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Can Online Learning Replace the Classroom?

The growing landscape of online learning programs enables people across the globe to develop their knowledge and abilities in countless disciplines. Online learning is increasingly incorporated into traditional K-12 education and can offer an alternative to homeschooling. In higher education, reputable, accredited institutions offer the option to earn degrees–from the associate’s to doctorate level–online. And beyond typical degrees, online education is also ideal if you want to dive into a new hobby or develop professional skills for a career change.

Online learning makes it easier for people who can’t commit to full-time, in-person learning to further their education. People working full-time jobs and parents raising young children often benefit from the flexibility of online education. Adult students with disabilities also frequently “prefer and excel in the online environment.”

While online courses typically lack opportunities for conventional in-person contact, learning platforms increasingly offer features that bridge this gap. Cohort-based courses, in which students learn as a group, cultivate a strong sense of community. Multi-media interfaces can further strengthen these connections.

For instance, an online learning experience may begin with a video conference call in which students introduce themselves and share their motivations for participating in the course. This also allows the teacher or facilitator to set the tone for the group and the material they’ll learn. And once students begin to engage with the material, a built-in chat feature makes it easy to connect with peers and motivate one another.

Multi-media interfaces also create a high-level of learner control, which has been shown to increase student engagement. Students can not only control when and where they learn, but also how they complete assignments. With integrated technology, you may have the choice to share your responses to material by recording audio or video, through digital journaling, or by uploading images of handwritten responses.

By streamlining these responses within the online course, students can engage with each other’s work and ask thought-provoking questions. This also makes it easier for a teacher or facilitator to track your progress and to provide personalized feedback.

The benefits of multi-media capabilities also extend to the content of the online course itself. Varied resources, such as animations, instructional videos and audio, and interviews with experts in a field can make it easier to understand complex information. And since these resources live in the online course, you can easily return to them as you cultivate your skills or prepare for assessments.

Online learning also offers a unique opportunity to close the knowing-doing gap. Many courses favor intellectual learning–such as reading textbooks and attending lectures–over experiential learning. Intellectual learning is sufficient in some disciplines. History, for example, largely requires that we read and analyze primary sources as well as other’s interpretations of those sources. But when we want to develop ourselves and enhance our skills, intellectual learning alone is insufficient.

Experiential learning includes actively practicing the skill we want to develop and reflecting on our progress. It can also be beneficial to have a teacher or coach to keep us on track and offer us guidance throughout our experience. Online education is particularly suited to this process. Brief instructional videos and audio make it easier to practice a new skill or technique daily and fit it into our busy schedules. And a variety of methods for self-reflection offer ample learner control as well as a streamlined process for sharing and interacting with a community of peers and teachers.

While classroom learning will always have a place in education, online learning enables a vast array of people from across the world to learn and grow together. With flexible scheduling, multi-media resources, and innovative learning platforms, students who may be unable to attend traditional classes can continue their education within a supportive community. Particularly for adult learners, who often prefer self-directed, experiential learning, online education serves as an ideal format.

Recommended Resources:

 

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

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

Enrollment is now open for courses that begin September 24th.

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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Brain’s Blind Spots

When we hear the words “Diversity & Inclusion,” some of us cringe or roll our eyes, not because we don’t care, but because we feel uncomfortable, guilty, or feel we don’t need any training in it because “we’re not racist.” Yet every day, we read a news story where someone’s hidden biases trigger a potentially harmful action, from calling 911 on a congresswoman visiting her constituents to using racial slurs on political opponents. “Diversity & Inclusion” is necessary but insufficient; as Coaching Certification Faculty member Michelle Maldonado notes, we need to move from “Diversity & Inclusion” to “Belonging & Unity.”

One first step we can take is to recognize our lack of awareness of what influences our decisions, actions, and perceptions of other people. According to Leonard Mlodinow, scientists estimate that 95% of what happens in our brains is beyond our conscious awareness. In other words, we’re only 5% aware of why we think and act and feel the way we do. The majority of what dominates our mental activity is unconscious.

Our world is filled with differences. We are naturally drawn towards what is familiar and deemed “safe,” like family members who, for the most part, look and smell like us, and we move away from what is unfamiliar. Our brains use heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to help us navigate a complex world. We unconsciously build beliefs about different groups of people outside of “our tribe,” based on various socially constructed or identity markers, to help us organize our social world.

Similarity bias is our preference for others who are similar to us. Our brain’s natural inclination to categorize our world starts at a young age. David Kelly found that babies as young as three months show a preference for those with a similar race to them. The chances are that these babies are not “racist,” but unconsciously, they realize that their main caregivers are their sources of comfort, food, safety, and diaper changes. More often than not, these caregivers are related and therefore, “look” like them. Such biases may persistent in adulthood unconsciously in how we act. University of Michigan researcher Jesse Chandler found that people were 260% more likely to donate to hurricane relief efforts if the hurricane’s name began with the same letter as their first initial.

Our brains are also subject to implicit egotism, the notion that we think more favorably about others like ourselves. We are more likely to respond to a stranger’s email if they share our name, and we’re more likely to help someone out if they went to the same university. The opposite occurs unconsciously as well. Have you ever met someone new that you irrationally didn’t like or felt animosity towards them simply because they share a name with a childhood bully? That’s our unconscious brain at work.

Our hidden biases also are influenced by visual bias. Our optic nerves attach to our retinas in a way that means we have actual blind spots, and so our brains fill in the visual gap we can’t see. Similarly, when it comes to how we view and evaluate other people, if we have missing data about another person, we tend to take the little bit we know about the social categorization of that person and fill in the rest of the information. For example, if you meet someone of Nepalese descent for the first time, and the only bit of information you have about Nepal is that it is a Buddhist nation, you might assume that they are Buddhist and hesitate to include them in your Passover Seder.

Even though we think we evaluate others based on their individual qualities in rational and deliberate ways, our brain’s automatic processing is influenced by cultural and social messages around stereotypes and the “Other.” Groupthink can lead to “Othering,” whereby we discourage individual disagreements or thoughts for the sake of wanting to belong to the “in-group.” Daniel Goleman offers important insights into how groupthink may manifest in the workplace and what to do about it. While we have seen historical incidences of how groupthink can cause irreparable harm, from the Holocaust to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, “Othering” in the workplace can lead to lower performance, well-being, and engagement. UCLA psychologist Naomi Eisenberger found that the area of our brain associated with physical pain is also associated with feeling left out. When we overlook the administrative assistant during lunchtime as we sit with our cubemates daily to eat, we may be impacting their feeling of belonging, even though our intentions are not to exclude.

It is therefore important that we consider how to build psychological safety into our environments, whereby people feel safe to express their true and whole selves without judgment or reprisal. When we do, people feel confident to express opinions, have disagreements, and show up. In fact, Google researched hundreds of its own teams to find out why some thrived and others wilted and discovered that psychological safety was the number one factor. In short, if we want high-performing teams that bring diversity of perspective and a sense of inclusion and belonging, we must build trust, raise our awareness, and reach out to others.

By using our brain’s natural structural functions, we can hack our minds to bring greater curiosity of the “Other,” Self-Awareness of our own unconscious thinking, and Empathy to find similarities with others who may appear different than us. Emotional Balance can help us raise our awareness and ability to move from unconscious to conscious. As Daniel Goleman notes, “when it comes to diversity, you’re seeing people who have a range of backgrounds, of understandings, and of abilities. And the more diverse team is going to be the one with the largest array of talents, and so it will be the one with the potential best performance.”

Recommended Resources:

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Can You Train for Emotional Intelligence? {New Research}

Emotional Intelligence (EI) has become increasingly valuable in the workforce, from executive leadership to entry-level hires. The model of Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies is derived from an evidence-based framework. Yet quality research on training and coaching for Emotional Intelligence – part of our current undertaking at Key Step Media ­– has only recently burgeoned.

A new study in Human Resource Management Review assessed the effect of training for Emotional Intelligence through a meta-analysis of 58 studies. A meta-analysis combines the results of multiple scientific studies into a comprehensive statistical analysis. This yields more robust results than is possible from the measure of any single study.

The 58 studies analyzed in “Can emotional intelligence be trained?” had to include an Emotional Intelligence training program with adult participants, a measure of EI pre- and post-training, and sufficient statistical data. Participants included graduate and undergraduate students, business managers, nurses, police officers, teachers, and retail staff.

Researchers found that training has a positive impact on Emotional Intelligence scores. They also “noted a trend in the studies reviewed that suggested training is more effective when lectures are avoided, and coaching, practice, and feedback are included.” Holistic and personalized training, which accounts for a participant’s unique goals and motivations, enhances the effectiveness of EI training. It is also important that EI training bridge the knowing-doing gap. Programs that primarily use lectures and passive learning are less likely to improve EI. Experiential learning, including practice exercises and real-time feedback from a coach, enables lasting and effective development of Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence can also transform outcomes in coaching engagements. A recent study in the Journal of Experiential Psychotherapy found that Emotional Intelligence is beneficial for executive and life coaching. Researchers identified key elements of an effective coaching relationship and sought to enhance that relationship – for both coach and coachee – with Emotional Intelligence concepts and practices.

­Researchers surveyed 1138 coaches and coachees from 88 different countries. Among the coaches, they compared the responses of emerging and professional coaches based on hours of professional training. They found that several of the most powerful coaching methods include asking highly personalized and goal-oriented questions, active listening, and a focus on cultivating mindfulness and Self-Awareness.

Both coaches and coachees agreed that Emotional Intelligence concepts and practices – including EI assessments – enrich coaching engagements by fostering personal insight, connection, and clear purpose.

Researchers concluded that incorporating EI into training and practice for professional coaches often enhances the coaching experience for both coach and coachee. Emotional Intelligence offers a clear framework for developing a range of skills, including Self-Awareness and Relationship Management competencies, and yields sustainable change rooted in purpose.

Organizations interested in implementing EI training programs can now find high-quality evidence for the positive impact of these programs. Increased job performance, employee health, and diminished stress all make training for Emotional Intelligence a solid investment.

Recommended Resources:

 

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

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

 

 

 

The Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification is accepting applications on a rolling basis, with only a few seats remaining. 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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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!

 

 

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