth about Authentic Success in 2012.

2.    Practice mindfulness.  While defined in a variety of ways, mindfulness simply means paying attention.  Notice how you are feeling and why and then make a choice to stick with your current path or take a breath and intentionally shift.

Action:  Set a time each day when you will review your day with intention to notice and expand your mindfulness.  Even a short review will make a difference.

3.    Be you.  Embrace yourself.  Know your good points and that which you don’t consider so favorably.  Know your styles and preferences and trust you are a good and resilient person.  We received the following quote awhile ago and we give profound credit to whoever first said it though we don’t know the original source.

Action:  Print this out and tape it around your environment:


4.    Practice your 2% Solution. As Marcia describes in Life’s 2% Solution, the 2% Solution requires just half an hour a day (3 ½ hours a week if it works better to cluster your time). Spend that time doing something that’s deeply nurturing, meaningful, fulfilling to you. It may be what you’ve vowed to do later when you are free to explore long-delayed purposeful pursuits. This seemingly small expenditure of time is even more critical in today’s harried world, where work deadlines loom, the carpool to soccer awaits, the dry cleaning is piling up, and a dinner party fills up whatever free time is left. We get it all done, yet feel incomplete. This stress-filled existence leaches away our creativity, passion and sense of fulfillment. We sacrifice the long-view of our lives for short-term results, to check something off a list. No doubt, that scenario leads to burnout.

Action:  Integrate your enhanced awareness from taking some of the above steps with your own 2% project.  Investing 2% of your time in an unusual way on yourself will make a world of difference.  It’s an achievable way of creating more work/life balance without having to turn your life upside down by radical change.  You can learn more and follow the 10 step process found in my book Life’s 2% Solution.

 

5.    Relationships matter.  Take time for friends and choose friends who support the values you wish to live with.

Action:   Notice who your friends are.  Ask yourself if you are giving the time it takes to cultivate valuable relationships.  If not make a change. Keep your expectations of time with friends manageable.

6.    Carpe diem!  Seize the day.

Action:  Today is the only version of this day you’ll ever have.  Take advantage of it!

7.    Know your values.  It’s easy to get caught up in the multitude of options that expand daily from numbers of cereals to forms of entertainment to interesting books.  We all have twenty-four hours in a day.  Take advantage of your day by knowing what is truly important so you don’t get distracted with the job of making too many unimportant choices.

Action:  Make a list of your top values – somewhere between five and ten items at the most.  Then practice connecting your values with your choices.

8.    Create.  It feels good!  Humans are amazingly creative beings.  You probably create much more than you realize and miss giving yourself credit for your gifts.

Action:  Intentionally make a soup, draw a picture, write a letter.  Whatever feels simply good to you and then stop and acknowledge the act of creating and give yourself time to enjoy.

9.    Express gratitude.  This is a big one.  Anytime you want to build happiness, be grateful for what you do have and go find a way to give.  So much of authentic happiness is based in giving your gifts and in being a good and compassionate human being.  Don’t make it hard; find easy and natural ways to give with no strings attached.  Pay it forward is a great strategy.

Action:  Take time to stop and say thank you.  Notice how you feel and how the recipient feels.  Keep a gratitude journal.  Notice five to ten events that occur each day for which you are grateful.  Be specific.  Feel the gratitude in your heart as you write your list and as you read it over.

10. Smile.   It’s impossible to be grumpy and smile at the same time.

Action:  If you are willing to change your emotional state, you will.  Breathe, notice what is going on, notice any tension you are holding in your body, and be willing to let it go.  Be quiet and smile for a full minute.

 

Authentic success combines your inner and outer strengths, though integrating these two is not always so easy.  Good luck on your journey.  We’re always interested in learning from you about how this works.  Comment on our blog.

Social Intelligence Strengths

Social Intelligence (SI) is gaining considerable play in today’s conversations but what is it?  Does it matter to you, your team, your organization?  Yes! Social Intelligence is measured by your ability to persuade, influence, connect – in short to lead a meaningful life connecting with others and applying your skills to match your values.  Social Intelligence matters from a soft skill, hard skill and every kind of skill perspective! Prove it you say?  Here goes ….

Defining Social Intelligence is tricky as it encompasses so much of what we express, of our world view, and our interpersonal values.  Yet we need a definition so that we (Marcia and James as the authors and you the reader) can operate from a similar perspective as we consider the concept of Social Intelligence. SI is definitely about people skills.  And it’s much bigger as it encompasses our capacity to understand and exude our values in all dimensions of living.

Our definition is inclusive:

Social Intelligence is the capacity to understand and respond effectively to the emotions, social cues and needs of others in a way that furthers our own values and demonstrates respect for others at the individual, team, organizational and global levels.

 Thorndike originally coined the term Social Intelligence in 1920 and was referring to a person’s ability to understand and manage other people and to engage in adaptive social interactions.

Kihlstrom and Cantor recently clarified the SI discussion by stating; “Social behavior is intelligent – mediated by cognitive processes of perception, memory, reasoning and problem solving, rather than being mediated by innate reflexes, conditioned responses evolved genetic programs, and the like.” (Kihlstrom/Cantor: Social Intelligence  p 14).  They argue that differences in social knowledge causes differences in social behavior; thus they state the question is not how much SI one has but what SI an individual possesses.  We are impressed with their clarifications, yet believe there are dimensions of both how much and what that are relevant as individuals build their capacities.

Goleman and Boyatzis add a powerful new dimension to the understanding of SI with their article, “Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership,” HBR, Spring 2011.  They say that Social Intelligence is a relationship based construct for assessing leadership and define SI as “a set of interpersonal competencies built on specific neural circuits (and related endocrine systems) that inspire others to be effective.” We highly recommend this informative article.  The authors discuss three critical aspects of brain future article we’ll discuss social intelligence as supported by individual assessments such as the EQi 2.0 and the ESCI.

Team Emotional and Social Intelligence (TESI)

The TESI Survey was developed specifically to measure social, as well as emotional, intelligence.  There’s no way to have effective team action without consistently tapping into social intelligence skills.  Social intelligence is demonstrated through behaviors such as:

1.     Paying attention to and responding to the needs of others

2.     Building positive mood

3.     Managing one’s own impulsive behavior in order to engage with others

4.     Making decisions that integrate objective facts with social needs and consequences

5.     And much more

The seven core team skills are based on demonstrable application of emotional intelligence as the following scale review demonstrates:

Team Identity is a reflection of team members bonding with one another.  Loyalty is strengthened with this skill as team members feel pride in the team.  Team identity is furthered when members understand roles and responsibilities and are committed to the purpose for which the team exists.

Motivation calls on team members having a common reason to move forward in tandem and results in the team getting their work done, exhibiting creativity, and acting with energy because they feel and act in consort with one another.

Emotional Awareness must always begin with personal awareness at the individual level.  To be effective in a team the members then add awareness of others to their individual knowledge. This knowledge includes awareness and responsiveness to verbal and non-verbal communications.  Goleman and Boyatzis make a powerful statement that should guide all consultants who are seeking to build ESI skills.  They emphasize that being good leaders, and we’ll add effective teammates, is less about mastering situations or developing specific skill sets and more about leveraging the interconnectedness between one’s individual brain and the brains of the others they are engaging with. This is accomplished in large part through emotional awareness.

Communication is where the “rubber meets the road” for the team.  Application of this skill demonstrates how well teammates use their emotional awareness, their motivation for success and other skills to engage effectively.  The social intelligence aspects of integrating empathy, listening, and responding to the whole message communicated by teammates will directly influence the quality and sustainability of their productivity. Communication skills are demonstrated with SI when teammates practice their knowledge that the way in which a message is delivered is often more important and influential than the specific message itself.

Stress Tolerance is demonstrated through using Social Intelligence by teammates when they support one another in practicing work life balance.  It’s shown when team members ask one another about how their families or community projects or other personal parts of their lives are going.  Stress tolerance is demonstrated when team members delay a project delivery due date because they notice that meeting a particular deadline could cost too much for certain members of the team.  Social Intelligence is a combination of noticing how others are feeling and why and then responding.

Conflict Resolution is the most complex of all the seven skills as it requires the application of divergent thinking by individual teammates as they exercise patience and willingness to perceive the points of view of others and then participate as a whole group to develop an answer all will embrace.  When team members resolve problems collaboratively they are applying complex processes of systemic social intelligence.  They are concurrently paying attention to how they feel, how others feel, what objective data demonstrates and many other factors as they work together to find an answer that goes beyond their individual needs.

Positive Mood can be a point of early power for a team.  Positive moods are contagious so when a team leader and team members have the skill to foster positive feelings in one another and toward the team mission, they will be building success by using their social intelligence.

Collaborative Growth Team ModelA team that uses these seven skills well is using many social intelligence skills and demonstrates the Collaborative Growth Team Model, of these seven skills resulting in the benefits of better decisions, increased loyalty, integrated empathy and the much sought after trust result.   As the target in the inner circle demonstrates, high functioning teams ultimately have the core power of operating with emotional and social well-being for the team, which results in sustainable productivity for the team and the organization.