The Results Killing Virus

Are your results being impacted by an infectious disease? Science has proven that attitudes are literally catching like a virus. We live in a society where avoiding responsibility (non-responsibility) and placing blame is deeply rooted in our culture. Do you allow your mood to be determined by how others treat you? Do you feel others cause you to be offended or frustrated. If you do, you are probably infected with the highly contagious blame disease.

Blaming is often associated with strong emotional feelings. Author Daniel Goleman writes, “…emotions are contagious. We ‘catch’ strong emotions much as we do a rhinovirus – and so can come down with the emotional equivalent of a cold.” (Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence) American Psychiatrist, Daniel Stern, says our minds are continually interacting through a type of neural WiFi. (Daniel Stern, The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life, 2004, p. 76) Parents blame teachers for low test scores, teachers blame parents for unruly children, employees blame their bosses when work gets too hard, and citizens blame the government for their economic woes and more.

When we think our problems are externally caused, it reduces our power! It causes us to focus on who to blame rather than on finding a solution and changing our circumstances. If we believe our problems are external, then we are at the mercy of those external conditions. For some people this is convenient. It gives them a ready made excuse when things go wrong. Taking personal responsibility is a much more difficult doctrine. True, some circumstances are beyond our control. I will discuss how to approach those in future articles. Let’s inoculate you from the blame virus.

Stop the spread of blame today!

The author Spencer Horn is the President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC. Additional articles which may interest you: Leadership Is About Impact Not IntentionHow To Prepare Your Next Generation Of LeadersIncrease Your Effectiveness As A Leader With Perception Science; How To Create Success From Failure; How To Get Your People To Change TodayCure For The CEO DiseaseThe Importance of Values

When Being Too Smart Hurts You

Is being too smart getting in your way of being more effective as a leader?

In his article “Leadership that Gets Results” (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2000), Daniel Goleman reported on studies, which rated emotional intelligence as a predictor of success in business as more significant than intelligence and technical skill. He states, “New research suggests that the most effective executives use a collection of distinct leadership styles—each in the right measure, at just the right time. Such flexibility is tough to put into action, but it pays off in performance. And better yet, it can be learned.”

Do you know someone who was a good employee who was promoted to a supervisor or manager and failed at that position? Think about why they were not successful. Typically it is because they lack the skills required to manage people which are different from the skills required to manage a task. How well do you balance your tasks and the people you manage or report to? Balancing tasks and relationships requires emotional intelligence. Our knowledge and technical skill can only take us so far. It is usually what gets us hired. However, it is our emotional intelligence that gets us promoted or fired.

Most of us understand that emotional intelligence is important. We have heard of it, yet just knowing about emotional intelligence does not make us emotionally intelligent. Talent Smart surveyed 500,000 people around the world about their emotional intelligence in business. Only 36% were able to identify their emotions as they happened. This means, most of us are controlled by emotions and are unaware of how to handle them effectively. Perhaps you have worked with some of them, perhaps you are one of them.

Why do so many have low emotional intelligence? I believe it is because we are conditioned to be right. We judge ourselves by how right we are or how smart we are. We are rewarded for being smart, for having the correct answer. Relying only on intelligence and wanting to be right might work if we all worked alone and never with a team.  As a leader, how do you get things done? You get things done through other people’s efforts. You must be aware of how to accomplish goals by creating engagement and teamwork.

There is nothing wrong with intelligence unless it is getting in your way from being an effective leader. The research suggests, the smarter you are, the less effective you may be in a leadership role when you are unaware of the impact of your emotions. It does not matter how smart we are when our emotions take over. Author Malcom Gladwell argues dedication and practice opposed to raw intelligence are the most crucial determinants of success. If you want to improve as a leader, please read, “Cure For The CEO Disease”  Remember, unlike IQ, EQ can be learned.

Improvement takes constant effort. Success to you!

Cure For The CEO Disease

4 Steps To Overcome CEO Behaviors That Erode Culture

Do you know a CEO or top executive that is unaware of their impact or overestimates their abilities? Leaders who are out of touch with the truth about how they “show up” is all too common. This phenomenon is what Daniel Goleman calls the “CEO disease”. Goleman reports…”the higher up the ladder a leader climbs, the less accurate his self-assessment is likely to be.” (Primal Leadership, Pg. 92, Daniel Goleman (2002)).  The problem is that as a leader climbs the organization, the less feedback he or she receives. According to James Conway and Allen Huffcutt, who analyzed 177 separate studies that assessed more than 28,000 managers, found these managers were not receiving consistent feedback on their performance. The lack of feedback problem is reported to be more acute for leaders who are women or belong to a minority. (See Peggy Stuart, “What Does the Glass Ceiling Cost You?” Personnel Journal 71, no. 11 (1992): 70-80).

The predominance of the CEO disease has a large negative impact on cultures of businesses all over the world. When leaders drive negative emotions within their organization, they erode the foundation of a culture that enables people to excel. Leaders who are aware of their impact and work to drive positive emotions will conversely strengthen the culture that enables people to excel.

Four steps to cure the CEO disease:

  1. Recognize That You Can Change:

    Many leaders have the mistaken opinion that they need to be accepted for who they are, because after years of habits and behavior they can’t change. The latest neuroscience has destroyed the myth that we can’t change. We maintain neuroplasticity until we die, meaning, we can make changes to how we think and behave. American author and futurist, Alvin Toffler, says “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

  2. Create A Safe Environment:

    Create an environment where it is safe to give and receive feedback. Some people fail to give feedback because they fear punishment or the leader’s wrath if they dissent. Some only give positive feedback because they do not want to be labeled negative or going against the party line. Some are afraid to give feedback because they don’t want to upset others or hurt their feelings. By creating this environment, CEO’s and managers will get a more accurate finger on the pulse of their organization. Understand that all feedback you receive is subjective. Each leader gets to determine what to do with the feedback they receive. Knowing what people really think is always better than ignorance.

  3. Increase Self-Awareness:

    Be willing to take a 100% honest look at yourself. Many executives work with coaches to improve their self-awareness. Consider participating in a 360 review. This can provide a valuable roadmap for behavior change. Work with great training and development organizations who will provide you with a safe environment to strengthen your leadership competencies. These environments should push you out of your comfort zone to learn and grow. When we are out of comfort zone, our most challenging leadership behaviors surface and a skilled facilitator will help accelerate awareness and behavior change.

  4. Persist:

    Recognize the process of becoming an effective leader is a lifelong pursuit. Even the most effective leaders recognize they can make improvements. For the best leaders, making minor adjustments and behavior improvements sets a powerful example for the team and will pay dividends on the emotional and cultural health of the organization which will translate to better financial results.

For more information on how to cure your CEO disease, call Spencer Horn Solutions today 702-807-4698 www.spencerhornsolutions.com

Change Your Altitude

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Change Your Altitude!

Imagine flying in a balloon and looking at yourself and your situation from a higher altitude.

An intelligent and motivated executive may be negatively impacting their co-workers without realizing it. A small business owner may have a vision of what is possible; they invest countless hours and energy to achieve their vision, along the way that vision may get clouded in the din of day to day operations. In both cases, a different perspective can be very effective.

This lack of clarity may cause the impact of your actions to not be aligned with your intentions. According to a 2010 study, “senior leader reputation can drive employee commitment by as much as 41%.”

In these cases it is helpful to partner with someone who can help us see more clearly.  A trusted adviser or coach can work with you to change your perspective. Executive coaches use a process to help you take an elevated view of things. A skilled coach can help you see with your mind’s eye, your interactions at work or in your personal life. With practice you will be able to adjust your approach to bring your behavior in alignment with your intentions.

In addition to working with a coach there are others ways to change the altitude of your perspective. One highly effective way to get an elevated view of your reputation and to see things more clearly is through a 360 evaluation. This formal process allows you to compare your perspective of your reputation and compare it to up 16 other people. You may choose from among direct reports, peers, family members and more.

A less formal method of seeing yourself and your situations more clearly is from trusted and honest advisers. Work with people who know you well and ask them to lend their unbiased feedback.

Executives will benefit from taking time to gauge the impact they are having within the organization. Working with a coach or trusted adviser will provide the change in altitude necessary improve your results and will help you be more effective in whatever role you are in.

Sharpen Emotional Intelligence By Observing Others

My Emotional Intelligence Experiment

One strategy to increase emotional intelligence is to observe behavior in other people. I have found two places that I enjoy watching behaviors in people. One is in films and the other is at airports. Movies and television are a good place for me to identify behaviors that I recognize in myself. It seems that behaviors are often exaggerated for effect. This helps me  identify how people react under pressure. Then I can practice identifying behavior triggers that might affect me. I notice that I get uncomfortable in awkward or tense situations. My wife can always tell if I am getting nervous. If she is holding my hand, I heat up and she has to let go.

Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant

I also get fidgety and if I am watching television at home, I sometimes get up and go to the refrigerator for a drink which always elicits a laugh from her. It seems that the place I usually feel the most uncomfortable is during sitcoms or romantic comedy’s where the guy is making a fool of himself. Hugh Grant always makes me nervous because of his halting and nervous style. His stuttering in awkward moments can have an immediate impact on me. Over the past several weeks, I have made a conscious effort to pay attention to my feelings and reactions in movies and I have become more aware of my feelings and therefore am more able to manage how I react.

Linux-Babies-Angry_01Another place I like to watch people is at the airport. This is a great place to observe people under stress. Two weeks ago just after I had taken my emotional intelligence assessment, I traveled to Houston to conduct training for one of my clients. On my way home to Las Vegas, I was getting ready to board the plane. The customer service representative taking our boarding passes stopped a couple in front of me and told them that their carry-on was too large and would have to be checked. The man became irate and began shouting expletives. He said that he travels all the time with no problem carrying his bag on. He had gone into a full-blown emotional hijack. The representative was adamant that he must leave the bag at the end of the jet-way.  He continued down the jet-way swearing and proceeded to board the plane with his luggage ignoring the direction he had been given. This couple was assigned the seat right behind me. The man was visibly upset. His wife was consoling him and I heard him say, “I have to calm down”. I was pretty disgusted with his behavior. I really wanted to tell him what I thought. Instead I  suggested that he take deep slow breaths, which is one of the best ways to regain control of emotions. Oxygen helps fight the chemicals that flood our system when “fight or flight” kicks in. The more I observe people, the more I become aware of my own feelings increasing my ability to manage my emotions.

The next opportunity I had to observe people at the airport happened last Friday.  I was boarding a plane in Chicago on my way to Jackson, Mississippi. This time I was flying Southwest where you line up by number. I was seat A36 and the person who had A35 was right in front of me. As I stood in line I was profiling the other passenger in line just to practice. Soon, a well dressed woman who I guessed was a high dominant personality got in line next to and slightly in front of me. I noticed her boarding pass said she was A39 which should be behind me. Since I am also high dominant, I wanted to tell her to take a step back to her proper place in line. Instead I decided to hold my boarding pass so that she could see it. I wanted to see what she would do. I decided that no matter how she acted, I would not respond and let it go. She never looked around to see if she was lined up in the proper order. She stood firm in her spot and as we boarded she went right ahead of me. When I told my wife about this, who has a highly flexible and steady personality, she said “that person” used to be me. That was very hard for me to believe. I may have  a dominant personality, yet I thought I have been fairly aware and sensitive. Apparently not then, hopefully I am more aware now.

The last event happened Sunday on my way home from Jackson to Las Vegas. My itinerary said the flight was direct. I soon discovered we would stop in Houston and Los Angeles. I felt this was a bait and switch by the airline. When we arrived in LA, we were told that our flight was terminated and we would be rerouted on another flight three hours later. Apparently, hurricane Irene was to blame. Four people were on the original flight from Jackson. Each of us was anxious to get to Las Vegas sooner. We were told that there was a flight leaving in one hour that was full, however, we could go on standby. We arrived at the gate counter which was vacant. Soon many of the passengers that were waiting for our canceled flight begin to line up behind us. People were tense and I watched the frustration level rise from the front of the line. A gate operator came to the counter to call for help. He said to the people on the other end of the phone he needed help because an angry mob was lined up out the door and he was afraid for his life. The women next to me who had been on the flight from Jackson, said to me that she was offended that he was saying we were an angry mob. She thought we were calm and civil.

I was observing all these behaviors and I was doing a pretty good job staying relaxed and in control. I explained to the woman next to me, I was sure the gate operator only said those things so he would get a more immediate response from his supervisors. In essence, he was doing us a favor. The gate operator returned to the counter as the phone rang and he repeated the dire situation imploring them to send help immediately. When he hung up, he said he did that to get their attention. The woman looked at me and smiled. As it turned out, all five of us were able to get on the earlier flight and things worked out great given the circumstances.

If you have had similar experiences becoming more aware of your behavior or the behavior of others, please share them with me. If you have had experiences with me where I have been unaware of how I impacted you, I would like to hear about it, I think.

My Emotional Intelligence Experiment

Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

In my job, I help organizations and individuals everyday to develop behaviors that will create optimum results. In my conversations with clients, the topic of emotional intelligence (EQ) comes up a great deal. Over the last decade, emotional intelligence has proven to be a commodity that leaders are looking to increase in themselves and their people. A highly simplified definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to function effectively under stress or in difficult situations. It is also an understanding or awareness of how our behaviors impact the people around us. Data shows that 90% of top performers have high EQ.

As a teacher and consultant, I have a desire and an obligation to constantly work on my behaviors. With that in mind, I decided I would take a closer look at my EQ and track my progress as I work to increase my EQ. Since I am in a profession that teaches EQ I figured this would be fairly easy. I should have known that looking closely at one’s own behavior objectively is never easy.

One of the first things I did was buy the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. In the book there is an access code to take an online assessment. I took the assessment while I was in West Yellowstone on August 5th while I was at a family reunion. I figured that a family reunion was a great place to practice emotional intelligence skills like patience. The assessment is not very long and is only accurate if you are brutally honest with yourself. Knowing that my self-assessment objectivity might be lacking, I turned to my wife for brutal honesty. Sure enough, she more than compensated for my rose colored view of myself.

The assessment gives you a score based on your answers from 0-100. The scale is as follows: 90-100 Means EQ is a strength to capitalize on; 80-89 Is a strength to build on, 70-79 With a little improvement, this could become a strength; 60-69 Something you should work on; 59 and Below A concern you must address. The score assesses four areas which I will discuss later. My average score was 69. I was somewhat surprised by the low number. Needless to say, my response was less than emotionally intelligence.

Kidding aside, I feel that the score reflected my EQ levels of the not to distant past. I found it interesting that my wife encouraged me to score myself based on how I perceive I used to be. So once I recognized that, I rationalized (through rose colored glasses) that I probably was higher than a 69…more like a 70. Anyway, the cool thing about the assessment is that it gives you strategies that are customized for you to help you bring your EQ score up.

It is good to have someone who can give you objective and honest feedback. Be honest with yourself and receive feedback and you will make great progress in becoming more emotionally intelligent. This has been a tremenus help to me over the years as I have worked to raise my EQ and it will work for you too.