Archive | January, 2017

mindful self-awareness leadership research

Mindful Self-Awareness as the Basis for Effective Leadership (New Research)

mindful self awareness leadership research

Mindful Self-Awareness as the Basis for Effective Leadership

By Matthew Lippincott

“Just being in a present, more calm place of mind I think that it’s easier to see what’s really important and what’s not…I definitely think [mindfulness] had a huge, positive impact on my success, there’s no question about that.”

– General counsel for a leading global health products corporation

In 2016 I completed the first known study to examine the impact of mindfulness on leadership effectiveness. The study included interviews with 42 senior and executive leaders, documenting reports of the influence of mindfulness on their leadership careers at a total of 83 global organizations. All of the participants had completed mindfulness training, and incorporated that knowledge into their daily leadership activity. I also used the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) Model developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis to identify the presence of Emotional and Social Intelligence Competencies that have been empirically linked to increased leadership performance.

What is Mindfulness? How is it related to Self-Awareness?

Mindfulness has been studied in clinical, military, professional sports, and corporate settings for more than 30 years. This research has associated mindfulness with a significant number of benefits, including increased employee job performance ratings and reduction in stress and anxiety. Neuroimaging has also been used to investigate the effect of mindfulness, indicating a change to the brain’s physical structure and functioning relating to reasoning, inhibition, and decision-making.

Scholars agree that mindfulness is a state of consciousness consisting of awareness and attention.

Also referred to as a form of meta awareness, mindfulness is comprised of:

  1. Clear focus of attention on the present moment, including experience and events.
  2. Ability to change the level of non-judgmental attention.
  3. Awareness of shifting attention between the inner self and the outer world.

The easiest way to understand mindfulness experientially is to focus all of your attention on your thoughts, feelings, and actions as they occur.

For example, mindful self-awareness can be practiced by actively observing yourself when communicating with others. This includes your reactions to verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, and the way those reactions influence your responses. This type of awareness also contributes to Emotional Self-Control, as summarized by a participant who heads strategy and business development for one of the highest ranked global 2000 companies: “I can really compact the quality of awareness, and look at the emotions coming and going just in front of me. And not be swept away by them.”

Mindfulness training will strengthen Emotional Self-Awareness, the first Competency of the ESCI model, which falls under the domain of Self-Awareness. Emotional Self-Awareness is our ability to recognize our emotions, how our experience affects our feelings, and discern the relationship between how we are feeling and our actions. In this context, mindfulness enhances your self-awareness capabilities by helping you develop the ability to monitor and understand emotions as they arise.

Awareness and understanding of your feelings is key.

Developing Emotional Self-Awareness is a crucial first step in effective leadership because it lays the foundation upon which the other eleven Emotional and Social Intelligence Competencies are built. We can’t develop skills like Emotional Self-Control, Empathy, or Teamwork unless we are coming from a place of Emotional Self-Awareness. It gives leaders the necessary information about themselves and the effectiveness of their interactions so that they can monitor their emotions and manage their behaviors accordingly.

Key Findings of the Study

Analysis of my study data revealed a variety of improvements being attributed to mindfulness:

  1. Significant, positive impact on leadership effectiveness, supported by extensive examples of workplace results.
  2. All 12 of the Emotional and Social Intelligence Competencies linked to leadership performance were identified in each of the participants.
  3. Reports that mindfulness enhanced cognitive function and recognition of how emotions influence mental performance and behaviors.

The study produced a significant amount of data relating to organizational leadership development as well, highlights of which include:

  • 98% of participants described a transformation of their fundamental understanding of what effective leadership is.
  • 79% of participants reported stronger interpersonal relationships resulting from greater authenticity, honesty, and vulnerability in their interactions with others.
  • Extensive indications of enduring (trait) behavioral changes, which is supported by the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model.

The results of this study also align with other research indicating that improvements to leadership effectiveness may be achieved more quickly and with a higher rate of success through the incorporation of formal mindfulness training. This is partially due to the role of mindfulness in enhancing Emotional Self-Awareness and the Emotional and Social Intelligence Competencies. This complementary relationship helps leaders to identify what types of behaviors are required for specific situations, and also strengthens their ability to determine whether or not those behaviors are effective.

The scientific basis for these improvements is believed to be based upon repeated activation of neural networks through training focused on developing self-observation capabilities.

For example, neuroscience studies indicate that mindfulness may change the way neural networks connect with each other. Researchers also indicate that these changes may contribute to an improved capacity for activation of regions of the brain associated with more effective situational stress response and adaptability via neuroplasticity. These changes may improve your ability to activate regions of your brain that help you respond to stressful situations.

Mindfulness Training is More Accessible Than Ever

A quality mindfulness training program will typically last at least 8 weeks with a minimum commitment of 30-40 minutes a day. This time requirement is likely related to the fact that changes to neural networks require repetition in order to take hold. Online and print-based home study options exist, as do a growing number of apps that help deliver training more conveniently.

Takeaways for Personal Application

So how can you develop mindfulness and Emotional Self-Awareness in order to become a more effective leader? Committing to the completion of a mindfulness training program administered by a certified individual or organization is the fastest and most reliable way to experience these benefits. In fact, the use of mindfulness in the workplace can begin shortly after training starts, so enrollment in a quality program is also the fastest way to start experiencing results.

There is variability in the quality of programs so a safe bet is to look for programs based on the proven and highly regarded Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Extensive instructor training and certification programs have been in place for years. This means that you should have no difficulty finding courses being designed and delivered by credentialed experts with in-depth experience.

Many of the leaders I interviewed also specifically mentioned that they regretted having “dabbled” with mindfulness training and not completed a full-length program earlier in their careers. When discussing this topic, leaders associated full-length training with a variety of professional benefits, summarized as: “I’ve found mindfulness to be incredibly powerful and incredibly useful,” and “[mindfulness] has provided me a tool or a set of tools to be more effective as a leader.”

What to Expect

The process of mindfulness training includes exercises that will lead you to experience a mindful state early in the training. A well-developed program, delivered by a credentialed instructor, will also help you more effectively apply the training to your environment. Once the core skill set has been developed you will be able to use the techniques intentionally. A consultant specializing in board-level strategic advisement I interviewed said “Before I go into a meeting with a client or a client group, I’ll stop. I’ll make sure that I just don’t rush in. I’ll check in, do some breathing, check in with myself. Set my intention for going into a meeting.”

You will also develop the ability to use mindfulness in response to unplanned, situation-dictated requirements. Different techniques are used for different purposes by each individual. This was best summarized by the founder of a 25-year-old, leading global consulting firm as: “for me the important part of the practice is sort of the daily integration that happens throughout the day, any number of times.”

The more you can incorporate deliberate and improvised mindfulness practices into your daily routines, the more you will begin to experience the positive results associated with mindful self-awareness. These results are based on how you use your new insights into the effects of your thoughts and feelings on your workplace behaviors. Therefore, in my next article, I’ll share findings from my study relating to how mindfulness and Emotional Self-Awareness relate to the Emotional and Social Intelligence Competency of Emotional Self-Control.

Recommended Reading:

Interested in learning more about Emotional Self-Awareness? Our newly released Primer provides a concise overview of this Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency. It is co-written by several thought leaders in the field of emotional intelligence, leadership development, and research: Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Vanessa Druskat, Richard Davidson, and George Kohlrieser. See the Primer here.

Emotiona Intelligence Leadership podcast

EP162 – Managing Expectations with Mindfulness

Emotiona Intelligence Leadership podcast

What is the role of vision, influence, and mindfulness in great leadership? And how does Emotional Self-Awareness help leaders to not only be more effective and adaptable, but to actually guide others towards enacting shared goals and values?

These are some of the questions explored in today’s episode with Hanuman Goleman and George Pitagorsky.

In this episode…

What is the role of vision, influence, and mindfulness in great leadership? And how does Emotional Self-Awareness help leaders to not only be more effective and adaptable, but to actually guide others towards enacting shared goals and values?

These are some of the questions explored in today’s episode with Hanuman Goleman and George Pitagorsky.

George Pitagorsky, author of the new book, Managing Expectations: A Mindful Approach to Achieving Successcombines over 30 years of experience in high-level Project Management with teaching mindfulness meditation. His ability to seamlessly fuse strategy and systems thinking, with mindfulness and emotional intelligence makes George an insightful voice in addressing our guiding question: what makes a leader?

You’ll hear about:

  • How self-awareness and adaptability help to move intentional change forward, despite whatever situations may arise.
  • The role of values in moving a team forward with a sense of personal motivation.
  • How to address the imperfections of a system by starting with your own behavior in the system.
  • How to be a leader in your own world.
  • How self-awareness affects other awareness.

Additional resources…

Continue Reading →

Self-aware-leader

How Self-Aware Are You As a Leader?

The first time I was held hostage, my self-awareness and ability to manage my emotions saved my life. After a psychotic man rushed at me and held a pair of scissors against my throat, I chose to talk rather than call for force to be used against him. I focused on each word, using them to build a connection and shift the man’s focus away from despair. In that moment, I had to communicate from my heart, not just my mind.

I am a trained hostage negotiator. Most leaders rarely face life-or-death situations like this that hinge on their self-awareness and their impact on someone else. However, many leaders regularly find themselves in positions where their ability to use self-knowledge and communicate well are crucial to effectively engaging other people to work toward a common goal. When you know what’s in your heart and can communicate it, you get engagement, authenticity, and a deeper bond.

Self-Awareness is Fundamental to Inspiring Leadership.

Self-awareness is the entry point to effective leadership. Just as in hostage negotiation, it is important for leaders to be aware of their impact on others. Yet many leaders have no idea of their negative impact. A key barrier is people’s own blind spots about themselves or their role in the organization. There can be big differences between how we evaluate ourselves and how other people see us. How can someone change if they don’t realize they have areas that need improvement? Good coaches and bosses help people confront the fact that they have blind spots that they need to change. Then the real change can begin.

How to Develop Self-Awareness

Once you’re aware that you have blind spots, how can you change? Reflection, meditation, and being able to ask yourself critical questions are key tools to cultivate self-awareness. What is getting a result or not getting a result? Can you label your emotions? Do you know when what you’re feeling is disappointment, anger, fear? Do you understand the real cause of these emotions? If so, you can begin to connect how that emotion is triggered, and how it impacts your work and life.

To really rewire the brain, it takes coaching and practice. In my High Performance Leadership programs, we see dramatic changes in people through this process, developing awareness particularly through group feedback. After a week of working together, the group tells you whether they’d like to have you as a boss or a colleague. I’ve seen senior leaders brought to tears, saying, “Now I know why my employees hate me. I hardly knew the people on the program, yet they identified behavior I wasn’t aware of.”

Ask yourself:

How can I get feedback about the impact I’m having? This type of feedback that a coach, mentor, or supportive colleague can offer is crucial to high performance. For example, maybe the feedback is that you’re using too many words when you talk or that you don’t speak up enough when you have something to contribute. Knowing that someone recognizes this in you can help you change these behaviors. When somebody gives you feedback, you can identify the issue and start to work toward change.

George Kohlrieser has forty years of experience as a hostage negotiator and a psychologist. He’s the Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at one of the world’s leading business schools, the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland. At IMD he created and directs the school’s flagship High Performance Leadership (HPL) program.

For more in-depth information on the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model and how Emotional Self-Awareness impacts your work and life, see Emotional Self-Awareness: A Primer.

To learn more about Emotional Intelligence in leadership from George Kohlrieser and Daniel Goleman, see The Competent Leader and Crucial Competence.

managing-expectations

Manage Expectations to Get Everyone on the Same Page

Have you ever worked with others without first making sure each person knew what everyone else expected? Without agreement about what is supposed to be delivered, by when, for how much, and by whom, you often experience unnecessary pain. Managing expectations—influencing the beliefs people have about something being the case in the future—avoids the pain and increases the likelihood of success. What do I mean by pain? Here’s an example.

Who Expects What?

The marketing team of a small software company planned a short video promoting their new app. Lisa drafted a script, then sent it for review by others in the firm. After review and editing, AJ would create visuals needed to accompany the script. AJ had arranged for a videographer to film the piece and actors to play the parts.

On the day of the final script deadline, the managers reviewing the script told Lisa they wouldn’t deliver their input until the next week. Frustrated, Lisa sent a message to the team about the delay.

Almost immediately, Lisa’s phone rang. She picked up the call and heard AJ yelling, “That’s unacceptable! We’re shooting the piece next week. We’ll miss the app release!”

Everyone Has Expectations

Whenever a group works together, each person has expectations, whether they’re explicitly stated or not. With the promo video plan, roles were defined and deadlines were set. What wasn’t considered was uncertainty. Did the script reviewers understand the need for a hard-and-fast deadline? AJ certainly did.

Managing expectations is something we all do every day in real-world situations. The goal is to manage expectations to achieve success in whatever you do.

What Is Success?

Success is measured in how well you satisfy the people who have a stake in your performance. You satisfy them by setting and meeting rational and meaningful expectations – your own and those of all of the stakeholders. Managing expectations relies on blending a crisp analytical approach with the interpersonal skills needed to negotiate win-win understandings of the vision. Vision is just another term for expectations. The vision isn’t limited to just the nuts-and-bolts of what, when and how much, it includes the process to get to it – are people happy? Are relationships healthy? Is there a productive, sustainable flow?

Expectations Involve More Than Calm, Rational Thought

When expectations are not satisfied, the disappointment and discord can be disturbing and difficult to manage. When setting expectations, conflicts arise.

Interpersonal skills are crucial to effective expectations management. That’s why my new book, Managing Expectations: A Mindful Approach to Achieving Success, combines detailed information about both the process of expectations management and the use of mindfulness as a foundation for the relationship and communications management needed to set expectations and adjust them as reality dawns. I’ll talk more about mindfulness in future posts. For now, Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to the present moment.

How Do You Manage Expectations?

Expectations management is a five-step process to make sure that expectations are:

  • Rational – Can it be done given real world conditions?
  • Meaningful – Will it improve things – make more money, increase quality, make life better for the people involved, etc.? In other words, why do it?
  • Mutually understood – Do all the people involved have the same understanding of goals, objectives, and prevailing conditions?
  • Accepted by all those with a stake in the work – Does everyone agree that it can and should be done?

The five steps in the Expectations Management Cycle are:

  • Set expectations by eliciting and discussing objectives with key stakeholders
  • Plan the process that will achieve the objectives
  • Perform the work in accordance with the plan
  • Assess performance to determine if it is progressing according to plan and to determine if the plan is still accurate and realistic
  • Adapt to the current circumstances by making changes to the plan so you can maintain realistic expectations

Your Takeaway:

Do you and your teams suffer from unmanaged expectations? If you do and you are tired of avoidable arguments, disappointments, and complaints, then commit to action. Make sure you take the time and effort to set mutually understood, rational expectations before you deliver your results. Expectations set direction and are the criteria for measuring success.

Managing expectations is an essential component of project planning, and is most effective when done right at the beginning.

Learn more about managing expectations with mindfulness and strategy in my new book: Managing Expectations: A Mindful Approach to Achieving Success.

How to Influence Others to Get Things Done

By Richard Boyatzis

In most work situations, we work with others to get things done. Often, that means convincing people to agree with our point of view. To be most effective at bringing people to see the wisdom of your viewpoint, you need Influence, a key social intelligence competency and one of the elements I discuss with Daniel Goleman in Foundations of Emotional Intelligence and Crucial Competence.

The underlying intent of the Influence Competency is seeking to get others to agree with you.

The behaviors that indicate this Competency are doing things that appeal to their self-interest or anticipating the questions they would have and addressing them before they ask.

There is a part of Influence that becomes almost universally an indicator of effective leadership.

Actually, many of the Influence Competency indicators are good sales practices, but Influence matters for people at all levels of leadership, not just for salespeople.

Interestingly though, in certain types of leadership, Influence can have a negative impact. We found in a study of Catholic parish priests that if the priest is using Influence and people feel like it’s gone too far or that it belies a lack of humility, then it creates the opposite impact. A study of MBA students 5 to 19 years after graduation found that those who used the Influence competency at graduation were less satisfied with their lives and careers later.

Influence is a competency that needs to be applied appropriately and not go too far

That’s what we call Inspirational Leadership in our Emotional and Social Intelligence Model. This is when you’re influencing others not just to come around to your point of view—the Influence competency—but because it fits with the shared vision, purpose, or mission of the organization. When you are trying to get people to rally around this larger, often more noble purpose, it’s the competency we call Inspirational Leadership. The intent is to inspire people in their pursuit of the shared vision or mission. What it looks like in action is talking about the mission—the sense of purpose, why we are all here—and raising it up to a higher level.

How to Develop Your Influence Capability

What is the easiest way to develop or refine your Influence capability, your ability to get others to do what you want them to do? The behavioral indicators come across as pre-selling or making an argument to someone anticipating what they want out of it, and figuring out what each person can get in the situation. The easiest way to learn those techniques is to take a really good sales training course. There are a number of outstanding, three and a half-day to five-day courses out there sold by different training companies. If you really want to learn how to do the Influence competency and do it well, go through a sales training. It doesn’t mean you will become a salesperson, but it does help you in all of the ways you might want to use Influence.

To get started though, keep these three methods in mind:

  1. Aim to appeal to the self-interest of the people you’re communicating with. How would your intention benefit them?
  2. Think about any potential opposition that could arise, and prepare thoughtful ways to address those before presenting your ideas.
  3. Talk about the bigger mission of the group beyond your personal point of view.

Interested in learning more about building emotional and social leadership?

All 12 of the EI Competencies are explored in Crucial Competence, through in-depth conversations between myself, Daniel Goleman, and several other experts in the field. Foundations in Emotional Intelligence provides a great overview, and focuses exclusively on my conversation with Daniel Goleman.