Posted on

Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: Wagner Denuzzo on the Future of Leadership

In the fourth installment of Coaching for Emotional Intelligence, Wagner Denuzzo, a Meta-Coach for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification discusses adaptability, global leadership, and more. Previous installments of this series include interviews with Meta-Coaches Dot Proux and Kully Jaswal and Faculty member Michelle Maldonado.

 

As Vice-President of the Leadership Talent Transformation team at IBM, Wagner engenders a growth-mindset culture and has reinvented IBM’s leadership. Prior to this role, Wagner led IBM’s Leadership and Management Development global portfolio with a focus on the IBM signature leader experience, from aspiring managers to executive leaders. Wagner has been a Leadership/Organizational Development Consultant, Executive Coach, and HR strategist for over 20 years. Prior to joining IBM, Wagner had an Executive Coaching practice in NYC serving Fortune 500 clients nationwide.

 

 

 

Let’s start with a tough one, what do you see as some of the greatest challenges facing business leaders today?

Leaders are struggling to adapt to continuous change. I was at the Aspen Institute last year with many leaders from the best business schools in the world and it was clear to me that our educational system is also struggling to keep up with the demands of a new world. Experienced leaders are realizing that what worked in the past is no longer a viable option to lead the multigenerational, agile, and non-hierarchical organizations of today and tomorrow. Leaders who successfully navigate ambiguity and uncertainty are usually emotionally intelligent individuals who have been aware of their behaviors and had the courage to work on their emotional health. Business schools are not there yet…and as we enter the next phase of the super-competitive, super-human, and super-intense business era, we must prepare our leaders to share power, become more aware of their impact on others, and most importantly, maintain a healthy, sustainable high-performance while nurturing meaningful personal relationships in their lives.

 

What led you to begin coaching?

I was an Employee Assistance Program counselor when a group of us decided to introduce coaching as a service to our client companies in the late 90’s. It was obvious to us that many employees seeking our services could benefit from coaching, especially leaders who were struggling in their roles in management. It was exciting to begin the coaching practice as a team with my colleagues.

 

How does your background as a psychotherapist and social worker inform your work as a coach?

It takes courage for someone to begin a personal development journey. I believe my experience as a clinical social worker prepared me to treat others with empathy and respect for the vulnerability that’s intrinsic in the process of personal growth. I also find it helpful to have the tools to identify the best modality to help someone who might be requesting coaching services, when in fact they might benefit from mental health services. And lastly, I find extremely important to set and maintain healthy boundaries with my clients, and honestly, I don’t know if I would be good at it if I had not had clinical training to help me with this critical element of our coaching relationships.

 

 

What are your thoughts on Emotional Intelligence?

I often think about the saying: “One teaches what one needs to learn,” and that was true for me when I began my education on EI 20 years ago. I find it somewhat impossible to think about happiness and healthy relationships without referring to the elements of Emotional and Social Intelligence. I think that Daniel Goleman was brilliant in his ability to translate complex psychological constructs into meaningful and understandable concepts of our emotional lives. For me, EI provides guidance on how we can learn to enhance our experiences and achieve a sense of well-being as individuals and as members of society.

 

What drew you to become a Meta-Coach for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification?

When I heard about the EI certification program created by Dan Goleman and Michele Nevarez, I was immediately drawn to it. I have been using Dan’s work in my work with clients and teams for so many years, and the opportunity to be part of a like-minded community of practitioners in the inaugural cohort of the program was just an experience I could not miss! I know I will enjoy helping participants grow their skills and bring their potential to fruition, and that’s the greatest reward for me in my career. I have been working in corporate environments for 10 years now, and this program will help me reconnect with a higher purpose in my professional life. And of course, it will be a lot of fun to be with amazing people in the program.

 

 

What is your approach to coaching leaders managing an increasingly global and technological workforce?

This is what I have been doing for many years now…and from the beginning, I have applied a social work principle: Start where the client is. It never fails! In many instances, global organizations have a business culture that supersedes geographical cultural norms. That provides a positive force in these organizations which have established values and beliefs that can guide their workforce. But of course, we need to focus on cultural intelligence with global leaders and help them become adept at communicating through multiple digital platforms.

It seems that the globalization of the business world has diminished the differences among groups of workers from different countries. I have an optimistic view of the positive impact of globalization and technology in our lives. Coaching global leaders requires a lot of sensitivity to their own fears of inadequacy and vulnerability that permeate global contexts.

I use a simple approach to help them overcome these fears that I call the “curiosity” approach. I often tell leaders that demonstrating curiosity about new cultures, new norms, new technologies, and new ways of relating and working is a way to connect with others and a proven strategy for building trust and fostering collaboration.

 

What does inclusive leadership mean to you? How do you cultivate measurably inclusive practices in a corporate environment?

Inclusion is one of those topics that is often discussed, but rarely observed in real organizational life. I am proud of being part of an organization that truly believes in inclusive leadership and has been a leader in creating a diverse workforce. I personally hope that one day we will not need to use this terminology any longer as inclusion becomes business as usual in corporate environments. Inclusive Leadership is the practice of leading with “soft eyes,” which I translate as leading with an ability to focus while observing your surroundings and being attentive to the value of differences that permeate our relationships. Inclusive leadership is the art of valuing others with a non-judgmental orientation.

It is difficult to measure inclusive practices, but it is evident when consistently adopted by corporate leaders. The composition of a team can tell you a lot about inclusive leadership. Creating an environment where all individuals feel valued and listened to is another characteristic of inclusive leadership. I believe the most useful tool for measuring inclusive leadership is an engagement survey that asks about leadership practices. Engagement results are reflective of these practices.

 

Do you have any advice for people who would like to become coaches?

Besides going through coaching themselves, I would say that it is critical for aspiring coaches to know how to set boundaries with respect and empathy. And to achieve that, you must practice mindfulness so you are aware of your own biases, potential issues, and prepare yourself to be the best coach you can be.

 

 

 

 

Interested in being coached by Wagner and becoming a certified coach yourself? Apply now for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. This in-depth program, akin to a professional degree, draws upon a range of evidence-based concepts and practices, including the Emotional & Social Intelligence framework. Coaches will gain meaningful new insights to impact their personal and professional lives through online learning, one-on-one guidance from a Meta-Coach, a coaching practicum, and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Leadership Training: Filling the Gap with Emotional Intelligence

The reality of the average worker is not improving, and the way people feel about their workplace relationships is a key contributor to the problem. Leaders at all levels struggle with issues of interpersonal interaction and employee engagement, many of which are likely tied to inadequate leadership training and support. Changes in the workforce further complicate the demands of leadership, challenging the effectiveness of the most widely accepted leadership theories. Fortunately, there is growing evidence that indicates what employees and leaders need to thrive, which includes a better understanding of the role of emotion.

 

Not the Trickle-Down Effect We Wanted

In 2017, CLO Media reported that U.S. companies invest as much as $24 billion annually in programs to develop leadership effectiveness, yet, during the same year, the Engagement Institute identified stressed leaders as a primary cause of employee disengagement, and linked this issue to an estimated annual cost of over $450 billion. A study by Steelcase reports that 1/3 of workers in 17 of the world’s most important economies are disengaged, and Gallup reported in 2015 that 50% of 7,200 adults surveyed left a job “to get away from their manager.” In addition, a Karolinska Institute study showed a strong link between negative leadership behavior and heart disease in employees, which further supports the claim that abusive supervisors are one of the most costly problems faced by businesses. (Additional references appear at the end of this article.)

 

The Role of Emotion in Performance

While it is impossible to link these problems to any single cause, the behaviors modeled by leaders in the workplace are clearly a contributing factor. This is often the context within which we hear about the importance of Emotional Intelligence in professional settings, recently identified as a core leadership requirement in Crack the C-Suite Code by former Cisco Global Executive Talent VP, Dr. Cassandra Frangos. Leveraging the role of emotions in workplace performance does not require alignment with any particular theory or school of thought in order to be solution oriented. We only need to acknowledge that employee and leader performance is influenced by emotions, and make that the starting point for interventions.

A Better Understanding of What Employees Need

It probably isn’t a stretch to say that most leaders are not adequately equipped to support the new demands emerging from the workforce. For example, introverts make up 30–50 percent of the workforce, but many organizations maintain workplace environments that introverts find counterproductive. Additionally, in the U.S. 31 percent of full-time employees report being unable to complete key tasks in their primary work locations, and 41 percent report lacking access to privacy needed for confidential workplace conversations. It is also estimated that as many as 20 percent of adults will develop PTSD at some point in their lives, and 18 percent suffer from anxiety disorders. This data raises the question of whether current and future generations of leaders are adequately prepared to provide for the emotional needs of employees.

We also continue to hear about “issues” with the millennial workforce, the significance of which is well-articulated in a story about cultural changes at PwC that describes the unwillingness of younger, key employees to give up quality of life in exchange for continued employment. This forced the organization to change on a fundamental level, and illustrates the point that leaders must be prepared to adapt to the needs of workers now more than ever.

 

A Call for Emotional Intelligence

Fortunately, studies identifying the negative effects of inadequate leadership often also shed light on possible solutions. For example, the previously mentioned Karolinska study showed that employees with inspirational managers reported less short-term sick leave. In addition, workers whose managers hold regular meetings are three times more likely to be engaged. Employees have also reported a desire for daily contact with their boss, and for their superiors to take an interest in their personal lives. Finally, a Gallup report states that “clarity of expectations is perhaps the most basic of employee needs and is vital to performance,” which further adds to the argument for leader EI training aimed at increased engagement, since some research reports that engaged employees outperform disengaged employees by 202%.

Coaching as an Effective and Vital Strategy

There has been no shortage of training materials generated over the years with the aim of developing Emotional Intelligence in leaders. Given the data highlighted above, these efforts have not been adequate. The solution lies in approaching the problem with greater accountability, structured learning, and evidence-based strategies for lasting, behavioral change.

Optimal learning and retention has been linked to Direct Instruction, which should include contextualized and hands-on learning of new skills, concepts, and processes. Mentor and/or coach support is also required to facilitate the transfer of new knowledge into more effective capabilities. This process includes attention to the difference between what a learner can do independently and what can be accomplished with the support of more experienced advisors. Dixon, Carnine, and Kameenui (1993) indicate that this type of development requires metaphorical “scaffolds,” created and maintained by more knowledgeable others, which are “gradually dismantled” in order to enable independent function.

These theories stress the importance of a third party to guide development, which is also a foundation of a scientifically supported psychological modality, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The CBT approach focuses on identifying thoughts, beliefs, and reactions that contribute to ineffective behavior, and learning how to manage this process. The adaptation of CBT for the specific purpose of addressing the requirements of leadership coaching has already been proposed, and the combination of this approach with more effective learning strategies is exactly what the next generation of workplace Emotional Intelligence development should be based on.

This means that coaches and mentors should be an integral part of EI training. It also means that programs will need to reach employees at all levels of organizations to begin creating internal networks of EI coaches and communities of EI practitioners. If there is one thing we can probably all agree on about EI, it is that the way people treat one another has a direct impact on workplace performance. From that perspective, workplace EI development should focus on creating environments where employees and leaders are fluent in a common language and theoretical framework for better understanding one another’s needs.

 

Recommended Resources:

 

The recently launched Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification serves to fill a gap in current executive coaching programs. Emotional Intelligence offers an evidence-based framework for executive coaching that draws upon the disciplines of Neuroscience and Cognitive Behavioral Science, while one-on-one guidance from a Meta-Coach and a coaching practicum offer opportunities for detailed feedback. We are now accepting applicants who would like to learn this specific methodology for coaching their clients. This fall, we will also be launching an online program for learning the fundamentals of Emotional Intelligence.

 

 

 

 

For more in-depth reading on leadership and EI, What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters presents Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking, highly sought-after articles from the Harvard Business Review and other business journals in one volume. It features more than half a dozen articles, including “Reawakening Your Passion for Work.”

 

 

 

References:

1. “U.S. companies invest as much as $24 billion annually in programs to develop leadership effectiveness”

2. “the Engagement Institute identified stressed leaders as a primary cause of employee disengagement, and linked this issue to an estimated annual cost of over $450 billion”

3. “1/3 of workers in 17 of the world’s most important economies are disengaged”

4.”50% of the 7,200 adults surveyed left a job ‘to get away from their manager'”

5. “abusive supervisors are one of the most costly problems faced by businesses”

6. “as many as 20 percent of adults will develop PTSD at some point in their lives”

7. “18 percent suffer from anxiety disorders”

8. “Employees have also reported a desire for daily contact with their boss”

9.”scientifically supported psychological modality, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)”

10. “The adaptation of CBT for the specific purpose of addressing the requirements of leadership coaching has already been proposed”

 

Posted on

3 Takeaways from Research on Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is a relatively recent profession. The first established accreditation groups for professional coaches were founded in the 1990s. Historically, coaching has often been used remedially, as an organization’s attempt to correct employees’ unwelcome behavior or perceived lack of competencies. Many conventional programs still use this approach, with few positive or lasting results.

Today, more progressive coaching programs focus on career advancement and personal development, and are ideally initiated by a coachee seeking self-improvement. The best and most effective programs support the overall growth and wellbeing of the person, taking into account things like habitual patterns of thoughts, emotional states, and underlying mental models that may keep someone stuck.

As executive coaching is growing in value and evolving in design, high-quality research has the potential to shape the discipline and move it forward. One of the challenges of arriving at such research is the existence of significant enough control groups, clear parameters and measurement tools, accounting for variability of data, and a coaching framework that fully supports the complete range of ways in which personal and professional development efforts can materialize – in real time, in the real world. That is one undertaking currently in progress at Key Step Media.

For now, the following studies offer the most meaningful, evidence-based insights into what we know is effective in executive coaching.

 

  1. Cognitive behavioral interventions for leadership development

Researchers adapted traditional clinical psychological practices into the context of executive coaching in a 2013 study published in Research in Organizational Change and Development. The authors used cognitive behavioral executive coaching (CBEC) in both helping to manage maladaptive thoughts and behaviors and in establishing a formal platform to support executive skill building, performance, and personal leadership agendas.

Findings show that the approach enabled executives to develop behaviors and competencies aligned with their ideal future state, due to the highly-customizable process of the program design. CBCE was particularly effective in improving adaptability in both thoughts and actions and has the potential to inform the future of executive coaching.

 

  1. Personalization based on values is key

A 2016 study in Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, examines the emerging approach to workplace coaching, which increasingly emphasizes “enhancing both the performance and the well-being of individuals and organizations in ways that are sustainable and personally meaningful.”

Simplicity and personalization lie at the heart of this methodology. Clear, practical language and models, rather than complex acronyms and jargon-filled texts, make training methodologies accessible and more likely to create lasting organizational change. Deep personalization, in which the coach seeks to understand the coachee’s personal values and goals in a holistic way, is equally vital. As good coaching is fundamentally a quality conversation based in trust, it follows that authentic, individualized coaching is vital to cultivating genuine organizational change and personal development. From an evidence-based perspective, this kind of personalization has been demonstrated as being highly effective in many peer-reviewed studies with randomized control groups.

 

 

  1. Trust and goal setting are critical to coaching effectiveness

A strong working alliance from the perspective of the coach and coachee predicted coaching effectiveness in a large-scale study of executive coaching conducted in 2016. Coachee self-efficacy, or belief in the benefits of coaching and their own ability to make lasting behavioral changes, was also critical in determining coaching effectiveness.

Coaches who built a foundation of trust with their clients, and established clear tasks and goals, were rated most highly for successful coaching outcomes. Even when the coachee had lower self-efficacy, a strong working alliance and clear goals were found to partially compensate for this disparity.

The ability to develop a foundation of trust with a coachee necessitates that the coach excels in relationship management competencies. Emotional Intelligence is also critical in the coach’s ability to identity appropriate tasks and goals for their client, to be receptive in understanding the coachee’s unique challenges, and to offer clear guidance in alignment with the coachee’s own values.

 

 

More research is needed

Due to a range of factors, including the wide umbrella of coaching and the absence of a standardized measure for successful or effective coaching engagements, there is minimal, peer-reviewed research on executive coaching. Some meta-analyses have established the overall positive effect of coaching on organizational outcomes, while surveys have sought to evaluate coaching effectiveness through factors such as coach training and background. Further efforts to establish universally accepted terms and research criteria for executive coaching have the potential to positively impact this growing field.

 

Are you interested in coaching for Emotional Intelligence? 

 

 

Emotional Intelligence offers an evidence-based framework for executive coaching drawing upon the disciplines of Neuroscience and Cognitive Behavioral Science. The new Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification is now accepting applicants who would like to learn this specific methodology for coaching their clients. This fall, we will also be launching an online program for learning the fundamentals of Emotional Intelligence.

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: Dot Proux on Women’s Empowerment

Welcome to the first installment of Coaching for Emotional Intelligence, in which we will interview Faculty members and Meta-Coaches from the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification.

 

Our first guest, Dot Proux, is an ICF-credentialed, Coactive-certified professional coach and leadership development facilitator, with 30 years of experience in the professional services industry. She is a certified public accountant, with a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) certification from the Human Resource Certification Institute, and a Certified Master Facilitator (CMF) designation through the International Institute for Facilitation (INIFAC). Dot is also a member of the International Coach Federation. She is a Meta-Coach for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, which is currently accepting applications.

 

What led you to begin coaching? 

I was inspired by the impact that coaching had on me while I was a partner at Ernst & Young. Without the planned time to pause and the skillful questions and intuition of my coach, my life would have taken a different direction. That direction would have been one that was much more influenced by the hectic pace and demands of everyone around me, rather than on my clear understanding of where I was meant to go and what I was meant to do.

 

What are your thoughts on Emotional Intelligence?

I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to a myriad of leadership, professional, and personal development frameworks; EI is the one that resonates most and has the broadest application across all dimensions of my life, and the lives of my clients. EI gives a framework to think about and words to discuss the importance of knowing yourself and the impact you have on others. And that’s what we all need to understand in order to live fulfilling lives as individuals, while minimizing the damage we do to others’ lives and the world around us in the process.

You have worked as an executive sponsor for Ernst & Young’s Professional Women’s Network and coach clients on navigating gender dynamics. Do you have any advice for women professionals, particularly in relation to the #MeToo movement?

I can answer that with a story, unfortunately. A young woman I’m close to recently experienced a #MeToo situation. The harassment came from outside the company she works for, in the form a lewd text from a much older executive who works for one of her employer’s largest clients. While ultimately her employer took action that was supportive of her, the discussions leading up to this decision caused her to doubt whether the emotions and reactions she was experiencing in response to the harassment were valid and justified. I gave her the same advice I’ve given in the past when women have come to me with similar situations, often expressing reluctance to pursue consequences. Know your boundaries. Know your values. Know yourself and what you are willing to tolerate in regard to how you are treated and the respect you are given. And then, act in alignment with what you know and what your values tell you.

It’s not easy, especially in situations where acting in alignment with the values that you hold for yourself has the potential to negatively impact other people. In situations where you feel like you should just tough it out or ignore it because the potential ramifications of speaking up feel overwhelming, I encourage women to think about their daughters, their little sisters, their nieces . . . and what advice they would give if that person came to them asking what to do. Be courageous, and make the decision you can be proud of years down the line, when that younger woman or girl asks you what you did when it happened to you.

What do you see as some of the benefits and challenges of a rapidly diversifying U.S. workforce? How do you approach coaching leaders for these changes?

It sounds worn out, as there is so much written and discussed on it, but clearly the more diverse the perspectives in the war room, the more robust the solution. I won’t wax eloquent on that point, as it is at this point pretty well discussed already.

I can, however, provide an observation on an unexpected benefit that I experienced personally. The firm I worked for was very forward thinking about the need to create inclusive work environments, so as a new partner I was required to participate in coaching, supplemented by an intercultural competency type assessment tool, to accelerate the growth of my inclusive leadership competencies. At the beginning of the coaching process, I was disappointed with where I came out on the assessment, as I pictured myself as pretty enlightened! I invested significant thought into my development plan, which we were encouraged to customize so that it authentically worked for us. As part of my quest to understand people different from myself, I joined our LGBTQ group as an ally, spent time with the firm’s Latino, African American, and AsiaPAC employee resource groups, and eventually became the lead “client thought partner” on inclusive leadership, presenting to clients and collaborating with them on their organizations’ Diversity and Inclusion journeys. I was engaged in the learning, and particularly intrigued by how vastly broad the differences in perspective become when you venture outside your comfort zone full of your normal “go to” people.

Many leaders have been put through diversity workshops or inclusive leadership workshops that teach skills and behaviors aimed at helping them successfully navigate the challenges of workforce diversification. Academically, the reasons why they should lead inclusively make sense to them. Intentionally, most leaders today truly want to lead inclusively. But it’s not as simple as that. The elements that I use in coaching for inclusive leadership include:

Building super-charged Self Awareness, including awareness of inequalities in their emotional commitment to various members of their teams. We explore that with questions that are more about how the leaders FEEL than about what the leaders DO. So instead of asking “Who are you spending time with? Who are you mentoring?” I would ask “Who of your protégés are you most comfortable giving work to in a crisis? To whom do you feel most drawn to encourage? With whom do you have the most transparent conversations? If your emotional commitment had weight, who among your protégés would have the heaviest backpack?” What this type of dialog tends to uncover is that leaders often feel the strongest emotional connection with, and therefore unintentionally put their most valuable attention and focus on, people who are most like themselves.

Once they become aware of these relationship behaviors, I focus on discovering specifics about their unconscious biases and preferences; helping them understand their current orientation to navigating differences that make a difference; and developing a plan to improve their competency in navigating those differences.

 

What advice do you have for people who would like to become coaches?

Do some soul searching to make sure it’s for you. It’s not the same as advising, and not everyone loves it! Talk with other coaches to understand what it is. Be coached to experience the value. Recognize it’s a craft and a profession that requires building specific competencies; you aren’t a skilled coach just because you have past experience mentoring and teaching people in a previous position. And if it feels like a good direction, get certified and credentialed. Building consistency, quality, and credibility into the profession will benefit all of us and our clients.

 

 

Interested in working with Dot and becoming a certified coach? Apply now for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. This in-depth program, akin to a professional degree, draws upon a range of evidence-based concepts and practices, including the Emotional & Social Intelligence framework. Coaches will gain meaningful new insights to impact their personal and professional lives through online learning, one-on-one guidance from a Meta-Coach, a coaching practicum, and more.

 

Posted on

How Leaders and Coaches Cultivate Purpose at Work

On Satya Nadella’s first day as CEO of Microsoft, he sent a letter to every employee. He started it by explaining what drew him to work at this company – and why he stayed. He shared his belief that his work at Microsoft could help make the world a better place. He ended the letter with an invitation to each employee to, like him, find meaning in their work.

Finally, I truly believe that each of us must find meaning in our work. The best work happens when you know that it’s not just work, but something that will improve other people’s lives. – Satya Nadella

Nadella could have focused on market share or share price, or the need to stay nimble in an extremely competitive industry, but he didn’t. He chose to cut through the noise of all that and focus instead on something deeply personal and heartfelt: finding one’s meaning and purpose at work.

As it turns out, Nadella’s intuition, to direct his employees to discover the deeper meaning of their work, – was coming from his own inner need for meaning amidst personal experiences of tragedy. He says he owes the deep clarity of purpose he has found to his eldest child, Zain, 21, who is severely disabled. He was born weighing only three pounds, having suffered asphyxiation in utero; as a result, he is visually impaired, has limited communication, and is quadriplegic. Zain’s journey is a constant reminder of what really matters in life.

In fact, Nadella believes meaning and empathy are core to the innovation agenda of the company. He seems to have unleashed something very powerful within Microsoft employees. Under Nadella’s watch, the company has transformed rapidly, shifting focus from the Windows business to newer technologies including cloud computing and artificial intelligence. In 2017 alone, Microsoft’s shares jumped 35%, the highest in the company’s history.

What makes Nadella such a relatable and compelling leader is his ability to help his employees engage at work in a way that feels profoundly different.  Jobs are more than tasks, they are meaningful contributions which will make a difference in the lives of others. He helps his employees tap into their unique contribution to improving the world.

Why meaning at work matters

  1. People who say their work is meaningful and/or serves some greater social or communal good report feeling a greater sense of wellbeing, and possess important qualities organizations need and want. For example, people who find meaning in their work tend to work harder, and are more innovative, creative, engaged, and impactful team members.  (Arnold, Turner, Barling, Kelloway, & McKee, 2007; Sparks & Schenk, 2001).
  2. Millennials are 5.3X more likely to stay when they have a strong connection to their employer’s purpose.
  3. 73% of employees who say they work at a “purpose-driven” company are engaged, compared to just 23% of those who don’t (PwC 2016).

Companies like Microsoft understand that when employees believe their work has meaning they are more committed, creative, and innovative. Indeed, when employees can see their connection to a higher calling it unleashes positive energy and motivation. Catalyzing innovation and teamwork is at the heart of success.

Leaders and coaches can help employees see meaning in their daily work.

Unfortunately, fewer than a third of business leaders help employees connect their own purpose to the work of the company. This is a huge lost opportunity.

It’s a myth that finding meaning in our work requires giving everything up to pursue some lofty “other” career. The truth is that no matter what job you hold there are opportunities to tap into meaning and purpose. Leaders and coaches can help employees understand the important contribution they are making right now, by showing how we are all interconnected and interdependent.  For example, the manager who reminds the line technician that the power line he connected is enabling a child dependent upon an oxygen machine to breathe more easily.  Or the supervisor who points out to the call center employee that she helped someone secure travel in time to be with family for a joyous occasion.

Even people who work in professions which seem full of meaning, such as healthcare or education, often experience a lack of meaning and purpose. However, there are practices which can help anyone reconnect to meaning in their work no matter what job they have.

To discover more meaning in your work try this:

Think of three things that happened during the day that went well and your unique contribution in the positive outcome, then jot down those three things.

According to research, best results for this exercise come after fourteen consecutive entries, so be consistent and give it a little time to take effect.

This practice helps you to focus on the meaningful events of your day and what your unique contribution was to the event.  By doing this practice you learn to tune in to moments that may otherwise be overlooked but are quite significant when it comes to meaning and purpose. Research shows that paying attention to three good things each day builds deeper sense of meaning and wellbeing and fosters a mindset of gratitude.

As a coach or leader, you can develop additional ways to help connect your employees to meaning based on the unique offerings of your business. What is the ultimate benefit to your clients or customers? Does someone experience greater health, happiness, or fulfillment as a result of your work or products? If so, clarify what that benefit is, and remind your employees what’s at stake, and how their role contributes. Finally, it helps to give employees an opportunity for ownership of work projects. If they can initiate ideas and follow through on them to see the ultimate results, that is an incredibly powerful motivating factor to further connection and engagement, and ultimately materialize in elevating the greater good.

 

 

 

Recommended Resources:

 

 

Interested in helping others tap into their purpose? Our new Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification is now accepting applications. This in-depth program, akin to a professional degree, draws upon a range of evidence-based concepts and practices, including the Emotional & Social Intelligence framework. Coaches will gain meaningful new insights to impact their personal and professional lives while elevating their expertise.

 

 

 

 

If you would like to learn more about the fundamentals of Emotional Intelligence, our series of primers focuses on the twelve Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, which include Coach and Mentor, Inspirational Leadership, and Teamwork. 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!

 

 

 

 

For more in-depth reading on leadership, What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters presents Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking, highly sought-after articles from the Harvard Business Review and other business journals in one volume. It features more than half a dozen articles, including “Reawakening Your Passion for Work.”

 

 

 

Posted on

How to Give Emotionally Intelligent Criticism

Whether you are a team leader or a member of a team, you will likely encounter situations in which you need to offer criticism or constructive feedback. While this can be difficult, giving feedback is a necessary part of leadership and being a member of a team. Teams that openly address counterproductive behavior create an environment that fosters continuous development, learning, and innovation. The ability to give effective, emotionally intelligent criticism is essential to high levels of team performance.

What Does It Mean to Offer Effective Criticism?

People who give effective criticism balance empathy and an understanding of the person they are giving feedback to with an objective and calm demeanor. They have developed trust through interpersonal understanding and compassion. They know team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and unique abilities. They know if someone would rather receive feedback one on one, or if they are fine with a group setting. They offer objective criticism and deliver it calmly, without divisive emotions.

While many of the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies play a role in the ability to give effective criticism, Emotional Self-Control and Empathy are essential to giving effective criticism, particularly in relation to Teamwork.

How to Develop Emotional Self-Control

Developing Emotional Self-Control begins with recognizing your emotions as they occur. When you notice yourself experiencing a strong emotion, whether it be anger, frustration, or something else, make an effort to identify the source of the emotion.

Mindfulness meditation can help you become more aware of your emotional state, while journaling can offer a healthy way to release emotions and track your state of mind over time. In both of these practices, avoid self-judgement. Recognize your thoughts and feelings, but do not overly identify with them or give them too much power.

In addition to making you equipped to give effective criticism, Emotional Self-Control can also make you better able to receive feedback. By contextualizing feedback as information, instead of taking it as a personal criticism, you can internalize it from a context beyond yourself as an individual. As with giving criticism, this is a vital skill for both team leaders and team members. In order to cultivate a team that actively self-evaluates, everyone involved must be open to input and new ideas.

How to Develop Empathy

While Emotional Self-Control requires tuning into your own emotions, Empathy can be developed by tuning into the emotions of others. Nonverbal indicators of emotion, such as facial expressions and body language, can help us get a sense of how others are feeling. More actively, asking questions, and showing genuine interest in people’s responses, makes us better able to understand their emotions and to care more deeply for them. Active listening, which includes making eye-contact when someone is speaking, and nodding if you agree with them, demonstrates your engagement with that person’s thoughts and feelings.

Developing Empathy is also key to fostering mutual trust on a team. Team members that are compassionate toward one another, and care about each other’s abilities and preferences, create an environment of trust, in which people feel comfortable holding each other accountable.   

How to Balance Emotional-Self Control and Empathy to Cultivate an Accountable Team

In her studies of Team EI Norms, detailed in Teamwork: A Primer, Vanessa Druskat found that balanced levels of specific competencies most accurately predicted the emergence of certain Team EI Norms. In the case of the Team EI Norm “addressing counterproductive behavior,” Druskat and her team found that team leaders with strengths in Emotional Self-Control are most able to cultivate an environment in which team members hold each other accountable.

“High empathy seemed to get in the way of providing ‘tough’ feedback. The optimal leader profile was a leader who had high empathy and also a high level of self-control.”

Leaders with a balance of Emotional Self-Control and Empathy can manage their emotions and deliver difficult feedback in an impactful way, while also considering the emotions of the person they are critiquing.

An effective balance between these two competencies also strengthens the Teamwork Competency. High levels of Empathy, balanced with Emotional Self-Control, yield teams focused on relationship development and effective accountability. Compassionate teams, that care about each other and their contributions to the group, lay a solid foundation for the creation of open channels for honest feedback. In this way, effective, emotionally intelligent criticism becomes a vital aspect of the team’s process, as they hold each other accountable for their level of performance.

 

 

 

Recommended Resources:

Interested in coaching others in Emotional Intelligence? Our new Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification is now accepting applications. This in-depth program, akin to a professional degree, draws upon a range of evidence-based concepts and practices, including the Emotional & Social Intelligence framework. Coaches will gain meaningful new insights to impact their personal and professional lives while elevating their expertise.

 

 

 

 

For further reading, our series of primers focuses on the 12 Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, which include Emotional Self-Control, Empathy, and Teamwork.

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!

 

 

 

Posted on

Research: Mindfulness May Increase Mental Performance at Work

During my study of the relationship between mindfulness and leader effectiveness, 100% of the leaders I interviewed (all having months or years of prior mindfulness training and practice) linked mindfulness to improvement in their personal and professional lives. The majority described this as being significant, often using terms such as “profound,” or “life-changing.” My previous articles on EI draw from this research, exploring the way mindfulness influences each of the 12 Emotional Intelligence competencies, based on interviews with organizational leaders from around the world.

My findings ultimately reveal the following:

Mindfulness influences changes to awareness and behavior that, in turn, play key roles in producing favorable workplace outcomes.

Improved Mental Performance and More Effective Behavior

One of these changes, improved mental performance, was described by participants as having a positive, overarching effect on functions such as decision-making, susceptibility to distractions, and attention. This is not surprising since mindfulness is sometimes defined as meta-awareness, including our ability to non-judgmentally observe where our attention is and is not focused.

This capability can become a “real-time” skill set, taking the form of simultaneous observation of our interaction with others, and our internal reactions to that activity. The leaders I interviewed described this level of awareness, reporting that it provided them with a degree of “mental clarity.” Below are the specific benefits described, and the percentage of participants who reported experiencing them:

  • Ability to identify signs of potential conflict (in time to take corrective action) – 90%
  • Capacity to more effectively navigate organizational relationships – 88%
  • Improved ability to recognize emotional reactions in themselves and others – 86%
  • Increased attentiveness and patience with others – 74%
  • More productive responses to the emotional states of others – 100%
  • Recognition of the negative influence of stress and anxiety – 88%
  • Openness to new ideas and input from others – 90%

Descriptions of these benefits were provided in the context of how mindfulness helped leaders gain new information about themselves, others, and their workplace culture. This information was then incorporated into their efforts to improve the effectiveness of their interactions with others. As the graphic below illustrates, leaders described an upward spiral of improvement. New insight about self and others fed back into additional, positive changes to beliefs and awareness, which paved the way for more effective behavior.

Real World Examples of Applying Mindfulness at Work

Many of the leaders reported that improved mental performance made them better able to identify and filter out distractions such as emotional reactivity and bias. A senior manager with one of the largest research and publishing firms in the world described this experience in the following way: ” you’re able to calm yourself down and put yourself in a better position to listen to someone… it helps me to be calm and think clearly and to focus…I find I’m able to be composed and organized and clear in my communications.”

Leaders specifically mentioned that mindfulness training helped them be more present when interacting with others. This included a greater ability to monitor what their attention was focused on or being distracted by. They also mentioned becoming better at observing whether or not they were listening carefully, asking relevant questions, and picking up on interpersonal cues and organizational context.

This type of observation, and the value it provides, was well articulated by an executive specializing in global communication and strategy: “(mindfulness) enables you to read other people better and be more sensitive to what’s driving their commentary, their presentation, their behavior…their body language. That makes the connection between the two of you much more on an equal footing basis. So you’re no longer either selling to a position of power, or talking to a position of power. You are in fact exchanging information and dealing with each other on footing that is, at least emotionally, much more equal.”

A new appreciation for the importance of empathy in the workplace was also identified by leaders as a benefit arising from improved mental performance. This resulted from developing a stronger ability to identify and manage the role their own emotional reactions played in their perceptions of others.

A leader who has held executives roles at one of the largest organizations in the world elaborated on this point in the following statement: “It definitely increases your empathy by helping you put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You slow down your responses, and when you sort of look at why that person is reacting in that manner it helps you be more compassionate because the moment you have empathy you start thinking from a very human perspective about the situation and trying to understand what the problem is. And the moment I take that approach I realize that I have solved the problem more effectively.”

What You Can Do to Cultivate Better Mental Performance

Look for opportunities to practice in the workplace, since this will help you develop exactly the type of capabilities needed for improved performance. The following suggestions come from details shared by leaders on this topic during interviews:

  • When interacting with others in-person or remotely, put your phone away, turn off your email, web browser, or even your monitor
  • Try and continuously monitor where your eyes are focused during interactions with others, as well as your facial expression and what it may be conveying
  • Take notes on what you are observing during interactions with others, specifically what they may be expressing through tone, body language, and choice of words
  • Regularly ask questions aimed at surfacing misinterpretations
  • Take time each day to identify emotional reactions that may have a negative influence on your mental performance

Improved mental performance can be developed through regular practice, not unlike athletic training. There are a variety of software tools and meditation practices available that help strengthen intensity and duration of attention, however, they may not improve your ability to actively observe and more fully understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For this type of development, consider formal mindfulness training, but be sure that the instructor is thoroughly qualified, and plan to make a consistent time commitment if you want results.

Recommended Reading:

Emotional Self-Awareness: A Primer – The first in our series of primers on the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, with author voices including Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Richard J. Davidson, and the author of this article, Matthew Lippincott. The complete collection is also available. 

Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body (audio)  New York Times-bestselling authors Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson unveil new research showing how meditation affects the brain.

The Brain and Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman illuminates the state of the art on the relationship between the brain and emotional intelligence, and highlights EI’s practical applications in leadership roles, education, and creativity.