Blind Spots — We all have them

How does the Emotionally Agile Leader deal with them?

Blind spots. We all have them. Yes, even YOU have them. For many of us, these blind spots are related to those traits or behaviors of those that we hold most dear. For some, they are about areas of our own traits and behaviors.

What is a “blind spot?”

An optometrist would tell you that it is a scotoma. It is a small area that exists where no vision is present. One of these occurs naturally in every person because the light-sensitive layer – the retina – is not continuous. There is a tiny gap in the retina where the optic nerve, which takes the visual information to the brain, leaves the eye. We are not normally aware of this blind spot because the brain “ignores” this small patch of missing information and “fills in” the area with other information that the brain knows about whatever is the field of vision. Pretty cool, huh?

What does it have to do with leadership and emotional agility?

As leaders, we all have certain areas within our leadership scope that we do not see with the ease and accuracy with which we see other areas. As I said at the outset, many times the blind spot is that young leader that we are mentoring that is getting on the nerves of every other person on the team. But, because we have developed a great deal of affection for them, we may not see some of the rough edges that everyone else sees. It is in our blind spot and we don’t even know that it is there because we don’t “see” it.

Likewise, the same can be said of our own behaviors. We have a habit or a behavior that is so ingrained us that we assume that it is normal and that everyone else accepts it as normal. Maybe we interrupt others when they are talking. We don’t think we are interrupting, we just have this really important and relevant thing to share and we just can’t help but blurt it out. Everyone else in the meeting cringes or just stops contributing because they don’t like being interrupted and we don’t even realize that we have hurt them and stifled their participation.

How do we fix it?

The first step is to be open to the possibility, and reality, that we have blind spots. Once we do, then we become open to determining where they are and how to fix them. Here are some ways to fix them:

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Perception and Clarity 

The importance of clarity over perception

One of my favorite individuals to listen to on the radio when I am driving around is a conservative talk radio host by the name of Dennis Prager. Even if you do not agree with his political persuasion, you have to respect his emphasis on, and value of, clarity over agreement.

This resonates more and more with me the older that I get. There was a time when an argument must lead to agreement, surrender, or acquiescence by my opponent. These days, I am much more willing to accept the possibility of disagreeing agreeably. I just need to ensure that there is clarity and that I am both understanding others and being understood.

All of that aside, I really would like to deal with the issue of clarity and perception. Specifically, it is important to have clarity around our self-perception when we are leaders.

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7 Questions To Answer To Move Beyond Good Intentions

Does Effort = Performance?

7 Questions - v1

Are good intentions enough? At some point, it is reasonable to be evaluated based on our performance and not just our intentions.

So much of what is mainstream thought today seems to indicate that as long as you try really, really hard, then you have accomplished something. That may or may not be accurate. You have indeed expended effort. And maybe you have expended a lot of effort. But is effort the same thing as performance? Have you actually accomplished anything of value or significance?

Is effort alone enough when it comes to leadership?

Or, in other words, are good intentions enough? Or at some point, do our followers and the community around us have a right to expect some results?

I cross multiple worlds in my own personal experience. Much of my time is dominated by a secular environment where results are pretty important. So much so that compensation and career advancement are dependent upon identified and verified performance and value generated as the result of expected accomplishments. While the rest of my time is spent in a variety of volunteer, ministry, and non-profit endeavors.

Each world views this topic very differently. But does that necessarily need to be? Is it reasonable to have some measurable performance indicators outside of the business world that are not just appreciated because of their level of effort?

Regardless of whether you are a leader in a for profit or not for profit organization, we must have some understanding of, and answers to, the following questions:

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Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 - 1I have not always been a “reader”. Most of my reading over the years has been to my children and grandchildren.  It is only in the last several years that I acquired the taste for books. And my tastes in reading material vary widely. But recently, I had a book suggested to me by fellow leadership coach, Rodney Mills of Centrifuge Leadership. He recommended the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. I am using this book currently with one of my leadership coaching clients and I think it is worthy of sharing with the broader Leadership Voices audience.

The book has a foreword by Patrick Lencioni. Many of you will recognize him as the author of Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting. If you are into great titles, those are a couple of great ones. As Lencioni proclaims in the foreword, he’s no expert in this field, but he sees everyday how critical a skill it is to have and he’s so enthusiastic about this book because it’s the first he’s read that actually shows you how to increase your EQ and apply it in your personal and professional life.

The opening chapter deals with Emotional Intelligence (EI) and your Emotional Quotient (EQ) and compares and contrasts it to the more well-known “IQ”. The chapter describes what EQ is and what it isn’t. For example, a lot of people mistakenly think that EQ is a part of your personality. To the contrary EQ is separate from your personality, just as it is separate from your intellect, or IQ. It begins to build your understanding of emotions by showing what the five core emotions look like in varying degrees of intensity. Next the team of Bradberry and Greaves explain research studies that illustrate how important EQ is in daily living. They show how your EQ impacts things like your tolerance for change, how you manage stress, and even how much money you make.

What Emotional Intelligence Looks Like: Understanding the Four Skills

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 - 3The book introduces and explains Daniel Goleman’s four EQ skills: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Beyond a conceptual description of the skills, the book provides detailed vignettes show examples of real people who are high or low in each of the skills.

To truly improve your ability in the four emotional intelligence skills, you need to better understand each skill and what it looks like in action.

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Leadership Diagnosis by the Post Mortem Method

Post Mortem Method - 1OK, the title is a little morbid.  But stick with me for a minute or two.  Because I have used this approach many times with clients when I was more actively involved in consulting. This particular approach that I recommend that you try attempts to take a look at what exactly happened during an “event” so that all of the stakeholders can understand it clearly. Not all will see it the same way. But, with enough individual views, a collective view will emerge.

This approach can be particularly helpful when there is already an acknowledgement that there are a number of issues that need to change. This approach requires a high degree of trust among the team because it can naturally focuses on the negative of what took place. It is very similar to the critiques we used to receive in the theater at the end of a performance or a rehearsal. The best critiques included all of the components below:

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