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Coaching & Emotional Intelligence Training Is Needed In Leadership Training

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According to an article from Georgetown University, “leadership coaching is needed today more than ever as a critical tool for organizational change.” Increasingly, in today’s challenging public and private sector environment, almost all leaders indicate that they not only want coaching but need it. (LaBier, 2013) The question is why.

An article in Psychology Today may point to the answers. It was proposed that because of increased global competitiveness, challenging cultural dynamics, the downward trajectories in the economic environment, increased organizational turmoil and the astronomically higher levels of stress, the success rate and longevity of today’s top executives is now vastly different than that their counterparts a generation ago. In other words, top leaders can now expect less managerial success and shorter careers than their predecessors.

In the past two decades, 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have lasted less than 3 years in their positions. Top executive failure rates are as high as 75% and are rarely less than 30%. Chief executives are now lasting 7.6 years on a global average which is down from 9.5 years in 1995. And, according to the Harvard Business Review, two out of five new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job. It appears that the major reason for the failure has nothing to do with competence, or knowledge, or experience, but rather with hubris and ego and a leadership style which may be out of touch with the changing leadership environment in modern times.

According to Dr. Marcus Mottley in an article entitled: “Why Today’s Leaders Need Emotional Intelligence Coaching”: “The bottom line is that leaders of small and large, public or private sector organizations need help. And the kind of help they need is not in the technical arena where they are mostly competent and highly experienced. The help they need is in the area popularly called ‘soft skills’ which involves topical areas such as: interpersonal, communication and relational skills, influencing and motivational skills, awareness of and managing their own emotions, and, dealing effectively with the emotions of others, etc.“

What is the relationship between Coaching and Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI)?

Most coaching interventions try to enhance some aspect of EQ, usually under the name of social, interpersonal, or soft skills training. The rationale for this is that “whereas IQ is very hard to change, EQ can increase with deliberate practice and training.” (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013) And, according to some researchers and business leaders “emotional intelligence is one of the more under-rated business skills that need to be given more attention.” (Chen, 2013)

Daniel Goleman, a thought leader on the subject of emotional intelligence, refers to EQ as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships.” Motivation, awareness of and managing our feelings (emotions), developing effective interpersonal relationships, the ability to effectively express ourselves and enhancing our empathy for others are all domains within the context of emotional intelligence.

“Breakthroughs in brain research also show how leaders’ moods and actions have enormous impact on those they lead. A leader’s emotions can either energize or deflate an entire organization. Strong leaders make people feel good in bad times by helping them deal with negative emotions and by nourishing their positive ones so they can do what they have to do.
(Emotional Intelligence, Goleman)

A leader’s mood has the ability to inspire, arouse passion and enthusiasm and to keep people motivated and committed. Leaders who possess high levels of EI are adept at inducing desirable responses in others and are able to capture the “discretionary energy” of employees, which can impact the organization’s performance as measured by revenues and profits.

“Emotional leadership is the spark that ignites a company’s performance, creating a bonfire of success or a landscape of ashes.” (Primal Leadership, Goleman). Research has shown that a critical mass of EI capabilities has significant benefits to the bottom line by as much as 28%.
There is no question, then, that there is a link between a company’s success and the emotional intelligence of it leaders. (Grossman, 2005)

In another study reported in the “Business Case for Emotional Intelligence”, researchers looked at which of three competencies best predict leadership performance. While intellectual competence indicated a 9.2% predictability of leadership performance, and managerial skills and knowledge showed a 10.4% predictability score, emotional intelligence indicated a 13% score of predictability of leadership performance.

An article in the online blog Six Seconds summarizes the importance of emotional intelligence to leaders in this way: “Leadership is a ‘people business’ and emotional intelligence is the missing link. EI helps leaders know themselves and use their own strengths — and work with and through people effectively.” It continues that “Higher EI Leaders are more likely to make better decisions, engage and influence more effectively, and create the right mood for the job.” And Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric posits “No doubt, emotional intelligence (EI) is more rare than book smarts… but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.” (Wall Street Journal, the Four E’s, January 23, 2004).

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Video: Negative Energy

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Negative Energy

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Recently, several of my coaching clients have had situations where their anger was triggered to the point where it led to them being ineffective in their leadership roles. Most of them felt that their anger was justified and so they had ‘a right to be angry.’ For more than 20 years I have conducted anger management workshops for public and private sector organizations and those are the typical responses that I get from participants.
My response? Yes – everyone has a ‘right’ to their own emotions. Yes – their emotions may even be justified! However, if their emotions and the behaviors and actions which follow follow diminish their capacity to be effective as leaders, managers or supervisors, then some kind of analysis/evaluation needs to be done! Why? So that they can get better and more empowering outcomes for themselves and for the other person!
I recently came across an article by MK Mueller who seems to have coined the term ‘angergy’… anger-energy. She posited that we need to get in touch with our angergy where she claims is B.A.A.D.D.D.F.O.R.U.! (We Blame, Analyze, Apologize, Defend, Dissect, Deny, Fix, Obsess, Run (from the trigger) or Use (food, credit cards, cigarettes, alcohol, etc.) to feed or try to treat the negative emotion.
Another smart person has written that anger is one letter away from danger… What is that letter? “D”… danger! There is even a book entitled: Anger Kills (In my anger management seminars I outline the physiological and psychological process of how anger kills!)
Now, many people argue that anger can be a useful emotion… and I certainly agree.  Mother Teresa started her worldwide social justice movement purportedly on a day when she was extremely angry. Dr. Martin Luther King used his anger and sense of injustice to foster change through the civil rights movement! These and other historic figures turned what could have been negative angergy into positive passion for social justice. So yes… we can use angergy for positive good.
So, when we realize that our energy is moving towards or is already in the danger zone we should shift ourselves – walk it out… talk it out.. write it out… move it out… sing it out… meditate it out… or pray it out. How can we use this moment for something positive… to change… and transform ourselves… our staff… our kids… our family… our community… our organization… our world? Yes… and again… ourselves…?
The point: Do something positive! Don’t give the anger free rein… don’t allow it to take you over… don’t allow yourself to remain stuck in the muck… don’t give it any room in the temple… don’t allow it to suck the rest of your energy… don’t allow it to make you an ineffective manager, parent, spouse or… human being.
Instead… let the sunshine in… put the spotlight on it and drive it out!
Then… and only then… begin to address the source and the trigger of the anger…
How long does this take? With practice… with practice… with practice… this process can take anywhere from a few days to … a few seconds!
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Emotional Competence

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My definition of emotional competence is a simple one. It is the level of skill and ability with which one handles their emotions. I know that many well known and highly respected writers and researchers have penned their own definitions. In my opinion, they overstate and over define emotional competence. My simple definition covers all the bases and allows a second grader to understand it.

The degree to which you manage your hurt, disappointment, frustration, anger, hate, love and fear points to your level of emotional competence. You may be competent at effectively managing your irritation but less so at dealing with personal hurt. Even within the realms of the same emotion your level of competence might differ. For example, you may be the world’s most competent dad or mom at handling the daily irritations that arise from interacting with your children (their phones, school work, trying to sleep late, etc.). But at work, you have no such expertise at dealing with the irritation that arises when you must deal with tardy employees or micromanaging supervisors.

So, emotional competence does not have to do with your awareness or knowledge of your emotions – that is in the realm of emotional intelligence. However, emotional competence has to do with ‘how’ you express those emotions. That is skill. Lets split hairs for a minute on this issue. Your ability to ‘explore’, ‘examine’, ‘unravel’  your emotions falls in the realm of ‘competence’. Once you have done that exploration and analysis, then the resulting ‘understanding’ becomes your level of ‘intelligence’ or ‘awareness’.

I think that for too long, prominent researchers and writers have muddled the waters by lumping everything together and using the label of ’emotional intelligence’.  The word ‘intelligence‘ (from the word ‘intellect’) ought to be applied narrowly and specifically to mean: knowledge, understanding, awareness, comprehension, and discernment. “Competence” on the other hand means: skill, proficiency, expertise, ability, capability,  and adeptness.

The difference between these two words can be simplified as the difference between two words: know and do; awareness and application; knowledge and action.

So you may be fully aware of your tendency to get angry quickly and fly off the handle. You may even be keenly aware of the specific triggers that scratch the match which starts your fiery outbursts. You may even be able to feel ‘it‘ coming on… That is emotional intelligence.

Can you stop the fiery outbursts, which might lead to you smacking someone. Can you channel that energy differently when you know you have been triggered, when you feel that you are getting hot under the collar, when you are acutely aware that you are about to do something very, very stupid? How can you stop yourself, or re-route, or re-channel that strong and rising heat? The skill to do this points to your level of competence!

I will be writing more on this topic… so keep following.

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