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Equality Starts with Emotional Intelligence

For over 40 years, governments have come together under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) to discuss how to build and sustain a healthy and productive environment for all. In that time, they have made great strides; for example, the number of people living in extreme poverty (income below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day) and maternal and child mortality have declined, while primary school enrollment figures have increased since the 1990s. But the work is far from finished. In 2015, the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to mobilize a global effort to end poverty by 2030. However, achieving these 17, from inclusive and quality education for all, to gender equality, to inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities, requires more than policy–it necessitates understanding how human beings make decisions and work together.

Logically, few people would dispute the values of equality, justice, and security for all. Yet many express strong emotion when it comes to how to achieve these values, what those values actually mean, and who they serve–particularly if any actions may impact our individual well-being. Achieving world peace and equality might be impossible, but that improbability hasn’t stopped many from trying.

On May 19, Daniel Goleman and Head of Leadership Programs at Goleman EI, Michele Nevarez, took the stage at the UN alongside a group of passionate individuals to speak on the role of emotions and Emotional Intelligence (EI) in achieving the UN’s 2030 SDGs. This momentous occasion marked the first time emotions were the focal point of discussion on the floor of the UN–a result of the efforts of an unsuspecting intern, Fernando Restoy Rodriguez, whose own experience working with youth in Cambodia prompted an interest in EI. (Restoy is joining the second cohort of the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification.)

While EI is not a one-stop solution to global peace (if it were only that simple), it is a critical component of leadership, relationships, and getting things done. In fact, the second Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld created a Quiet Room at the UN in the 1950s because he understood the vital importance of self-reflection, a key part of EI, in the heavy work of achieving global equality. However, this room stayed relatively unknown until meditation became part of the “cool” vernacular.

The reality is that we haven’t historically heard the word “emotions” used when it comes to geopolitics and treaties–other than it serving as a barrier. The training of diplomats and mediators typically involves learning how to unpack hidden agendas and unspoken needs for shared goals, but not the training of emotional regulation and awareness. If impasse and conflict, or worse, war, is presumably a result of emotions running high, the answer must be to remove them.

Yet we know from emerging science that emotions are inextricably connected to how we make decisions, how we communicate with others, and how we make sense of the world. Nobel Laureate scientist Herbert Simon notes that our emotions can skew our decisions and play a critical role in decision making. Our brain wants to keep us alive, and so we’re constantly trying to figure out whether what is happening around–and inside–us is going to hurt us. And when we try to make decisions that impact millions of people, it becomes even tougher to “remove” emotions. As a result, our intentions may not translate into the wisest decisions or desired goals. As Daniel Goleman notes in The Brain and Emotional Intelligence, “in order to make a good decision, we need to have feelings about our thoughts.” With Emotional Intelligence we learn to understand the feelings we have and their impact on decision making.

Individuals tasked with achieving world peace and equality come with the biases and agendas of their governments, their constituents, and their personal experiences. They are human, after all. The work is not easy, however, and we cannot begin to address world concerns if we are not aware of our own power and responsibility. A key component of EI in the efforts for global peace and equity is the work one must do internally first. As Nevarez noted, “at the heart of EI is personal agency, which leads to global agency.” It is like the oft-used metaphor of the butterfly. One flutter of a tiny butterfly can have massive reverberations.

But if there is no opportunity to pause amid the cacophony of discord and disagreement, we become more susceptible to making decisions that may unintentionally harm others. That is precisely why Hammarskjöld created the Quiet Room to bring back “the stillness which we have lost in our streets, and in our conference rooms, and to bring it back to a setting in which no noise would impinge on our imagination.” If we aren’t introspective enough to know what is happening inside, it is that much harder to do good for others. The EI competencies, such as self-awareness, equip individuals to approach global challenges with greater openness and curiosity, and to make more ethical decisions.

Moreover, to achieve our goals, we have to truly connect with others. To do that, we have to offer our full attention–even when we disagree. As Goleman emphasized, “One must be able to go deep inside to be able to give back to others … There has to be a purpose that resonates with the heart.” EI enables us to deepen our connections with others.

In other words, emotions will always play a role in achieving global peace and equality. When we acknowledge emotions and are mindful of their impact, we have the ability to make better decisions as well as a greater likelihood of success. Cultivating EI helps us manage the complexity of negotiation and conflict about what equality means on a global stage. As University of Toronto professor Stéphane Côte found in her research with Wharton professor Jeremy Yip, “People who are emotionally intelligent don’t remove all emotions from their decision-making. They remove emotions that have nothing to do with the decisions.”

EI is a renewable resource we need to cultivate and nurture. If we are to truly work toward universal peace and equality–no matter how improbable–we must approach ourselves and others with greater awareness and appreciation.

Want to develop your Emotional Intelligence in a supportive, virtual community? Over twelve weeks, you can hone the skills that differentiate top-performers. Begin your learning journey on July 22, September 9, or October 7. You can learn more and register yourself or your team here.

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Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: Patricia Figueroa on Executive Development in Mexico

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Interested in the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification (EICC)? Patricia Figueroa–a participant in the first cohort–reflects on her background as a psychotherapist, Emotional Intelligence in Mexico, and her experience in the EICC.

Could you begin by sharing some insights into your story? Where are you from? How has your career progressed?

My name is Patricia, I’m Mexican, and after over ten years of experience in private practice as a Psychotherapist, my story in Executive Development begins at SuKarne, a Mexican company with a large presence in the global market for animal protein. Along with two other colleagues, I created a Human Development Program for employees, based on the hypothesis that happier employees perform better.

My desire to specialize more led me to attend training in Leadership Coaching at Harvard. From there I began working with clients, and later made the transition from a private coaching practice to Executive Coaching and Facilitator of Executive Development workshops.

In what ways does your background as a psychotherapist inform your current work as a coach?

The main reason I became a psychotherapist was to help people become a better version of themselves: improve their well-being, quality of life, take better control of their lives. I realized that I could serve those same goals with Emotional Intelligence (EI) coaching.

My career as a psychotherapist has given me the tools and experience to be a better coach. Connecting with people, empathizing at a deep level, guiding them to find their own answers, staying curious, listening well, being comfortable with silences, and trusting the wisdom of the client are essential tools for both psychotherapists and coaches.

Do you find that Emotional Intelligence is typically valued and utilized by organizations in Mexico?

Yes, definitely. In these times when everything is changing rapidly, and with Artificial Intelligence beginning to exceed us exponentially in the cognitive field, Emotional Intelligence skills are a very important differentiator.

For all these reasons, smart and ambitious Mexican businesses are taking a closer look at human performance and motivation. EI is at the core of the successful management of human dynamics—something that for now, remains uniquely human and necessary for organizational success. 

What led you to join the first cohort of the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification?

Working with companies, I came to realize that Emotional Intelligence defined successful leadership and successful companies. The ability to listen, the ability to communicate effectively, and the ability to build relationships­–all those skills were at the core of success, but companies weren’t always hiring for or aware of them.

I came across companies with very smart people who lacked some of these skills. So, from there, I committed myself to learning more about EI because I wanted to be as effective in my coaching as possible.

What I found most interesting about Emotional Intelligence is the biology behind neuroplasticity–the fact that our behavior can be changed. I constructed a real emphasis in my own practice on helping clients develop EI.

Since I was excited about Emotional Intelligence and saw first-hand the effectiveness of EI coaching, I decided to go to the source of EI, and apply for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification.

What aspect(s) of the Coaching Certification have you found most rewarding?

The Twelve Self-Discoveries have been amazing. I cannot fix what I am not aware of. Transformation starts within, and the possibility of helping others transform themselves using a scientific based methodology is really rewarding.

The micro-techniques and journaling have also been very beneficial. The micro-techniques help you integrate the new learning, and writing about in the journal helps you anchor it. Mindfulness exercises or mental training helped me to be more intentional with my approach and, therefore, more efficient and productive.

Is there a particular Self-Discovery that resonates with you?

“You don’t have to believe everything you think.” Learning to silence my internal dialogue has helped me immensely, because it is in those moments of silence and mental stillness that answers arrive.

What EI competencies and/or coaching techniques you’ve cultivated in the Coaching Certification have been most beneficial in your work with business leaders?

In this hasty world where we all agree that time is a scarce resource, teaching people how to invest in time to pause and be intentional with their focus leads to greater productivity.

It has helped my clients in many ways: to focus, reduce procrastination, improve their work performance, reduce work stress and anxiety, develop cohesion and a sense of belonging in their teams, be more adaptable, and of course, better manage their emotions and control their impulses.

What has been your experience as an international member of a largely international cohort?

It’s been incredibly rewarding. Sharing such diverse points of view is extremely enriching and also demonstrates how we all converge in our humanity. We not only learn about our differences, but about our similarities. We are not as different from others as we might believe.

Do you have any advice or wisdom you’d like to share with participants in the second cohort of the EICC?

Enjoy this journey of transformation and learning, where you will be nourished by the experiences and knowledge of your learning partners and facilitators. At the end of the program be ready to find in the mirror a much stronger, more resilient, aware, positive, inspired, and compassionate self.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

There are only a few spots remaining in the second cohort, which will take place just outside of Vienna, Austria this summer. You can learn more and apply here.

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Coaching para la Inteligencia Emocional: Patricia Figueroa Desarrollo Ejecutivo en México

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Estás interesado en la Certificación de Coaching en Inteligencia Emocional (CCIE) de Daniel Goleman? Patricia Figueroa, participante de la primera cohorte, reflexiona sobre su experiencia como psicoterapeuta, la Inteligencia Emocional en México y su experiencia en la CCIE.

¿Podrías comenzar compartiendo algunas ideas sobre tu historia? ¿De dónde eres? ¿Cómo ha progresado tu carrera?

Mi nombre es Patricia, soy mexicana, y después de más de diez años de experiencia en la práctica privada como psicoterapeuta, mi historia en Desarrollo Ejecutivo comienza en SuKarne, una empresa mexicana con una gran presencia en el mercado mundial de proteína animal. Junto con otros dos colegas, creamos un Programa de Desarrollo Humano para empleados, basado en la hipótesis de que los empleados más felices tienen un mejor desempeño.

Mi deseo de especializarme más, me llevó a asistir a un entrenamiento en Coaching de Liderazgo en Harvard. A partir de ahí comencé a trabajar con clientes, y después hice la transición de la consulta privada, al Coaching Ejecutivo y facilitador de talleres de Desarrollo Ejecutivo.

¿De qué manera su experiencia como psicoterapeuta ayuda en su trabajo actual como Coach?

La razón principal por la que me formé como psicoterapeuta fue porque quería ayudar a las personas a ser una mejor versión de sí mismas: mejorar su bienestar, su calidad de vida, tener un mejor control sobre su vida; y al conocer el proceso de entrenamiento de la IE, me di cuenta de que como Coach en Inteligencia Emocional podría servir a estos mismos objetivos.

Mi carrera como psicoterapeuta me ha dado las herramientas y la experiencia para hacer un mejor trabajo de coaching. Conectarse con las personas, empatizar a un nivel profundo, guiarlos para encontrar sus propias respuestas, mantener la curiosidad, escuchar activamente, sentirse cómodo con los silencios y confiar en la sabiduría del cliente, son herramientas esenciales en un proceso de Coaching.

¿Considera que la Inteligencia Emocional es usualmente valorada y utilizada por las organizaciones en México?

Sí, definitivamente creo en la importancia de la Inteligencia Emocional dentro de las empresas. En estos momentos en que todo está cambiando tan rápido, y con la Inteligencia Artificial que nos supera exponencialmente en el campo cognitivo, las habilidades de Inteligencia Emocional son un diferenciador muy importante.

Por todas estas razones, las empresas mexicanas inteligentes y ambiciosas están observando más de cerca el rendimiento y la motivación humana, y consideran que la IE está en el núcleo de la gestión exitosa de la dinámica humana, algo que sabemos, es indispensable para el éxito organizacional.

¿Qué te llevó a unirte a la primera cohorte de la Certificación de Coaching en Inteligencia Emocional de Daniel Goleman?

Trabajando con compañías, me di cuenta que la Inteligencia Emocional definía el liderazgo exitoso y a las compañías exitosas. La capacidad de escuchar, la capacidad de comunicarse de manera efectiva y la capacidad de entablar relaciones: todas esas habilidades medulares para el éxito, sin embargo, las empresas no siempre contrataban a su personal con estas competencias en mente.

Encontré empresas con personas muy inteligentes pero que carecían de algunas de estas habilidades. Entonces, desde allí, me comprometí a aprender más sobre la IE porque quería ser lo más efectiva posible en mi trabajo como coach.

Lo que me pareció más interesante acerca de la Inteligencia Emocional es la biología detrás de la neuroplasticidad, el hecho de cómo nuestro comportamiento puede cambiar. Cimenté un gran énfasis en mi práctica para ayudar a los clientes a desarrollar  IE.

Al estar tan entusiasmada con la Inteligencia Emocional y ver de primera mano la eficacia del coaching en IE, decidí ir a la fuente de la IE y aplicar para la Certificación de Coaching en Inteligencia Emocional de Daniel Goleman.

¿Qué aspectos del programa ha encontrado más gratificantes?”

Los doce auto-descubrimientos han sido increíbles. No puedo arreglar lo que no sé. La transformación comienza en el interior, y la posibilidad de ayudar a otros a transformarse a sí mismos utilizando una metodología basada en ciencia es realmente gratificante.

Las micro-técnicas y las reflexiones en el diario. Las micro-técnicas te ayudan a integrar el nuevo aprendizaje y escribirlo en el diario te ayuda a anclarlo.

Los ejercicios de atención plena o entrenamiento mental me ayudaron a ser más intencional con mi enfoque y, por consiguiente, más eficiente y productiva.

¿Cuál ha sido su mayor descubrimiento de los Doce Auto-Descubrimientos? ¿Hay alguno en particular que resuene con usted?

“No tienes que creer en todo lo que piensas”. Aprender a silenciar el diálogo interno, porque es en esos momentos de silencio y quietud mental donde llegan las respuestas.

¿Qué competencias de la IE y / o técnicas de coaching que ha cultivado en la Certificación de Coaching han sido las más beneficiosas en su trabajo con líderes empresariales?

En este mundo tan apresurado donde estamos de acuerdo en que el tiempo es un recurso escaso, enseñar a las personas cómo invertir en una pausa y ser intencional en su enfoque conduce a una mayor productividad.

Las Competencias de IE han ayudado a mis clientes de muchas maneras: a enfocarse, a reducir la procrastinación, a mejorar su rendimiento en el trabajo, a reducir el estrés y la ansiedad laboral, a desarrollar cohesión y un sentido de pertenencia en sus equipos, a ser más adaptables y, por supuesto, a una mejor gestión de sus emociones y control de impulsos.

¿Cuál ha sido su experiencia como miembro internacional de una cohorte mayoritariamente internacional?

Completamente gratificante. Compartir puntos de vista tan diversos es extremadamente enriquecedor y, al mismo tiempo, corroborar cómo convergemos todos en nuestra humanidad. Aprender no sólo de nuestras diferencias sino también de nuestras similitudes; al final del día, no somos tan diferentes a los demás como creemos.

¿Tiene algún consejo o sabiduría que quiera compartir con los participantes de la segunda cohorte del EICC?

Disfruta de este viaje de transformación y aprendizaje, donde serás nutrido por las experiencias y el conocimiento de tus compañeros de aprendizaje y facilitadores. Al final del programa, prepárese para encontrar en el espejo una persona mucho más fuerte, más resiliente, consciente, positivo, inspirado y compasivo.

Esta entrevista ha sido editada y condensada para mayor claridad. Traducido por Patricia Figueroa.

Solo quedan pocos lugares en la segunda cohorte, que tendrá lugar a las afueras de Viena, Austria, este verano. Puedes aprender más y aplicar aquí.

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Time to Think: The Importance of Introspection in Leadership

I have the privilege to work with leaders from diverse sectors including government, medicine, nonprofits, and the arts. Something that constantly comes up during coaching leaders is their near constant fire-fighting and focus on the day-to-day. Like the movie, Groundhog Day, it seems like the same things happen over and over again. The clients I coach want to break the cycle of crisis and reactivity, but seem unable to. Yet they know they are capable of leading differently.

When leaders lead by crisis management, often a root cause is a lack of introspection–an absence of personal and strategic think time. This includes time to think about the future, time to plan, and time to consider what is most important. One way executives can explore this phenomenon is by reviewing their calendar. When do they think? Do they have time, their most precious commodity, blocked on their calendar for introspection?

The classic definition of introspection is a reflective looking inward, an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings. A leader needs introspection time for looking inward–to consider who they are, what they value, what motivates them–to build their self-awareness. I work with leaders who know the value of this self-reflection; they show up focused and clear. I also work with leaders who lack this habit of personal introspection. These leaders tend to show up frustrated and unfocused.

Looking inward is critical for self-knowledge and building one’s self-awareness. And as we know through Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence, our most effective leaders are highly self-aware. Self-awareness is the gateway to self-management and relationship building–important competencies for effective leaders.

Introspection or examination of personal values, meaning, and purpose creates clarity. It enables leaders to focus on long-term success, not simply fire-fighting. There is power in envisioning and planning for a future. If you don’t take the time, either during your totally packed week or during your precious weekend time, you miss an important leadership duty–“the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, raising a person’s performance to a higher standard” (Peter Drucker).

Journaling is a simple practice leaders can adopt to strengthen introspection and self awareness. There is great power writing. Not only does it bring inner clarity, the act of writing increases our ability to achieve. The physical act of writing stimulates the base of the brain, a group of cells called the reticular activating system (RAS). In Write It Down, Make It Happen, author Henriette Anne Klauser says that, “Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this detail!’ Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that […] were there all along.” And we know writing down our goals helps in goal attainment. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, studies goal setting and found that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals simply by writing them down.

Leaders need to schedule time to be introspective and increase their self-awareness. And the simple practice of writing down their insights, intentions, and goals helps them become a more intentional leader who gets the best out of themselves, their people, and their organizations.

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

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Stories that Change the Status Quo

The stories we tell, the words we choose, and the body language that accompanies those words have a tremendous impact on our ability to influence others. When people feel understood and can see themselves within the story you tell, you gain the power to change the status quo.

Influence is the essence of what a leader does. As such, you can utilize influence to gain buy-in for your ideas, to foster change in your organization, and to instill purpose in your work, even if you aren’t in a formal leadership position.

On a neurological level, tone of voice, body movements, gestures, facial expression, and posture all combine to create packages of energy received by the social brain. People with strengths in influence are sensitive to the exchange of this energy and use it to persuade through language.

Storytelling enables us to connect with the social brain. This active engagement fosters trust and resonance with others. After all, a compelling story is far more engaging than facts or information alone. We can use stories as vehicles for information that also speak to our shared emotions and goals.

Telling Your Story

Leaders–whether formal or informal–achieve their effectiveness through the stories they tell. Resonant narratives offer an alternative to the prevailing storyline (“this is just the way things are”) and help us gain buy-in from others to move an idea or project forward.

Marshall Ganz, community organizer and Harvard professor, has identified three layers to an effective public story: “the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now.” The story of self is your personal story. This includes why you have chosen to pursue change–whether you want to make your company more environmentally sustainable, improve the school system in which you teach, or establish patient limits in your hospital.

Why is this change important to you? And how has your story thus far led you to value this change? You might begin by thinking about your parents and your childhood. In what ways has your past led you to where you are today?

The story of us enables others to fit themselves into your vision. What values do you and members of your organization share? What story can you tell that articulates your shared identity? For example, as a nurse petitioning for safe patient limits, you might find the story of us in a common desire to help others, for which you and your coworkers have made sacrifices throughout your careers.

An effective story of us necessitates authentic leadership. With self-awareness and empathy, we can build genuine rapport with those we seek to lead. Without these competencies, the group you want to influence may find it difficult to relate to you or envision themselves within your narrative.

Lastly, the story of now articulates the action you and your group must take. Effective leaders identify actions, not simply problems. What specific action will you call upon your group to take? How does this serve your mission? Why should your group take this action now, instead of postponing it for the future?

You may find it beneficial to tell your story to a friend or record yourself. Start at the beginning (your parents, your childhood), move toward the present, and envision the future you’d like to shape.

Once you’ve gotten your thoughts out, try to distill your answers to three sentences, one for each layer (self, us, and now) of your story. The ultimate goal of this exercise isn’t to write a single narrative, but to have pieces you can adapt and iterate from again and again for different audiences and situations. When we build a narrative in this way, we develop the tools to initiate positive change in our communities and organizations.

This activity is inspired by Marshall Ganz’s worksheet, “Telling Your Public Story.” If you’re interested in developing a politically oriented story, you may find his work particularly beneficial.  

Recommended Resources

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

We have only a few spots remaining for our personalized EI coaching and training package. You’ll receive year-long access to our online EI training courses, a range of EI assessments, one-on-one coaching sessions, and more. You can learn how it works and register here.

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How Mindfulness Helps Leaders Manage Conflict

In my study of the relationship between mindfulness and leader effectiveness, understanding the role of conflict was a career-altering realization for the forty-two leaders I interviewed. These leaders provided in-depth descriptions of Conflict Management, which is one of the twelve competencies in the Emotional Intelligence model developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis. Strength in Conflict Management involves the ability to navigate emotionally charged situations in a diplomatic manner, which often requires open discussion and skillful de-escalation. Individuals with strength in this competency will also be:

  •      Comfortable discussing disagreements
  •      Effective communicators of the positions of all parties involved in a conflict
  •      Skilled in resolving disputes by discussing mutually beneficial goals
  •      Capable of openly talking about disagreements

Conflict Management relies on an individual’s ability to recognize their role in disagreements, either as a participant or a mediator. This necessitates Self-Awareness, since leaders must be aware of how people receive their behaviors if they hope to create an environment where others can safely express themselves. Development of this level of awareness requires active (real-time) self-observation and time spent reflecting on how conflicts could have had a better outcome for all involved.

Become Aware of Opportunities Lost to Conflict

Many of the leaders I interviewed credited mindfulness with helping them wake up to the relationship between conflict and poor-quality workplace interactions. Examples included understanding why coworkers were unwilling to help them, and why their teams lacked creativity and engagement. Exploration of their own role in these relationships led to a realization that their need to feel in control prompted conflict-inducing behaviors.

Leaders described gradually becoming able to see that they didn’t need to feel that they were leading every meeting or making every decision. For instance, the head of an interdisciplinary treatment program at a leading cancer center reported becoming aware of others’ unwillingness to cooperate with him. With the help of mindfulness he was able to recognize the risk to his own success created by focusing too heavily on his own personal agenda. As a result, he began investing more time in developing his ability to identify and address the needs of others, which led to not only a reduction in conflict, but also more supportive and collaborative relationships.

Participants specifically mentioned a reduction in emotional reactivity resulting from mindfulness, which they directly linked to less conflict in the workplace. The founder of a leading global consulting firm summarized these changes in the following statement: “It’s made me less reactive to my judgments and more thoughtful and compassionate, both with myself and other people. It’s made me more mindful not only of what I’m reacting to, but because I have that insight about myself, I’m also more able to notice when other people are being reactive.”

Leaders also credited mindfulness with an improved capacity for identifying and managing stress, which they considered a primary cause of workplace conflict. For instance, a senior leader with a major US hospital network described his increased strength in Conflict Management as: ”… the ability to be able to pause and not react in the heat of the moment. And instead, to be able to look underneath the feeling of anger, irritability … to see what is that really tapping into … that enables me to respond in way that’s more effective.” Many other participants also described an improved ability to minimize conflict once they became better at regulating stress. They specifically attributed these changes to positive outcomes such as successful departmental management during massive layoffs, preventing the loss of angry key clients, and maintaining production during highly volatile circumstances.

How to More Effectively Manage Conflict

Insights from this study into how leaders can strengthen their ability to manage conflict focused on two aspects of awareness: First, identify what triggers your conflict response by analyzing specific experiences. Second, develop the ability to identify what beliefs, fears, or potentially unmet needs may cause negative reactions in others.

You can further improve your ability to manage conflict by taking the following steps:

  1.     Learn to detect the early signs of conflict arising in yourself, both emotional and physical.
  2.     Refine your ability to regulate internal reactions that may lead to conflict.
  3.     Identify and work to understand the causal beliefs behind these reactions.
  4.     Invite others to express opinions that don’t align with yours and listen attentively.
  5.     Help those with opposing views find common ground and develop mutual respect.

Above all, the leaders I interviewed learned to view effectively managed conflict as an opportunity to surface potentially significant problems, strengthen relationships, and boost engagement. They were only able to realize this value once they invested in recognizing, and then giving up their need to feel important or in control. Finally, leaders reported that strengths in Conflict Management resulted in more respect from co-workers, which directly contributed to professional advancement.

 

 

In just 10-20 minutes per day, your organization can receive evidence-based training in Emotional Intelligence designed by the world’s foremost thought leaders. Learn more about our facilitated virtual training courses here.

 

 

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The Power of Vulnerability in Leadership

Sarah is a young, talented leader who rose quickly to an executive role. As a part of her professional development, she went through a 360 assessment and worked with a coach. In her feedback, she was surprised to discover that her colleagues and direct reports perceived her as distant and aloof. They struggled to connect with her, and consequently didn’t trust her. This feedback was shocking and upsetting for Sarah. She resisted it as “just not true.”

However, within her coaching relationship, Sarah uncovered a mindset which didn’t serve her well, and had, until now, been a blind spot. The mindset: being more authentic and vulnerable is bad. It developed long ago in response to a string of childhood tragedies, including her Dad’s death when she was in second grade and her Mom’s breast cancer diagnosis around the same time. Since Sarah’s mom was consumed by her husband’s death and facing her own mortality, she was not emotionally available to Sarah and her siblings. Being the oldest, Sarah became the surrogate parent to her siblings. And as she believed she needed to hold it together for the family, she never shared the depth of her grief and loss with anyone. This set her on a course to become the stoic, high achieving leader she is today. Sadly though, by walling off a part of herself, she struggled to build trusting relationships and was reluctant to let others into her world. Indeed, this mindset and its impact surfaced when she was forced to consider how her self-perception vastly differed from how others perceived her.  

While she believed being objective, unemotional, and aloof made her appear as a more competent leader, just the opposite was true. Her unwillingness to be real and connect with others held her back from becoming the relatable, engaging leader others would be inspired to work with and for. And unsurprisingly, the teams she led all struggled with interpersonal trust.

Sarah’s story illustrates a commonly held mindset not discussed enough in leadership circles (and in life)–that we should avoid being vulnerable. Like Sarah, many of us think we need to maintain the veneer of “having it all together.” If you share this mindset, consider these two points.

First, a willingness to open up about our humanity and imperfections with colleagues, direct reports, and even our bosses, humanizes us and attracts respect. And this learnable skill often correlates with exceptional teamwork and results. If jumping into this seems way too daunting, consider sharing with a trusted colleague first. Pushing through the initial anxiety of having the first few conversations pays off for most. By letting others in on both your imperfections and your discomfort with sharing them, you will experience a decompressing effect whereby you feel lighter and more confident.  

Second, by sharing your real self with someone, you can connect more easily with others. Brené Brown, noted researcher in social connection, has increased understanding of the role of vulnerability in relationship-building. Vulnerability doesn’t mean being weak. The best leaders have learned it indicates the courage to be your real self. It means replacing “professional aloofness and an air of having it all together” with the ability to experience ambiguity and model Emotional Self-Awareness. Opportunities for vulnerability present themselves to leaders all the time. For example, admitting you don’t know the answer to a question, asking for help, and offering stories of times you made mistakes. Openness builds trust and deepens relationships, which makes for great performance, both individually and organizationally. Research shows that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.

After Sarah recognized her fear of vulnerability, and acted to challenge this mindset, her progress and motivation to become a better leader exploded. As she discovered first-hand, there’s power in expressing our struggles and accepting that we all have blind spots. Sarah’s new behavior was contagious. She observed her colleagues on the executive team starting to openly acknowledge others’ good ideas and perspectives in meetings rather than staying entrenched in their original positions. Sarah had, in fact, started her own movement!

Try this:

Teams need to connect and collaborate to become high-performing and successful. However, when your team includes a diverse mix of cultures and generations, achieving this level of cohesion can be challenging.

How can you bring people together? Try this exercise to help your team build deeper relationships.  

    1. At your next team meeting, ask everyone to find one partner and answer the following three questions in just 60 seconds each.
        • Where did you grow up?
        • How many kids are in your family and where do you fall in the order?
      • What current challenge are you facing?
    1. Have people share with the larger group what the experience was like for them–both as the listener and speaker.
  1. If you want to take it a step further, you can exemplify openness and vulnerability by sharing your responses to the questions with the entire team.  

The takeaway: Openness builds trust and deepens relationships, which makes for great performance, both individually and organizationally. Research shows that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.

Recommended Resources:

Want to cultivate your Emotional Intelligence? Reserve your spot for the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence. During twelve, two-week online experiences, you’ll explore the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence through facilitated, group learning. You’ll discover the science behind each competency, why they matter, and how to apply them to positively differentiate yourself.

For a taste of the Foundational Skills, join our two-week Emotional Balance experience. In this portion of the Foundational Skills of EI, you’ll build your resilience, self-awareness, and focus.

For further reading, our series of primers focuses on the twelve Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, which include Emotional Self-Awareness, Adaptability, and Empathy.

The primers are written by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, co-creators of the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model, along with a range of colleagues, thought-leaders, researchers, and leaders with expertise in the various competencies. Explore the full list of primers by topic, or get the complete collection!

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