Category Archives: Solution Focused Strategies

Coaching & Emotional Intelligence Training Is Needed In Leadership Training

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).

Negative Energy

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!

Emotional Competence

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.

Self-Esteem or Self-Image

There is a difference between self-esteem, self-concept and self-image. These are all terms that most people use interchangeably as if there are the same. However, as I will show here, these terms represent key differences in how we make meaning of, and represent our perception of our world. Perception is the key word here as it indicates how we interpret the world around us.

The term ‘self-image’ is about just that: the image or picture that we have in our minds about ourselves. Self-image is the way we represent ourselves visually and ‘pictorally’. Your self-image is the picture that you hold in your mind of how we look!

Is the image you have in your mind about you a ‘real’ representation of how you ‘really’ look? The answer is mixed: sometimes yes… sometimes no! For example, there are some people who, when they think of themselves, seem themselves as very fat! Yet when they go on the scale it registers a normal weight (average for their height). So they have a distorted ‘self-image’ and as a result they go on extreme dietary regimen in order to ‘lose weight’. Some individuals, while they may seem to eal normally (in public) they quickly exit to the bathroom to induce vomiting. Why? So that the food they eat might not contribute to their distorted perception that they are overweight or over-sized.

While self-image is about the internally held picture of oneself, self-concept is about the thoughts, philosophy, ideas and beliefs (or concept) which individuals use to describe themselves. Self-concept is what people ‘say’ about themselves (mostly to themselves). Self-concept is a verbal internal representation of one’s self. It is self-talk about ourselves. It is the sets of thoughts that says things like “I am handsome”, “I am capahble”, “I can do this or that.” or, conversely, “No, I can’t,”  “I am not worthy,” “I am too fat, or too old, or too skinny, etc.”

Now self-concept may contain the same information as one’s self image, except that this information is represented in words versus pictures. Self concept involves your inner voice, while self-image involves your inner eye which you turn on and make pictures of yourself.

Self-esteem is described as the way we ‘feel’ about ourselves. Self-esteem involves the ‘feeling; we have in our bodies when we think about ourselves. Think about the last time you were really scared… what was the feeling like in your chest or your stomach? What were the sensations like? Were you feeling discomfort? Now think about the last time you felt deeply satisfied… how did your body feel? Were you ‘relaxed’? How does ‘relaxed’ feel? What  the physical attributes?

Some people equate self-esteem with self-value and self-worth. As a result they don’t have a specific word for self-feeling! And when I say feeling… I am referring to feelings such as anger, happiness, satisfaction, discontent, hate and love. How are these feelings represented in one’s body versus the way they are related to you and represented in your thoughts (self-concept) and the pictures (self-image) you use to represent them.

Rather than referring to self -worth, the reference here to self-esteem is primarily about ‘how you feel about yourself’ form a physical perspective. My focus here on self-esteem is a focus on the emotions that you feel when you think about yourself and the physical manifestations that accompany those emotions.  Confused? How does that feel (and where in your physiology are those feelings)?

As you can see, there is a clear distinction between self-image, self-concept and self-esteem.

The Negative Power of Emotions

Most people’s lives are driven by their feelings. You feel hungry and you eat. You feel that you want a little more and you eat a little more. You feel that some ice cream or cookies would be the best dessert… so you ‘indulge’ (even though you have to follow it up with 1000 mg of Metformin, or worse – some insulin – because of your diabetes).

And I know and you know that the stomach is not the only place where our feelings dictate what we do. You are a married, internationally powerful leader and you feel that you should ‘indulge’ yourself with an intern. And, you do! You are rich, but you feel that you are not rich enough so you ‘indulge’ in some illegal investment activities. You a White policeman and you ‘feel’ differently (negatively) about Black people than you feel about White people, so when push comes to shove, you let all your ‘hidden’ feelings drive your actions.

So what should you do if you find that your feelings are controlling your life (and you don’t want them to)?

Stop living by your feelings. Stop letting your feelings drive what you do daily. Stop letting your feelings dictate your interactions with others.

Stop following your feelings until those feelings are insync with your decisions, your values and your life’s mission. But here is the problem with that statement… your decisions are probably driven by your feelings. Yes, your feelings are probably the hidden (and not so hidden) drivers behind your thoughts, beliefs, decisions – and definitely your actions.

Some writers have called this the “think, feel, do” cycle. I call it the “feel, think, do” cycle… and the “feel, do, think about it after the fact” cycle.

Most things that we do don’t go in the order of: “Let me see… what should I do? OK, I will do this and that… and then after that I will do so and so… etc.) Nope. Most people feel a particular way about something, this then drives their thoughts… and their actions follow quickly thereafter.

For example, you are driving on a neighborhood street and someone cuts in front of you just barely missing hitting your car. Do you say to yourself, “How should I respond to this person?” Nope. Instead, you probably think – “That idiot, what the hell is he doing? He could have killed me!” And, that’s the tame version of what you might say, not only to yourself but out loud. You might not even say anything! Instead, you might speed up right under his bumper, wait until you both get to the next red light… pull up by his side, roll down your window and blast him – verbally of course (although your preference at that moment would be to use some other instrument other than your mouth to do the blasting)!

At that point, what is in control of your actions? Is it your cognitive self (rationally thinking and deciding on how to act)? Or is it your emotional self… driven by your out of control feelings? Of course, through all of this, there is no part of your rational, cognitive self, saying to itself… “I shouldn’t…” You might even hesitate because your 8 year old is in the car, or because there are four burly, ‘hooded’ and ‘tattooed’ guys in the car glaring back at you.

So even if you hesitate, your ‘rational’ brain tells you, “I have a right to be pissed! That so and so…” In other words… there is no part of you that questions your feelings… or your right to feel the way you do. And even worse, there is no part of you that challenges your follow-up actions (because you have a right to be angry). So, your feelings have carte blanche control of all other aspects of your ‘self’ (thoughts, other feelings, behaviors and actions). And to add to this misery, each time you think about this even (even five years later), those same thoughts, feelings and the drive to act in a certain way, resurface in full blown mode all over again!

It doesn’t matter if you are a nun, priest, monk, police, lawyer, teacher, addict, retired judge, or octogenarian. Your feelings probably have almost total control of you.

So… what do you do?

Keep reading this blog!

How to disable, diminish, neutralize the power of your feelings/emotions to totally control your life in ways that put you at risk is the subject of a forthcoming book and several forthcoming articles on this site.