Category Archives: Emotional Intelligence

Workplace Gift: Real Conversations

conversation22I have the awesome role of observing people in all kinds of roles in the workplace. I sit in on meetings, conference calls, one-on-ones, executive meetings, board meetings, planning sessions, lunches and dinners in dozens of companies from all industries and sizes. In all these day to day time-consuming activities, conversations are universal. One person or more is sharing their perspective on a business matter. Styles are very different but the substance of all them is essential the same. They are mostly transactional, as required in many cases, which is a great disguise for communicating either the real thoughts/emotions or being vulnerable. This is a shame because little progress is often made and decisions take much longer. More importantly, the great passionate and innovative solutions are suppressed. I share these observation often and they are met with the question “so how should we be talking?”

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Changing Reality … it’s a thing.

thoughtsLost in the 24-hour news cycle world we live in is the amazing work being done in Neuroscience. We are literally living in the golden age of neuroscience with unprecedented research in what I consider one of the most fascinating mysteries – our brain. We now know that we live a significant portion of our lives in … our brain. Life experiences are diverse but it is the mostly subconscious and reflex interpretation of these experiences that consumes how we live, respond, behave and manage future experiences. Continue reading

Independence Day – Are you really free?

fireworksAs we deservedly celebrate Independence Day in the US, like so many countries celebrate their own independence days, it is worth revisiting what independence means and all the mutations of it. There is independence from colonialism, independence of association, of worship, of speech, of travel and of other pursuits. These are legitimate victories worth celebrating and were often acquired at a harsh cost. People lost lives, were imprisoned, beaten, abused and such like during the process leading up to the day of acquiring aforementioned freedoms. I would like to argue there is an additional freedom worth fighting for in the same manner. It is Emotional Freedom.

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Redefine Impossible…

cowboy jamesI rarely do this but in this case, I am proud to share a new book by James Lawrence, aka The Ironcowboy. In 2015, he completed arguably the most incredible physical human feat – doing 50 Ironmans in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. One Ironman is a combination of a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride and concluding with a full marathon, 26.2 miles … in one day.

I have argued before the wonderful metaphor that athletes and sports are for all of life. They are a microcosm of work life, personal life and challenges inherent in both where we need the best out of our bodies and minds. This book is inspiring in a unique way with access to what it takes to set impossible goals, not just stretch goals, and to achieve them. “Redefining Impossible” in that context is a great title of the book.

When Empathy becomes a liability…

empathy22In counseling and coaching folks from all walks of life, in personal and professional settings, I come across folks who have great empathy. They have that special attribute of literally ‘putting themselves in others’ shoes’ emotionally and use that awareness to change their approach to a situation. Conversely, I’ve also come across folks with terrible empathy who either cannot or do not care to know how others’ feel leaving behind them a trail littered with wounded people. The case for empathy as a positive leadership attribute is well documented and I have been a part of that school of thought too. There is, however, a case to be made, which I see just as frequently, that empathy can be a liability. When empathy enables abuse, then it is a liability.

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2 Guys in a Garage

garageIn the past 2 decades, the business landscape has witnessed industries being disrupted in ways unimaginable. Values of many of these disruptive businesses have exceeded the decades-old well-established incumbent companies. Many of these disruptive companies were founded by some version of “2 guys in a garage” – a very small number of people, with very little money who had nothing but an idea and a great deal of motivation to not live in the business-as-usual world. How is it that these folks, under-funded, inexperienced, and with little resources, could disrupt large businesses who have very highly-paid talented leaders, with enormous resources in fancy offices?

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3 CEO Questions…

ceoAt this stage of my career, I have coached over 30 CEOs of companies of all sizes, industries, cultures, and geographies. Throw in another hundred or so senior executives and they will tell me to a person that they are routinely presented with all kinds of challenges by their direct reports who usually are very seasoned and well-compensated leaders. I coach them to not give answers or offer solutions as the first response. There are three powerful questions they have now molded into their management style that is allowing them to build strong leaders and more importantly, make better decisions. Continue reading

Social Media Nutrition

socail-mediaNot a stretch to argue that if you consume unhealthy foods, your body is likely to be unhealthy too. You are what you consume after all. The same could be argued with your emotional consumption habits. You are emotionally what you emotionally consume. If you surround yourself with experiences or people that are draining emotionally, you are likely to be drained and compromise your emotional health. Again, not a stretch argument either. What is worth your attention is how and what you are emotionally consuming. In this digital age, coffee shop conversations, dinners, lunches, walks with friends, etc are being replaced emotionally with social media. Whether that is good or bad is for another time to debate but make no mistake, social media has become a large part of our emotional nutrition.

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Lead or fail …

menpushing.jpgTake a look at this picture that I found in my feed last week. I am sure many of you, as have I, have seen similar ones in the past. Everyone is doing things one way and one person figures out a simpler and better way to do it. When I look at these kinds of images, I rarely think of the brilliance of that one person, as much as I wonder what it is about all the others that kept them from thinking of that smarter way. What caused them to ‘just do’ instead of thinking of a different way, or taking the time to think of a different way, or even believing there was a different way out there to be thought of. Continue reading

Is Fear a Motivator?

fear2At an executive retreat, one leader asked why it was that he performed best when he was stressed and felt the pressure of failure. He elaborated that when felt threatened, his team seemed to do well. This was in the context of my sharing that fear was a collaboration and innovation killer. I responded by telling him of a well-known professional athlete who asked me the same question a few years ago. He also said that when he felt angry and hate towards his opponent, he performed better. He had come to see me because his public relations reputation was that of a ‘bad boy’ who was mean to everyone including his sponsors. I asked him only one question: When do you turn it off?

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France’s New Work Email Policy

worklifev5The entire text below is from GOOD website written by Tod Perry. As we start a new year, and you are a leader, think about how a version of a policy like this might have a positive difference in both business and employees’ lives.

Nothing can ruin a relaxing weekend or holiday like an email from the office. Even if there’s no need to take action until Monday, the unwanted intrusion of professional life can really suck the joy out of a Sunday afternoon bar-b-que. That’s why the country that’s famous for giving its employees 30 days off a year and 16 weeks of full-paid family leave, just made itself even cooler with its new “right to disconnect” law. Continue reading

Get Rid of “1-hour”

onehourGo ahead and look at your calendar right now. My guess is that your day, especially your work day, is largely carved up into 1-hour chunks of meetings or activities. Fair to assume that recreational or wellness activities are also chopped into 1-hour blocks. Perhaps a 1-hour yoga class or massage or work out at your gym. Even classes at school are mostly in 1-hour blocks. That most of what we do is in 1-hour increments is a safe argument to make. Now consider whether there is any research that suggests, even remotely, that 1-hour is the right amount of time to conduct any activity much less all activities? I will save you the google search – there is none.

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Look to applaud …

applause.pngI was listening to a three-person acoustic band recently. It was a small intimate setting just perfect for the kind of music they were playing. It was very clear that the audience and the band had connected as we all applauded every song they played. Half way through, the lead musician said “I wish all of you could have a job were every five minutes, people applauded your work.”
I was struct at the depth of his comment, partially filled with envy and the rest with a conviction to applaud people who were passionate and good at their craft. I could easily share statistics on employee engagement and how powerful simple rewards are or case studies to support the power of acknowledgement, but I will leave it at this and let you digest and enjoy the power of his comment as I did.
This week, look hard for anyone enjoying their work and give them a hand!

Pick me ups …we all need them.

pickmeupNot sure how many of you listen to music when doing something physical like a walk, jog, bike or hike. I’m fairly certain that while listening to the music, there will be one song that will come on that you really like, that get’s you pumped up, pick’s you up, more than the previous songs did, and pushes you to do whatever you are doing both with more enthusiasm and better form. Have you considered why that is the case with that particular song? Or if you can choose songs like that strategically before a big event requiring you to be at your best?

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All Perspectives Matter …

2sidesA married couple went to a college football game where their alma maters played against each other in a rival game. Two people who love each other at the same event watching the same plays unfold. Their reactions, as predictable, were polar opposite. When team A made a great play, the wife jumped in exhilaration while the husband dropped his head in sorrow. The quality of athleticism of each play on either team was irrelevant to how each reacted. This story is relatively easy to decipher. Each spouse feels loyal to their school. They went there, have four  fond years of experiences and many more alumni memories. As a resident of Charlotte, NC, I was struck at how the events of the last week were interpreted and experienced differently divided largely by racial lines. Continue reading