Does It Pay To Be Emotionally Intelligent?

Does It Pay To Be EI - 1Would you agree with me that the ability to “read” people would be a handy skill to have? According to a recent paper in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, if you’re good at discerning other people’s emotions, you are probably bringing home a bigger paycheck than your emotionally challenged co-workers and colleagues.

Now, I am not suggesting that money is the greatest motivator. In fact, studies have shown that money is a terrible long-term motivator with affects being seen for only the briefest of time. But money (income) does affect our actions and behaviors.

Does It Pay To Be EI - 2Recently, some researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany showed a group of study volunteers a series of images and voice recordings and asked them to identify the emotions being expressed. “On average, the participants succeeded in 77 percent of the cases,” lead author Gerhard Blickle, a psychology professor at the university, said in the press release. “People who succeeded in 87 percent of the cases were considered to be good, and people who succeeded in more than 90 percent of the cases were considered really good. Those below 60 percent, in contrast, were seen as not so good in recognizing emotions.”

Blickle and colleagues also sought information about the careers of their study participants, including basic facts like income along with more subjective information gathered from interviews with people who worked with the participants. Those who scored higher on the emotions task were also rated as more socially skilled by their colleagues and supervisors, and they tended to make more money than people who scored lower on the emotion-reading task.

I believe that the finding makes intuitive sense. People who are more socially adept are usually more adept at navigating the work environment and keeping the “boss” happy. At any rate, this work suggests that it literally pays to be emotionally intelligent.

So what is the leadership lesson from this study?

You Can Only Steer A Moving Ship


Propeller and Rudder

You can’t steer a ship that isn’t already moving in some direction. Think about it. The propeller must be spinning and a ship must be in motion in order to affect the direction in which it is traveling.

This principle is true in life and leadership as well, yet so often we miss it.

I’ve come across many people who are waiting for life (or God) to show them which direction to take next. Unfortunately, if you’re not already moving, you can’t be steered. Instead, you need to be “started.” And that is a topic for another time.


Bow Thruster

I have a cousin-in-law who is an expert in cruise ships. And he tells me that modern cruise ships do not have to have forward momentum to be steered. They have what are called “bow thruster” that can move and seer the ship from a stationary position. But even so, the bow thrusters have to get the ship moving in order to accomplish the purpose of steering the ship.

If you’re looking for direction in your life, health, finances, relationships, parenting or any other aspect of your life, don’t sit around waiting for a miraculous neon sign to point you in the right direction. Get moving! And get a “coach” or “navigator” to help you navigate and steer once your ship is moving.

What is the Leadership Lesson here?

New Website is LIVE!

New Website Announcement

Hey, thanks for being patient this afternoon.  But I think that it has been worth the wait.  The new website went live a few minutes before 6PM Central time and we are very excited about it.

Please take a look at the new website and leave us a comment with your thoughts and suggestions.
Photo credit: dan taylor / Foter / CC BY

“Help Ever – Hurt Never” and the Lost Skill of Discernment

Help Ever Hurt Never - 1I saw a bumper sticker on the way to meet a friend for breakfast this morning. It said “Help Ever – Hurt Never.” I thought “What a great idea.” And I thought “What a great way to live”.

Help Ever Hurt Never - 2And then it hit me. That doesn’t make as much sense as I thought that it did a few moments ago. If that statement were true, and the more that I think about the more that I don’t think it is, then going to the dentist or going to the doctor would take on a whole new set of anticipations. Most trips to the dentist involve a little bit of pain.  But it is for my own good.  And usually because I didn’t do as good at brushing and flossing as I should.  The dentist is helping me.  But he is also actually hurting me a little bit.

You see signs like that all over the place and you need to be careful that you take a look at them on something a little more than just a surface level. You need to be a little discerning in your reading and in your application of what you read.

So what is the Leadership Lesson in this?

Battlestar Voices, the Skirmish with the Fifth “S”

I have been through several 5S training modules during the different stops in my career path.  5S is a methodology generated by Japanese manufacturing to improve the organization of a working area to drive efficiency and effectiveness.  5S stands for 5 stages identified by words that starts with the letter “S”.  These stages are: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain(As translated into English).When fully supported from management down, it is a methodology I fully believe in.  With that said, I’m only touching on one aspect of this methodology in this expose of thoughts from my mind. (scary place, I know)


What has been in my thoughts lately due to situations in my latest career stop is the last stage..…. “Sustain”.  More to the point, how leadership in my experience commonly fails at driving actions to sustain implemented changes, processes, policies etc.   An interesting item I read is that the Japanese word “shitsuke” (translated to “Sustain” to maintain the 5S moniker) may actually be better translated to the word “commitment”. Does this mean I believe leadership has failed to be committed on a whole?  Not necessarily, but from a narrow viewpoint, I do think one of the more difficult aspects of effective leadership is a commitment to sustaining actions after the “crisis” or “action” moments are implemented.

Maybe the cobattlenundrum with commitment to sustaining is that it is boring? Dull? Lacks glitter and glamour? It is humdrum?  It does not bring forth the adventure of something new and of an attainable and tangible goal to concur!!!  In training for 5S you won’t hear about problems with the first 3 steps very often.   Why is that?  Maybe because breaking something down and rebuilding it is a challenge.  Transformation is something that we can visualize the change in, set easy goals that are perceptible in some way to achieve, can be easily celebrated and can make for a great graph or photo placed in a Powerpoint presentation. Sustaining is……..repetitive dedication to adhering to a standard.   Where’s the excitement in that?

Can There Be Change Without Chaos?

Change without chaos - 1We all know that managing through change is never easy. But you can increase your chances of inducing change without chaos by leading through change instead of just managing through change?

Do you know how often major change initiatives succeed? The success rate is not good. In fact, a 2013 survey of global senior executives by Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) and the Katzenbach Center reveals that the success rate of major change initiatives is only 54 percent. Now if you were a major league hitter, that would be phenomenal. If you were a shooting foul shots in the NBA, it wouldn’t be acceptable. And I would suspect a nearly 50% failure rate in your organization would not be acceptable.

Since change is inevitable, what should you and I be doing within our organizations to minimize chaos and maximize success?

A Leadership Mission . . .  Statement 

Leadership Mission Statement - 1As I have mentioned before, I am involved in a men’s biblical study at my church.  It is the book “Stepping Up” by Dennis Rainey.  Its good stuff and I suggest it, if anyone is looking for something.  One of the things I like about it, is it could be adapted to anyone in any walk of life, including young men.  Last night we had some discussion on a mission for our lives, this turned into a discussion that maybe we should write a mission statement for our lives.  On the drive home, it occurred to me, that maybe to be a leader, you needed to have a mission statement.  More on that in a bit . . .

Where I developed the vast majority of my leadership skills and techniques, our missions were given to us.  We were never really privy to how they were selected, or who selected them.  However it was up to the team members to develop the plan for achieving a successful mission.  Now we always had some operating parameters that we had to deal with, “rules for the playground” we called them, but rules nonetheless.  So our typical mission briefing was — Here is the objective, Here are the support options, How do we get this done? Then there was typically an hour of how, what, why and when questions.  My point is only that the goal was ever revealed to us in that setting.

Forging a Leader

Forging a Leader - 1There has been a lot of talk on this forum and other forums about being a leader. We have discussed how to become a leader and what a good leader looks like. But I am not sure we have talked enough about the pain and suffering becoming a leader can be. I’m not talking about the “pain in the rear” you get from sitting in a seminar about leadership. I’m talking about the trial by fire and the true forging that develops real leaders. I’m talking about Lincoln and the Civil War, I’m talking about Kennedy and PT 109, and I’m talking about Reagan and the Berlin Wall.

Just to make sure we all understand what I mean, let’s discuss this word that I am using — forging.

Forging is one of the oldest known metal working processes. Traditionally it is performed with a hammer and an anvil and the application of different levels of heat. A forge is a type of hearth used for the application of heat to metals. So I am speaking metaphorically about using a hammer, an anvil and heat to create a leader. Sound difficult?

Ok, so we aren’t really going to use a hammer anvil and forge to create a leader. But I bet if you asked some true leaders, they have felt the heat of the fire, and the pressure of the hammer. I once wrote an article here about why anyone would want to be a leader. I have to admit, it was a little tongue in cheek, but I was hoping it would drive some conversation. This is not that kind of article. This, reader, is about whether or not you are truly prepared for what it takes to be a leader?

Blending In vs. Standing Out


Blending in vs Standing out - 1When I graduated from college in 1983, and started to look for jobs, I had to do two things during interviews. First I had to convince employers that I understood the basics of their business — the lingo, the process, the requirements of being an employee of their company.

But I also had to give them the sense I was different than other applicants. I needed them to know that I stood out from the pack. I wanted them to believe that I’d work harder and deliver a better work product than anyone else.

It’s a conundrum that faces everyone trying to get ahead in the world of business, from recent graduates, to those moving up the ladder, to entrepreneurs of every stripe: how to stand out, while also making it clear you fit in.

The implications of these two facets of a valuable employee are obvious. But consider for a moment these in the light of being a leader and not just an employee.

Blending in vs Standing out - 2What are the leadership implications of blending in versus standing out?