Building Team Resilience Through Positive Mood

PIE-color-pos-mood Positive attitudes on your team will build resilience and influence every dimension of teamwork. Positivity will impact how well people get along with one another, how pleased they are to be on the team, their motivation and their creative thinking. That is why this is one of the seven team competencies the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®) measures. Research Dr. Barbara Fredrickson describes in her books Positivity and Love 2.0 provides the scientific grounding to prove the power of positive engagement. Because most work is accomplished through teams, we are finding a tremendous thirst to better understand what this means for teams and how to assist teams in growing their positive mood.

Developing teams is a complex challenge that never stops requiring positive and proactive attention. One of the challenges to team effectiveness is the tendency for people to think and act individually and objectively, that is to focus exclusively on the task rather than each other. Busy team members can become so externally focused on projects and customers that they don’t focus on themselves or on the team. This lack of internal team focus can feel safer for several reasons: 1) addressing interpersonal relationships can seem much less controllable or scientific and less predictable and thus too uncertain; 2) team members may not be trained to be good at team or human dynamics, they enjoy being an expert but they aren’t expert in this situation; 3) their external focus in getting all the jobs done may leave them drained with little energy left for the team, and this is often compounded by highly demanding organizational politics; and 4) the team leader may be a technical expert in his/her production world but likely is not trained to be a team leader and to manage complex interpersonal situations and to build motivation while maintaining accountability; and 5) the full organization may not be aware of the challenges their teams are experiencing nor understand how they could support the team in effective change. This is why your team needs to make conscious, intentional efforts to build its positivity and resilience if you want to maximize productivity.

Art Aron, a human relations scientist, conducted research that shows how people move from a sense of separation – me and you – to a sense of being together – us or we. His research was done with couples, but the same principles apply to teams, which are a group of people working together to solve problems. The more overlap the individual team members see between each other, the more likely they will have a sense of “us” and that leads to a series of positive results. The more positive we are with each other, the more overlap we see between ourselves and others and that leads to feeling more openness and connection with others. In turn, this increased connection leads to helpful responses among team members that build trust – team members learn they can rely on considerate and supportive responses from one another. Most people will say they agree with the maxim that “All of us are smarter than one of us.” Understanding the dynamics of positive mood helps show us how to act in order to achieve its powerful effects.

Fredrickson writes that positivity broadens one’s view from “me” to “us” and then to “all of us” not just the part of the group that looks or thinks like you. Thus building positive attitudes within your team will expand the effectiveness of your diversity efforts. We often talk about emotions being highly contagious and that’s so for positivity, as well as for negativity. This makes it important for team leaders as well as all team members to be intentionally positive. Fredrickson explains that “positivity spreads because people unconsciously mimic emotional gestures and facial expressions of those around you … positivity breeds helpful, compassionate acts.” Furthermore, she points out that when we act positively with others we are likely proud of our engagement and “pride broadens your mindset by igniting your visions about other and larger ways in which you might be helpful.” (Positivity, pp. 69-70) We are certain that’s what you want for your teams.

Furthermore, positivity is central to the ability to collaborate which is based on the ability to work jointly with one another, to listen to different perspectives and to find common answers. Collaborative Growth’s team model demonstrates how we bring team emotional and social intelligence competencies together to create collaborative intelligence. Frankly one of the easiest team strengths to build is positive mood so practice this and you will also build your team’s resilience.

Building Resilience and Positive Mood

resilience_meterppt100Resilience and positive mood are tightly connected. Resilience includes the ability to bounce back and relies on teams having a reserve to tap into when big challenges hit. That reserve is built by how we treat each other and what we expect of one another. The more positive members of a team are, the deeper the reserve and the less often they are likely to need to tap into it. Positivity builds perspective so teams take challenges in stride rather than making a big deal of them and increasing their stress instead of their resilience.

 

Tips and Strategies

resilience_meterppt_rev2Use your emotional intelligence to grow your teams’ positivity and resilience. Key team competencies focused on in the TESI are Positive Mood and Stress Tolerance. Of course while you’re building this team competency you will find that some team members are more positive than others so you will need to work with the whole team while respecting the individual differences as the team builds composite resilient strength. Tips you might use are:

  • Build the habit of finding people doing something well and publicly thank them.
  • Start team meetings with a discussion of something that’s worked well recently. Then the team can move to strategic analysis and of how to cross map that skill to other requirements.
  • 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.
  • Find purposefulness in the team work so the team feels the sense of being a part of something bigger than itself. A traditional way to do this is with Mission, Vision and Values statements. Make sure those statements are meaningful and that the team feels ownership and takes pride in them or they won’t help.
  • Support team members in taking time to be relaxed with each other so caring relationships are built resulting in the natural desire to shield each other’s back when needed.
  • Respond to comments made by one another. People want to be heard more than they want to be right. Applying skills such as active listening and empathetic responses will help people feel acknowledged and valued and that builds positivity and engagement.
  • Intentionally tap into the team wisdom. Your team knows what they need, however you may need to facilitate their recognizing and employing that wisdom. Take creative brainstorming time to explore topics such as: “What works that we can expand?” and “What do we want that we can influence?”

Recognize that positivity and trust go hand in hand because positivity supports deepening relationships. Develop positivity deliberately and expansively for the benefit of all individuals, teams and the organization.

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10 Actions to Make Your 2014 a Year of Authentic Success

success_pathDoes 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 2014.

10 Actions to Make Your
2014 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 2014.
  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.nothing_wrong_quote
  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.

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.

Building Emotional Sustainability

people_puzzleThe crisis conditions we see in the planetary environment today are a direct reflection of the crisis conditions we find in the workplace. No oil is spilled, no dangerous levels of carbon dioxide are generated, no toxic chemicals are manufactured, no resources are extracted, no investment vehicles are designed except as the result of people working together to get as much value from their efforts as possible. Here’s the problem: our determination of what is valuable has been distorted by our perception of lack and the fear that this occasions in us at the deepest unconscious levels.  The answer is embedded in using all our forms of intelligence.  One of the most powerful is emotional and social intelligence.

Throughout the history of human cooperation there have been a long series of innovative attempts to find new ways to help people work together in a consistently productive manner. Too often these efforts have been less than fully successful because they lacked one critical component – they were not emotionally sustainable. In other words they do not consistently meet and transform the emotional needs of the people whose effort and cooperation was critical to the success of the mission.

Meeting the emotional needs of a project team for instance, means that the members feel safe and supported, and, when tensions arise, there is a user-friendly and effective means of resolving them. Achieving this dynamic is no small accomplishment, and those organizations that do so reap a handsome reward for their efforts. But there’s more. Transforming the emotional needs of a group of coworkers may be even more important, because this process incorporates developing and integrating the skills of emotional communication in such a way that the costs of conflict distrust and disengagement are continually reduced as team members grow more effective individually and the team grows more integrated as a unit.

The sources of the energy we need to work are primarily biological in nature – nutrition, sleep, and exercise, but the management system that we use to engage and direct the energy is emotional. Our emotional evaluation of the environment tells us what direction to move and how rapidly. People who feel deceived, manipulated, intimidated, taken for granted or worried about their future cannot sustain the attention, communication, and cognitive effort it takes to be fully engaged. More and more of their energy is reallocated to defensive strategic behavior as they seek to stay safe and protect themselves. When you’re feeling threatened you cannot innovate and you don’t want to!

Whether or not it is convenient to the 24/7/365 world of business, the fact is our human needs will always get met in Maslow’s order. We cannot override the unconscious, hardwired, instinctual patterns that organize our behavior, but when we understand how these internal processes work and learn how to cooperate with them consciously they can become assets for balancing production and consumption in a sustainable cycle. Our instincts program us to achieve success at two levels, initially on behalf of our individual survival and then in support of the collective survival of the species. As each of us seeks to outgrow our initial conditions of dependency we learn the very best ways we can to satisfy our personal needs and desires, however eventually, if we have the right models and experiences, we realize that just getting our own needs met is insufficient.

We cannot begin to provide ourselves with everything we need to function in the world today, so over time both cognitive and emotional intelligence has taught us that the quality of our life depends on the quality of the lives of those around us. If others are safe and satisfied and creatively challenged, they are better able to cooperate with us in the interdependent processes of family, community, and commerce that make up human civilization. To our detriment our technological success has created a false vision of independence that makes it seem as if each of us can make it more or less “on our own” because our life support system seems to be accessed through a mechanical interface with “society” or “the economy” rather than cultivated as an intimate relationship with our community. Consequently we are not forced to do the reality testing necessary to determine what level of true empathy and care we need to contribute to the real social network that supports us. Our recent technical “success” has allowed us to withdraw, isolate, and exclude others in ways that are eroding the very foundations of our economic security.

The values that underlie the long-term thinking, visioning, planning, and execution that have built civilization thus far have given way to shorter and shorter profit cycles designed to enrich individuals and companies regardless of what effects they may have on the larger system and those who serve in its other functions. Greed, no matter how cocky and well-heeled it may appear, is always the direct expression of one unsustainable emotion: fear – the fear of not having or being enough. Sometimes it is seen in the external environment, but much more often the lack is perceived as an internal, personal inadequacy that must be compensated for by getting more and more with the King of the Mountain mindset that destroys all hope of social, economic, and environmental balance and jeopardizes survival of the species.

This is a call to action. Achieving emotional sustainability in business requires the courage to value team members’ personal feelings about their work and their organization as critical data that must inform all decision-making. Learning how to contribute and incorporate these feelings in the workflow effectively is a skill as new as iPods. Both teams and leaders need education, training, and practice. The pioneers at Collaborative Growth can facilitate your process. The Team Emotional Social Intelligence Survey (TESI) and the EQi 2.0 can measure your progress.  Stay tuned for more examples of the innovative potential for building sustainable organizations when the core skills of the TESI and EQI 2.0 are used together.  These highly effective strategies for developing an emotionally sustainable workplace are available and critical to our success as a civilization.

Authentic Success for 2013

How was your 2012? What are you seeking for your personal success indicators in 2013? To gain a viable answer hold an internal conversation between your ideal self (how you would most like to live) and your real self (how you really live) and develop an authentic structure to your goals. Authentic success integrates these two parts into a happier and more successful you. Our article was so well received in earlier years 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 2013.

10 Actions to Make Your

2013 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 2013.

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:

There is nothing wrong with me that what is right with me can’t fix!

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.

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!

Leadership Development: The Four Corners of Empathetic Assertiveness

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

–George Bernard Shaw

 Successful leaders exhibit skills that may look natural and easy yet are truly the result of paying close attention and being responsive to the whole environment.  To do so, they learn to be emotionally literate and employ a complex set of skills in ways that may seem innate though in fact are the result of a willingness to work, learn and improve.  Leaders often believe that their cognitive intelligence is the threshold for their success, and they do need solid IQ smarts and a good education to get in the door and to keep up with technical and professional developments.  To move beyond that threshold they need to be adept at relationships, influencing and leading staff and teams effectively.

The path for exhibiting this excellence is based in emotional intelligence:

“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.”

The most powerful and sustainable way to build those relationships requires using the four emotional intelligence skills demonstrated in this graph.

The artful use of these four skills creates a resilient environment and is well supported by using the EQ-i2.0 with the leaders.  We also find considerable value by measuring team skills as well with the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®.  Together these two assessments present a powerful picture that supports developing leadership capabilities.

In a real-life case, Carl (his name is changed to protect privacy) became the new CEO at a large hospital and faced big challenges such as leading the medical staff, the administrative staff and various boards to work together.  Carl is one smart IQ person and he needs all those smarts!  He is leading new change initiatives, changing reporting relationships and strategizing on how to meet financial challenges that have built up over several years.  He also needs to build loyalty, solid relationships and a desire among a staff of many different backgrounds from neurosurgeons to administrative staff to work together and build a new future together.  Every day he exhibits skills in all four dimensions of this success diagram.

Empathy
 – People know he understands how hard they are working and that change can be painful, they feel his compassion and genuine interest in them.

Assertiveness
 – He is assertive, there is no doubt that the changes are to be made.  His staff knows that they are expected to perform to the new standards and will be held accountable if they don’t.  When actions are unacceptable he makes it clear; however, this isn’t necessary often because he communicates what is needed up front and the requirement of accountability is clear.


Impulse Control – 
His expert use of impulse control is reflected by his measured responses when something goes wrong and his thoughtful engagement on complex matters as he helps all involved recognize that big problems take time to resolve successfully.

Optimism
  – He leaves no doubt about his belief that they will be resolved, thus exuding consistent optimism.  His staff gains hopefulness and inspiration, they know he cares about them and will hold them accountable.  It is a healthy proactive structure that is gradually turning a big ship around since he started six months ago.

When leaders seek to guide and influence others we know they need to communicate – but how?  The choice that gets the desired results taps into the four corners of empathic assertiveness.  These are four of the fifteen skills measured by the EQ-i and the good news is they can be developed and improved in all motivated leaders.  It is best for the leader and his/her coach to review the results from taking the EQ-i and create a game plan that calls for these skills to be used in synch.  If a leader one day pats an employee on the back and praises him or her. Then the next day the leader impulsively yells about a mistake, it can be difficult for the employee to trust the relationship. The leader needs to learn to bring those skills together in a cohesive message.  Let’s assume a leader, I’ll call Mary makes one of the following two communications:

“Nancy, I’m so disappointed with the errors in your report, we worked with you so hard last time and here you are making the same kind of mistakes again.  Now, do it right and have the memo on my desk by 10 a.m. tomorrow!” 

OR

“Nancy, I appreciate your desire to get this project completed on time, but quality has to matter just as much as timeliness.  Please take time to correct the errors, get help from others on the team as you need, and give me your proposed final memo by tomorrow at 10 a.m. I know you can get this done well just like you did with last month’s project.” 

If Mary was just assertive and didn’t manage her impulses her irritation at the poor quality could cause Nancy to be less resourceful, Nancy is likely to move away emotionally from the project and from Mary rather than moving toward the project and rolling up her sleeves to accomplish even more.  The second message incorporates all four skills and is more likely to lead to success.

How to be successful with the Four Corners model

Empathy is demonstrated by understanding the emotions people are communicating and responding to them.  This is key to building trust, engagement and passion.  Demonstrating empathy can take just a moment, if you see that someone is surprised, worried or perplexed, acknowledge the emotion, connect it with a reason you believe is related and give the person time to correct you if needed and to respond more.  “You feel perplexed because these two goals seem contradictory.” Also, be sure to give the person time to speak.

Assertiveness is demonstrated by the ability to speak up, to make your points, to say no when called for.  Leaders can develop their skills with assertiveness by intentionally saying what is important to them and by practicing saying no by being clear about their priorities.  A leader’s staff and teams want to hear from him/her, but the way that the assertiveness is communicated will make all the difference in how it is accepted.

Impulse control includes the ability to manage impulses, be patient and to control the desire to be angry. Howard Book writes in his chapter “When Enhanced EI is Associated with Leadership Derailment” (The Handbook for Developing Emotional and Social Intelligence, Hughes, Thompson and Terrell, 2009) that impulse control is a primary skill upon which all other cognitive and emotional skills depend.  Leaders with poor impulse control make haphazard and poorly thought out decisions.  Rich Handley in his chapter “Advanced EQi Interpretation Techniques” in the edited volume presented his research on the relationship between the fifteen EQ-i skills in which he found the EQ-i skill that supports the most successful use of an identified EQ skill, e.g., for emotional self awareness that supportive skill is impulse control.  It turns out that impulse control is the most influential of all the skills.  If someone overuses impulse control they may be risk adverse and just play things too safely.  Someone low in impulse control at best will irritate others and at worst will burn many bridges.  Leaders can develop their impulse control by finding ways to stop and think before they speak.  We often suggest a leader use stair therapy – if they are feeling impulsive or even explosive we urge them to go climb a set or more of stairs before they say anything.  There is no doubt that getting oxygen to their brain and incorporating physical movement will be helpful.

Optimism is the demonstration of hopefulness.  When leaders help their teams believe they will find an answer even when the going gets tough, they are building optimism.  Plentiful research is demonstrating the power of positive mood.  Leaders can build optimism through the way they talk about challenges.  Speak of challenges in limited ways, frame the concern so it’s not so global or big that it can’t be handled and say, “we just haven’t found the answer yet.  The word “yet” creates a presupposition that the answer will be found!

The art of developing successful leadership is created by bringing the right skills together so leaders can experience a resilience that is sustainable even when tested.

Leadership Development: The Four Corners of Empathetic Assertiveness

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

–George Bernard Shaw

 Successful leaders exhibit skills that may look natural and easy yet are truly the result of paying close attention and being responsive to the whole environment.  To do so, they learn to be emotionally literate and employ a complex set of skills in ways that may seem innate though in fact are the result of a willingness to work, learn and improve.  Leaders often believe that their cognitive intelligence is the threshold for their success, and they do need solid IQ smarts and a good education to get in the door and to keep up with technical and professional developments.  To move beyond that threshold they need to be adept at relationships, influencing and leading staff and teams effectively.

The path for exhibiting this excellence is based in emotional intelligence:

“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.”

The most powerful and sustainable way to build those relationships requires using the four emotional intelligence skills demonstrated in this graph.

The artful use of these four skills creates a resilient environment and is well supported by using the EQ-i2.0 with the leaders.  We also find considerable value by measuring team skills as well with the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®.  Together these two assessments present a powerful picture that supports developing leadership capabilities.

In a real-life case, Carl (his name is changed to protect privacy) became the new CEO at a large hospital and faced big challenges such as leading the medical staff, the administrative staff and various boards to work together.  Carl is one smart IQ person and he needs all those smarts!  He is leading new change initiatives, changing reporting relationships and strategizing on how to meet financial challenges that have built up over several years.  He also needs to build loyalty, solid relationships and a desire among a staff of many different backgrounds from neurosurgeons to administrative staff to work together and build a new future together.  Every day he exhibits skills in all four dimensions of this success diagram.

Empathy
 – People know he understands how hard they are working and that change can be painful, they feel his compassion and genuine interest in them.

Assertiveness
 – He is assertive, there is no doubt that the changes are to be made.  His staff knows that they are expected to perform to the new standards and will be held accountable if they don’t.  When actions are unacceptable he makes it clear; however, this isn’t necessary often because he communicates what is needed up front and the requirement of accountability is clear.


Impulse Control – 
His expert use of impulse control is reflected by his measured responses when something goes wrong and his thoughtful engagement on complex matters as he helps all involved recognize that big problems take time to resolve successfully.

Optimism
  – He leaves no doubt about his belief that they will be resolved, thus exuding consistent optimism.  His staff gains hopefulness and inspiration, they know he cares about them and will hold them accountable.  It is a healthy proactive structure that is gradually turning a big ship around since he started six months ago.

When leaders seek to guide and influence others we know they need to communicate – but how?  The choice that gets the desired results taps into the four corners of empathic assertiveness.  These are four of the fifteen skills measured by the EQ-i and the good news is they can be developed and improved in all motivated leaders.  It is best for the leader and his/her coach to review the results from taking the EQ-i and create a game plan that calls for these skills to be used in synch.  If a leader one day pats an employee on the back and praises him or her. Then the next day the leader impulsively yells about a mistake, it can be difficult for the employee to trust the relationship. The leader needs to learn to bring those skills together in a cohesive message.  Let’s assume a leader, I’ll call Mary makes one of the following two communications:

“Nancy, I’m so disappointed with the errors in your report, we worked with you so hard last time and here you are making the same kind of mistakes again.  Now, do it right and have the memo on my desk by 10 a.m. tomorrow!” 

OR

“Nancy, I appreciate your desire to get this project completed on time, but quality has to matter just as much as timeliness.  Please take time to correct the errors, get help from others on the team as you need, and give me your proposed final memo by tomorrow at 10 a.m. I know you can get this done well just like you did with last month’s project.” 

If Mary was just assertive and didn’t manage her impulses her irritation at the poor quality could cause Nancy to be less resourceful, Nancy is likely to move away emotionally from the project and from Mary rather than moving toward the project and rolling up her sleeves to accomplish even more.  The second message incorporates all four skills and is more likely to lead to success.

How to be successful with the Four Corners model

Empathy is demonstrated by understanding the emotions people are communicating and responding to them.  This is key to building trust, engagement and passion.  Demonstrating empathy can take just a moment, if you see that someone is surprised, worried or perplexed, acknowledge the emotion, connect it with a reason you believe is related and give the person time to correct you if needed and to respond more.  “You feel perplexed because these two goals seem contradictory.” Also, be sure to give the person time to speak.

Assertiveness is demonstrated by the ability to speak up, to make your points, to say no when called for.  Leaders can develop their skills with assertiveness by intentionally saying what is important to them and by practicing saying no by being clear about their priorities.  A leader’s staff and teams want to hear from him/her, but the way that the assertiveness is communicated will make all the difference in how it is accepted.

Impulse control includes the ability to manage impulses, be patient and to control the desire to be angry. Howard Book writes in his chapter “When Enhanced EI is Associated with Leadership Derailment” (The Handbook for Developing Emotional and Social Intelligence, Hughes, Thompson and Terrell, 2009) that impulse control is a primary skill upon which all other cognitive and emotional skills depend.  Leaders with poor impulse control make haphazard and poorly thought out decisions.  Rich Handley in his chapter “Advanced EQi Interpretation Techniques” in the edited volume presented his research on the relationship between the fifteen EQ-i skills in which he found the EQ-i skill that supports the most successful use of an identified EQ skill, e.g., for emotional self awareness that supportive skill is impulse control.  It turns out that impulse control is the most influential of all the skills.  If someone overuses impulse control they may be risk adverse and just play things too safely.  Someone low in impulse control at best will irritate others and at worst will burn many bridges.  Leaders can develop their impulse control by finding ways to stop and think before they speak.  We often suggest a leader use stair therapy – if they are feeling impulsive or even explosive we urge them to go climb a set or more of stairs before they say anything.  There is no doubt that getting oxygen to their brain and incorporating physical movement will be helpful.

Optimism is the demonstration of hopefulness.  When leaders help their teams believe they will find an answer even when the going gets tough, they are building optimism.  Plentiful research is demonstrating the power of positive mood.  Leaders can build optimism through the way they talk about challenges.  Speak of challenges in limited ways, frame the concern so it’s not so global or big that it can’t be handled and say, “we just haven’t found the answer yet.  The word “yet” creates a presupposition that the answer will be found!

The art of developing successful leadership is created by bringing the right skills together so leaders can experience a resilience that is sustainable even when tested.

What Qualities Do You Associate With Emotional Sustainability?

Emotional Sustainable Qualities visualAt Collaborative Growth’s recent Symposium on Emotional Sustainability participants identified the key qualities they feel are associated with this hopeful term.  Their answers follow and were the heart of how the Emotional Sustainability Word Cloud you see here.  After some soul searching these answers were highlighted at the Symposium:

  • Gratitude – being without regret or anxiety
  • Self/other awareness
  • Work/ life integration – eliminating my own internal silos
  • Modeling
  • Accountability – how to get EQ in at the bottom of the organization
  • Language – feeling words, able to speak on emotions in a structured way
  • Joy – living to one’s full potential
  • Kindness – leading people to be comfortable to learn in the classroom
  • Love, the verb! – Stress disconnects us from our higher purpose and we need to recognize that fear harms learning.  Be transparent around emotions.
  • Present to moments of Grace – align talent with organizational goals
  • Intimacy – transform leaders as people by deeply and respectfully connecting
  • Act with the recognition:  In love I am one with you
  • In Lak’ech – from the Mayan tradition this is understood to mean I am another yourself (A modern day interpretation) and also means I am you, and You are me (A traditional Mayan interpretation)


Crafting an Emotionally Sustainable Lifestyle

Life is precious and is best lived when we pay attention to creating an emotionally sustainable lifestyle.  We are passionately committed to providing our services in order to support individuals and teams in living emotionally sustainable lifestyles.  This is also known as living resiliently.  Marcia’s book Life’s 2% Solution provides a well tested strategy for living with Passionate Equilibrium – being thoroughly engaged and doing so with a sense of balance. Additionally the EQi and EQ 360 for individuals and the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey) are developed to promote emotional sustainability.

The Collaborative Growth team model highlights the path for developing the seven skills measured by the TESI in the outer ring.  Emotional and social well-being for teams is the result of following this path to sustainability for teams.

Collaborative Growth Team ModelEmotional sustainability, also referred to as well being, can be measured with assessments such as the EQi ® and the EQ 360 ®.  Dr. BarOn, the original creator of the EQi has pinpointed self actualization as the apex of all the EQ skills.

So just which EQ skills should you focus on to develop this life nurturing state? BarOn names eight, which he listed in the order of their importance:

• Happiness

• Optimism

• Self-Regard

• Independence

• Problem Solving

• Social Responsibility

• Assertiveness

• Emotional Self-Awareness

Bar-On, 2001, p. 92. “EI and Self-Actualization.” In Emotional Intelligence in Everyday Life, edited by J. Ciarrochi, J. Forgas, and J. Mayer. New York: Psychology Press.

Frequently revisiting these eight critical factors will help you engage your EQ in a manner designed to support an emotionally sustainable lifestyle.  At the team level the critical sustainability is developed by using the seven skills in the outer ring of the Collaborative Growth Team Model.  These are powerful skills that can be developed at the individual and team level.  The resulting quality of life will assure you and those you influence that it is worth the effort!