Category: Personal Mastery

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.

Emotional Intelligence improves ability to generate revenue

Posted on 01/05/15 by Aidan

Emotional-Intelligence-value1At Work, Emotional Intelligence Pays

When it comes to achieving career success, emotional intelligence probably isn’t the first trait that jumps to mind. Particularly in Silicon Valley, where technical, intrapersonal skills are so celebrated that industry leaders are increasingly self-diagnosing themselves as autistic, the ability to decipher other peoples’ emotions is often dismissed as a fringe benefit.

But a new study published in The Journal of Organizational Behaviorsuggests the opposite: Emotional intelligence is a skill that, quite literally, pays. According to the paper, employees who are better at reading their coworkers’ emotions make more money than their less emotionally perceptive peers.

To gauge emotional intelligence, the researchers showed 142 study participants – all working adults, holding various level-positions in a broad range of jobs – a collection of images and voice recordings, and asked that they pinpoint the emotion being expressed in each case. “On average, the participants succeeded in 77 percent of the cases,” Gerhard Blickle, the study’s lead author, said in a press release. Participants who correctly identified 87 percent of cases were deemed good at recognizing emotions, while those that identified more than 90 percent were considered very good. Meanwhile, those that correctly identified less than 60 percent received low marks for emotional intelligence.

Next, the researchers asked one colleague along with one supervisor to rate each participant’s social astuteness on scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Sample statements included: “She always seems to instinctively know the right things to say or do to influence others” and “People believe he is sincere in what he says and does.” Participants who received high marks on the emotions test were perceived as more socially skilled by their co-workers than those who registered lower scores, and even after controlling for factors such as gender, age, weekly working hours and hierarchical position, the researchers found that they also tended to make significantly more money.

In other words, emotional intelligence is a prerequisite for wielding social influence, a skill that, in turn, is important for successfully navigating work dynamics to achieve career success as well as a higher paycheck, says Yongmei Liu, a professor at Illinois State University and one of the study’s co-authors.

Interestingly, while emotional intelligence has a warm and fuzzy ring to it, the ability to easily and accurately decipher others’ emotions doesn’t necessarily make you more empathetic – it just makes you adroit at navigating the social playing field. Like any skill, says Liu “people can use it for good or evil.”

While the study did not examine various career contexts, it makes intuitive sense that emotional intelligence is more valuable in some jobs than it is in others. For example in positions that require a lot of social interaction and/or where there are fewer objective performance indicators, emotional intelligence is likely very important, says Liu.

In fact, the researchers conclude, more emphasis should be placed on emotional intelligence when selecting managers, a role that typically requires a large amount of interaction with employees. “Often we hear managers speak of understanding and esteem,” Blickle said, “but when we look at their management behavior, we realize that they have neither.”

Original Article by Laura Entis – entrepreneur.com

Using Emotional Intelligence to improve business performance and culture

Posted on 08/12/14 by Aidan

All business owners face the challenges of keeping employees motivated and engaged, ensuring good communication and helping to avoid conflict, whether the company is going through a time of change or not. For a small company this can be even harder, as they are often so focused on the day to day running of the business they can forget to support the most important factor in the business – their people. It goes without saying that running a small company can be both challenging and stressful. Often money is tight, which can create a sense of urgency and survival, and the corporate support structure is not available for employees. Yes, business success in a small company often relies on people performing multiple roles and going the extra mile. Employees need to be motivated and engaged to do this. Business owners may or may not have heard of the term Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – but most won’t have had time to consider what it could mean to their business or simply dismiss it as too touchy-feely or they think it’s related to the Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

In a small business it’s critical for people to manage their own impulses, communicate with others effectively, manage change well, solve problems and build rapport in tense situations. They also need empathy, and to remain optimistic even in the face of adversity. This “clarity” in thinking and “composure” in stressful and difficult situations is called ‘emotional intelligence’ and it is becoming increasingly important for SME business owners to understand this as an important business tool.

Research shows Emotional Intelligence is twice as important as IQ in predicting outstanding performance and EQ can be developed until well into our 40’s, so regardless if we are born as a leader or not, we can improve our performance by improving our EQ.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognise, understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others in an organisation. When you have high emotional intelligence you can recognise and understand your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and then use this knowledge to relate better, manage better and achieve greater success.
Emotional Intelligence consists of four attributes:
· Self- awareness – The ability to recognise and name your own emotions, and how they affect your thoughts and behaviours. It helps you understand objectively and accept your strengths and weaknesses. As a result you have more self-confidence.
· Self-management – The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, demonstrate and manage your emotions in healthy ways and take initiative and follow through in commitments.
· Social awareness – The ability to understand others point of view, their emotions, concerns, and needs, and show empathy.
· Relationship management – The ability of using social awareness to build and maintain good relationships, to communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, and manage conflict effectively.

Emotional intelligence can enable a SME business owner to build a high performing team and a great working culture, by improving the way they communicate, build relationships and create a positive working environment. In any company, conflict can lower performance. It affects wellbeing and focus and can create unnecessary stress. Having a good performing team is critical for the success of any company, but particularly small businesses, as teams are smaller and work closer together, often being more sensitive to conflict or emotional situations, as a result.

Becoming an emotionally intelligent leader

By becoming an emotionally intelligent leader you can motivate and inspire the people working for you, to work better, and be more fulfilled at work. Emotional intelligence can help business owners solve their retention and morale problems, improve information flow, getting people working better together and driving forward business objectives.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are self aware, they know their strength and areas of development, and they know how their behaviour affects others, and they can manage their emotions effectively.
In the past, emotions were often thought of as a set of characteristics that needed to be controlled as they demonstrated weakness and instability. It was believed that focusing on the task was the only way to increase efficiency.

However, now we know that in order to function professionally, we have to acknowledge and manage our own emotions and others to encourage smooth communication and avoid conflicts.

Managing emotions

Managing emotions though does not mean simply bottling them up or ignoring them, as this can often lead to stress. The consequence of employees bottling or ignoring emotions can lead to petty conflicts in the workplace which eventually spiral out of control.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman described emotional intelligence as knowing how one is feeling and being able to handle those feelings without becoming swamped; being able to motivate oneself to get jobs done; being creative and performing at one’s peak; sensing what others are feeling and handling relationships effectively. So how can we develop emotional intelligence? The reality is that some people are better than others at reading their own and other’s emotions, however, unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed if a business owner is prepared to implement some strategies.

Here are some tips to increase your emotional intelligence and that of your team.
· Ask for feedback, get to know your own strengths and weaknesses
· Pay attention to your team, notice their mindset, and emotional state
· Encourage open and honest communication
· Take the time to acknowledge and thank your team for their effort

The original article was sourced from Business Matters Magazine

Emotional Intelligence: Forget Business School – Why An Emotional Education Is Indispensible

Posted on 07/31/14 by Aidan

Where is the HBS for emotional intelligence?

Most people still equate intelligence to academia, the power your brain has to process and remember information and your ability to draw conclusions from fact and data. But it is painfully obvious that there is much more to intelligence than just raw IQ.

How many people do you know who are academically brilliant and have degrees from the best schools, but have not managed to become successful in their professional or personal lives, despite having had many opportunities handed to them? How many times have you come across an employee who is brilliant and excels at the skill set required, but is so incapable of communicating or listening that he thwarts his own growth? How many times have you thought: “How did this idiot become so successful?” Often, the answer is linked to emotional intelligence.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, use, manage and control emotions. This not only comprises our own emotions but also those of others, including their motivations and desires. Throughout your life, from childhood to adulthood, your level of emotional intelligence affects your behavior and interaction with others: your family, your friends, your colleagues, people you don’t know, those you respect, those you want to gain respect from, those you want to impress, those you need, people you fear, people you love. Your level of emotional intelligence will determine how good you are at engaging with others and drawing them to you.

Like many children, I grew up being told by my teachers throughout school that being the best in academics, being intellectually curious and working hard would make me successful. Therefore, as a diligent student, I collected the honors and academic brand names one after the other to put on my resume. And do not get me wrong, I am very proud of my achievements. Institutions like Stanford University and Harvard Business School have been invaluable in my growth and the path that I have taken, not only because of the classes but also because they connected me with some of the most admirable people I know. However, when faced with life’s personal and professional challenges, I do not find myself relying on the teachings from those institutions as much as I find myself having to draw from my emotional understanding of my environment and of myself.

According to the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory published by the Hay Group, emotional intelligence is defined by four fundamental attributes: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. I strongly believe that it is by developing all of these that we become more successful and fulfilled people.

Self-awareness is about knowing yourself and being able to assess your own emotions.

When you are able to understand why you respond a certain way to a situation, you are then able to manage it better and avoid the stress and discomfort that comes with it. The other source of self-awareness is an understanding of the way others respond to you. This is a difficult skill to grow because we naturally tend to see what we want to see. But being aware of your impact on others allows you to better motivate and lead them, which is an indispensable trait of a successful leader.

Self-management is your ability to control impulsive feelings.

It is your ability to adapt to changing situations while staying positive without reacting to them quickly. This is particularly important as an entrepreneur when you are constantly faced with new challenges. Managing your impulses is the only way to tackle challenges successfully and prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed. In practical terms, this can translate to taking a cool-off period before responding to an investor who may have upset you, or taking the time to explain a problem to an employee instead of telling her off in front of the team.

Social awareness is the ability to understand the needs and concerns of others.

It requires a high level of empathy and will enable you to recognize power dynamics. People who are socially aware are able to relate to others and to draw them in. They know how to make every individual feel special, understood and respected. As an entrepreneur, if you are trying to build a team and motivate people, you need to be socially aware in order to create and foster a culture in which your team can grow in a healthy way.

Finally, relationship management is the ability to nurture relationships and inspire people. It is the capacity to influence others and defuse conflicts. For this you need to have developed self-awareness, self-management and social awareness. This is the attribute that leaders most share. Inspiring others comes naturally to them and because people believe in these strong leaders, they are more likely to overcome challenges for them.

Where do you learn Emotional Intelligence?

None of these attributes are taught in school. There is no official track one can follow to improve them. And yet they are integral to success and self-fulfillment. I have focused here on their professional impact, but it is easy to draw parallels to one’s personal life. Ever since I started Boticca with my business partner, it has been blatantly obvious to me that it is almost impossible to be a successful entrepreneur without high emotional intelligence. This is even more significant today, when teams are cross-cultural and businesses are global, thus increasing the complexity in the nuances of how emotions are expressed. Yet where does one learn how to hone it?

People I know with high emotional intelligence have often developed it thanks to their families. Their parents are themselves highly emotionally intelligent and have taught them as children through dinner conversations, through the simple observation of their interactions with others or through their direct coaching. They also surround themselves with friends with similarly high emotional intelligence. I see that with my successful entrepreneur friends who openly discuss issues of self-awareness and relationship management amongst themselves. Organizations such as EO or YPO try to encourage the development of emotional intelligence by creating environments where young leaders feel comfortable enough to discuss these issues. But this only comes along when you have already reached a certain level of success and awareness.

So, without a strong support system of family, friends or mentors to teach you and help you grow your emotional intelligence, what are you supposed to do? This is such a critical component of success and yet it is mostly ignored. Where is the Harvard Business School equivalent for emotional education? Why shouldn’t you prepare for emotional conflicts and management while you prepare for a career in business? Until someone opens the University of Emotional Intelligence or creates a curriculum for it, we’re stuck learning exclusively through the School of Life.

Original Article by Avid Larizadeh  in Forbes.com

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

How to spot an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Posted on 04/21/14 by Aidan

Research has shown us that more than 90% of top leadership performers have a high amount of emotional intelligence or EI. The higher up the ladder that leaders are, the more people they impact and their EI becomes increasingly important. The person at the top sets the atmosphere that permeates the organization, including the emotional temperature.

Not only does a leader with low emotional intelligence have a negative impact on employee morale, it directly impacts staff retention. We know that the biggest reason that people give for leaving an organization is the relationship with those above them.

Below are five ways to spot an emotionally intelligent boss:

1. NON DEFENSIVE AND OPEN
Insecure leaders that demonstrate low EI become defensive and take it personally whenever they encounter anything that appears to them as criticism and a challenge to their authority. A secure leader with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence strives to listen, understand and find out what is behind behaviors and actions of those they are responsible for managing. They listen before they respond and if they don’t understand something ask open-ended questions that are meant to gather more information. As opposed to leaders with low emotional intelligence, they don’t make it about them, but look for ways to make the situation better for everyone involved.

2. AWARE OF THEIR OWN EMOTIONS
Leaders who are oblivious to their own emotions and how they are impacted by them have no awareness of how their words and actions affect others. This can have a very devastating effect on staff morale and lower productivity. Highly emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of strong emotions and avoid speaking out of anger and frustration. If they feel the urge to give in to strong emotions in their interactions with others, they give themselves a time out, waiting until their emotions have leveled off and they have had a chance to think about the situation.

3. ADEPT AT PICKING UP ON THE EMOTIONAL STATE OF OTHERS
A skilled and empathetic leader that is aware of others’ emotions is able to use that awareness to develop stronger relationships with those they manage. Even if delivering bad news, they are able to cushion the impact by simply letting the receiver know that they are aware of how they might be feeling. Leaders with high EI are able to put themselves in the place of the person receiving criticism or negative feedback, allowing them to give it in a way that might be more beneficial and less destructive.

4. AVAILABLE FOR THOSE REPORTING TO THEM
Good leaders make themselves available to those reporting to them both physically and emotionally. They are responsive to the fact that there will be times that those reporting to them will be having difficulties outside of work that will impact them. Death of family members, friends, relationship breakdowns, and all sorts of life crises will affect virtually everyone at work at times. Emotionally open and secure leaders understand are there for support during these times.

5. ABLE TO CHECK THEIR EGO AND ALLOW OTHERS TO SHINE
While possessing self-confidence, high EI leaders do not have a need to demonstrate their own importance or value. They chose their words carefully and speak and act out of concern for their staff, and the health of the organization. They do not have the need to have their ego massaged and are not looking for ways to take credit for the work of others. Understanding that people work better when they feel appreciated, they are always looking for ways to give positive feedback and rewards for a job well done. Secure in their own abilities, they are not threatened by those under them and actively seek to help them work to the best of their capabilities and rise up the organization.

This article was originally published by Harvey Deutschendorf  on fastcompany.com

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

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

The start of Awareness

Posted on 01/14/13 by Aidan

Light at the endI was speaking the other day with a friend of mine about life’s difficulties and how people come away from bad experiences feeling lucky. It is more than once that I have heard this and it seems to be a common theme amongst those who have recovered from a difficult time. My friend had been through a very difficult time with a serious condition that did at one stage threaten her life but its biggest impact was the period of 5-6 years she had to live with it and the changes in imposed on her and the huge impact it had on her confidence.

She told me it was wonderful to have this new persepective on things but she wished she didn’t have to go through what she went through to get it. If only, she said, “there was a pill you could take instead of having to go through all that s***”. It re-set her priorities she said, a real paradigm shift in her view on life.

Another friend of mine went through an awful bereavement and used the exact same terms without prompting. “Lucky” . Having gone through hell and emerged again in the sunlight he is aware of all the positives and the priorities and getting right whats really important.

So what if there was a pill?  Would people take it without a gun to their head? Anthony de Mello claimed that people don’t like waking up, that awareness is rejected because when people are in their (comfort?) zone its like they are tucked up in a warm bed and they resist being woken up.

Often people are in a dream state and go through life focused on the wrong things, only becoming aware of this at the end of their lives. What if you could become aware when you could still get the huge benefits from this?

Steven Covey in his well read book “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” suggests to get your priorities straight you need to understand first what your values are. To do this he recommends you imagine your self attending your own funeral. Four people get up to share the eulogy each from a differet aspect of your life: Family, Work, Community and Spiritual. Write down what you would like them to say about you. That is what you value. That should be north on your compass.

A great exercise to do. Its not a pill but its a start.

Aidan Higgins