Archive | March, 2012

Developing Emotional Intelligence

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman and Anthony Gell discuss steps a leader can take to develop his or her emotional intelligence.

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Anthony Gell- We all know that you sort of create your own habits and then your habits create you, they define you, so how would you go about hard wiring a more healthy or positive habit? And is it possible to replace habits that may be hardwired into you?

Daniel Goleman- Well this is really the basis of improving leadership abilities, changing habits. Because one of the common colds of leadership is not listening, just saying what you think. You know, someone comes into the office, they start to speak, just like when you go to the physician. You start to say, well, “Doctor, I’m having this, and this, and this,” and you have three things you want to talk about. Well, in 18 seconds they’ll take over the conversation, steer it where they want it to go, and you’re out the door. And you asked one half of a question! And it’s the same with bosses, it’s the same with leaders.

So, how would you get over that bad habit? The answer is there are simple steps. The first is: notice it. Realize, “Oh, I do have this habit, and it would be better for me as a leader if I could change.” Second step: care about it. If you don’t care, you’re not going to get anywhere. Third step: think. “Well, how could I intentionally counter that habit?” I could have a contract with myself that when someone comes into my office I’m going to stop, pause, listen to them, and then say what I think. It’s that simple. But to do that you have to overcome years and years of another habit. And then the fourth step is to practice at every naturally occurring opportunity. And if you do that you’ll reach a neural landmark where you do it well without having to think about it.

AG- Got you, yup. Because I love the bit in your book Leadership: The Power Of Emotional Intelligence where you’ve got a list of attributes of good bosses and bad bosses, so you just choose the good ones and build them to habits.

DG- Well, yeah! And by the way that list is universal. Wherever I go in the world I get pretty much the same list. We all know what that bastard of a boss looks like.

AG- That’s right, a lot of nodding heads!

DG- Exactly.

Empathy In Leadership

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman and Anthony Gell discuss challenges faced by empathetic leaders.

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Anthony Gell- Empathy, lets pick up on that for a second. Daniel, in your first book you mentioned about empathy and how important that is and obviously there’s different types of empathy. But talk about the spectrum, if you’ve got on one level of the spectrum you’ve got the sociopath and on the other one you’ve got somebody that’s just absolutely besotted by other people’s feelings, is it important to have a balance? Obviously you can be too far toward the sociopath spectrum, but can you be too far [the other] way?

Daniel Goleman- Yeah, you see that in people for example in the helping professions- nurses, say- who are taking care of people who are suffering, who are in pain, who are angry. Who pick up those emotions and can’t metabolize them. It changes their internal state instead of them changing the patients’ state, because of, you could say, this too empathic stance. What’s missing there is self-management, self-regulation as we say. That is to say, the people who are most effective don’t tune out in order to protect themselves, and turn off to other people. They stay open but they’re able to pass that through, to manage their own inner state at the same time as they’re being receptive. That’s the best.

AG- OK, that’s great. So you can be in an empathetic situation but not allow it to be to heavily on your shoulders, take it too personally.

DG- It’s more than that. It’s that you don’t let it change your state. You stay stable in the positive state you need.

AG- And therefore you wouldn’t be as stressed as you would be.

DG- Yeah, so it rolls off.

Decision Making

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman talks with Anthony Gell, of Leaders In, about the inner workings of our decision making process.

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Anthony Gell- Everybody out there in the world has decisions to be made. And whether you’re managing yourself or whether you’re a subordinate and just managing your own day you’re still making decisions. All the way through to vc guys or ceos making massive multi billion pound decisions. Do you have any advice? In your book, The Brain And Emotional Intelligence, you talk about the neocortex and the subcortex. No matter how big the idea be, should you be making the decision with the gut? What’s your advice?

Daniel Goleman- My advice is both, actually. There’s some interesting data on that. There was a study done of California entrepreneurs who built businesses from nothing, into huge amounts. And they’re asked, “How do you make your decisions?” And they all said essentially the same thing. They were voracious gatherers of data. They had very broad nets, things that other people wouldn’t think might be relevant. They delve into the numbers, they look into everything, and then they’d check it against their gut feeling. And what that means is that the first swipe is cortical: the part of the brain that thinks in words and numbers. And then you check that against your gut feeling and the reason that’s a good idea is this:

There’s a primitive part of the brain, it’s actually in the brainstem, that as we go through life, gathers decision roles. “When I did that, that worked well. When I said that, that really didn’t work.” And as we face a decision point it summates your life experience relevant to the topic, and it sends you a message. The problem is it has no connection to the part of the brain that thinks in words. It sends the message to the gut. The GI tract. So when you say trust your gut, it’s actually literally true. Because you get a felt sense. Feels right. Doesn’t feel right. And all the entrepreneurs said “I check it against that. Even if the numbers look good. If it didn’t feel right I wouldn’t go ahead.”

Lessons From Steve Jobs

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman reflects, with Anthony Gell, on what set Steve Jobs apart as a leader at Apple.

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Anthony Gell- If we could start now with a topical question. And that is, with all your collected wisdom about leadership and CEO skills and what makes people be successful, if we can talk about Steve Jobs. Obviously, back on October 6th we lost Steve Jobs, and people like Barak Obama said the world has lost a visionary. So, can we ask you, what is it you think that made Steve Jobs such a great CEO and even icon?

Daniel Goleman- Well, he was a leader, he wasn’t a manager. In fact he wasn’t very good at managing. He knew that. But he was fantastic at inspiring people. And motivating them and setting a direction. Not only a direction, a visionary direction. What was remarkable about Steve Jobs is that he pushed the boundaries. He didn’t take things as a given. He looked at the system and reinvented it. So we got the iPod the iPhone the iPad, and that takes great vision. So he had all of the elements of someone who can change things permanently. He was able to see what other people couldn’t, he was able to understand how to get there and he was able to move people to make it happen.

AG- I mean, his products are world famous and how do you think he’s been able to get such a cult following? Both internally and also externally? Do you think he had a great emotional intelligence?

DG- haha, I think like everyone else he was a mixed picture. And think some people some people found him not so emotionally intelligent and some people saw that he was superb. And by the way, Emotional intelligence is not one thing. It’s a spectrum of abilities, from self awareness to managing yourself to empathy to relationship management and within each of those domains there are several abilities. So Steve Jobs was fantastic at inspired leadership. He was fantastic in his ability to vision and to share that vision. He wasn’t fantastic in every other way, but you don’t need to be. That’s the good news.

AG- What would you say are the attributes or characteristics –putting Steve Jobs aside for a second- but just generally the top 1 or 2 percent of leaders, the star leaders, if you like.

DG- Well, I was just going over some data about that with my associates at the hay group. And what we’ve been finding is that leaders who are able to exhibit a high level of competence, like the drive to achieve, or emotional self awareness, or empathy, or relationship building, who are able to excel at a half dozen or more of those emotional intelligence abilities, are also able to exhibit leadership styles that create a very positive organizational climate. That climate in turn predicts 30 percent of business results. So it starts with managing your self and then managing your relationship and then exhibiting the abilities of leaders to set a vision, that is, a vision that moves people, speak from the heart to the heart. Who are also able to help other people get better. Coach them. Who are able to know when to get a consensus decision instead of just top down. Who know that having a good time together isn’t a waste of time. It builds relationship strength so people will be there for each other. It’s people like that who are able to create a climate that drives performance.

The “Aha Moment”

Welcome to the more than sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman discusses the “aha moment” with Anthony Gell.

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Anthony Gell- Daniel, can we talk about the “aha moment” which you talk about? As you said, we’re in a knowledge world, the currency out there is potentially ideas. So how can we manufacture that “aha moment” where we can come up with…

Daniel Goleman- Well the “aha moment” is very paradoxical, you can’t manufacture it. It happens on it’s own. But you can allow for it, you can create the circumstances where it’s more likely, so, for example, if you’re facing a creative problem, we’re rebranding, we have to come up with a new logo or something like that, whatever it may be, first you pursue it as diligently and broadly as you can, and gather whatever information you might need. Really fill your brain with that.

But then the next step is really paradoxical. Then you let it go. And the reason you let it go is that when you’re very focused on “What’s our logo gonna be?” or whatever the problem is, you’ve activated the left half of the brain. Which is task oriented. And there’s two things about the left hemisphere. One is that it excludes other things to focus on the task at hand, the focus at hand. The other is that it doesn’t have many connections to other parts of the brain as compared to the right hemisphere. When you let go and you turn the problem over to the right hemisphere, the right hemisphere day dreams, it’s the source of creativity, and it also has very far flung connections throughout the brain. And the innovative aha arises when original connections are made. And they’re more likely to happen during that reverie state. While you’re in the shower, while you’re walking the dog, doing yoga, rather than when you’re sweating trying to solve the problem. And so the aha occurs when you let yourself go into a reverie, after having pursued the problem.

AG- Mmm. excellent. I can see a lot of people now going for long walks and saying to their boss they’re waiting for the aha moment.

DG- You can’t make it happen but it’s more likely to. Don’t promise your boss ever.

AG- Yeah, one innovative disruptive idea per walk. That’s a lot of pressure. Speaking of pressure, can you put yourself under pressure to come up with an idea by 3:30 this afternoon? Does that really work?

DG- Well of course you can but it may not be your best idea.

AG- OK, got you.

DG- Take a weekend for that.