emotional intelligence

How Can Being Instead of Doing Affect Your Organizational Culture?

Years ago I worked at an organization that had a cultural norm of “respect for people." This norm was carried out in many positive ways such as compassion with the loss of an employee's family member, care with paternity and maternity leaves, and even performance-reflected pay-base in this respectful culture.

In one department, a leader swooped in with an agenda. He would make changes in performance standards but only select favorites would be told of these new rules. Low-performance ratings were given to people who had traditionally been top performers. The culture shifted dramatically and the organization became chaotic and fragmented. The previous cultural norms were no longer reliable. All anyone knew was to "please the leader or you are out."

Six months later the entire department had been decimated. The leader had to be replaced. What was once a high-performing organization had been completely and utterly destroyed by the actions of one person. One really loud voice was able to take down an entire team, exiting many top performers from the company in the process.

The culture you define as an organizational leader impacts the development of your team members. If they don't feel safe, they definitely won't feel valued as a team member. And if they don't feel valued, then they won't be motivated. When you have unmotivated team members you run the risk of losing them or leaving untapped potential on the table.

So, how do you create a culture that allows your newest team members to feel safe as well as your current colleagues to be motivated? Perhaps it's not something that you DO, but instead what you can BE.

Focus on developing your Emotional Intelligence. This effort on your part will impact the culture you want to create. As you create this positive culture, the desired behaviors will become part of who you are and not just something that you do occasionally. Think deeply about the kind of culture you are shaping as you lead your team.

Here are five things you can become that will positively impact the culture of your organization:

Be Self Aware

Know yourself and be confident in your abilities. Understand how you handle your emotions and how they impact your company. Your team is watching to see how you will react. In fact, they may be able to predict your behaviors. Become just as aware of yourself and how you can choose your emotional responses.

Be Assertive

Communicate your what, how, and why in a simple, clear, and even repetitive way so that your team understands.

Be Empathetic

When I teach seminars on Emotional Intelligence, I often ask the group for a common definition of empathy. The response I get back more than any other is “walking a mile in the other person’s shoes.” I love this definition, but to take it one step further (pun intended),I would add that empathy is “walking a mile in the other person’s shoes, even when the shoe doesn’t fit." Being empathetic is about being compassionate, caring, listening, and being flexible as needed. I strongly believe we should not neglect the impact empathy has on shaping the culture of your company. Showing regular empathy will instantly invoke safety and value in your teammates.

Be in Control

Don’t waver or change things based on emotional reactions. When something comes up that causes an emotional response, remind yourself of the company’s mission and your principles to ensure your decisions align with your mission. This way, your team can feel confident that you won't make changes at the drop of a hat. As they trust you, they can focus on the work they need to do.

Be Optimistic

Positive people are magnetic. Their energy makes others want to be around them. In order to be optimistic, you have to change the way you talk to yourself. Begin to see the best in yourself, recognize setbacks as learning opportunities, and realize obstacles are unique, temporary events that you'll get through.

How are you doing with these five things? Look back over the list and fill in the rest of these phrases:

I want to be more…

So that my team can feel …

And we'll create a culture that is ...

Share what you wrote with a mentor or coach and have them help you with this development. If you can't think of who to share this with, write it in our comments below or contact me directly. I'd love to hear what you have to say and find out how we can help you!

Focus Here to Reduce Your Stress Today

The past two days were really busy for me, but they were not necessarily stressful. 

Have you ever noticed that when you ask someone how they are doing, a common response is “really busy..." and these words are usually followed by a heavy sigh, an eye-roll, and a shrug of the shoulders.


Being busy carries some sort of identity for us. We can’t just “be” who we are, we have to “be” something in order to have identity.

We've decided that to be busy is to be stressed. And if busyness is stressful then this fills our identity, bringing some sort of value to who we are. I am amazed at the thinking on this. Just because we are busy and stressed we are somehow more valuable and have more self-worth.

A lie straight from the pit of Hell!!!

I completely disagree with these lies we tell ourselves:

Lie #1: I am busy so I have to be stressed.

Lie #2: I am busy and stressed so I must be bringing more value to my work.

Lie #3: I am busy and stressed and bringing more value so even though I am exhausted I have a higher feeling of self-worth.

When are we going to stop equating busyness and stress with self-worth?

My Point

I think you can be really busy and not be stressed out.

My good friend Dr. Tim Gardner is famous for saying, “What people know about stress is killing them.” Think about that for a minute. In the world of stress and stress management, there is not much new information that has come around over the last 20 years or so. You know everything you need to know about stress and how to manage it and yet you choose it anyway.

I am not talking about temporary stress here like the tension felt in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the World Champion Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals. A four and a half hour, nine-inning baseball game that had more ups and downs and tense moments for both teams.  While it that was a really tense 4 and a half hours, that is not the kind of temporary tension I am writing about.

What Dr. Tim means is that most of us know we are going to be busy, and this busyness has the potential to be stressful, and if you let it be stressful it can have a detrimental effect on your overall health and well being.

The question I have for you today is: If you are busy can you choose not to be stressed?

Main Idea

Many of you know that for the past 20 years or so I have been involved in the emotional intelligence movement. Now when you teach something like emotional intelligence, I think folks watch to see if you are a theorist or a practitioner. A theorist knows what the main ideas are and can pass any exam they might take on a subject. A practitioner is someone who understands the theory and works hard to put it into practice.

One of the things we are really excited about in our organization is the certification work we are doing with the EQi 2.0.  The actual certification class is a 2-day virtual training that is filled with a lot of practical strategies for implementing the EQi 2.0 assessment.  It is exciting for us to work with professionals dedicated to the growth and development of others. We love the work and hearing the great things the participants have to say in training.

One of the competencies we work on is stress management. This idea of managing stress really has two components:

  1. What to do in a particularly stressful moment?
  2. How do you manage stress so you lessen its overall effect?

It is this second strategy I want you to think about today.

Management is by definition a planning and organizing function. So if you know you are going to be busy, then how can you plan and organize your life so that the busyness is not stressful?

We often talk about how to deal with stress after the fact, but what if we were more observant of stress before it began? Here are 3 keywords to a proactive stress plan. These words may sound familiar, but pay attention to their definitions. Putting a word to feelings you might not associate with stress can make all the difference when it comes to preparing to overcome our obstacles by helping us create clearer goals. While you're reading, see if any of these definitions relate to your relationship with stress in ways you may not have been able to put words to before. 

   3 Strategies To Change Your L      

FLEXIBILITY: The ability to adapt to change effectively. Any change in life is going to bring emotion. How flexible are you with these feelings? This is a different question than "are you able to take the needed action in a crisis?" Instead, flexibility asks if you are able to flex and choose a different emotional response when you are faced with obstacles. If not, ask yourself: can you put strategies in place to do so? Do you have the flexibility to overpower your emotion and choose a different one, or are you subject to the emotion?

Tolerance: How much can I hold until I break? Tolerance equates with strength. Think of metal: There is a certain amount of weight it holds until it will break. You are the same. There is a level of stress you can hold until you will break. Tolerance measures where that level is for you. This sounds abstract, but it is not. Make a list of all the stressors you are juggling. Can you cross one off or delegate some of that stress? 

Optimism: To be optimistic is not to be a shiny happy person who refuses to see harsh realities, but to be resilient. Optimistic people know that it is not a matter of if something will go wrong, but when and are prepared to respond with resilience. It is a constructive response to setbacks. This is where self-talk comes into play: How you talk to yourself when things don't go your way? Are you able to say "This setback happened, but I am still myself apart from this situation and will move on," or do you equate the even with your personality, saying things like, "This is who I am, this sort of thing always happens to me." To be optimistic is to perceive reality properly by not using words like "always" and "never," and to instead to see the situation as what it was, and be ready to separate it from your future self. 

Are you going through the motions without examining your stress management? Use these 3 words this week to help you evaluate yourself in these areas, and open up a dialogue with yourself. Ask yourself difficult questions about how much you can really take on, what you are allowing to define your worth, and whether or not you are a slave to your emotions. 

Are You Interviewing for This Critical Attribute?

If you are a leader who has hiring responsibility or are interviewing for a new role yourself, here is something to keep at the top of your mind.

I saw an interesting article in the New York Times the other day claiming that for every career there is an opposite career, requiring completely opposite skills. For instance, if you are a kindergarten teacher, your opposite career is a physicist. Teaching kindergarten is all about developing young minds. Physics is about using logic, math, and reasoning to solve problems. Different skills are needed for these different kinds of work outcomes. Here you can see the top set of skills needed for these two careers side by side. 

The opposite job of a kindergarten teacher is a physicist.

Skills Kindergarten Teachers Use Most            Skills Physicist Use Most

  1. Coaching & developing others                      Physics
  2. Learning strategies                                         Mathematics
  3. Developing & building teams                        Number facility
  4. Training & teaching others                            Information ordering
  5. Philosophy & theology                                    Logical Reasoning

I thought this was really interesting on a couple of fronts. First, it fascinates me that, thanks to the tax money you provide the US government, the Department of Labor actually keeps data on this kind of information. While I never want to be critical about things I don’t know much about, I do have to scratch my head and ask if my tax dollars could have gone into the free market rather than pay for what seems on the surface to be a useless analysis of data collected.

Once I got past my inner critic it was kind of fun to think about the differences between being a writer and a mobile home installer: creative communication skill versus spatial thinking and manual dexterity. 

While it is a bit of a “blinding glimpse of the obvious” that the work of a physicist (thanks, Big Bang Theory for cluing me into this one) is very different from that of a kindergarten teacher. What becomes interesting are the assumptions we make about what it takes to be successful in different organizational roles.

3 Components of workplace success

Raw Intellect. There is a well-established link, with little to no debate, between the importance of overall intelligence and success in the workplace. It goes without saying that for any job that exists in an organization a certain amount of intellect is required to be able to accomplish the tasks that the organization is paying for. If you teach kindergarten you may not need to be able to do advanced calculus or understand how statistics applies to quantum theory but you need to be able to master education philosophies and advanced learning strategies. 

For most of the roles in our organizations, we don’t measure the minimum level of intellect is needed for job success on any kind of scale. We have some idea through education processes that if someone graduated from a school that has a  qualified welding program, most likely the person has the intellect to do the job. This is one reason that education matters so much, even if young people have no idea what they want to do after graduation, stay in school and get your degree you will just have more opportunities to choose from.

Skills and Talents. The second component for workplace success that gets the most scrutiny in interview processes are the behavior abilities the person displays. Back in my sales management days in the pharmaceutical industry, I spent many a day interviewing potential candidates trying to decipher if they had the skills needed to be successful on my team. We looked for people who could verbally articulate in a concise manner and who could solve problems on the spot. Paramount to sales success was the person's desire to learn complex ideas and then explain them simply. 

Behavior-based interviewing has become so popular over the years, focusing on a candidate's job experience gives some clue as to their ability to be able to perform similar task types in different roles. If a specialist in supply chain management knows how to use a pivot table then the use of this skill could be applied to any other role where pivot tables are important for job success.

And yet I can remember going through interviews with candidates from very good schools (had enough intellect) who had what seemed to have good transferable skills (in my case: sales experience) and think, “this person is not a good fit for my team." 

How is is that the person can be smart enough, and have the skills, but not be a good fit?

Emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that people engage to know themselves better, have better relationships, and make better decisions.  Data from the World Economic Forum suggests that over one-third of the job skills that exist today will NOT be needed in the next ten years. And a new set of competencies that don't make the list today will end up on the list instead. 

In their book The EQ Edge, Steve Stein and Howard Book provide some examples of the emotional and social skills needed for different types of roles, including jobs like account executives and teachers and customer service professionals. For example, if you need to fill a customer facing role that includes sales and customer support components, you might know the type of education, skills, and talents you are looking for in a candidate, but do you know what emotional and social skills the person needs in order to increase their level of success?

Case study

Here is how I have been helping my clients think through these types of situations. Let’s use the above scenario as a case study. 

You have been hired as a consultant to help a client understand the types of candidates they need to hire for a new customer support role they are creating, which includes sales and customer service components.

Here are some steps you can use to think through the kind of people you might need to fill these roles:

Step 1. Define the Role-most of my clients have a good job description so this one is easy.

Step 2. Define what success looks like. How will your new hire know they are doing the job well?

Step 3. What kind of education level does the person need to have to be successful? Do they need an MBA from a top 10 school or a bachelors degree from any accredited institution?

Step 4. What are the skills and talents that the person has to have to meet the minimum level of success we are expecting?

For this role you might be looking for skills and talents like:

  1. Ability to collaborate and partner
  2. Self-motivation
  3. Creative problem-solving
  4. Result oriented
  5. Inspiring and influencing

Step 5. What are the emotional and social functioning abilities a person is going to need to align with the skills and talents they possess? We think about this as being the “how” they go about doing the skill.

                          Skill                                          Emotional Intelligence Ability

    1. Ability to collaborate and partner        Interpersonal relationships
    2. Self-motivation                                       Self-actualization
    3. Creative problem-solving                      Reality testing
    4. Result oriented                                       Optimism
    5. Inspiring and influencing                      Empathy

    Final Thought

    If you are a hiring manager or a candidate looking for your next role, you have probably spent a lot of time on considering education, skills, and talents, but have you spent enough time thinking through the impact that emotional intelligence plays in success?

    Sometimes It's What's Not There That's Most Interesting

    “When you forget to put the bay leaf in, the pot roast doesn’t taste as good.”-Norma Smith

    There are times when what is missing is just as important as what goes in.

    If you are ever in Lake Wales Florida and have an evening to spare, you need to stop in and pay a visit to my mother-in-law. There are two things I can guarantee will happen if you ever decide to do this. First, you will hear stories, lots of them, about how the sharing of one's faith is much more than talking. It is about actually doing something to help someone, like dig a well, buying a goat, or even teaching a child. Faith talk is cheap, Faith action is much more impactful. The second thing you will get is a wonderful meal. The woman can cook, and my favorite thing by far is the pot roast. In fact, if you call her in advance and tell her you are coming, drop a hint about the pot roast. You will be so glad you did.  

    Now, if you promise not to tell anyone, I will share a secret with you…the secret of a good pot roast. 

    It's the bay leaf or bay laurel as it is known in cooking circles. As they simmer the leaf, it gives off a complex-tea like aroma that adds a subtle flavor somewhere between oregano and thyme.  

    I can recall one time the family got together and pot roast was on the menu. Norma asked me to put take the beef from the roaster and put it in the serving dish. As I was doing this she said, “Make sure you take the Bay Leaf out and throw it away." Being a curious type I asked, "have you ever forgotten the bay leaf?” 

    If you leave the Bay Leaf out the the roast just isn’t as good….

    That story came to my mind as I read  an article in the Wall Street Journal on graduate school admissions. 

    This summer, NYU’s Stern School of Business started asking for endorsements from a pal or co-worker who can comment on the applicant’s social skills or emotional intelligence.

    I found this so interesting because for years now the leadership literature has bee calling out the fact that while intellect is important, it is emotional intelligence that mediates performance. You have to be smart enough to be in the role, but after that it is your emotional and social skills that matter to the organization you work with.

    In addition to the two recommendations Stern requires students to submit, the school now has applicants ask a friend or colleague to write a 250-word statement highlighting their traits like empathy and self-awareness. Interestingly, for their next incoming class, Wharton will ask recommenders to do something similar in describing a candidate, asking them to pick six traits—such as conscientiousness or humility—from a list of 20 that best describe the person.

    What Goes In and What's Left Out

    One of the workshops we've been asked to facilitate more often is “Interviewing for Emotional Intelligence." Organizations, in addition to academic institutions, are realizing the importance of emotional intelligence to overall success.

    Often times it isn’t what the person is saying in an interview that matters, but what is left out.

    Consider the individual contributor who is interviewing for their first manager (leadership) position…

    Interviewer: “Tell me about a time when you were successful in leading a team.”

    Hopeful Candidate goes on to tell the interviewer about a time when they convened a meeting for a major problem and then assigned everyone a role, kept the group on task, and the got this impactful result that saved the company millions of dollars.

    What becomes evident as our Hopeful Candidate is sharing is the imbalance he/she has between self-confidence and empathy. The entire answer to the question was about what Hopeful Candidate was able to accomplish and nothing about how Hopeful Candidate went about building mutual trust in relationships or tried to understand how the team was feeling. There was nothing said about how well Hopeful Candidate was able to articulate others perspectives and behave in a way that was respectful to others feelings. 

    You see, Hopeful Candidate had the “beef” of the interview question answered and was in the pot ready to cook. What was left out was the bay leaf, the flavor, how Hopeful Candidate was able to get things done with other people. 

    So, if you find yourself cooking a pot roast or interviewing for a new role, don’t forget to add the flavor that shows you have the emotional, social, and intellectual ability to be wildly successful in the role.

    Now, who's ready for lunch?