Archive | November, 2014

Round-Up: How to Help Kids Focus

How to Help Kids Focus

What if there was a way to teach our children skills that could help them achieve better academic performance, enhance personal development, and improve relationship skills?

This past Sunday, Daniel Goleman gave a special presentation at JCC Manahattan about his latest book with Peter Senge, The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education.

More Than Sound was at the talk. We live tweeted some key points throughout the talk. Below are some highlights from the #triplefocus feed, with excerpts from a few of Daniel’s articles for supplemental reading.

A wealth of information means a poverty of attention.

Key takeaway from Pay Attention to Attention:

“…a constant stream of distraction draws attention away from what’s immediately at hand; those seemingly urgent rings and alerts may not be crucial. Working to maintain clear focus on a task – despite intrusions – consistently occupies the brain’s circuitry for attention. “Cognitive effort” is the technical expression for the mental attention demanded to process our information load. Just like the muscles in our bodies, attention can become fatigued. Common symptoms of attention fatigue are lowered effectiveness, increased distractedness, and irritability. These symptoms also indicate depletion in the energy required to sustain neural functioning.”

Read the full article

We need to take back choice when it comes to our attention.

Key takeaway from Think About the Benefits of Unplugging:

“We can be more skillful at not being hijacked by distractions. We may notice them, but there’s a big difference between noticing that something may be occurring, being aware of it, and being hijacked by it, being pulled away from one’s central focus.”

Read the full article

Concentration predicts performance.

Key takeaway from The Benefits of a Productive Cocoon

“We all need a productive cocoon, a time we protect our focus from the multitude of distractions: emails, tweets, updates, and the rest of the onslaught. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, psychologists at Harvard Business School, studied 238 members of teams engaged in creative projects, from designing new kitchen gear to complex information technology systems. The team members kept daily diaries of their work days, including how productive and satisfying they found each day. The most productive and satisfying days, hands down, came when they were able to have unbroken time to focus on their project. These productive cocoons are where they came up with small wins, like innovations, problem solving, and taking concrete steps toward their goal.”

Read the full article

The leader of a group sets the emotional mood of the group.

Key takeaway from Be Mindful of the Emotions You Leave Behind:

“Not all emotional partners are equal. A power dynamic operates in emotional contagion, determining which person’s brain will more forcefully draw the other into its emotional orbit. Mirror neurons are leadership tools: Emotions flow with special strength from the more socially dominant person to the less. Another powerful reason for leaders to be mindful of what they say to employees: people recall negative interactions with a boss with more intensity, in more detail, and more often than they do positive ones. The ease with which demotivation can be spread by a boss makes it all the more imperative for him to act in ways that make the emotions left behind uplifting ones.”

Read the full article

Emotions are contagious.

Key takeaway from How Moods Impact Results:

“While mild anxiety (such as over a looming deadline) can focus attention and energy, prolonged distress can sabotage a leader’s relationships and also hamper work performance by diminishing the brain’s ability to process information and respond effectively. A good laugh or an upbeat mood, on the other hand, more often enhances the neural abilities crucial for doing good work.”

Read the full article

Additional resources:

Raising Students Emotional IQs

PODCAST: Daniel Goleman on The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

VIDEO: Peter Senge on Teaching Systems Thinking in Schools

 

Hone Your Focus: Learning and the Brain

learning and the brain

Daniel Goleman addressed the importance of adopting attention-training strategies in the classroom at today’s Learning and the Brain conference in Boston.

Focused, Organized Minds: Using Brain Science to Engage Attention in a Distracted World explored how today’s technology is creating more classroom distractions and disorganization. Yet, academic testing and Common Core State Standards require students to be more focused and organized in order to succeed.

We followed attendee’s enthusiastic commentary about Dr. Goleman’s presentation on Twitter. Below are some highlights from #LB39 feed, with excerpts from a few of Daniel’s articles for supplemental reading.

From @onelearner1

There are deeply rooted beliefs in education that overly favor IQ over EQ #LB39

Key takeaway from It’s Not IQ Part 2: Use The Triple Focus Approach to Education:

There’s no doubt that IQ and motivation predict good grades. But when you enter the working world, IQ plays a different role: it sorts people into the jobs they can hold. Stellar work in school pays off in getting intellectually challenging jobs.

Read the full article

From @HeatherSugrue

#lb39 @DanielGolemanEI Attention is a mental muscle – we can strengthen it.

Key takeaway from What Helps Kids Focus – and Why They Need Help:

The more a youngster can practice keeping her focus and resist distraction, the stronger and more richly connected this neural real estate becomes. By the same token, the more distracted, the less so.

This mental ability is like a muscle: it needs proper exercise to grow strong. One way to help kids: give them regular sessions of focusing time, the mental equivalent of workouts in the gym. I’ve seen this done in schools, with second-graders becoming calm and concentrated with a daily session of watching their breath – the basic training in bringing a wandering mind back to a single focus.

Read the full article

From @Demers_k8lyn

#LB39 Amygdala Highjack – We can only pay attention to what we think is threatening. @DanielGolemanEI @learningandtheb

Key takeaway from The Two Biggest Distractions – and What to do About Them:

The brain’s wiring gives preference to our emotional distractions, creating pressing thought loops about whatever’s upsetting us. Our brain wants us to pay attention to what matters to us, like a problem in our relationships.

Read the full article

From @malalande

With digital devices, we process 5 times more info than before according to @DanielGolemanEI at #LB39

Key takeaway from Think About the Benefits of Unplugging:

There is now quite a bit of evidence to indicate that the circuits in the brain that play a role in regulating our attention, and very rigorous behavioral measures of attention, change in response to mindfulness meditation practice. One of the central indices of that change is our capacity to not be hijacked by distracting events in our environment, particularly distracting emotional signals, which often pull us away from our task at hand.

Read the full article

Additional resources:

The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

Focus for Kids: Enhancing Concentration, Caring and Calm

Focus for Teens: Enhancing Concentration, Caring and Calm

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference Videos – 2012 and 2013

All Atwitter About Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman TedTalk

Daniel Goleman discussed emotional intelligence in the workplace at yesterday’s The Art of Leadership conference in Toronto. We followed attendee’s enthusiastic commentary about Dr. Goleman’s presentation on Twitter. Below are some highlights from #TheArtOf feed, with excerpts from a few of Daniel’s articles for supplemental reading.

From @LoKyriacou

Quote from @DanielGolemanEI: “When we leave an interaction with someone we have the opportunity to leave them in a better place” #TheArtOf

Key takeaway from Be Mindful of the Emotions You Leave Behind:

“While a boss’s artfully couched displeasure can be an effective goad, fuming is self-defeating as a leadership tactic. When leaders habitually use displays of bad moods to motivate, more work may seem to get done – but it will not necessarily be better work. And relentlessly foul moods corrode the emotional climate, sabotaging the brain’s ability to work at its best.”

Read the full article

From @KarenJurjevich

@DanielGolemanEI #artofleadership IQ15% & EI 85% = star leadership performance

 Key takeaway from What Predicts Your Success? It’s Not Your IQ:

“To further understand what attributes actually predict success, a more satisfying answer lies in another kind of data altogether: competence models. These are studies done by companies themselves to identify the abilities of their star performers. Competence models pinpoint a constellation of abilities that include grit and cognitive control, but go beyond. The abilities that set stars apart from average at work cover the emotional intelligence spectrum: self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social effectiveness.”

Read the full article

From @TrevorCarrier

#TheArtOf every time you turn to the digital screen, you let someone else take over your inner agenda ~ @DanielGolemanEI yes!!

Key takeaway from Focus on How You Connect:

“Spreading ourselves too thin across an ever-growing number of platforms of interaction can weaken our personal bonds. We shouldn’t confuse all of our social media connections with the rich personal world of real-time relationships.

But getting lost in a world of too many digital connections can be very unfulfilling and isolating. That’s why when it comes to close personal connections, try to prioritize your communication methods. When possible, make the interaction face to face – especially if you need to discuss something important.”

Read the full article

From @caweenet

The higher you go in the organization, the more emotional intelligence you need.@DanielGolemanEI.@TheArtOf #leadership #communications

Key takeaway from IQ or EQ? You Need Both:

“Claudio Fernandez-Aroaz, former head of research at Egon Zehnder International, spent decades hiring C-level executives for global companies. When he studied why some of those executives ended up being fired, he found that while they had been hired for their intelligence and business expertise – they were fired for a lack of emotional intelligence. Though they were smart, they were bullies or otherwise inept at people management.”

Read the full article

From @CaseP

IQ is a threshold ability — it’ll help you GET the job. Emotional intelligence will help you SUCCEED at it. — @DanielGolemanEI #TheArtOf

Key takeaway from Let’s Not Underrate Emotional Intelligence:

“A century of IQ research shows intelligence predicts what job you can get. But once you’re in that position, everyone else you work with will have passed the same IQ requirement. Other abilities actually determine outstanding performance – especially emotional intelligence.”

Read the full article

From @TrevorCarrier

#TheArtOf best boss: made me feel like I could do anything. Worst boss: made me feel like I couldn’t do anything @TheArtOf

Key takeaway from How to Overcome a Survival Mode Culture:

“Having a secure base at work is crucial for high performance. Feeling secure allows a person to focus better on her work, achieve goals, and perceive impending obstacles as challenges, not threats.

When you offer a secure base, you begin to manifest trust and safety. When a person feels safe in her environment, she can transition from basic survival mode thinking to a more complex outlook, looking for opportunities and chances to thrive.”

Read the full article

Leading with Emotional Intelligence

Learn to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. Register for American Management Association’s course Leading With Emotional Intelligence. Dr. Goleman shared his decades of practical research to develop this seminar with AMA that explores the EI competencies. Attendees will be shown how to use them to go from being a good to a great emotionally intelligent leader. You’ll get tools and techniques to help you deepen your ability to lead and become more effective in helping your organization deliver the results it needs.

The courses are available onsite or online.

Image: TED

A Smart Recipe: Systems Thinking and SEL

Source: unsplash.com/pexels.com

Source: unsplash.com/pexels.com

The more we understand the process of developing systems intelligence, the more we see the close connections between understanding self, understanding other, and understanding the larger systems to which we all belong. This suggests great potential for partnership between SEL educators and systems thinking.

Decision Making

For instance, these concepts have a unique synergy when it comes to enhancing personal decision making. The self-awareness and self-management tools SEL offers enhances cognitive efficiency of all kinds: if a child can calm her disturbing emotions, she can think about systems more clearly. And the empathy and social tools of SEL opens students to the perspectives and feelings of others, so they can better take the other person into account. Combine that with the systems insights that allow a more comprehensive understanding of human dynamics, and you’ve got the constructs and tools for better interpersonal decision making – whether it’s how to handle a bully, or what to do about not getting invited to the prom.

Our capacity to care and our systemic awareness are inter-connected. In some very fundamental sense, all ethics are based on awareness of the consequences of actions. If I can see no effect of my actions on another, I see no ethical choices. We are seeing that the more kids are steeped in systems thinking, the more they express their innate predisposition to care at a larger and larger scale, whether it is in measuring how water is used in their school in a water-scarce region, or sharing the food from their school garden with their family.

Cognitive Development

A second potential area of synergy could be a rethinking of children’s cognitive development and potential. The findings of the past ten years or so, especially the work with young children, raise some big questions for the established views of the “cognitive ladder,” which place skills like synthesis at the top, with the presumption that this is what students will learn in college or graduate school.

We suspect the cognitive ladder as most educators know it today is shaped more than we can see by the reductionist bias of the western theory of knowledge. This is a theory that fragments, breaking complex subjects into smaller and smaller pieces. It is why, literally, an ‘expert’ in modern society is someone who knows a lot about a little. With reductionism comes a natural bias toward analysis over synthesis, studying the pieces in isolation or analyzing subjects within arbitrary academic boundaries, like the separation of math from social studies or economics from psychology. This bias toward fragmentation and analysis is evident in the typical progression embedded in standard curricula toward more and more narrowly defined subjects, which progression continues right through college.

But if we start with a view that everything in the universe is interdependent, and that all humans have this innate systems intelligence, then we would have a different cognitive ladder. It would be more of a spiral. You would start with the idea that real thinking involves both reflecting on inter- dependence as well as about elements individually: synthesis and analysis. You would integrate movement along these two dimensions over time with a developmental progression.

Transform Pedagogy

A third important synergy between SEL and systems thinking has to do with transforming pedagogy and the culture of school. For example, a key to making such a spiral view of cognitive-emotional development practical in real educational settings is profound respect. You don’t try to teach kids something that has no meaning to them, something that does not connect in any way with their lives. But unfortunately, that’s still the modus operandi for 80-90% of school curricula. In contrast, students at every level find SEL compelling because it helps them deal directly with the issues that matter most to them: bullying, friendships, getting along, and the like.

We believe a wonderful joint project would be for leaders in SEL and systems education innovation to work on a common set of pedagogical principles, like:

  • Respect the learner’s reality and processes of understanding.
  • Focus on issues that are real to the learner.
  • Allow students to build their own models, construct and test their own ways of making sense of problems.
  • Work and learn together.
  • Build students’ ability to be responsible for their own learning.
  • Encourage peer dynamics where students help one another learn.
  • Perceive teachers as designers, facilitators, and decision makers (more than “curriculum deliverers”). This requires that teachers have strong content knowledge, continually being advanced through robust peer-learning networks.
 This is an excerpt from Peter Senge’s portion of The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education.
triple focus

Image: TEDxKids Brussels

Why a Fluid Leadership Style Gets Results

Source: www.pexels.com

Source: www.pexels.com

Leaders who have mastered four or more leadership styles – especially the authoritative, democratic, affiliative, and coaching – have the very best climate and business performance. And the most effective leaders switch flexibly among the leadership styles as needed.

Such leaders don’t mechanically match their style to fit a checklist of situations – they are far more fluid. They are exquisitely sensitive to the impact they are having on others and seamlessly adjust their style to get the best results.

Fluid Leadership In Action

Consider Joan, the general manager of a major division at a global food and beverage company. Joan was appointed to her job while the division was in a deep crisis. It had not made its profit targets for six years; in the most recent year, it had missed by $50 million. Morale among the top management team was miserable; mistrust and resentments were rampant.

Joan’s directive from above was clear: turn the division around. Joan did so with a nimbleness in switching among leadership styles that is rare. From the start, she realized she had a short window to demonstrate effective leadership and to establish rapport and trust. She also knew that she urgently needed to be informed about what was not working, so her first task was to listen to key people.

During her first week on the job she had lunch and dinner meetings with each member of the management team. Joan sought to get each person’s understanding of the current situation. But her focus was not so much on learning how each person diagnosed the problem as on getting to know each manager as a person. Here Joan employed the affiliative style: she explored their lives, dreams, and aspirations.

She also stepped into the coaching role, looking for ways she could help the team members achieve what they wanted in their careers. She followed the one-on-one conversations with a three-day off-site meeting. Her goal here was team building, so that everyone would own whatever solution for the business problems emerged. Her initial stance at the offsite meeting was that of a democratic leader. She encouraged everyone to express freely their frustrations and complaints.

The next day, Joan had the group focus on solutions: each person made three specific proposals about what needed to be done. As Joan clustered the suggestions, a natural consensus emerged about priorities for the business, such as cutting costs. As the group came up with specific action plans, Joan got the commitment and buy-in she sought.

With that vision in place, Joan shifted into the authoritative style, assigning accountability for each follow-up step to specific executives and holding them responsible for their accomplishment.

Over the following months, Joan’s main stance was authoritative. She continually articulated the group’s new vision in a way that reminded each member of how his or her role was crucial to achieving these goals. And, especially during the first few weeks of the plan’s implementation, Joan felt that the urgency of the business crisis justified an occasional shift into the coercive style should someone fail to meet his or her responsibility. As she put it, “I had to be brutal about this follow-up and make sure this stuff happened. It was going to take discipline and focus.”

The results? Every aspect of climate improved. People were innovating. They were talking about the division’s vision and crowing about their commitment to new, clear goals. The ultimate proof of Joan’s fluid leadership style is written in black ink: after only seven months, her division exceeded its yearly profit target by $5 million.

Expand Your Repertory

Few leaders, of course, have all six styles in their repertory, and even fewer know when and how to use them. In fact, as these findings have been shown to leaders in many organizations, the most common responses have been, “But I have only two of those!” and, “I can’t use all those styles. It wouldn’t be natural.”

Such feelings are understandable, and in some cases, the antidote is relatively simple. The leader can build a team with members who employ styles she lacks.

Take the case of a VP for manufacturing. She successfully ran a global factory system largely by using the affiliative style. She was on the road constantly, meeting with plant managers, attending to their pressing concerns, and letting them know how much she cared about them personally.
 She left the division’s strategy – extreme efficiency – to a trusted lieutenant with a keen understanding of technology, and she delegated its performance standards to a colleague who was adept at the authoritative approach. She also had a pacesetter on her team who always visited the plants with her.

An alternative approach is for leaders to expand their own style repertories. To do so, leaders must first understand which emotional intelligence competencies underlie the leadership styles they are lacking. They can then work assiduously to increase their quotient of them.

For instance, an affiliative leader has strengths in three emotional intelligence competencies: in empathy, in building relationships, and in communication. Empathy – sensing how people are feeling in the moment – allows the affiliative leader to respond to employees in a way that is highly congruent with that person’s emotions, thus building rapport. The affiliative leader also displays a natural ease in forming new relationships, getting to know someone as a person, and cultivating a bond.

Finally, the outstanding affiliative leader has mastered the art of interpersonal communication, particularly in saying just the right thing or making the apt symbolic gesture at just the right moment. So if you are primarily a pacesetting leader who wants to be able to use the affiliative style more often, you would need to improve your level of empathy and, perhaps, your skills at building relationships or communicating effectively.

As another example, an authoritative leader who wants to add the democratic style to his repertory might need to work on the capabilities of collaboration and communication.

Hour to hour, day to day, week to week, executives must play their leadership styles like golf clubs, the right one at just the right time and in the right measure. The payoff is in the results.

Excerpt from Daniel Goleman’s book, What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters.

what makes a leader

Admitting failure: the first step to success

Daniel Goleman spoke with Bill George in the video series Leadership: A Master Class about how to recognize and groom authentic leaders. One of the traits George looks for in leadership candidates is their capacity to own their failures and move on. Below is an excerpt from their conversation.

Q&A: Daniel Goleman and Bill George discuss Authentic Leadership

Daniel Goleman: There’s a kind of norm that you’re valued for telling a story of success about yourself, and yet you’re saying you would value, say, in an interview situation, someone who was candid about their failures.

Bill George: Right. In fact, I say, don’t promote someone to a high-level position until they’ve actually confronted themselves and said, “I failed.”

DG: What’s the lesson there?

BG: Because I now know, that when tested by limits, I know that it’s not the end of the world. I can come back. I started a company that failed. I took the lessons from that and started another company. I became successful only because I knew what caused me to fail before.

DG: Failure is an ideal opportunity to learn resilience.

BG: Absolutely. What if you don’t have resilience? What if you’re not adaptable? What if you’re just going to stay the course, and you hit a detour? You hit a block in the road? You have to adapt, but you have to have the resilience to come back and fight another day.

DG: How do you train resilience? How do you encourage that?

BG: By getting people to talk honestly and openly about the challenges they face and how they’re going to deal with them. People need to know they have the support from their family, friends or colleagues – especially their supervisor. I also encourage investigating introspection tools. When I feel pressure, I go off and meditate. I process. Over time and with practice it’s become a valuable cleansing experience. After quiet contemplation, I notice that I start to say things such as, “Well, it’s not that big a deal. We’ll just go figure out how to deal with it. It’s not the end of the world.”

DG: You get a larger picture of what’s going on, instead of that narrow, hyper focus on what’s wrong, or what you perceive to be wrong.

BG: Yes, you’re not so caught up in the moment that you’re worried about all those little things. We’ll deal with it. I won’t say it’ll pass, but we’ll deal with it. That mindset then allows you to think more clearly. You’re less reactionary. You make better decisions, such as ask for help. That’s the wave of the future, by the way. Collaboration. Teamwork. It’s not, “I can do it myself. I’ll come back with a solution by tomorrow.” It rarely works. Not in business at least.

Admitting Failure

Develop sought-after leadership traits

Leadership A Master Class Training Guide

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