: Conflict –Resolve it, if not Avoid it, at Work or Home.

Conflict –Resolve it, if not Avoid it, at Work or Home

Conflict exists at work, in the home and in the world at large as we know. How you deal with it will impact your effectiveness as a manager or leaders, your success in work and life and your happiness and well-being as a person. Many coaching clients dislike conflict. A new client had lower effectiveness scores on her 3600 report for “measuring progress of her team’s projects, ensuring accountability, giving direct feedback and addressing difficult situations.” The qualitative comments echoed a desire for “direct feedback, clarity of her position even if different than others, and tackle difficult situations early.”

Conflict Meaning

Conflict is essentially a disagreement between two or more people. This seems simplistic and often conflict is a serious disagreement or argument, often occurring over time. Conflict can arise from poor behaviours (bullying, discrimination, harassment, poor performance), misunderstandings (office etiquette, language, politics), differences (in opinion, personality, human, work ethic, ideas) or miscellaneous other things (ego, laziness, jealousy, assumptions).

There are two kinds of conflict. One is real conflict where you know there is tension, disagreement and differences with another. The second is what I call imaginary or ‘anticipative’ – this is where you assume or perceive or fear there might be conflict based on thoughts and feelings you are having, before even raising it with the other person. This article will give some tips for both real and anticipated conflict.

Of note, language is important. It influences us (when we think it) and others (when we say it) immensely. Notice the difference in how you feel and the impact of ‘we are in conflict’ vs ‘we disagree’ vs ‘we have a misunderstanding.’ Reserve ‘conflict’ for things that are truly that scale.


The way to avoid conflict is to deal with any frustrations or issues early. The expression “nip it in the bud” is apt, deal with poor performance or behaviour as soon as you sense it. If you notice you’re annoyed or frustrated take time to figure out what the issue is and develop a plan for addressing it (either within yourself or with the other person).

Design Your Alliance. At the start of a coaching relationship I talk to my client about how we want to work together (download template here). We review goals and roles to agree expectations, we talk about what brings out the best in each other, we identify the qualities each of us are bringing to this working relationship. We even talk about “what if something’s not working? How do we want to raise it/deal with it?” By talking about all this overtly it sets a foundation and gives permission to talk about any deviations from this plan. You can do this with your boss, co-worker, employee or friend at any time.

Listen and Ask. Listen to others both what they are saying and not saying. Listen for any resentment or frustration with you or others to identify it early. And ask open questions (best questions start with WHAT) to find out what people are really thinking and feeling, what motivates them, what the reasons are for what they do, and what’s going on for them. Active listening and curious inquiry to understand can prevent tensions as people feel seen and heard and issues can be aired and addressed early.

Share Assumptions and their Impact. We create assumptions about people, ideas, situations all the time (it’s how our brain works). Often our assumptions about others are wrong as we are interpreting things through our perspective. When we act on those wrong assumptions it can lead to misunderstandings between you or negative feelings for you. When you view someone in a ‘not-so-nice-light’ ask yourself what am I assuming about them? What impact does that assumption have on you emotionally and intellectually? What underlying belief might exist for you? Doing this reflective exercise might reveal some emotional blind spots you have about yourself. For example, Joe isn’t doing his fair share of the work on a project. You assume he’s lazy and coasting on everyone else’s effort. That makes you feel resentful and wanting to exclude him. The underlying belief might be that you feel others might think you’re not pulling your weight and you don’t feel good enough.

Learn how to have ‘Difficult’ Conversations. Many coaching clients say they hate having difficult conversations and therefore avoid them. First, note the language. If you label it a difficult conversation it probably will be so define what the intention of the conversation truly is: “developmental, aligning expectations, giving feedback, clearing assumptions, working better together.” Secondly, learn models and tips for giving ‘negative’ feedback (one model can be found here), aligning expectations having performance management discussions. Lastly, make sure you are giving positive feedback and celebrating success of others regularly (5 positives to every 1 negative is the proven ratio¹), so they know you value their contributions and hence aren’t just hearing negative things from you.


It’s a tall order to provide a process or tips to resolve conflict in a short article as resolution depends on the situation, number of people involved, the severity and duration of the conflict, legalities etc.

Name it. Acknowledge that the conflict is present. Name the elephant in the room to yourself and those involved. This doesn’t have to be a grand announcement. The words could be as simple as “I sense some friction or lack of alignment between us that I’d like to clear up.” Ask about their thoughts and feelings. They might be reluctant so share yours. Say what you’d like to happen such as “I’d like us to work through this to be happier and more successful colleagues.”

Put the Issue Between You Both. Literally. If the conflict is about a specific topic or situation then write it down on a piece of paper, sit side by side (less confrontational) and put that paper on the table in front of you. This puts the issue more objectively outside of yourselves and the relationship and becomes the focus of resolution rather than blame. This can be done virtually by signing into the video conference on a second device and putting the paper/topic as that devices ‘participant so the two of you look at it in a third view.

Strive for the ‘3rd solution’ – not your solution or their solution, rather a better, new solution. I don’t mean compromise. Dig beneath the surface to identify the underlying needs or motivations of each party. Encourage each of you to find alignment rather than agreement. What can you align on? It might be as basic as agreeing there is a problem between you, or what the worst-case scenario is or what process you both wish to follow to find resolution. Brainstorm options or solutions together that would satisfy each of your needs.

Have Someone Facilitate. Ask a neutral third party to help. This could be a leader, HR partner, a professional. Someone looking for a resolution between the two rather than a judge of who’s right and who’s wrong. I had an emotive engagement with a colleague years ago involving misunderstandings and assumptions. A coach colleague of ours facilitated the discussion between us to get to understanding of each other’s points of view and essentially both accepting responsibility for the situation and clear the air to move forward.

This is the Start not the End. This first conversation should be viewed as just that, the first in a series. Check in with each other. How’s it going? You could each rate the effectiveness of the solution or process on a scale of 1 to 10. What would it take to increase the rating (if it’s not a 10)? You might need smaller more frequent conversations because of the emotional nature of the conflict. Recognize it’s a journey rather than a quick fix.

Research shows that organizations with diverse people, ideas and solutions are more innovative and successful when well managed. Diversity means differences by definition. It’s not avoiding the differences that are key, it’s managing them for optimal engagement and results.

What conflict resolution skills would you benefit using?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how you could resolve, if not avoid, conflicts


Endnote: ¹ Dr John Gottman 2002

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: Giving Feedback - Afraid they will take it Personally?

Giving Feedback – Afraid the Recipient will take it Personally?

Are you reluctant giving feedback? If so, you are like many leaders and managers. Two clients said this last week: “I don’t want them to take it personally.” What came out after some coaching was that: (1) they didn’t want to hurt the person; and (2) they were afraid of how the person might react.

These are genuine concerns when giving feedback, especially when thinking of how to give constructive feedback. You want someone to accept the feedback, be empowered by it and not defensive, to take it on board and make changes. Hence why you should read this article to know how to give feedback well. The worst thing you can do is avoid giving feedback out of the fear of not knowing how.

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Most fears about giving feedback are about giving constructive or developmental feedback. In other words, telling someone what they need to improve (formerly called giving negative feedback). Few people worry about giving positive feedback; telling someone what they do well. Honestly though, a lot of leaders give too little positive or confidence-building feedback.

⇒Learn a model for giving feedback – like the COIN model, detailed explanation and template here. This template works for positive or constructive feedback. It stands for Context, Observation, Impact and Next Step. This level of detail for both types of feedback makes it meaningful as it’s specific to the individual and not just general fluff (like well done, good work). Also, use the word YOU when giving feedback to highlight it’s about that person; it makes it more personal.

Describe How to Give Feedback Constructively

Like a good photograph you want your subject to appear in their best light, to look good. And you as the photographer want to have your work well-regarded. Same for giving any type of feedback, you want the subject or recipient to look good and for you to be perceived well or credible.

⇒Give feedback at the outer 3 levels of this bullseye below – focusing on behaviour. Be specific about the behaviour (good or bad) that you want to comment on – what specifically did the person do or say. Environmental comments are about where or when someone did something that impacted their effectiveness (positive or negative). Capability is about how they did something and often can be helped with training.

This bullseye mitigates the likelihood that someone will take the feedback “personally” as it focuses on environment, behaviour and capability rather than identity and values. This is about a team member’s effectiveness of doing the job. If you give feedback about someone’s identity that is personal. It’s why parenting experts advise to tell a child “that behaviour was bad” rather than “you are bad or bad boy.”

Where to Give Feedback

© Anne Taylor 2020

Of note, this bullseye can be used for giving and receiving feedback. If you receive feedback that’s towards the middle of the bullseye ask, “what did I say or do that made you feel that way?” Or, depending on who’s giving you the feedback at an identity level, be confident in who you are and your value potentially choosing to ignore the feedback.

How to Give Feedback – The Positive Kind

Research shows that financially successful companies give positive feedback 4-6 times for every 1 piece of ‘negative’ feedback. Few people are near this ratio consistently, at work or at home. Typical reasons for not doing it are: why should I congratulate them for doing their job?, they’ll expect a raise or promotion, no one praises me, it will go to their heads, they know their doing well and I’m British, we don’t do that.

⇒Use the COIN model and target giving feedback about behaviours you want to reinforce (positive) and behaviours you want changed (developmental). Catch people doing things well more often than when they make mistakes or when things could be improved. Practice seeing and saying what people are doing well.

Giving confidence building feedback will increase employee engagement, have them use those skills more often by making them top of mind and make employees feel more valued in their contribution. These are big benefits for just telling people what they did well.

What’s Stopping You from Giving Feedback

The biggest barrier or roadblock to giving feedback is often our own insecurity or self-doubt. We worry about offending or hurting someone which is a noble cause. The risk of not giving feedback is that you don’t help people grow by being clear on their strengths and improving their developmental areas. By not giving feedback you are not being truthful and trusting in the relationship with your employee whereas you want them to be truthful and trustworthy.

⇒ Start by reflecting on what stops you. Be honest with yourself. If you don’t really look at all the ways you are stopping yourself, you won’t grow.

Whatever your reasons are for not giving more feedback, I challenge you to figure out how to get over it. It will immensely improve your effectiveness and performance by improving your team and you’ll make them feel better about their work at the same time. My book, Soft Skills HARD RESULTS, has a whole chapter on feedback, loaded with examples, tips and tricks because it’s that important.

How could your people and results improve with you being better at feedback?

Book a COMPLIMENTARY coaching session with me here to learn how to motivate others through feedback.

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Which Leadership Styles are Emerging, Newer to Leverage

Emerging Leadership Styles to Use During the Time of Coronavirus

As American leadership and leadership styles are front and centre this week, it confirms that leading is hard. It takes effort for most people, not everyone is a born leader and leadership can be learned.

Leadership, like most theories and skills, is evolving in response to changing needs and circumstances. The stress, fast-paced rate of change, and the multiple demands for our attention necessitate leadership change. What made you successful and got you to where you are now will probably not get you to where you want to go next. Here are some newer, emerging leadership styles that can help you develop further.


There are newer leadership styles that have been emerging based on the evolution of people and work. Here is a summary of five of those styles.

Compassionate Leadership – Often quoted as getting its prominence from an internal initiative at Google in 2007 to bring mindfulness, emotional intelligence and leadership together. It’s about using the head and heart together to lead, a concept I fully endorse in my book, Soft Skills HARD RESULTS. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, compassion “is the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Compassionate Leadership requires feeling what another feels (beyond just distress I think), understanding their thoughts and what’s underneath those thoughts and feelings and the desire to act for the betterment of the individual. This deep listening and understand necessitates mindfulness to suspend your thoughts, perspectives and judgements. Research, some by Harvard psychology professor Dr Ellen Langer, shows that mindfulness improves charisma and productivity, decreases burnout and accidents, and increases creativity, memory, attention, positive affect, health, and even longevity¹.

Inclusive Leadership – Inclusive leadership focuses on inclusion, diversity and having the “differences” present and participating in the situation. It ensures all people are represented and treated respectfully and all people feel valued and a sense of belonging. Leadership that is inclusive of all disparities or dissimilarities is what is needed. It’s especially relevant now with gender inequality, Black Lives Matter, differences in peoples’ situations around coronavirus, LGBTQ+, multiple generations in many organizations and more. For more on this, read my blog here.

Agile Leadership – Evolving from the software development industry, agile leadership is about creating the context for employees to collaborate, learn, give feedback, respond quickly in pursuit of better solutions. Constant learning and a growth mindset are key. It’s not about driving change, rather it’s about being the change and facilitating others to do the same. It involves being present to develop new insights, adapting to ‘what is’, being quick and decisive, being resilient, creative and innovative, letting go of what doesn’t work, guiding others and striving for better, more value, or improvement.

Conscious Leadership – This starts from a more internal perspective, becoming aware of internal automatic or habitual thoughts and responses so that we are no longer ‘run’ by them blindly. Once we become aware of those unconscious drivers in our thoughts, emotions and body sensations we can create what is needed rather than defaulting to something unconscious. In The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Warner-Klemp, the authors talk of it being an iceberg – the tip of the iceberg above the water is our external projection while the bigger piece below is our assumptions, beliefs, and self-created identity. Some aspects of conscious leadership are that we are responsible for our circumstances, our thoughts create our emotions, practice integrity, eliminate gossip, being curious and experiencing the world as an ally.

Mindful Leadership – Although the idea of being mindful might be newer in leadership, its roots in Buddhist practices is age old. Being mindful is about being present, in the moment, fully aware of what is transpiring. Initially it focuses on two aspects of emotional intelligence – self-awareness and self-management. Being mindful or aware of yourself is the starting point, and then ensuring you manage yourself to be as effective as possible in a given situation or interaction. A mindful leader has a presence and practice that is focused, clear, creative, and compassionate in serving. The biggest factor to do that is creating space/time to be present.

As you can see there are some overlaps and commonalities across these leadership styles. They are distinctly different from the command and control styles of the industrial and manufacturing era. That’s because work now is more complex, times changes so much more rapidly, and constant innovation is required. Here are some common threads from these 5 styles that you can incorporate into your leadership practice.

What You Can Practice from these Leadership Styles

1. Being conscious, aware or mindful of yourself. Download the first chapter of my book free to help you KNOW YOURSELF better, to identify unconscious assumptions, beliefs, biases and preferences and motivators. From that place of self-awareness, you can then focus on others. It’s like the plane analogy of putting on your oxygen mask first before helping others put on theirs.

2. Lead with both your head and heart. This is scary and vulnerable and uncertain for many people. There’s always talk about work and business being ‘all about the facts.’ Except we are human beings with emotions and full lives beyond just work. Companies want the emotions of passion, loyalty, respect to name just a few to be present at work; what’s the denial about other emotions also being present at work? Leading from your heart doesn’t have to mean spilling your emotions around. It can be listening with such heart-felt attention or sensing that you feel the emotions of others and help them with those emotions, so they can be productive and happy. For example, if a colleague seems sad, you could say “I sense you’re sad, what’s up?” This allows the colleague to share or at least know they have been seen authentically. You don’t have to do anything with the emotion often, just having it named or shared is enough.

3. Be present in the moment. This is actually very hard because of the pervasiveness of technology in our lives. Technological advances such as email, smart phones, IM (instant messaging) and social media are all designed to disrupt us with their flashes and sounds. Notifications are called notifications for a reason. Research shows that these disruptions make us less efficient, reduce our attention span and cause stress. Research, some mentioned above, also shows that our efficiency and effectiveness are improved when we do focus. Choose to be present for what you’ve chosen to do. If in a meeting, be in that meeting, listening, processing, contributing, sensing – don’t be thinking of your unanswered emails (certainly don’t be trying to answer your emails while in the meeting). If the meeting doesn’t require your attention, why are you attending?

These suggestions of ideas to practice from newer leadership styles are not commonplace and probably not comfortable for most leaders. So what? You want to be better or have a different impact than you have now? You can change. If anything, coronavirus has proven to us that people can adapt and change when it matters enough to them.

I challenge you to try one small thing inspired by the styles above to improve your leadership.

What aspects of your leadership would be worthwhile to explore?

Book a COMPLIMENTARY coaching session with me here to get support during an unusual time. Many successful (and famous) leaders have professionals to help them perform to the best of their ability – be like them.



¹Dr Ellen Langer, Mindfulness, Da Capo Lifelong Books (30 Oct. 2014) Philadelphia PA. Print.  https://hbr.org/2010/04/leaders-time-to-wake-up

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Which Leadership Styles during the time of Coronavirus?

Leadership Styles During the Time of Coronavirus

Leadership and which leadership style to use can be a challenge on a good day. Add in a global pandemic like coronavirus, and deciding on which leadership style will be the most effective can be overwhelming. I believe that there is no one style that’s right for a given leader, rather it’s a breadth of approaches that one makes uniquely their own.

It’s also an interesting topic in advance of the presidential election in the USA as global political leaders often give us lessons in good and bad leadership.

Here are some outlines to help choose which leadership styles to use during the time of Coronavirus.


There are so many different styles of leadership based on a variety of models from many experts. Here’s a short summary of five styles that have stood the test of time. I’ll address five more, less well known and emerging leadership styles, in an upcoming article.

Transformational Leadership – from the 1978 book titled Leadership by American political scientist James MacGregor Burns, this style of leadership is often referred to in change management situations. The leader works side by side with their team to transform the individuals into leaders while working to identify, develop and execute a significant change in an organization. Nelson Mandela has been called a transformational leader.

Situational Leadership – this is more of a model developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in 1982 rather than a style. It’s a 2×2 model about choosing the approach best suited for the recipient depending on how much direction and support they need. For example, when the team member needs little support and direction because they are highly competent and committed you can delegate tasks, they need little instruction and involvement from you. Compared to someone newer, or less competent, needing more coaching instead.

Servant Leadership – this is the opposite of authoritative or autocratic. Researcher Robert K. Greenleaf created the expression in the 70’s. It’s exactly as it says on the tin – serving your followers; the leader focuses on the well-being and growth of their team members, putting the employee’s needs first to develop them to their highest potential. It’s all about empathy, listening, stewardship, persuasion, awareness, communication and development.

Transactional Leadership – this style was first discussed in the late 40’s by Max Weber and is more akin to management rather than leadership and still important to have in your toolbox to use when appropriate. This is about supervision, compliance, use of rewards and punishment and performance. This style might be necessary when handling a performance management issue to ensure clarity, authority, aligned expectations, monitoring and legal compliance if performance does not improve.

Authentic Leadership – coined by Harvard Business School Professor, Bill George, in his 2003 book of the same name. The key is an authentic leader’s self-awareness and interaction with others. It’s the epitome of lead by example or walk your talk. The five main characteristics of an authentic leader according to George are: purpose-led, strong values about the right thing to do, trusting relationships, self-discipline, act on their values and all with passion for what they are trying to achieve. Authentic is not about being and doing whatever you want ‘because that’s just me regardless of the impact on others. I just wanted to say that because I’ve heard people use authenticity as an excuse for negatively impacting others. As a leader you are responsible for your impact.

Consistent Aspects Across Leadership Styles

1. Leadership is necessary in pursuit of something, a goal or objective hence why it’s important for leaders to have a clear vision of what they want to achieve. This vision can be for the results the organisation is pursuing and also for how you want your team to work together. Once you have a clear vision in your mind repeatedly communicate that vision for people to know and follow.

2. Understand team members as individuals. Different people have different motivations for working (money, power, relationship, learning, etc), different preferences (task-oriented vs people-oriented, rationale vs emotional) and react to things differently. Knowing as much as you can about the key individuals you work with helps you be more effective by adjusting your approach to them. More on this below.

3. Breadth of range is important to deal with different people, needs and situations. If there’s a fire in the building you need to be transactional or autocratic and yell “FIRE, GET OUT.” An emergency like that is not a time to be consultative, empowering or visionary. At London Business School we use the expression being yourself with more skill. Knowing different approaches when dealing with people allows you to effectively handle more situations than just ‘one-size-fits-all.’

4. Being self-aware in all ways – your motivators, your tendencies, your impact on others and your triggers (in terms of when you react rather than respond). By knowing how you operate you can self-manage to make conscious choices about your interactions in the moment.

5. Sensing what is going on with someone or with the situation, thereby being able to assess how best to engage them or respond. If you go to an employee to ask them to do a task, sense what’s going on for them. Are they occupied in another task? Have they just had an argument? Are they fully present to you and your inquiry? By sensing what’s going on for them you can adjust how you ask them to do the task. This way you can ensure they hear your request, understand it and align expectations with you.

6. Strive to develop people to be the best versions of themselves. Leaders have followers. Great leaders have followers that they develop into great leaders. Know the strengths and ambitions of someone so you can work together for them to develop themselves to achieve their ambition.

7. Listen, ask questions, seek to understand first. These skills are part of the other 6 things I’ve listed here and important enough to name separately. Develop the skill of deep listening – minimizing your own perspective and view and really hear what’s said and not said to learn their perspective. Ask open, curious questions (often starting with WHAT) to fully understand what the other person is saying, rather than filtering their words through your perspective. This can eliminate assumptions and misunderstandings saving rework and time in the long run.

Your leadership style is often an amalgamation from learning and experience. How you interact with others will determine how well you influence, motivate and inspire others. As the first chapter in my book states ‘IT STARTS WITH YOU’ as you are the one reading this article and you are the only person you can change. Hopefully the ideas above have helped you consider aspects of your own leadership. I’ll share 5 more recent, emerging leadership styles next week.

What aspects of your leadership would be worthwhile to explore?

Book a COMPLIMENTARY coaching session with me here to get support during an unusual time. Many successful (and famous) leaders have professionals to help them perform to the best of their ability – be like them.

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Motivate Your Team for Superior Results and Engagement

How to Motivate Your Team and Yourself

A leader’s job is to motivate people to greater levels of performance. Leaders excite, influence, engage, stimulate, inspire and encourage others to do the work to the necessary quality standard to achieve the organisation’s goals. The higher a leader is in the organization the more their job is motivating others to achieve and less doing the actual hands-on work. A CFO rarely completes the spreadsheet of financials, they motivate those in their teams to do this and so much more. Here’s how to motivate your team and yourself for superior results and engagement.

How Do You Motivate Your Team?

There are actually two sides to that question: motivating them and NOT demotivating them. Frederick Herzberg, a clinical psychologist, is one of the earliest to research and articulate motivational theory and management. He found that there were certain factors that can demotivate people and other, separate factors that can motivate them. He called the demotivating ones HYGIENE factors and the others, MOTIVATORS.

The hygiene factors do not motivate people however, if there are not adequately addressed they can demotivate people. The motivators will motivate people to be more satisfied and potentially happier at work. In many situations, you might not have control over the hygiene factors of someone you work with especially with all the uncertainty now. And you can still use the motivators to drive satisfaction.


How to Motivate Your Team

The simplified answer is to address hygiene factors, so any demotivating circumstances are addressed and focus on the motivators. The ideal is high satisfaction on both hygiene and motivators. If you can’t address the hygiene factors, then fully focus on the motivators.

Hygiene Factors

1. Benchmark your company policies and practices around pay, benefits, working conditions and titles versus the marketplace. This will highlight if there are major discrepancies versus competitive firms that might contribute to demotivation. Especially with coronavirus, how are the needs of employees being meet for health and working environment? Do they have flexibility in their location and set-up given their personal circumstances? Do they have what they need to work? For example, do they have the correct equipment at home? Check employee forums, engagement surveys and water-cooler gossip to assess the level of satisfaction with hygiene factors.

2. Assess the company culture honestly in terms of interpersonal relationship issues. Are there complaints of bullying or discrimination? What is the company performance on inclusivity? How much does the culture support and respect individuals? Be honest in assessing what type of culture exists in the organization and how things feel for those on the front lines.

3. Role-model trust with conscious, servant or inclusive leadership. Role model trust, set clear expectations, be intentional with accountability and responsibility so that employees feel valued and are treated as adults. Show you trust – take a risk and show vulnerability. Risk making a mistake or getting it wrong. Acknowledge when you don’t know something. Give your time, support or resources to “competing” initiatives. Be generous to others verbally, publicly and even use the words “I trust you” when warranted. Give others the benefit of the doubt.


4. Listen – really listen to people. As Stephen Covey said decades ago, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Many people listen to respond thereby they often stop actively listening as they start to formulate their response. In my coach training listening was one of the first things we were taught. How to listen at many levels – to what the other person says, and doesn’t say, to their body language and energy, to your own intuition about their feelings. Don’t listen for listening sake, listen to learn, adapt and understand. You will learn a lot about someone when you really listen. Also, listen as people do change over time as their circumstances change so what motivates them might change too.

5. Get curious. Pause your own thoughts and potentially your defence mechanisms to understand someone else’s perspective. Ask questions to understand. Encourage others to be curious too. When people feel you are really interested in them and their work they feel recognized and seen. You’ll also hear what matters to them, what growth they’d like, what new responsibilities might interest them.

6. Give positive and constructive feedback to grow people. Use an easy structure like COIN (click here for a template) for both types of feedback. This allows it to be clear and quick. Give feedback on behaviours as people can more easily change behaviours then change who they are. Give 5-6 pieces of positive feedback for every negative. Yes, really that much positive, research proves it, positive is motivating. When you give real, balanced feedback (over time) people feel valued because you’ve taken the time to help them grown and develop.

7. Learn what motivates the individuals with whom you work. What excites them about their work? Every person is motivated by different things. There’s an assessment developed by John Hunt called the Work Interest Schedule¹ that puts forward 10 things that motivate people and each of us has a different mix or priority among these 10. They include: money, avoiding stress and/or risk, job structure, relationships/not working alone, recognition, power, autonomy and personal growth. Figure out which matter to the individuals you work with and position work in that context.

8. Recognize effort and achievement. This can be public or private, partly depending on the individual and the situation. You’ll need to use your judgment to what is best. If you say ‘good job’ at least say ‘you did a great job’ so they take it personally. Recognition comes in many forms, beyond money and promotion. Say it to them, say it to others in front of them, send an email, mail a card, send a gift, have a senior person reach out to tell them they’ve done good work, offer them resources like a coach or mentor as a reward.

9. Expose people to projects, tasks and situations that challenge and stretch them. This could mean having a junior person attend a senior meeting. Ensure they have the skills, background and your support to be able to meet the challenge. You’d hate to set them up to fail. When you give them the challenge be clear it’s a challenge and that you believe in them, be specific about why you believe they can do it.

10. Create alignment between their purpose and meaning and the company’s purpose or mission. To do this ask them, start a conversation. What attracted them to this type of work and your organization? What matters to them in their lives and with their work? Share what the bridge is for you between what matters to you in life and work – this might necessitate some thought on your part first.

Remind yourself every day that your job as a leader is to excite and motivate others to perform to the best of their abilities. You can’t be successful unless your team is successful. Motivated people are more satisfied and often go the extra mile. The same is true of you. When you’re motivated you’re more satisfied so think that these ways of motivating others also apply to yourself. When you notice your energy or motivation flagging, think of these 10 ways to motivate yourself.

What could you do to motivate your team more/differently that would help them perform even better?

Book a COMPLIMENTARY coaching session with me here to learn how to motivate others better.

¹ https://www.mts360.com/mts/wis.aspx

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Productive & Efficient at Work: Ideas to Increase Both.

How to Be More Productive and Efficient at Work

Productivity and efficiency improvements are important at any time and especially when working from home, as we need greater boundaries between work and home. By knowing you’re doing the best you can to be as productive as possible gives you permission to stop work at the end of the day and rejuvenate.

To build on last week’s article about being more efficient with email (How to Be More Productive & Efficient with Email at Work), this week we’ll broaden the focus.

Working More Hours Isn’t Better

Most successful people tell me they have more work than time; they respond by working longer hours. Most are acknowledging that the implication of the pandemic is now a marathon rather than a sprint. Which means more hours are unsustainable and might not be effective anyway.

Research from Stanford University, by economics professor John Pencavel, found that productivity declined drastically if one worked more than 50 hours per week. In fact, if one worked upwards of 70 hours per week s/he would achieve only what they would have working just 55 hours. It’s not about working longer, it’s about working smarter as they say.


How to Be More Productive at Work


1. Set max 3-5 priorities for the day. An endless to-do list is overwhelming, discouraging and distracting thereby diluting your efforts. Ideally set these priorities at the end of the day before so you can hit the ground running when you get into work the next morning. Celebrate when you complete each task, that motivates you to keep up your progress.

2. Book time with yourself to do those key priorities. Literally put time in your calendar to think and do the work you need/want to do. Other people and their priorities will push into your calendar if you don’t claim the time first. Schedule your working times for when you are at your best. I wrote most of my book from 3-6:30pm in coffee shops, an odd time and it was the most productive time and location for me after trying various alternatives.

3. Do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking between two things requiring mental focus (checking social media and reading notes, conversations and emails) has been proven to take longer than doing just 1 thing to completion.

4. Take breaks. This might seem counter-intuitive to getting things done and studies show taking frequent small breaks increases productivity, focus and creativity. The recommendation is a 5-min walk every hour. Ideally get outside, move, stretch. Checking social media is not a break as that requires continued mental resources. Productivity is about managing your time and your energy. Time without energy is not productive.

5. When you are finishing a task, identify the next step or action that needs to be done and note it down. This means you have an identified starting point when you return to work on that task making it quicker for you to get back into it.


How to Be More Efficient


1. Create routines out of repetitive tasks (if you can’t automate or get rid of them). Thinking takes energy. When we execute a routine, our brains use less energy and things can be done faster. Obama and Zuckerberg are said to wear the same thing most days, so they have one less decision that must be made that day.

2. Question what you are doing. What are the things you do workwise that no longer serve the organization and its goals? What are the things your team does that are no longer value-added? What would others question you about in terms of how you spend your time? This questioning is to identify the “work” that takes your time away from more important things. Also, what are you doing that your team, or another person could be doing? This points you to what you can delegate to free you up for things that only you can do.

3. Focus on the important not the urgent. The 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle says 80% of results come from 20% of things/effort, so identify the 20% and work on that. What are your key priorities for the year and the quarter – what work actually moves these priorities forward?

4. Create a ‘Parking Lot’ list when you’re focused. When doing group training I create a ‘Parking Lot’ flip chart. Its where I capture ideas that come up from the participants through the day that are important and unrelated to the training at hand. This way the idea is noted while keeping the training on-track. Have a blank page beside you to note thoughts that might be important and that are distracting you from the work at hand (not phone as that has more distractions on it). Afterwards you can decide what of the list makes it onto your agenda.

5. Change your language – to others and yourself. This means saying NO to others sometimes if you tend to take on too much, keeping you from your key priorities. Tips for how to do that from an interview I gave are here. Notice your self-talk. Do you say (out loud or in your head) that you’re so busy, have so much to do, can’t get it all done, are pulled in so many directions? If so, change your language to support yourself such as, “I am focusing on this right now,” “I have 2 key priorities to do.” This limits the chatter that takes you off task, to conserve your mental and verbal energy.

6. Accept that some tasks will be hard, frustrating, boring and STAY. STAY is part of the leadership model I use from the Co-Active training institute. We are adults, we are at choice, we are lucky to have work that hopefully we enjoy for the most part. And sometimes there will be things that are hard, frustrating, boring – focus and do them anyway. Just as you’d tell a child who must complete a chore or difficult school work. Focus on it, take a quick break every hour to move it towards completion.


Longer-term Ideas to Increase Productivity


1. Do an activity log to determine your time wasters and bad habits. For a few weeks, notice how you spend your time. Notice what distracts you. Notice your bad work habits. Do you flit between things, pick up a file you need to review 5x in the day without actually opening it and working on it? Do you let people interrupt often? Do you seek out others as distraction? Be honest about your time management. Note your time wasters so you can rectify them. Also, notice your good habits so you can leverage them more.

2. Notice any repeated frustrations you have with a process or person. When you are repeatedly frustrated with something or someone get to the root cause of it and improve the situation. If it’s a monthly report that seems to always have issues, investigate the issues to rectify them.

3. Improve your communication skills. A lot of time is wasted due to poor communication. Examples are not setting clear expectations, having misunderstandings that then need to be sorted, not listening well due to multitasking, and avoiding difficult conversations. By improving your communication skills especially as you rise in the organization you’re being a role model and creating a culture that fosters greater productivity.

4. Rejuvenate yourself on an on-going basis. Tired, stressed employees don’t contribute their best. Take time off, turn off notifications, don’t look at email, have a change of scenery. What energizes you? What motivates you? Studies show more ah-ha moments come for people who take timeout. Being out in nature, physical activity, a different environment and less technology are all suggested for improving one’s productivity and contribution.

5. Celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. I don’t mean this in an arrogant, boastful way. Rather in an appreciative, conscious way. By celebrating (or at a minimum, acknowledging yourself) you motivate yourself and reinforce your strengths to apply to the work at hand. Also, if you enjoy your work, it should be enjoyable most of the time and celebrating yourself will remind you of the enjoyment.

All and any one of these ideas will aid you in being more productive at work, studies bear this out. Adopt 1 or 2 of them initially and notice the impact. Also, remind yourself how to have fun at work while staying productive. One way is to SMILE while working – research shows smiling signals to the parasympathetic nervous system to remain calm, helping you focus.

What leadership improvements would you and your team benefit from to be more productive and efficient at work?

If you’re like me and many of my clients, you can improve your productivity and efficiency. I challenge you to book a FREE coaching session with me here to identify the opportunities for improvement and enjoyment.


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Productive & Efficient at Work. Tips for Email.

How to be More Productive & Efficient at Work with Email

A quick way to be more productive and efficient at work is to have a strategy for dealing with your emails. Few job descriptions or role responsibilities include “answer emails” yet most people complain about full inboxes and being behind on answering them. People have email fatigue at work – they are tired of the endless receipt and need to answer.

First, let’s lay the foundation with some terminology before outlining the strategies and tips.

How to be More Productive at Work

Let’s start with what productivity means. Productivity is the ratio or rate of doing work in a given period of time. ‘How productive were you today’ in the context of an office is quite subjective, it’s your own assessment of how much you got done today usually relative to your never-ending to-do list. In a manufacturing environment it’s more measurable – how many units were manufactured in a certain period. Whether for office work or manufacturing most employers and leaders want productivity to be as high as possible. A productivity focus drives doing more in the same period. So, to be more productive, do the work faster.

How to be More Efficient at Work – What does this Mean?

Efficiency is the use of time and energy in a way that is not wasteful. This word begs the question what is wasteful? This notion implies that any idle time or energy not channelled toward a task is wasteful. Ironically, many people get their best ideas and are more creative when they aren’t chained to a desk or laser-focused on the task at hand for long periods of time. And there are often wasteful moments in multitasking which is explained in the tips below.

How to be More Effective at Work Means What?

Effectiveness is about doing the right things or more of the things that matter. This is the terminology I feel leaders could reflect on more. The focus here is on the results and not the time it took to get those results. An executive coaching client once said to me that his focus was doing what only he could do, the rest being delegated or stopped.

Email Best Practices at Work When Sending Emails

Almost everyone I coach complains of too many emails and we are all guilty of feeding into it by sending emails and replying to emails, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hence why we will start with the emails you generate.

  1. Communicate better. Send better emails. Write clearly and concisely. Keep it short to make it easy to read and long enough to be clear. If it needs to be long, what’s driving that? Items such as, purpose of email, succinct background, rationale/recommendation/issue, next steps, call to action are useful to include as appropriate. Ensure the subject line is clear. Have clear actions and deadlines in the email if not the subject line.
  2. Think before you send an email. Does the subject warrant a phone call, a meeting, an IM or an email? What’s the purpose of the email? Often people send emails to get a task or issue out of their exclusive domain and into other peoples’ spaces in order to advance it to some degree. Other times they are sent to check on progress. If this is the case, try a project management tool designed for that purpose.
  3. Be clear with the TO and CC fields. Include the fewest recipients as possible. Ideally have one person as the main TO receiver to be clear of who needs to do what.
  4. Be vocal about sending fewer and better emails. Be vocal about cutting down on email to create a culture change in your team, if not organization. Everyone would welcome the notion of fewer emails.
  5. Use email tools that allow scheduling, follow up flags, creating response templates for repetitive responses. Tools allow you to use the technology rather than be a slave to it. Ask your IT contact about what tools your company supports.
  6. Send fewer emails as that will have you get fewer replies back. Be a role model for the change you want to see in the world as Gandhi said.
  7. Avoid sending an email if you anticipate someone will be upset by it. Pick up the phone instead.

Managing Emails at Work that You Receive

Some of these suggestions will feel uncomfortable. That’s because there are psychological factors at play:

  • FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out if you don’t see an email immediately or first,
  • We are trained to respond to the ‘ping’ of notifications,
  • Needing to be or seen to be ‘always reachable’ in case of ‘emergency,’
  • Being an overachiever, perfectionist or driven to do everything possible.
  1. Close your email down when working on key projects and when meeting others. Research shows multitasking at work is inefficient. It’s fine to multitask when washing the car and listening to a podcast as different mental resources are used. At work, jumping between tasks requiring thought is inefficient, it is essentially stop/start and you lose flow, it takes you longer to get into focus when you flit between things. Continually hearing the ping of emails arriving can create anxiety and cause the stress hormone, cortisol, to be released thereby clouding the prefrontal cortex of your brain where your rational thinking happens.
  2. Only check email at specific times in a day so that answering emails fits amidst the bigger priorities. Checking emails 3-4 times a day should be enough. Allocate your time to your team, your strategic thinking, your key projects BEFORE dedicating time to reviewing email. When you’re checking email, focus on the email, don’t multitask with your phone or papers. Don’t check emails first thing in the morning, do some thinking or work on a key task before being drawn into reviewing emails.
  3. Analyse the emails you receive to identify opportunities for reducing them. For example, you can identify if there is one person who consistently sends most of them or one topic by sorting your inbox based on sender and subject (the same person sending many emails might imply unclear responsibilities), how many people are on the to and cc lines (may imply covering their butt, lack of clear decision making or laziness), if the email was printed would it be the thickness of a book (might imply emails being used in place of productive discussion), are you copied on many emails from your team (might imply they don’t feel full ownership, don’t understand your involvement or can’t get your input otherwise).
  4. Set guidelines with your team for when and how emails should be sent. What is the purpose of email in your team or organization? Set expectations for when you want to be copied or not. Additionally, talk about whether emails should be sent outside of traditional work hours and if they are, set the expectation of when you will respond.
  5. Set up “rules” in your email settings to sort them into sub-inboxes to handle them more efficiently. For example, emails you are copied on can go into a sub-folder for reading only.
  6. Inform others that if they need you urgently, to call. This manages peoples’ expectations of getting hold of you and alleviates any fears you have of being unreachable when you close your email.
  7. Unsubscribe to unread blogs, articles, newsletters. You haven’t read them now, you won’t in the future. At least set up a separate folder for BLOGS and set a rule to allocate blogs to that folder.
  8. Deal with an email if when reading it, it’s taken you longer than 2-3 minutes to read as you’ve already invested the time in it. If you read the email and don’t deal with it, you’ll have to reread it at another time creating repetition. It also eliminates any anxiety about that email between subsequent reads. Some people say only touch an email once – delete it, delegate it, respond to it, schedule it for a specific time to work on it.
  9. Apply the 80/20 Rule. Focus on the 20% of emails that will lead to 80% of the results. This is true for most work, not just emails.
  10. Delete emails that have lingered in your inbox. The adage goes that if it’s important and you’ve deleted it someone will chase you down.

You will always have more work to do then there are hours in the day, at least that’s my experience working with successful, ambitious people. The key is how many hours do you want to work for the success and satisfaction you want. Given that number of hours, what do you want to be focused on in that time? What is the high value work that only you can do? Most emails fall outside of that criteria so treat them appropriately.

What improvements would you and your team benefit from with regards to improving communication and setting expectations to reduce time lost to emails?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to assess your leadership and address what might be impeding greater success.

The topic of efficiency and effectiveness will continue next week when we look beyond just emails.


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Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice Directions Coaching

6 Ways to Conquer the Critical Inner Voice that is Holding You Back

We all have voices in our heads, some of which are critical inner voices that are holding us back. For many of us, the person we talk to most in a day is ourselves. How do we make sure that our inner voice or self-talk is the most helpful for achieving our goals and enjoying life?

Positive or Negative Self-Talk

The voices in our head have both positive and negative messages. Both are helpful except when they go to the extreme. There are times when this critical inner voice is beneficial, when it protects you from failing, from looking stupid, risking or making a mistake. Its’ role is to keep you safe. It’s a defence mechanism. The problem with that is when you start trying new things and moving outside your comfort zone, your internal voice may not realize you are intentionally trying something new. Hence, your critical voice is conflicting with your desire to grow. It wants to keep you safe and small, to keep you within your comfort zone, to maintain the status quo.

Same for the positive messages. When the inner voice says you’re amazing, infallible, always right, you lose touch with reality and miss threats and opportunities to learn.

The focus here is on negative messages of that critical inner voice as that’s most people’s struggle.

What is an Internal Monologue?

The critical voice in your head, the judgemental voice that tells you that “you aren’t good enough” or “who do you think you are?” Another name for that voice is the saboteur because it can sabotage your efforts, and it can hold you back or make you doubt yourself excessively.

Examples are:

I’m going to embarrass myself.
I’ve messed up again.
How could I be so stupid?
I should have known better/done more.
I’m lazy/selfish/stupid/uninteresting/bad.

Critical Inner Voice – It’s Origins

The origins of the saboteur are two-fold. The first is from neuroscience. Our amygdala, the oldest part of our limbic brain, is meant to see threats and dangers in order to trigger the fight or flight response for survival. It was very helpful in ‘cave-man’ days when we needed our bodies to be flooded with stress hormones to survive encounters with lions and tigers. That fight/flight response still gets activated in present-day when we perceive we are at risk from making a mistake, looking stupid, and being ostracized from our ‘tribe’ aka work colleagues.

The second factor is our upbringing or conditioning. We have been conditioned through family, school and society for certain responses depending on how we were raised. What were you praised for growing up? Or what level of success or achievement did you have to attain to receive love or attention? What were your caregivers’ or teachers’ responses when you failed or made a mistake?

Your experience in those formative years will dictate the level of criticism or punishment you inflict on yourself. If you want to investigate its origins, therapy can help you do that.

6 Ways to Conquer the Inner Critic

    1. Reflect on yourself while you are DOING something (chairing a meeting, disciplining your child, cooking dinner) and capture your thoughts about yourself. Notice the running commentary you have in your head about yourself. What are your dominant scripts? If you find yourself being defensive, examine what triggered that defensiveness as it might give you insights.
    2. Reframe your thoughts. Replace your common critical phrases with positive reframes. Here are some examples:6 Ways to Conquer the Inner Critic Directions Coaching
    3. Rewire your brain. Separate yourself from your inner critic. Do this by writing your negative scripts using the word YOU (not I) as this will give you some distance and you act as a witness to the criticism rather than the source. Write positive affirmations that flip those critical thoughts and read them frequently (out loud). Can’t think of positive statements? Who sees you positively (not as a saint)? Write what they’d say. Or chose from a place of growth – who do you want to be and what do you want in your life? Write from that perspective.
    4. Recollect your positives. Capture the positive feedback you receive (verbally and otherwise) each day in a journal. Notice your inner value each day – what are you proud of yourself for today? Write these positives and prideful moments down. Writing it makes it real and not just another fleeting thought that comes and goes. Writing engages your hand (movement), eyes (visual) and brain. Feel the positive as you write and read it. This will help strengthen the new neural pathways in your brain to conquer the critical voice.
    5. Release critical thoughts. When you notice your negative self-talk, let go of it. Be light about it – have it float away on a cloud. Put it in a box. Don’t ruminate on it or beat yourself up for it. You’ve had it for decades, it will take some time to replace your critical inner voice. Distract yourself with a different activity when you notice your dwelling on it
    6. Reward yourself with self-compassion. Research shows that self-criticism decreases goal attainment and success. This is contradictory to the thinking of many coaching clients – they think that being hard on themselves motivates them to work harder and achieve more. FALSE. Studies, one from Stanford Medicine, show self-compassion increases motivation (not self-indulgence as many worry). Dr Kristin Neff’s book, Self-Compassion, recommends giving yourself a hug when you notice the negative self-talk, literally hug yourself. If you’re in a meeting and can’t do it overtly, cross your arms with your hands touching your body with a slight squeeze. It will increase your motivation!

Thoughts influence how we feel and what we do. Therefore, our self-talk can impact our success and enjoyment of work and life. Conquer your critical inner voice and create positive self-talk that encourages you to be your best self.

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how you can conquer your inner voice.

Empathy in Leadership Directions Coaching

“Why does Empathy in Leadership Deliver Results?” asked a new client of mine.

A client recently asked why does empathy deliver results? My first thought was that it doesn’t. And then after reflecting on the discussion I thought it would be good to share the rationale of why it doesn’t, on its own, and what does.

Meaning of Empathy

Empathy means the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position as defined by Wikipedia which I think is a very explanative definition.

Empathy is helpful in leadership, when building and interacting with others and is just one tiny part of Emotional Intelligence that will deliver business results. Empathy is great when a team member tells you their partner has cancer (we all know the feeling of fear and sadness of illness). Empathy is not helpful when you are making someone redundant, compassion and respect are better, so you keep your emotional stability as they will understandably feel sad and scared. My article on emotions at work explains more about this.

Empathy does build trust and helps leaders understand what others might be thinking and feeling. This helps a leader understand how someone might react in different situations, what their needs and motives might be. Empathy is the bridge between human interactions.

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Emotional Intelligence or EI is defined by the English Oxford Living Dictionary as: “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”. In leadership terms, it is the skill of building productive and fulfilling relationships authentically. The concept was popularized in the 1996 book Emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman¹.

EI also known as People Skills

Many organizations capture the concept of EI in performance reviews/appraisals as a person’s degree of self-awareness; or HOW they do their job (versus WHAT they do); or how they achieve the results they achieve through their interaction with others. This is often called people skills or soft skills – the way of influencing and working with others. When I first started my career at P&G the performance review was split 50% on the person’s achievements and 50% on how they grew the organization in terms of people (training, coaching, mentoring, enabling). Skilful emotional intelligence by a leader does deliver results.

Proof about Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

What’s the proof that good EI in leadership is necessary to achieve business outcomes? Here is the answer from business, academia, sociology, neurology and financially:

  1. The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence In Organizations (yes, there is such a body) highlights 19 studies over the last 3 decades from different companies and organizations (American Express and L’Oréal to name two) and 9 research and academic studies from the last 9 years all identifying how EI delivers results².
  2. Leadership is about relationships; it’s about unleashing the potential of your team by motivating and inspiring them to do the work to deliver the results. Leadership is also about removing barriers which often involves influencing others or resolving conflict. Relationships are about interacting with people, people are human beings not human doings so understanding and adeptness with regards to emotions is key. Additionally, most people leave a job because of their manager, not because of the organization³. That means the relationship (intellectually and emotionally) with the manager is pivotal.
  3. Brain evolution and structure dictates that all the information from our 5 senses enters our brain through the brain stem and hits the limbic part of our brain first which is the place of emotions and feelings before reaching the neocortex near our forehead which is the place of rational thought. The emotional part of our brain is stimulated first with any piece of information before the executive functioning or reasoning part of our brain! Hence, emotions are always ‘present’ first when we take in stimuli – often the stimuli at work isn’t overly provoking so we don’t notice the emotional part, or we suppress it, or we have high EI to manage our own emotions and influence others’ emotions much more consciously.
  4. Humans are herd animals or more politely, social creatures from a sociology point of view. We thrive in well-coordinated groups (hence some of the complication of working from home). Employees want to feel as if they belong to the work group. As such, skilful leadership fosters this feeling of belonging and inclusion.
  5. Company investment in measuring employee engagement is huge! This isn’t about employee happiness or satisfaction. Forbes describes employee engagement as the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals⁴. An effective leader builds that emotional commitment through understanding and managing their own emotions and recognizing emotions in others and handing relationships and interactions with others, thereby, having employees bring their heads, hands and hearts to their work.
    There is a financial cost to poor people skills in terms of lost productivity. FACT. Imagine you have a manager who is in an open-plan office criticizing one of their team for a few minutes. How long do you think that employee is demotivated or unproductive? How long do you think the others in the office are unproductive (trying to console the berated employee or criticizing the manager’s actions)? Imagine the manager does this often. The cost is thousands of pounds over time. The incidences of berating managers are few for my clients. The incidences of empathetic and inspiring managers are few too. The big opportunity to positively increase productivity is the managers who simply do nothing about engaging or inspiring because they don’t know what to do.
  6. Although people skills don’t have a line on the P&L, they do impact each line – salespeople have to have good relationship-building skills to generate sustainable income, customer service needs good people skills to resolve issues and protect reputation, employees who feel valued and are engaged are less likely to quit, saving recruitment costs and less likely to demand extreme compensation (assuming their basic need is met), purchasers with high EI skills relative to their suppliers can result in discounts, advantageous payment terms, and quicker exposure to new initiatives.

Where could you benefit from more empathy and emotional intelligence?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how you could develop your emotional intelligence further to motivate and inspire your teams to achieve.

1 Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (London: Bloomsbury Publishing 1996)
2 http://eiconsortium.org/
3 https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2015/08/04/people-leave-managers-not-companies/#12eaf30847a9
4 https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/06/22/employee-engagement-what-and-why/#794d90357f37

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Emotional Intelligence to Unlock Your Success in Leadership

Emotional intelligence is the necessary complement to intellect and experience to magnify your leadership impact and hence your success.  You’re successful.  You deliver results.  And more emotional intelligence can take you even further.  Good news, it can be learned.

What is Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence or EI (sometimes called EQ to complement IQ) is defined by the English Oxford Living Dictionary as: “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”.  In leadership terms, it is the skill of building productive and fulfilling relationships authentically.  The concept was popularized in the 1996 book Emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman1.  Many organizations capture this concept in performance reviews as: a person’s degree of self-awareness; or HOW they do their job (versus WHAT they do); or their people skills or soft skills.

Emotional Intelligence Components

The four areas of EI are:

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Sustained, positive business results are delivered through EI.  An organization’s top-line or sales is often predicated on the skill of its sales people to interact with customers, build relationship, identify needs, and find mutually beneficial solutions.  This is all about self and social awareness and management.  Same is true for an organization’s customer service department – sensing and acknowledging emotions, managing one’s own emotion to mutually beneficial conclusion.  Same for purchasing – good relationships involving EI, often called partnerships, mean better pricing, access to innovations, and improved responsiveness.   Also, employees tend to leave organizations because of their bosses, not because of the work2.

We have all seen an example of the detrimental effect of emotional unintelligence – a manager who berates a staff member in an open-plan office.  The effect on productivity and morale for the targeted employee and all those in earshot is quantifiable – I’ve literally done the math for a store owner of the cost and it’s substantial.  Substantial enough to motivate him to have a conversation with that manager to address his people skills.  This is the cost of poor people skills or EI.  The benefit of good or great EI is harder to quantify and equally powerful, increased productivity, better ideas, more engagement.  The employee brings their head, hands and heart of the work.

Emotional Intelligence for Leadership

Leadership is about relationships.  The higher you advance in an organization the more your role becomes about cultivating relationships – inspiring and motivating your team, influencing others, navigating different opinions, removing barriers, enrolling others.

Emotions are present at work, whether we want to admit it or not.  Leaders appreciate when the “positive” emotions of ambition, loyalty, passion and trust are present at work.  It seems it’s the “negative or scarier” emotions like anger, frustration, sadness that aren’t welcome.  The fact emotions are present and good leaders want to cultivate a culture of passion, trust and ambition among others, means leadership is about EI.

What you say and how you say it will have an impact on people and the result you get. Be it when delegating a task to an individual or presenting to 100’s of staff.  What you say and how you say it are influenced by who you are, your personality and preferences, and how you feel. If you behave in a skilful way when interacting with others you will create the impact you want and improve the likelihood of getting the result you want.

Examples for Emotional Intelligence

I want to give a recent example of EI from a client to illustrate.  This is only a taster given books are written on this stuff.  Refer to the various resources I’ve suggest below for in-depth examples.

In a large meeting you learn a project will be delayed.  EI is pausing, recognizing you are angry and frustrated, breathing, managing your facial expressions, body language and voice (volume, tone, pace, language).  You sense the project manager is likely nervous and disappointed in himself with the situation.  You moderate yourself to ask the reasons for it, so you can get data to know if it will be beneficial to express your frustration (knowing your expression will be saying something like “I’m frustrated we are in this position”) or not (which might have you say “I sense your disappointed too.”).

Leaders with Emotional Intelligence

That’s a question I’d ask you to ponder.  Who do you know or have seen that you consider an emotionally intelligent leader?  What makes you say that?  Often the best examples are not at the top of organizations.  Two high-profile ones I think are:

Barak Obama’s response to the protests following the killing of George Floyd is a good example. He understood the emotions of the nation and named them.  He managed his own emotions to not make it about him in this instance (as I’m sure he had feelings).  He intentionally chose his language and focus to influence people towards real, actionable sustained change.

Jacinda Ardern’s (Prime Minister of New Zealand) coronavirus press conferences showed she anticipated questions before people asked them, she talked about feelings, named emotions, related to children with her message from the tooth fairy to support parents at a difficult time.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

  1. Know yourself – what are you bias, preferences, habits in thinking, communication and behaving relative to others? What feedback (positive & developmental) have you gotten about your impact on others?  What is your comfort level and understanding of your emotions?  Download the first chapter free of my book which contains this exercise at length.
  2. Learn how to identify and label emotions in yourself and others. This is a form of literacy that is not taught formally in most schools, unlike language and numerical literacy.  More about emotions can be found in my blog, Busting the Myth about Emotions at Work.
  3. Determine which of the 4 components of EI are your strengths and development areas. You can do this through self-reflection, reflection with a trusted ally, there are on-line questionnaires and the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, gives you access to their on-line questionnaire when you buy it.
  4. Manage your stress levels so you can manage your thoughts and actions. Research shows some intermittent stress is beneficial to performance and self-control.  If you have too much stress your brain is not able to manage, meaning you are not intentional with your thoughts and behaviours.
  5. Focus on the needs, motivations and goals of the other people. It’s hard to inspire or motivate someone if you don’t know what motivates them or inspires them.  Hint, it might not be the same things that motivate or inspire you.  How do you find out?  You observe.  You ask.  You propose an idea or direction and ask for their input and feedback.
  6. Coach people when warranted rather than telling them what to do. You learn a lot about someone when you ask open-ended questions and observe their thought processes.  Coaching can also enrol them more in the solution or idea as they come up with the ideas themselves.
  7. Tell stories. Stories allow for communication of both content and emotion.
  8. Experiment. Replicate role-models. Knowing on its own isn’t enough to have great emotional intelligence. You must risk putting it into practice daily to be great at it.

If you want to take your leadership to the next level book a complimentary coaching session with me here.  If not now, when?  Take this bold action, be courageous to become more emotionally intelligent.  Your leadership, organization, results, relationships and fulfilment will benefit.

Books About Emotional Intelligence

TedTalks on Emotional Intelligence

The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Travis Bradberry (2017)

Brene Brown Tedtalks about vulnerability (2010) and shame (2012).  Vulnerability is a key aspect for great leadership.

Why we aren’t more compassionate by Daniel Goleman (2007)

https://positivepsychology.com/emotional-intelligence-ted-talks/ (2020)

Articles on Emotional Intelligence

Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations (CREIO) http://www.eiconsortium.org/.



1 Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (London: Bloomsbury Publishing 1996)

2 https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2015/08/04/people-leave-managers-not-companies/#12eaf30847a9