Category: Aidan Higgins – One Perspective

Emotional Intelligence and Teams

Posted on 11/07/15 by Aidan

autonomy1For the past twenty years, important research has been done in organizations that backs up the claims made in the nineties relating to Emotional Intelligence and its importance by Goleman and many others. Research has shown that feelings and emotions have a direct impact on effectiveness, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line.

Emotional Intelligence has been shown to lead to better customer retention and long term customer relationships, and improved: Trust, Engagement, Influencing, Collaboration, Communication, Decision Making and Change Capability it also leads to Reduced Conflict.

Numerous studies explore the financial implication of emotional intelligence; particularly how higher EQ leaders produce more powerful business results. One such study tested 186 executives on EQ and compared their scores with their company’s profitability; leaders who scored higher in key aspects of emotional intelligence (including empathy and accurate self-awareness) were more likely to be highly profitable.  Leadership and Organization Development Journal 2009

Looking at the emotional intelligence of teams is important because most of the work in organizations today is done by teams. Leaders have a pressing need today to make teams work together better.

Modern businesses thrive when using teams to organize the work. Teams have more talent and experience, more diversity of resources, and greater operating flexibility than individual performers. Research in the last decade has proven the superiority of group decision-making over that of even the brightest individual in
the group. But the exception to this rule is when the group lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate. Then decision-making quality and speed suffer.

The important difference between effective teams and ineffective ones lies in the emotional intelligence of  the group. Teams have an emotional intelligence of their own. It is comprised of the emotional intelligence of individual members, plus a collective competency of the group. Everyone contributes to the overall level of emotional intelligence, and the leader has more influence. The good news is that teams can develop greater emotional intelligence and boost their performance.Teamwork performance improved by 25% in terms of goal achievement over standard functioning teams.

Most research has focused on identifying the tasks and processes that make teams successful. But just learning a script won’t make a good actor great; the actor has to be able to deliver the lines with real feeling. A piano student can learn the music of Bach, but she has to be able to play with heart to be really good. Successful teams can apply the principles of effective task processes, but they must also work together wholeheartedly.

Trust, Identity and Efficacy

In an article entitled “Building the Emotional Intelligence of groups,” Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff (Harvard Business Review, March 2001) identify three conditions essential to a group’s effectiveness:

  • Trust among members
  • A sense of group identity
  • A sense of group efficacy

To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms — the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits — that support behaviors for building trust, group identity and group efficacy. Group identity is described as a feeling among members that they belong to a unique and worthwhile group. A sense of group efficacy is the belief that the team can perform well and that group members are more effective working together than apart.

Group emotional intelligence is not a question of catching emotions as they bubble up and then suppressing them. It involves courageously bringing feelings out into the open and dialoging about how they affect the team’s work. If emotions are avoided, there is a false or superficial tone that “everything’s just fine.” Groups cannot work together without having personalities that butt up against each other. Admitting to this is the first step in clarifying and finding common ground upon which to move forward.

Group emotional intelligence is also about behaving in ways that build relationships both inside and outside the team. Building relationships strengthens the team’s ability to face challenges. In order to strengthen relationships, the group must feel safe to be able to explore, embrace and ultimately to rely on emotions in work. Emotions must be considered for the good of the group. Feelings count, but then there are the tasks at hand and the work that needs to be done. Team leaders must constantly balance harmony with productivity.

A team’s effectiveness can depend on how well it works together in harmony. A leader skilled in creating good feelings can keep cooperation high. Good team leaders know how to balance the focus on productivity with attention to member’s relationships and their ability to connect. There is even research that shows that humor at work can stimulate creativity, open lines of communications and enhance a sense of trust. Playful joking increases the likelihood of concessions during a negotiation. Emotionally intelligent team leaders know how to use humor and playfulness with their teams.

Creating good moods in employees may be even more important than previously thought. It is common sense to see that workers who feel upbeat will go the extra mile to please customers and therefore improve the bottom line. There is research to show that for every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2 percent increase in revenue. New research from a range of industries now reaffirms the link between leadership and climate and to business performance. According to Daniel Goleman in Primal Leadership (2002), how people feel about working at a company can account for 20 to 30 percent of business performance.

Part of understanding the emotional reality of a team is uncovering the particular habits ingrained in a team or organization that can drive behaviors. A prime example is the notion of “It’s just the way we do things here.” The team leader is effective when he or she looks for signs that reveal if such habits are working or not. It is the leader’s job to explore and expose unhealthy work habits in order to build more effective group norms.

In any group, people will eventually cross lines and confrontation becomes necessary. There must be a means for doing this that is firm yet not demeaning. The team leader sets the tone for this because of the position he or she is in. Caring confrontation is an art that can be learned and taught to both leaders and members. The use of humor can be very effective as a means for bringing errant members back into the group fold. The message is, “We want you as part of this group, your contributions are needed.”

These are the group norms that build trust and a sense of group identity for members: interpersonal understanding, perspective taking, confrontation and caring. They can be learned and developed wherever they don’t exist naturally. It may take some time and attention, but they are too important to be overlooked. Teams are at the very foundation of organizational effectiveness and they won’t work without mutual trust and common commitment to goals.

Building self-managing teams

One of the first tasks of a team leader is to build greater team awareness. This is the job of each individual member of the team, as well, but the leader’s job is to instill a sense of responsibility individuals for the well-being of the team. In order to do so, Cary Cherniss, chair of a well-known research group on emotional intelligence, puts forth ground rules for teams. Everyone on the team should take responsibility for:

  • Keeping us on track if we get off track
  • Facilitating group input
  • Raising questions about procedures, asking for clarification about where we are going and offering summaries of issues being discussed to make sure we have a shared understanding
  • Using good listening skills to build on the ongoing discussion or to clearly signal that we want to change the subject, and ask if that is okay

This is an example of how a leader can create a self-managing team. What is important for the leader, emphasizes Cherniss, is to remind the group of its collaborative norms by making them explicit. Everyone can practice them because they are upfront and repeated at each meeting.

Clearly the setting forth of core values and operating norms is important to ensure that a team works smoothly together. But like most things, they must be repeated again and again. When values and norms are clear, teams can go about their work even in the absence of the leader.
In self-aware self-managing teams, members hold each other accountable for sticking to norms. It takes a strong emotionally intelligent leader to hold the team to such responsibility. Many teams are not accustomed to proactively handling emotions and habits. And many leaders have difficulty stepping out of the role of director in order to let teams self-direct.

However, when the values and norms are clear, and self-management principles are explicit and practiced over time, teams become not only effective, but also self-reinforcing. Being on the team leads to positive emotions that energize and motivate people.

Every company faces specific performance challenges for which teams are the most practical and powerful vehicle. The critical challenge for senior managers is how to develop emotionally intelligent teams that can deliver maximum performance. Teams have a unique potential to deliver results, and executives must foster self-managing and emotionally intelligent teams that will be effective. In doing so, top management creates the kind of environment that enables teams as well as individuals to thrive. So the Organisation can thrive.

Amazon’s work culture raises interesting questions.

Posted on 09/16/15 by Aidan

amazon-warehouseAmazon’s work practices, as detailed in the recent controversial NYT article generate interesting questions on Talent Management, Innovation and Culture.

Inside Amazon- Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace” in the New York Times made unsettling claims about Amazon through interviews of 100 former and current employees. Jeff Bezos, founder (1994) and CEO of Amazon (now a bigger retailer than Walmart at $250Billion) refuted those claims is a rather short and uninspiring memo which has led to criticism of his response and gives weight to the claims made in the article.

The article explores the culture of Amazon where it seems consistent and bruising conflict, tension and pressure are the norm. It claims that the company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push its white collar workers, who are encouraged to tear one another’s ideas apart in meetings, toil long and late (up to 80 hour weeks and emails arriving at midnight followed by texts querying why they are not answered).  They also have an internal system (they claim frequently misused) where people can do anonymous performance reports on their colleagues to their colleague’s bosses without their knowledge. Those who do not meet what Amazon call their “unreasonably high” performance standards are forced to leave or fired in annual cullings – called “purposeful Darwinism” by one former employee.

It would seem customer service and innovation is a major focus of and driver of the culture at Amazon. Amazon consistently drives to innovate and want to create opportunity to do so, for any employee with a good idea. Conflict is encouraged. However one interviewee reported his “enduring image was watching people weep in the office”. He continued “nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk”.  Some interviewees, however, said they liked the culture because it pushed them past what they thought they could achieve. In 1997 Bezos wrote to shareholders “you can work long, hard, or smart but at Amazon.com you can’t choose two out of three.”

Bezos open memo in response to the article is short. He says he does not recognise the Amazon described and that it is illogical. “I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market”. He also linked one employee (of 18 months) who openly refuted the article.

This is an interesting article and response for a number of reasons. It raises questions about HR practices, talent attraction, talent retention, new world business cultures, monopolistic environments, conflict and innovation.

Is this the best way to attract and manage talent?

21st century organisations understand there is a “War” for talent. Talented people create competitive advantage for their organisations. This means attracting and retaining the best people. It has also been long recognised that most of the core competencies of an organisation reside in the heads of their people. This means we should treat our people well, create an environment for engagement, loyalty and collaboration to give the organisation the best chance to continue to be successful.

“Rank and Yank” policies which were fashionable in some companies with household names have been discontinued in many in recent times due to significant flaws. The idea is that the company continuously evolves by cutting the bottom 10% say, of their people. They ask managers to rank their teams and fire the bottom rankers. Sounds harsh? It is.

I worked with a management team last year whose company still did this. The upside they said was that “dead wood” was removed. The downside we agreed was that good people were also fired, that there was often unhealthy competition in teams leading to lack of collaboration, fear and lack of flexibility because the team members were too focused on the metrics which determined their fate. In the “rank and yank” philosophy, there can also be a lack of perceived fairness due to the subjectivity of the team managers who obviously can have favourites and were more likely to keep the politically savvy. Constant loss of team members also means there is constant grieving and probably unrecognised anger in the team. One might also mention the simple lack of humanity of this process.

Keeping people working too-long hours is counterproductive due to its unsustainability and diminishing returns. Henry Ford is reputed to have designed the 40 hour week for this reason and recent research has shown that after 40-50 hours work per week the work done becomes far less effective. It also shows that burnout occurs if renewal time is not included in the working week. There are specialists who make a career out of helping talented people return from burnout and breakdown an expensive fix in many ways. Practices like midnight emails and such interrupt the quality of the rest people are getting, damaging problem solving ability and creativity, and making burnout more likely and talent retention less likely.

Does Innovation require this much conflict?

Conflict is required to innovate but so is safety and agility. Discussion and argument must take place in a safe environment or people will not take risks. Innovation is as much about failure as it is about success. It is also well known that true creativity often requires white space and time, not pressure. Those who are under huge competitive pressure in an adversarial environment are watching their back, not what’s in front of them.

Companies who recently changed their environments from adversarial ones have seen team performance and collaboration rocket. Collaboration, sharing of ideas and innovation go hand in hand.

Where did this culture come from?

It was Richard Branson who said, “Look after employees and employees look after customers”. How does this align with the practices identified at Amazon? It is a well-known adage that customers will never think more of your company than the people that work for the company.

One wonders what sorts of people survive and thrive in this environment.   The theory of Darwinism has been used before, particularly in the 19th century, to justify the mistreatment of people for the “greater good”. Later far more dangerous ideologies used this work as a justification to judge and eliminate the “weak” also.

Measuring and treating people like machines is a hangover from industrial era thinking as is Social Darwinism. Darwinism used socially is a misappropriation of the ideas of survival of the fittest. It is a pseudoscience completely lacking in empathy and out of touch with any modern behavioural thinking. Smart Authentic Leadership gets power into the hands of the team – with leaders being servants of the team, empowering their success rather than being autocratic top down managers treating their people like automatons. That’s not good business.

Amazons culture is relatively new. Having been founded only in 1994 the culture developed from there. Cultures (how things are done around here) evolve over time. One wonders if Bezos background on Wall St and in financial data influenced the culture. Amazon admits it is driven by data and they took advantage of the capabilities of the internet to not only serve customers but to understand customers. Metrics, data and data analysis are the order of the day. Great when applied to marketing data, products, accounts, process and internet behaviour stats. Not so good for measuring and understanding and managing the complex interactions of employees perhaps?

It could be posited that Amazons massive first mover advantage and the competitive advantage it has developed over time does not allow the company to see in financial terms the reported negative impact of its culture and policies. It is recognised that big brand companies have pulling power for talent. However if Amazon had to wrestle with other similar sized companies in its niche for talent and ideas, it may have had to work harder to keep its talent. Talent bleeding out of the company and taking ideas and competencies to competitors who offer a work life balance may have forced them to address the issues a little earlier in their growth cycle, impacting how their company developed.

So what does it all mean?

Amazon was born in a fast moving, changing environment and wants, correctly, to stay ahead of the curve and the competition. They have been innovating and “improving” in order to do this. Perhaps they should also be focusing on staying ahead of the curve in terms of HR and talent management practices.

Bezos is correct in that the sort of culture described seems illogical. The culture does not best support the aims of innovation, talent attraction and retention or customer service.

As an outsider one cannot know how much of the article is subjective and painting a severe interpretation of how things are done at Amazon. One wonders, if it is true, how Amazon can survive with such a harsh inhuman culture. It does not seem to align that the people that thrive in such a culture truly seek to serve and empower others, a sine qua non of modern successful organisations.

Aidan Higgins

How to succeed as an Authentic Leader

Posted on 06/30/15 by Aidan

10 do’s and don’ts for leadership success

by Arjen van BerkumLeadership: the never ending journey

Do you know who you are, what you believe and why you believe it? Are you able to be yourself in any given situation? Recently I read an article that contained a nice comparison for leaders that are facing their greatest challenge, namely integrating their personal and work lives:

Think of your life as a house. Can you knock down the walls between the rooms and be the same person in each of them?”

It takes a lot of courage to be a visionary, to walk your talk every step of the way. Especially when you still need to build your follower base. How can you find the inspiration to make an impact in the world as an authentic leader? Don’t strive to achieve success in tangible performances that are recognised in the external world. Strive for significance. Make a difference with your contribution: constantly build legacies by adding deep value to everyone you deal with. This is what makes good performers great leaders. Therefore self-awareness is a vital part of successful leadership.

Here are some principles that evolved from the values that I have ranked during my leadership journey.

  1. Never be afraid to lose your job.
    (Or don’t let your fear determine your next steps in business) First of all, if you are constantly scared to lose your job, you are not convinced of your own vision and capacities. In that case, leadership might not be the role that suits you to begin with. Second – if you put the safety of your own job first, you will never be successful as a leader. The choices you make should depend on what’s best for the business and for the people working in it.
  2. A good personal reputation is your most valuable possession. Keep it or fix it.
    Be self-confident and well organised, smile a lot, be friendly and remain professional in every circumstance. This will bring you a long way toward establishing strong working relationships. To manage this, communication skills and an innovative mind-set are indispensable in your toolbox.
  3. Being honest is better than being nice. Build trust.
    Leadership is not about being popular, but about building trust. As a leader with contradictive behaviour that regularly breaks promises, you will lose followers. People do not want to follow a leader they cannot trust to fulfil their guarantees. Once trust is lost, it is nearly impossible to gain back. So don’t play games and don’t work with hidden agendas. The benefits in the short run will cost you loyalty in the long run.
  4. You don’t know everything yourself. That’s okay. Manage your weaknesses.
    Acknowledge that you cannot be talented in all areas. So you need to build your support team and hire talents. Leaders never succeed on their own, they need other people that support and guide them with knowledge and experience.
  5. Be open for other people’s opinion, suggestions and vision.
    This is a prerequisite. Do you have a thick skin? There is no sugar coating in the business world. If you are offered feedback, accept criticism instead of denying the truths in it.
  6. Helping someone will never make things worse. Make an effort.
    Motivate the people around you. A person that believes in himself or herself, is more likely to work hard to live up to the hype you are creating. Be a mentor for those you see a lot of potential in, be a coach for the people who need to make things happen in the business and be a friend for peers.
  7. Don’t just strive for the success, but for the end goal.
    Success is temporarily. It is the significance of what you do that counts, not the success measured by the outside world’s parameters that you gained through a single ‘touchdown’.
  8. Sharing is the new gaining. Share something every day.
    Knowledge, results, positive feedback or even a ride. The smallest things can deliver a valuable experience to someone. This is a great way to establish relationships and collaboration.
  9. Talk to people not about people. Lead from the heart.
    Business is about people. If you have something to say, say it directly to the person involved. Don’t be afraid to show humanity and vulnerability. This will decrease the emotional distance between you and your (future) followers. There’s a big chance that scepticism will slowly change into belief.
  10. Give others the space they need.
    Give employees space to do their work, to develop or to test a strategy they believe in. Facilitate their professional needs. Empower them to peak in their performance and to lead in their area of expertise.

So I ask again, do you know the person you see in your mirror every day and his or her core believes? Believes are not something you decide on overnight or set your mind to. Authentic leadership requires a journey that writes your personal story. It started from the moment you decided you had a vision that you want to share with the world. Hopefully you realise that you will be on a never ending journey that is continuously steering and shaping your future leadership. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t forget to enjoy it along the way! Discover not only what you believe, but – more important – why you believe it. Make a strong connection between your personal values and your behaviour. Together this will outline the principles you need to live by, so you can be a true leader to yourself and others. Always.

Original of this GREAT Article was written by Arjen van Berkum

Great Teams feel and act differently

Posted on 09/23/14 by Aidan

teamskip2High performance teams go beyond roles and goals. Anyone who has been part of a great team knows this. They know there is something intangible there. There is something at the root of it. Something which bonds the team together and empowers it.

Those who know sports teams, and those who play with these teams feel something in it greater than themselves, an us and them, an instinctual thing. There is something there worth making the sacrifice for, putting your physical well being at risk for. It’s tribal. It’s family. It’s engrained. It leads to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It means when someone makes a mistake, or a weaker member needs help, it’s there. Action is taken. WE succeed or WE do not succeed – together. These teams communicate, they adapt, they work together, they overcome obstacles together.

The best sports team leaders are those who would go through a brick wall for the team. Sometimes they do not speak or hardly at all they just do things. They inspire by being first to the danger, first to sacrifice, first to training. They are the sort of people you want in the trenches with you because you can trust them to cover you. To watch your back. Many times they are not the best player, but they are first on the team sheet. A first among equals. The guys you look to for inspiration when the going gets tough.

There is something else about these great teams and their leaders. They are serving something bigger, a vision, a history, a legacy. They are focused on something bigger then themselves. Maybe their community, their county, their country, their nation.

Someone once said there is no “I” in team and some smart-alec pointed out there is an “M E” … We can spot those who are part of the team but not of the teamwork. We know them. They stand apart. They can be driven by ego or selfish aims BUT they can also be driven apart when cliques form, when they don’t feel included in decisions or when they don’t feel empowered. Many teams assume they communicate enough, listen enough, provide enough autonomy to members but they often don’t. Disenfranchisement or disillusionment occurs.

In organisational teams we often do not generate these kinds of bonds, except perhaps over time. We should particularly for teams on longer projects with a significant budget. We know the roles and responsibilities but then so does a team numbered 1 to 15 or 1 to 11. What makes them effective is teamwork.

What make them great is a team identity, trust, communication, autonomy and alignment with the greater vision. Team Emotional Intelligence theory (Druskatt and Wolff) calls it Social Capital – which, when improved can effect a 25% improvement in performance – for teams who are already performing with average scores.

The team members know who they are, who they represent and what they are trying to achieve. They serve the higher purpose rather than their own purpose. Yes they know the goals, but they are also clear on the why of the goals. They work with their fellow team members, supporting the weaker ones and generating loyalty and engagement.

We can recognise from the talk within the team how successful they are likely to be. It’s not about being positive all the time but on understanding what outside control of the team, understanding that set-backs are temporary and specific. A famous study by Martin Seligman of American baseball teams monitored the language used after games in the media engagement to predict success. He suggested what he heard in these discussions could predict success. He also looked for more about a focus on WE rather than I and an ability to puts losses or problems in context. He then bet against the spread to prove his point. He won.

Great teams are driven by peer pressure to perform not their bosses. It’s about not letting down the other people on the team. At the end of that incredible movieBlack Hawk Down – one of the incredibly talented, effective and brave rangers turns to his buddy and says – When I go home people’ll ask me, “Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?” You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.”

Indeed.

Authentic Leadership rises to the top

Posted on 07/07/14 by Aidan

Leadership theory and practice has evolved through the last few decades partly due to increased understanding and partly through the change in followers and what followers want. In 2014 Authentic Leadership is becoming established as a style of Leadership most suited to the modern context. It focuses on who the Leader is, why the Leader is doing what they are doing and what is the Leaders “Brand”. Bill George, one key exponent of the Authentic Leadership model, teaches it as part of the Harvard MBA. Bill drove the company’s share value at Medtronic from 1.1 Billion to 60 Billion in 10 years with this Leadership style.

Authentic leaders are self-motivated individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions. They show their true selves to people around them. They do not act one way in private and another in public and they don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. They really are team players putting the mission and the goals of the organization ahead of their own self-interest doing the job in pursuit of results rather than for their own power, money or ego.  They do what Bill George calls “leading from their heart”, rather than just their minds building and sustaining the leader’s legitimacy through honest trust based relationships with followers are built on an ethical foundation. They truly and openly value follower input, rather than paying it lip service, which drives motivation, agility and engagement.

By building trust and generating enthusiastic support from their subordinates, authentic leaders are able to improve individual and team performance. This approach is at the core of our Leadership Development at Adeo Consulting as an alternative to leaders who emphasize only profit and share price over people and ethics. As Bill George says, most people can get the metrics right but can they do the hard bit – the soft or people skills. Can your Leaders empower, motivate and engage their people and align them with the organisations goals – for their own reasons?

Key Skills for Authentic Leadership:

1. Self-Awareness (“Know Thyself”).

A prerequisite for being an authentic leader is knowing your own strengths, limitations, and values. Knowing what you stand for and what you value is critical. Moreover, self-awareness is needed in order to develop the other components of authentic leadership.

2. Relational Transparency (“Be Genuine”).

This involves being honest and straightforward in dealing with others. An authentic leader does not play games or have a hidden agenda. You know where you stand with an authentic leader.

3. Balanced Processing (“Be Fair-Minded”).

An effective authentic leader solicits opposing viewpoints and considers all options before choosing a course of action. There is no impulsive action or “hidden agendas”–plans are well thought out and openly discussed.

4. Internalized Moral Perspective (“Do the Right Thing”).

An authentic leader has an ethical core. She or he knows the right thing to do and is driven by a concern for ethics and fairness.

Great leaders continually self-develop. They improve not only their organisations but themselves. They see this as key to adapting to the constant change in their environment and as a natural reaction to competition in their market-place. If your Leaders become dead in the water, so will your Organisation.

Aidan Higgins

Developing Emotional Intelligence delivers better Leadership at Fedex.

Posted on 02/13/14 by Aidan

fedex_imageWe all need Authentic Leadership in times of constant change. This case study about Fedex, recently published (Jan 2014) by Fedex’s Global Leadership Institute (their in-house training centre) and SixSeconds (USA) has some very interesting metrics. At Adeo we provide customised Authentic Leadership Programs which focus on developing Leaders Emotional Intelligence and reframing the role of Leadership as well as introducing leaders to new leading edge Leadership Styles.

Fedex had measured results on the benefits of Emotional Intelligence from previous programs in the mid Noughties which encouraged FedEx to increase the emotional intelligence focus of their leadership training and deliver a new  course to put EQ into action at the frontlines. All new FedEx Express managers would receive the program to provide a solid people-first foundation upon which to build their leadership careers.

The FedEx Team delivered a five-day course with a six-month follow up coaching process. In an extremely faced-paced, task-focused environment, a common challenge for managers is losing sight of the relational dynamics that ultimately sustain team performance. To build a team where people give their “discretionary effort,” task-based management is insufficient: people-leadership is required. This means forming a connection between people at an emotional level.

Emotional Intelligence LeadershipEmotional intelligence provides the insight and skill to allow for this strategic use of feelings. The program helped new managers focus on how emotional intelligence will assist them to show up as leaders by managing themselves first, taking charge of their own emotions and behaviors so they can be effective role models and influencers.

Leadership Emotional Intelligence Development Results

Initial responses to the program are extremely positive with managers showing increased ability to push the FedEx strategy and the “People First” leadership philosophy. In the words of a program participant, one of FedEx’s people stated:

“I began the week realizing that I was limiting myself with a single leadership style and an emotional intelligence level that was preventing me from reaching my full potential, particularly in stressful situations. I learned how to apply different leadership styles to meet specific situations, apply consequential thinking, and continue to improve my emotional intelligence. I am already applying this new found knowledge in my day to day work environment as well as my personal life.”

Emotional Intelligence Improvements

Overall the largest major improvements were in:

  • Decision Making where 72% made major improvements.
  • Quality of Life 60% made major improvements.
  • Influence 58% made major improvements.

At Adeo we work with Leaders in groups or one to one sessions, building key leadership skills that are proven to improve both employee engagement and bottom line results. We have witnessed huge improvements in key Leadership skills that impact performance and success in work and personal life.

Aidan Higgins

Source for Fedex Study ©Six Seconds – 6seconds.org

Seek first to understand then lead

Posted on 01/06/14 by Aidan

KeyWe meet leaders all the time, everywhere. There are some so passionate about their purpose that we would follow them at the drop of a hat, believing in their cause. I met a Social Entrepreneur recently who was so passionate about what he did that I immediately questioned the value in what I was doing and began to visualise how I could become part of his vision. He told me what he did, the positive impact it made and how he jumped out of bed each day to get to work.

It’s a vision thing folks and we know this. But it’s vision with connection, perspective and awareness that works. ironically for a “vision” thing we feel it from leaders. Rather than see it.  It comes from three centres; the body, the emotion and the mind. The mind sets the plan, the emotion fires the passion and the body exudes the belief. Walking the talk.

Great leaders work from all three centres. Sometimes not even knowing it. Ever see a great sales pitch? The best have three centre principles – passion, vision and belief. We don’t remember what people say we remember how they make us feel. Martin Luther did not say “I have a plan” he said. “I have a dream”.

Before leaders get there, they must become aware of what they believe. Handing down the party line to followers doesn’t motivate followers, it doesn’t connect. Often leaders are so focused on goals and success ( because they think it’s right and that’s all performance is)  that they forget what they believe and who they are and this limits their ability to connect with people, to engender motivation and to drive engagement. Their team becomes a box ticking group of clock watchers and bonus driven automatons.

Leaders need to remember that they as well as their people need a higher purpose, a great big powerful why. The great leader then drives autonomy, mastery and efficacy amongst followers who become greater than the sum of their parts. Happier, more engaged and more effective in everything they do.

How’s that for a vision for your organisation for 2014!

Aidan Higgins

Re-learning Leadership

Posted on 09/27/13 by Aidan

learning leadershipIt is said that we learn our parenting skills from our parents. We learn from what we observed in childhood. We are also impacted by the culture we were part of and the environment in which we lived. Parenting is often instinctual and we distinguish right and wrong from our values system which often gets severely tested, especially when our children start to have minds of their own and are developing their own system of values. The day you say “because I said so” can be a real turning point for some.

Leaders often learn the same way. Learning Leadership involves spending a lot of time absorbing behaviours from our leaders, in a culture that influences (but of which we might be unaware) and in, usually, one environmental context. Unlike most parenting skills perhaps the skills and behaviours used when we were learning leadership are not appropriate now – but as leaders we still do or “go with” what we know. In the last four decades the organisational context has flipped over every 10 years – grow, cut back, grow, cut back. On top of that each generation of workers gets more knowledgeable, more technological, has different motivations and owns more of the key competencies and skills of the organisation.

An interesting recent article in the Economist  commenting on the Anthropologist David Grabers article “Bullshit Jobs” points out that this trend will continue. As more competitive advantage will come from the interaction between skilled workers and the coming technologies more repetitive jobs will be automated. So more and more of the “power” will move from centralised control and command to the outer edges of the organisation. We have discussed this before in our story about the US Navy and their understanding of the importance of empowerment following modern changes in warfare technology.

So do leaders who have learned skills from their forebears and from older cultures and older contexts adapt? Well some do. And many don’t. There are many addictive qualities to the old authoritarian style and egalitarian behaviour. But this just doesn’t cut it in a modern organisation. Disappointing results from the US in the recent Gallup report (2013) on the US workplace noted that while it has been proven that employee engagement is absolutely key to organisational performance – poor engagement is costing the US 450 billion to 550 billion dollars annually. It also shows that different generations require different engagement (therefore leadership) practices. Often however the strategy is akin to the old saying – “When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail” – we do what we have always done because we stay inside our comfort zone.

So what do leaders do? We need to become more transformational and also more authentic. We need to update our skills but also change who we are as leaders. This can be done with gaining understanding, getting a change in perspective, observation and developing those required behaviour changes. This is not the same as those standardized management skills often sold as “Leadership Training”. The good news is that some leaders are changing. Reports from the US show that 43% of CEOs and 71% of Senior Executives say they’ve worked with a coach. And 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.

I work with leaders. I talk with leaders. I know fear of change is often a big obstacle. Time is also a big issue but sometimes an excuse. The feeling that you are handing over your power to others can be scary. However the power is shifting in any case and a new form of leadership is required. I often find leaders trapped by assumptions who can easily transform their leadership if shown the way. Remember the old adage “where there is a will there is a way”. But first you need the will.

Aidan Higgins

Leaders ain’t necessarily so ….

Posted on 04/11/13 by Aidan

DirectionWhy should anyone be led by you wrote Goffee and Jones (HBR) in 2001. Indeed. Often new leaders spent so much time on goals and targets and using “climbing skills” shall we call them, that when they arrive where they wanted to get to they think more of the same will work. Is the guy who is best at the Sales Function the best Leader of the Sales function? Is the IT guys who best hits his targets and reduces response times the best guy to motivate and set the vision for others? Is the guy whose quality control efforts drove excellent improvements in compliance for the last number of years the best leader of the QA function? To paraphrase George
Gershwin “It Ain’t Necessarily So”…

The set of skills required to get you up the ladder is not the same set you need to be a good Leader. This is not the same thing as being the boss (the one in charge, the top dog, the numero uno the big kahuna). Often we find Leaders in organisations who are there for the wrong reasons. Often too these people mean well and work very hard. But are they managing and doing what they always did and expecting results other than what they are getting. Do they have the perspective or time to make themselves into good leaders or even great leaders. Certainly most have the raw materials.

So where to start? The first step is counter-intuitive – just STOP. It’s counter intuitive because some leading by example feel they need to up the pace and keep up a very busy work shedule and work ethic. Others are so lost in the mire of “busy-ness” and the schedule of goal setting and goal completion that they never stop doing. You need to stop – to pause – to reflect. If you are doing – you are not being – and certainly not reflecting. And you must spend time reflecting – to understand yourself, your ego, your values, your beliefs and your impact on others. Good leaders need time to empathise, to think about others, to understand, frame and adopt THEIR Vision of the Organisation (as opposed to its Mission). So to Start, first you must STOP.

These Leadership skills are all things that can be developed. To become a Great Leader in the style of the Transformational or Authentic framework you can work on these things. If you give them time. Remember back when you developed the Sales, QA or IT skills that got you to where you are – well now its time to develop these new soft skills that all the great leaders have. I often tell Clients that the top of the ladder you were on is really only the bottom of the next Ladder.

To finish, a great quote [Drawn from chapter 2.42 – 2..44 of Bhagvad Gita]

When the mind is fully occupied with thoughts of pleasure and power of the position, and when the mind is fully occupied with multiple desires and always thinking of gains that will arise, setting out great vision becomes a tough job. Because to set a great vision the mind must be great mood. The intellect of setting great vision is NOT formed in the mind of such people who are grossly attached to the fruits of action…

Aidan Higgins

Lincoln and Leadership

Posted on 02/14/13 by Aidan

I watched Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln the other day (2012 Movie) and I was struck by how his character displayed some key skills and abilities of Leadership. Hey I know it’s a just a movie, but the central character, well researched by Day-Lewis and director Spielberg, demonstrated  Leadership traits and skills that were often subtle and Authentic. I want to underline these while trying not to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet.

The Vision – he has a vision for how it can be. He speaks on issues of humanity, of the higher purpose and he talks about this being about global leadership – with all the world watching -clarifying how these changes are defining democracy not just for the US but for the world.

Belief – throughout the story Lincoln shines with belief. He knows what he wants, he sees it as good and he moves heaven and earth to get it done. He communicates his belief in every word and gesture on the topic. He energizes those around him and refuses to be diverted from what he knows is right.

The Power of the Story – At every juncture he illustrates his thinking with a story. The character glows with warmth and a twinkle in his eye while telling his stories. His personal charm shines through. One or two find his stories frustrating but in the main those around him enjoy them and he uses the power of these parables to explain in a simple way what it is he is trying to do and why.

Working with the team – Lincoln works well with the strong minded individuals in his cabinet, (he had appointed his rivals for the presidential election to his cabinet  – William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Simon Cameron and Edward Bates ) seeking their opinions and using conflict to refine his thinking.  He patiently explains the why and harnesses the power within the team to deliver the vision. Mostly he uses his team to get things done. Only once does he bring his personal power and authority to bear to drive on the final attempt to achieve his goals.

Awareness and humility – he is aware of his sometimes dark moods and also keenly aware of the intentions of those around him. In crux points he is not worried about going directly to those he intends to influence and with all humility appealing to their better self.

In all a masterful bit of work by Day-Lewis in portraying a masterful Leader. I have been an admirer of Lincoln since I heard the Gettysburg address speech read to me in a documentary on the American Civil War in the context of the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was the battle with the largest number of casualties (approximately 50,000 in 3 days) in the American Civil War and is often described as the war’s turning point.

Here I is again…  The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Aidan Higgins