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

Mindful Diplomacy: The Case for Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Mindfulness practices have traversed from the world of yogis to the C-suite. Notable leaders, such as Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner, and Google’s “Jolly Good Fellow” Chade-Meng Tan, are driving a sea change in corporate culture to develop employee engagement, wellness, and productivity not through bonus schemes, but yoga and emotional intelligence training. It’s almost impossible not to read about mindful eating, mindful schooling, mindful walking. An emerging field of research suggests that the state of being aware and present result in improved mental, emotional, and physical health, greater concentration and attentiveness, and increased productivity.

Only three years ago, mindfulness had yet to really make its way into the jargon of international diplomacy. For all that was written and taught about cooperation and getting to “yes,” little could be found about the role of mindfulness, despite diplomacy being a most obvious place to benefit. In 2014, former ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr noted that despite efforts to depend less on military might to shape foreign affairs, the U.S. approach of declaratory diplomacy and sanctions have only led to more entrenched, adversarial positions. He argues that this approach to “diplomacy,” whereby the U.S. cuts off dialogue, communicates disapproval, and exaggerates differences, seems predicated on the idea that diplomacy is only used when “the enemy lies prostrate before us.”

In other words, talk is for the weak.

Or is it? Much of the corporate world has embraced competitive collaboration as desirable, even necessary, in today’s interwoven, interconnected world. Leaders who have witnessed personal transformation from mindfulness and emotional intelligence training are transforming corporate cultures in which mutual inspiration and collaboration bring more profit, as well as more fun and possibilities to achieve greater societal good. While civilians break bread together and find more commonalities than not through citizen diplomacy every day, and businesses create partnerships to innovate and increase market share, international diplomatic efforts sometimes seem stuck fighting in the sandbox.

Valuable Lessons for High-Level Communication

What, if anything, can be learned from the world of mindfulness in a world of zero-sum tacticians? In an early article written about mindfulness and diplomacy, former South Korean ambassador Seok-Hyun Hong offers an alternative approach based on the Eastern philosophies of Daoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism that:

1) human relations are far more complex than good versus evil, and

2) harmony is a worthy goal.

Such an approach challenges the traditional hegemonic worldview of one winner. Starting from a different predicate establishes a foundation from which dialogue may be nuanced, respectful, and authentic, and diplomacy becomes a genuine effort to find balance of powers.

Perhaps in response to the backsliding on global decency as well as emerging scientific evidence, secular mindfulness is getting recognition as a necessary skill in nation building and negotiation. The notoriously colorful UK House of Commons committed over 100 parliamentarians to take an eight-week mindfulness course and articulated a national commitment to bring mindfulness to its health, education, business, and criminal justice systems. In 2017, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn led a meditation session there with dignitaries from Israel to Sri Lanka. Bhutan, the “happiest nation in the world,” has committed to training all 9,000 of its teachers in emotional intelligence. U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan authored a book on how mindfulness can “recapture the American spirit.” As the world watches U.S. and China play a potentially dangerous game of chicken amid many other conflicts, bringing mindfulness and emotional intelligence skills to diplomacy is critical.

With a practice of mindfulness, players enter negotiations with a beginner’s mind, bringing awareness and equanimity to avoid fixed thinking and aversion to unattended emotions.

 

 

With mindfulness, ego is set aside, as well as the obsession for one predetermined outcome or a battle between “us” and “them.” As lateral thinker Edward de Bono has found, the ability to view things from multiple vantage points increases constructive alternative solutions to problems.

Emotional Intelligence Provides a Clear Framework

With Emotional Intelligence, players refine their abilities to pause and control their thoughts before reacting, learn and grow from criticism, and demonstrate empathy and compassion. It even builds the courage to say “I’m sorry,” when appropriate. Although not traditionally taught in the training of diplomats, it can – and should – be. Dr. Daniel Goleman, who co-created the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model, recently announced its Coaching Certification program to prepare more impactful and wise leaders.[1] The model articulates four primary domains to increasing efficacy and agency: 1) Self-Awareness as the foundational capacity of how emotions affect the self and others; 2) Self-Management as the balance of emotions towards goal attainment; 3) Social Awareness as the fostering of connection and understanding of others; and 4) Relationship Management as the interaction with others for the greatest impact.

By staying present and aware, players around the negotiation table can preempt impulsive reactions that often result in greater divides and create barriers for resolution. Consider this: two monkeys are fighting for a banana in a tree. Each has an iron grasp on the banana and pull and pull. Eventually, either one or both will tire and fall out of the tree, or the banana will slip from their hands and be lost forever. If instead, the monkeys paused before acting and were aware of their own emotions and that of their “foe,” they might let go of their tight grips on the desired fruit, gently set it down, and share in its delights.

Obviously, international diplomacy is more complicated than two monkeys and a banana. Yet progress in diplomatic efforts may happen far more quickly when both parties are more mindful of the present, impulses and reactions, and ultimate goals. Mindfulness and emotional intelligence prepare them to lead with authenticity and the mindset of “how to be of service.” As Hong notes, both sides can then stay true to the “deeper commitment to the common causes of humanity [and establish] a balance, not of power, but of perspective, and in the process aspire to a harmony among nations worthy of the name.”

[1] In full disclosure, author is both engaged with the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and the Daniel Goleman Emotional and Social Intelligence Coaching Certification Program.

 

 

Interested in working with Belinda 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

Research: How Mindfulness Increases 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.

Posted on

Inspirational Leadership Arises from a Working Understanding of ESI

Inspirational Leaders Arise from a Working Understanding of ESI

The process of becoming an inspirational leader involves the development of multiple Emotional and Social Intelligence (ESI) competencies, each contributing to new realizations about how to lead more effectively.

Emotional self-awareness and emotional self-control drive this transformation, particularly in the context of learning to apply ESI in real-time social interactions. That was revealed in part of my 2016 study on leadership, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence. The analysis included use of the ESI model developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, and indicated that leaders linked strength in inspirational leadership to greater career success and satisfaction.

The Competency of Inspirational Leadership

Inspirational leadership focuses on an individual’s interest in, and capacity to lead, regardless of their formal title or position within an organization. Strength in this competency is exemplified by the ability to unify others towards a common goal, which involves other competencies such as influence and organizational awareness.

An inspirational leader will exhibit a sense of pride in his/her work, but also understand the importance of creating a sense of group ownership, and an engaging work environment. The ability to effectively present new or challenging ideas to a group is another attribute of inspirational leaders, as is the ability to lead during times of crisis.

What Inspirational Leadership Looks Like in the Workplace

The leaders I interviewed for my research spoke extensively about how they motivated and inspired their teams. However, they also revealed that these capabilities arose from development of self-awareness. This process was described as being profound, and transformational in relation to participants’ understanding of what is required to be a truly effective leader. For example, the Head of Talent Development for one of the largest hospital networks in the U.S. linked inspirational leadership to a new understanding of the way feelings influence engagement, which he summarized as “we need to really access the way we treat people, the way we treat ourselves, the way we understand emotion in the work place.” In this instance, new realizations about the role played by emotion in workplace performance significantly influenced this participant’s beliefs, and behaviors relating to inspirational leadership strategies.

Another participant, the Senior Manager for a leading global consulting firm, elaborated on the importance of inspiring employees via authentic relationships: “you develop this sort of connection with the person you’re managing…there’s this empathy that goes on when the person you’re managing respects and appreciates you for trying to understand what’s really going on.”

Other leaders shared details of how they engaged their direct reports on an emotional level. For instance, the senior legal counsel for a leading international healthcare product manufacturer talked about the importance of modeling behaviors in the context of inspirational leadership: “I’m going to try my best and do the best I can, and I think just that one little thing can be inspiring to my team.”

Participants also frequently mentioned the importance of earning trust, such as an HR leader for a major US healthcare network, who stated “I’ve always really worked to try to build trusting relationships with individuals through, not necessarily my words, but my actions.” Another participant, who has been responsible for supply chain operations at three well-known global organizations, touched on the value of demonstrating ethical behavior, saying “… if that leader is doing it with integrity, people are all in… and will join with you at the hip to do what you’re trying to do.”

Developing Yourself as an Inspirational Leader

The leaders I interviewed believed that their success depended upon their ability to effectively articulate team objectives, and actively support others in achieving them. They understood that success required them to demonstrate the behaviors needed to reach those goals on a daily basis as well. Fundamental to these realizations was an awareness that others can detect exaggerated statements, false confidence, and insincerity.

There are a number of steps you can take to develop the type of engaged and supportive workplace relationships associated with Inspirational Leadership. A good place to start is honestly assessing whether or not you are overloading yourself with tasks that could be delegated to others. This is an important step, since task-oriented workload takes away from time that can be invested in personal and team development. In addition to protecting you from burnout, properly managed delegation cultivates trust and respect between leaders and their staff as well.

Part of this assessment should also include some reflection on why you may have unrealistic expectations for yourself concerning the amount and type of work you should be able to support.

In addition, give some thought to what you believe others expect of you, and whether or not some of your workplace behavior may be motivated by trying to fulfill standards that are difficult to live up to. The objective of this activity is to begin exploration of beliefs around workplace roles with others as part of a trust-building process, contributing to the following:

  • honest dialog about performance expectations and areas for improvement
  • stronger relationships based on openness and vulnerability
  • sharing of lessons learned from failures and successes
  • opportunities to share responsibilities and recognition

Leaders told me that involving subordinates in activities such as risk assessment and decision-making also had a positive impact on team loyalty. They reported that being open about their own feelings of fear and worry relating to these and other leadership activities helped their direct reports better understand, and relate to, the difficulties of being a leader. Overall, leaders indicated that their ability to inspire performance improved as they invested more time into cultivating personal connections with others through these types of activities.

Recommended Reading:

Our new series of primers focuses on the 12 Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, including Emotional Self-Awareness, Adaptability, Influence, Teamwork, and Inspirational Leadership.

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 – including the author of this article, Matthew Taylor.

See the full list of primers by topic, or get the complete collection!

 

 

SaveSave

Posted on

Research: How Teamwork Powers Mindful {and Effective} Leadership

More effective teams result from a leader’s investment in their personal development of self-awareness, emotional self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

This is one of the findings from my in-depth interviews with 42 leaders exploring the role of mindfulness in strengthening their leadership capabilities. The study also included use of the Emotional and Social Competency Indicator (ESCI) model developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, and found all twelve of the leadership competencies present in the participants. Teamwork was the competency most highly referenced by the participants, who provided detailed descriptions about the value they had received from focusing on cultivating their own, and other’s capabilities to be better team members.

Teamwork is defined by cooperative rather than separate, or competitive work. It also includes working towards common objectives, and taking ownership of both positive and negative outcomes. Individuals with strength in this competency will be able to build and maintain working relationships, in addition to promoting an environment conducive to input from teammates. They will also be:

  • Supportive of other teammates or group members
  • Involved in facilitating cooperation
  • Appreciative and respectful of others’ opinions and suggestions

The leaders I interviewed linked teamwork to a variety of benefits, including greater innovation, employee autonomy, and business growth. They also reported that their improved ability to develop effective teams resulted in stronger relationships between teammates, and greater loyalty to the organization. Finally, participants credited mindfulness with helping them understand their own role in being a good team member in the context of relationships with subordinates, peers and superiors. Leaders tied these improvements to their effectiveness, directly attributing career success to the combination of greater team capabilities, and the willingness of others to help them.

How Leaders Create Cultures Conducive to Teamwork

Study participants demonstrated a working understanding of multiple leadership theories, such as Situational, Transactional, and Transformational. Their leadership behaviors, however, tended to be more reflective of the relational leadership theory and dispersed leadership approaches. Specifically, they understood the importance of being able to meet the needs of the people and groups they worked with, and realized that the definition of a good teammate may not be the same for everyone. They also knew that they, and members of their teams, may need to adapt their behaviors in order to successfully align with the frequently changing goals of the organization.

Participants reported that investing in attentiveness to others had a powerful impact on the strength of their relationships. The HR head for a leading global manufacturing firm summarized this as “…the deepness of listening and relating to a person and helping them connect on an individual level so they feel valued and connected to you as a leader,” which he directly attributed to improved team performance. A leader with a Fortune 10 Firm also touched on the importance of being open to receiving feedback from his direct reports: “I asked for feedback and insights from the people that I work with, and therefore they felt comfortable giving it to me.”

The importance of following through on commitments to coworkers was also stressed by participants. For example, the senior legal counsel for a leading healthcare product manufacturer shared the positive impact that her previous managers’ interest in her work life balance had on their relationship. As a result, she made sure to care for her direct reports in the same way, and take on additional personal workload if necessary: “…I want to make sure that people when they’re off, they’re truly off…certainly something can wait or we’ll try to get something else done.”

Making certain to not be perceived by others as paying lip service to concepts such as participation, respect, and fairness was highlighted by participants. A Department Head for a major US Hospital Network illustrated this point when describing the way he interacted with a newly promoted manager on his team: “I’ve decided to allow space for her and her team to design the new model, and giving everyone space to have their own thoughts and ideas.” His comments echoed what other leaders had to say about the relationship between team performance and the leader ensuring that each member feels valued and motivated to make continued contributions.

How to Create a Stronger Team

Leaders were consistent in expressing their belief that you need to pay careful attention to being a good teammate if you want to be a member and/or leader of a high performing team.

This includes study and refinement of team development activities, and active observation of whether or not your interactions with others make them willing to support you as a teammate. These aspects of cultivating teamwork were summarized by a participant who has held Controller and CFO roles for three leading corporations: “I’m being respectful and…really listening, really understanding where they’re coming from… and then reflecting.”

Some steps you can take to promote teamwork that were described by participants include:

  • Work with your team to agree on a formal description of a good teammate
  • Jointly design a plan to help each member become a good teammate
  • Create and maintain open feedback channels
  • Focus on a culture of improvement, aimed at learning from mistakes

It is also important to keep in mind that building trust with your teammates requires authentic and compassionate behavior on your part. This means being available to openly discuss their fears and concerns, and working with them to find ways to manage these issues. Making a sincere effort to help teammates manage stressful situations more effectively will also contribute to greater engagement, as will modelling the behaviors you expect of others in the workplace.

Recommended Reading:

Our new series of primers focus on the 12 Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, including Emotional Self-Awareness, Adaptability, Influence, Teamwork, and others.

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.

See the full list of primers by topic, or get the full collection!

Posted on

Want High Performing Teams? Invest in Coaching and Mentoring

coach and mentor emotional intelligence

Investment in coaching and mentoring activity can have a positive, or even transformative, impact on leader effectiveness. By focusing on coaching and mentoring, leaders can help their team develop Emotional and Social Intelligence (ESI) competencies and minimize the impact of the negative aspects of organizational culture on performance. These are some of the results of my analysis of in-depth interviews with 42 leaders, which included use of the ESI model developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis.

Successful coaching and mentoring is seen in leaders with a commitment to career-oriented development of others.

This includes guiding others to identify and follow through on their own strategies for improvement. Since many of the leaders I interviewed had lengthy and successful leadership careers, it was not surprising that this topic was the second most frequently referenced competency identified in the study. This competency is exemplified in leaders who:

  • Recognize others’ strengths
  • Provide ongoing performance improvement-oriented feedback
  • Encourage others

Participants also clearly expressed that their own career successes were linked to the higher performing teams they created through consistent coaching and mentoring. Many stressed the importance of this approach, often reporting that it accounted for 15-20% of their time.

The participants in my study said that mindfulness helped them develop the level of self-awareness and social awareness they needed to identify how to coach and mentor in an effective way. This included identifying interpersonal cues needed to determine whether or not their behaviors were having the desired effect. A part of this process also required leaders to regularly reflect upon what others need, and how to use that understanding in a way that their subordinates and peers would respond to.

Many leaders also reported coming to the realization that a leader/follower relationship is one of co-dependence. Therefore, the leader must systematically let go of thoughts and behaviors motivated solely by their personal interests. Instead, they began to base their decisions on two core values that appeal to everyone:

  • Delivering clear value to the organization, and
  • Ensuring that subordinates are able to do so as effectively as possible

The Value of Coaching and Mentoring

The leaders I interviewed indicated that much of this activity was voluntary on their part. However, they also reported that their commitment to coaching and mentoring was well worth the investment of their time, and linked it to numerous benefits, including:

  • More innovation and voluntary contributions from direct reports
  • Greater team and individual autonomy
  • Improved team synergy and performance
  • Reduced workload and less stress for the leader

Participants described the creation of strong, intra-team relationships that helped to address negative aspects of organizational culture, such as concerns about job security and disruption within the workplace. For example, subordinates responded positively to development efforts that increased their market value and ability to advance and/or move laterally, if needed. Leaders also provided examples of their efforts contributing to an enduring, trust-based professional/personal network that transcended individual organizations.

Authentic, supportive relationships that extend beyond traditional workplace boundaries were specifically linked to improved team output as well. For instance, leaders commented on the value they experienced by openly sharing stories of personal struggles interfering with their workplace performance. They also reported making a point of identifying when their direct reports and peers seemed to be having similar difficulties, and proactively creating a channel for safe, open dialogue focused on helping.

Coaching and Mentoring in Action

The leaders in my study identified a variety of forms of effective coaching and mentoring activity. A common strategy was obtaining organizational resources to support training requirements. However, the way in which leaders interacted with their direct reports on a daily basis was also a key part of their approach. For example, a senior manager with a global engineering and manufacturing firm described an emphasis on “stretch assignments” and cultivating autonomy: “… I step back and allow people to lead me so that I am supporting them and giving them the courage to do something that they are not used to doing.”

Examples like this showed that leaders were capable of utilizing the scaffolding concept for supporting learning and development set forth by Dixon, Carnine, and Kameenui. This strategy reflects an understanding of the importance of a knowledgeable person being available to provide input and direction during the process of development, with the aim of gradually transitioning to independent action.

Another senior leader, with a major international manufacturing company, focused discussion on the value of action-oriented feedback: “…I just said that it’s really important that you ask these questions during your interaction with the client… it would’ve been a much more natural part of their conversation, rather than me entering into that conversation later.”  This illustrates the importance of utilizing highly contextualized, task-centered interventions to develop understanding of the processes and interrelated variables involved in solving problems. The importance of this level of understanding has been explored in the work of  Weick and Roberts and leaders described developing it with a method that aligns with the Direct Instruction model for improving skill acquisition and retention.

Getting Started

In addition to making a sincere effort to make training and development resources available to subordinates, a strategy for effective coaching and mentoring activity also includes the following:

  • Equal participation of subordinates in performance plan design
  • Creation of a vision for an “ideal working relationship” between leader and follower
  • Agreement on, and full understanding of, measurement criteria and progress tracking
  • Modelling mutual respect (turn off your devices during meetings), and
  • Inclusion of stretch assignments coupled with supportive, yet constructive, feedback

Based on what leaders told me, I recommend working towards an intermingling of mindfulness practice and coaching and mentoring activities. For example, maintain focus on the importance of diligent, daily coaching and mentoring activity, as well as the reasons for making it a priority. In this context, give additional attention to the competencies of empathy, emotional self-control, and influence as enablers of your commitment to develop others. This, in turn, will help you identify activities and opportunities for achieving those goals.

 

Recommended Reading:

coach and mentor competencyIn Coach and Mentor: A Primer, Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and colleagues introduce Emotional Intelligence and dive deep into the Coach and Mentor Competency, exploring what’s needed to develop this capacity in leadership.

In a relatively short read, the authors illustrate the valuable skills needed to foster the long-term learning or development of others by giving feedback and support.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

How Meditation Fuels Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

meditation and emotional intelligence

Not many of my readers know this, but long before I started writing about emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness, I studied meditation. I started back in my college days, and found daily meditation calmed my undergraduate jitters and helped me focus better. To get a scientific look at what I had experienced, I did my doctoral research in psychology at Harvard University on how meditation might help us be less reactive to stress.

Back then, there were but two scientific studies of meditation I could point to. Today, there are more than 6,000. This past year or so, working with my friend since grad school, Professor Richard J. Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we used rigorous standards to review all that research. We share the strongest findings in our book, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body. While 99 percent of the studies failed to meet these standards, about 60 – one percent – were first-rate. They make a convincing case for the positive, lasting effects of meditation.

Meditation and Emotional Intelligence

While continuing my interest in meditation, over the past 20+ years, of course, I’ve studied and written about emotional intelligence and its powerful role in high performance and leadership. My colleague, Richard Boyatzis of Case Western Reserve University, and I developed a model of emotional and social intelligence that centers around twelve learned and learnable competencies. Now when people ask me how to develop those competencies, my response often includes the power of meditation to strengthen emotional intelligence.

It’s not that meditation makes you expert in all twelve emotional intelligence competencies. Not at all. Exhibiting these at a high level takes specific learning, particular to each competence. But meditation has some general impacts that can help upgrade several of these leadership skills.

For example:

Emotional Self-Awareness supports development of all of the emotional intelligence competencies, simply because it allows us a way to monitor and evaluate what we do and how we think and feel. Mindfulness meditation cultivates emotional self-awareness, helping us develop the mental ability to pause and notice feelings and thoughts rather than immediately reacting. Seeing our thoughts as just thoughts, and feelings as just feelings gives us a platform for choosing more skillfully how we react, or to change for the better what we habitually do.

Emotional Self-Control means that you are in charge of your disruptive reactions, rather than your feelings controlling what you do. I’ve written extensively about the executive centers of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) and the fight-or-flight emotional centers (and their trigger, the amygdala). Research now shows that regular practice of mindfulness meditation builds the pathways between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex so that the calming, thoughtful influence of the prefrontal cortex can curb the knee-jerk reactions of the amygdala.

Empathy – tuning into and reading accurately how others feel – helps us manage our relationships. While emotional self-awareness helps you know yourself, empathy means being able to understand the thoughts and feelings of the people around you. My new book Altered Traits reviews several studies that show certain kinds of meditation enhance empathy – for example, just eight hours of a form of meditation known as loving-kindness or compassion meditation has been shown to strengthen our mental brain’s circuitry for empathy.

Conflict Management
Conflicts big and small are inevitable in work and in life. Being able to understand different perspectives and effectively work toward finding common ground is an essential skill for leaders at all levels of organizations. The building blocks of skillful conflict management include the other three competencies I mention above. Before we can manage conflict effectively, we need to recognize our own disruptive feelings and manage them. We also need to understand the feelings and perspectives of others. Just as mindfulness meditation supports development of the skills for knowing our own feelings and controlling them, those skills enhance our ability to manage conflict.

Emotional intelligence means being skilled at a variety of competencies. Meditation alone will not make you excel in these skill sets, but it can help. To become adept at the competencies, get a strong foundation by first learning to become aware, to focus, to interact with others in a constructive and meaningful way. These abilities are exactly what meditation helps to cultivate.

Recommended Reading:

Altered Traits audio coverAltered Traits is the newest book by bestselling author Daniel Goleman and neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson. Through thoughtful analysis of countless studies, the authors offer the truth about what meditation can really do for us, as well as exactly how to get the most out of it. At the heart of what Goleman and Davidson aim to impress upon readers and listeners is that beyond the pleasant states mental exercises can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting personality traits that can result.