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Our 14 Favorite Podcasts in 2014

2014 podcasts

This year we reached a record number of downloads of our podcasts. Thank you! We’re glad you find the content useful. We went back to re-listen to some of our most popular posts. It looks like the concept of focus and attention training were of most interest to listeners. Here’s a recap of the 14 Favorite More Than Sound Podcasts of 2014.

#14 Daniel Goleman talks about Focus on Bloomberg.edu

Dr. Goleman spoke with Jane Williams about the importance of teaching kids cognitive control, the pros and cons of mind wandering, and how to effectively manage distractions.

Listen to the podcast or the complete interview here.

#13 George Kohlrieser’s TedTalk on Negotiation

In this episode, we heard an excerpt from a TEDx talk given by hostage negotiator and IMD professor of leadership George Kohlrieser. As he tells it, successful negotiation, no matter how high the stakes, comes down to bonding. And it’s not only others who have the ability to take us hostage – sometimes we can do that to ourselves.

Listen to the podcast or the complete presentation here.

#12 Common Hiring Mistakes

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz spoke with Daniel Goleman for the video series Leadership: A Master Class. This excerpt of the conversation focuses on some common mistakes employers make while searching for the right candidate.

Listen to the podcast or watch the full discussion here.

#11 The Teenaged Brain

This is an excerpt from Dr. Daniel Siegel’s appearance on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River. He spoke with host Ben Kieffer about the misinformation around “bizarre teenage behavior.”

Listen to the podcast or the complete interview here.

#10 Why The Rich Care Less

Daniel Goleman spoke with Michael Brooks from the Majority Report on why inequality hurts empathy, the emotional impact of wealth and poverty and what we can do to create a more attentive and empathic society.

Listen to the podcast or the full discussion here.

#9 Teach Systems Awareness in Schools

Daniel Goleman spoke with Peter Senge, who pioneered bringing systems thinking into organizations, about its introduction to schools. You can read more about this concept in their book The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education.

Listen to the podcast.

#8 Failure is Essential for Success

Many of these episodes explore concepts and tools that are important ingredients of success. So you might be surprised to hear that this one is devoted almost entirely to failure. But to Bill George, failure is an essential ingredient itself, as you’ll hear in this excerpt from Daniel Goleman‘s series Leadership: A Master Class.

Listen to the podcast or watch the full discussion here.

#7 Master the Leadership Styles

Daniel Goleman has introduced 6 different leadership styles that can be used to get results. In this episode, he talks about how leaders can’t rely on just one or even two, but must become proficient in as many as they can. Together, the styles become a set of tools the most effective leaders can use in any situation.

Listen to the podcast.

#6 Creativity in the Workplace

Daniel Goleman and Teresa Amabile discuss some aspects of work life that are necessities for a company that depends on creativity.

Listen to the podcast or watch their entire discussion here.

#5 High Performance Leadership

Daniel Goleman spoke with George Kohlrieser for IMD’s Wednesday Webcast. The two discussed the role of attention in high performance leadership.

Listen to the excerpt or the complete discussion here.

#4 Don’t Write Off the Coaching Leadership Style

The coaching leadership style is the least used out of the six approaches. Yet it’s a style that can have a very positive impact on employee performance and bottom-line results.

Listen to the podcast.

#3 The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

Daniel Goleman and Peter Senge discuss the three types of focus that should be included in classrooms: self awareness, empathy, and an understanding of our relationship with the world around us.

Listen to the podcast.

#2 Daniel Goleman Talks about Focus with Diane Rehm

Dr. Goleman spoke with Diane Rehm on what the latest science tells us and how we can sharpen our focus and thrive.

Listen to an excerpt or the full interview.

#1 Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Daniel Goleman spoke in-depth with KQED about why the ability to focus is the key factor in achieving success – more than IQ or social background. He also discussed how we can cultivate different types of attentiveness, from a narrow focus that shuts out the world to the “open awareness” that is receptive to seemingly unrelated ideas.

Listen to an excerpt or the full interview.

What is Mindfulness?

Stay tuned for details about our new podcast series launching in 2015: What is Mindfulness? More Than Sound’s Hanuman Goleman talks with a variety of mindfulness practitioners, teachers and scholars about the definition of mindfulness.

 

 

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

Kids working together

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

Leadership style

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

Admitting Failure

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

Leadership: A Master Class video series is now offered with comprehensive, customizable training materials to cultivate superior management skills.

Publishers HRD Press and More Than Sound have partnered to develop a comprehensive trainers guide based on Daniel Goleman’s video series, Leadership: A Master Class, which examines the best practices of top-performing executives.

The collection offers more than nine hours of research findings, case studies and valuable industry expertise through in-depth interviews with respected leaders in executive management, leadership development, organizational research, workplace psychology, innovation, negotiation and senior hiring.

HRD Press crafted an extensive, detailed training guide around the video content for human resources professionals, senior managers and executive coaches. Each module offers individual and group exercises, self-assessments, discussion guides, review of major points, and key actionable takeaway plans. The materials allow for instructor-led, self-study or online learning opportunities. Order your program here.

Building Confidence: A Pillar of Well-Being

Building Confidence

by Rick Hanson

We have natural needs to feel seen, understood, recognized, included, and valued. There’s nothing wrong with this! Having these needs fulfilled, particularly during childhood has a variety of positive consequences:

  • secure attachment
  • resilience
  • self-regulation
  • optimism
  • self-worth
  • exploration.

The resources that fulfill these needs are sometimes called “healthy narcissistic supplies.”

On the other hand, not meeting our interpersonal needs can lead to insecure attachment, reactivity, poor self-control, pessimism, inadequacy, and withdrawal.

Whether positive or negative, these traits often carry over from childhood to adulthood.

There is a place for healthy remorse in a moral person. But for most people, the shame spectrum of feelings is far too prominent in their psychology – typically not so much in terms of feeling chronic shame, but in terms of how they pull back from fully expressing themselves to avoid the awful experience of a shaming attack.

Some of these feelings include:

  • Inadequacy – Sense of being unfit, useless, not up to the task, inferior, mediocre, worthlessness, less than, one down, devalued
  • Humiliation – Embarrassment, disgrace, degradation, loss of face, slap in the face, comedown
  • Guilt – I did something bad; [I know it]
  • Shame – I am something bad; [they know it]
  • Remorse – Contrition, regret over wrong-doing, feeling abashed, self-reproach, conscience-stricken

These are powerful, sometimes crippling, even lethal emotions (e.g., people killing themselves for the blots they think they placed on their family’s honor).

“Confidence” in the deepest sense is an umbrella term referring to a sense of worth in your core – that you are loved and lovable, giving and contributing, valued, and a good person. Building confidence requires us to repeatedly internalize a sense of worth. This enables us to go for the gold, knowing that there’s a goodness inside that we can rely upon in times of trouble.

Shame is a very primal emotion, it grew and evolved with us through millions of years of evolutionary history, and as such it can be a difficult feeling to combat. To fight against it we need to develop a deep reservoir of inner resources which we can draw upon in a time of need.

Cultivate Inner Allies

In effect, we grow strong “inner allies” that protect us from our “inner critics.” To function in life, we need to learn from our experiences, and that requires feedback. We have to look in the mirror and see if there’s some spinach stuck in our teeth. We need that internal evaluator continually registering: that worked and that didn’t; that helped and that hurt.

As long as the evaluator is clear-eyed and friendly, that’s a wonderful internal resource. But if it grows harsh – often through absorbing the emotional residues of the anger and contempt of others, or the meanings derived from social exclusions – it can become a terrible monkey on your back. That’s the inner critic.

The process of growing inner strengths is the focus of my new online course The Foundations of Well-Being, which covers the 12 Pillars of Well-Being including Self-Caring, Mindfulness, Learning, Vitality, Gratitude, Confidence, Calm, Motivation, Intimacy, Courage, Aspiration, and Service.

To grow inner strengths – particularly the key inner strengths that will help the most with an issue – consider the four questions below. You can use them for yourself or explore them with others. Throughout, it’s good to have an attitude of curiosity, kindness toward oneself, and resourcefulness.

  1. What’s the issue?

Pick an issue. (Maybe you’re the rare person with just one.) Try to be reasonably specific. “Life sucks” could feel unfortunately true, but it doesn’t help you focus on resources or solutions.

If the issue is located in your world or body, be mindful of how it affects you psychologically. Sometimes we just can’t do anything about a condition in the world or body, but at least we can do something about our reactions to it.

  1. What psychological resource – inner strength – if it were more present in your mind, would really help with this issue?

This is the key question. It can be interestingly difficult to answer, so an initial confusion or struggle with it is common. Clues toward an answer could come from exploring these questions:
• What – if you felt or thought it more – would make things better?
• What – if you had felt it more as a child, or whenever the issue began – would have made a big difference?
• Does the issue ever get better for you – and if so, what factors in your mind (e.g., perspectives, feelings, motivations) help it be better?
• Deep down, related to this issue, what does your heart long for?
There could be more than one resource, of course, but for simplicity and focus, it does help to zero in on just one or two key resources at a time.

Sometimes we need to grow an intermediate resource (e.g., capacity to tolerate feeling rejected, so that we are willing to risk experiencing that feeling) in order to get at the key resource we need to develop inside (e.g., inclination to ask for love).

  1. How could you have experiences of this inner strength?

In other words, how could you activate it in your mind so that you can install it in your brain? (This is the first step – Have – of the HEAL process; you can learn more about it in my book, Hardwiring Happiness, or in this video on Taking in the Good.)

It could be that the resource is already present and you just need to notice it (e.g., the feeling that the body is basically alright right now). But often, you need to deliberately create it (e.g., call up a sense of determination from the emotional/somatic memory of times you pushed through a difficulty). In Hardwiring Happiness, I go through 16 ways to have (to activate) a beneficial experience, and you could draw upon one or more of these methods.

  1. How could you help this experience of the inner strength really sink in to you?

In other words, how could you enhance the installation, the neural encoding, of this experience to grow this resource inside yourself?

This involves the second and third steps of the HEAL process: Enrich and Absorb.

If you like, you can be aware of both the resource (e.g., feeling determined) and one or more psychological aspects of the issue (e.g., feeling helpless) so that the resource starts associating with and helping with these aspects of the issue.

Build Confidence

The Foundations of Well-Being program uses the power of positive neuroplasticity to hardwire more happiness, resilience, self-worth, love, and peace into your brain and your life.

This yearlong, online program is taught by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. – a neuropsychologist and Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and the New York Times bestselling author of Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture.

Sign up for the course today.

Additional resources from Rick Hanson:

Managing the Caveman Brain in the 21st Century – The human brain evolved in three stages: reptile, mammal, and primate. Each stage has a core motivation: avoid harm, approach reward, and attach to “us.” Modern life challenges these ancient neural systems with bombardments of threat messages, the endless stimulation of desire, and social disconnections and tensions of industrial, multicultural societies. This talk from the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference will explore brain-savvy ways to cultivate mindfulness in young people, and then use that mindfulness to internalize a greater sense of strength and safety, contentment, and being loved.

Meditation: Breathing New Life into an Ancient Practice

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California has always been open to the next new thing, whether a technology, a vintner’s innovation, or what the cultural winds blow in from over the Pacific. That’s how I first tried meditation, back when I was a student at the University of California in Berkeley — then the epicenter of the try-any-new-thing attitude.

As a competitive undergrad, my first impression of meditation was that it eased my worries — I used it as an anti-anxiety measure. Like a pill, I took it morning and evening. Those late in the day sessions proved another benefit: as a chronically sleep-deprived sophomore, I would nod off for a nap as soon as my meditation started.

When I went on to study psychology at Harvard, I did my doctoral research on how meditation helps us recover from stress. But I was ahead of the curve in my interest — my professors thought I was a bit batty to take a serious interest in what was then an exotic method.

Now, though, the meditation story has changed. Several decades of research — including state-of-the-art brain imaging, reveal that this simple method trains the mind and shapes the brain, with a basket of benefits that ranges from sharpened concentration to lower blood pressure. Medical clinics routinely teach meditation to patients with chronic diseases from arthritis to diabetes to help them live better with their symptoms. And businesses are offering their employees the chance to learn meditation in order to improve performance.

Meditation refers to a range of techniques, from mantra repetition to mindfulness, which all share a common cognitive method. It boils down to retraining attention. Research at Harvard has found that our minds wander on average 50% of the time — that is, when we’re trying to focus, our minds are elsewhere.

Meditation trains attention by having us focus on one target (such as a mantra or the breath). Then comes the crucial difference between meditation and other ways to relax, whether exercising or spacing out online: in meditation, when we notice our minds wandering, we bring them back to a mental target and keep them there. Then when it wanders again, repeat. And again and again.

Brain imaging studies of this simple mental process, done at Emory University, find that the mental circuitry for focusing on what’s important becomes stronger. Attention is a mental muscle, and every time we repeat this cycle it’s like lifting a weight: each repetition makes us just a bit stronger. And focusing on what’s important is what every leader, student, coach — anybody — needs to thrive.

The research shows that this mental gym pays off after the session, throughout our day: meditation enhances people’s ability to concentrate, to keep their minds from wandering too much, and to focus in general. “Every time my mind wanders off during a business meeting,” one executive told me, “I ask myself, What opportunity did I just miss?”

A bonus here is that the same strips of neurons that help us focus also are crucial for managing our distressing emotions. The longer people have been meditators, the better their bodies become at recovering from the agitation of stress — technically a measure of resilience, that key to navigating life’s setbacks.

The biological advantages from a faster physiological recovery from upsets include a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, and more stable blood sugar levels — just to mention a few.

When researchers at the University of Wisconsin taught mindfulness to stressed-out workers at a biotech startup, they found remarkable changes after eight weeks (average daily practice time: 30 minutes). Mindfulness led to a shift in the centers that control moods: they went from anxious and stressed to upbeat and enthusiastic. Spontaneously, they recalled what inspired them about their work. And, to the researchers’ surprise, their mindfulness also resulted in a boost in immune effectiveness.

A caution, though, if you’re thinking of starting meditation. Many people expect that they will somehow experience a high during the session. But the practice is more like going to the gym: at first it can be a struggle, though it gets easier over time. Many first-timers report, for instance, that their minds are more wild than ever during meditation — actually a sign that they are finally paying attention to how often our minds wander.

The real payoffs come during your day, not necessarily during the meditation session. Don’t expect miracles — the changes are gradual and can be subtle. Dan Harris, the ABC news anchor, calls it “ten percent happier” in his account of why he meditates. But the improvements are real, as research studies verify.

The CEO of a construction firm, a meditator himself, asked me to share these methods with those working at his headquarters. Understandably many were dubious. But I approach the method as a way to train the mind, not as some woo-woo magic, and the science behind it brought people around enough to give it a try. The CEO later told me the most enthusiastic person turned out to be his head of HR; she organized an ongoing meditation group there. And she was initially one of the skeptics.

Now that I’m in my 60s, the finding I like best comes from Harvard Medical School: some parts of the brain that shrink with aging actually seem to grow larger and their neurons more densely connected in meditators!

Daniel Goleman

October 2014

This article originally appeared in The Private Journey Magazine.

Additional resources:

The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

Working with Mindfulness CD

Working with Mindfulness Ebooks

Training the Brain: Cultivating Emotional Skills

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

IQ versus EQ

IQ or EQ? You Need Both

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The CEO of one of the world’s largest financial companies told me, “I hire the best and brightest – but I still get a Bell Curve for performance.” Why, he wanted to know, aren’t the smartest MBAs from top schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton all highly successful on the job?

The answer lies in the interplay between IQ and emotional intelligence – and explains why you need both for high performance.

More than a century of research shows IQ is the best predictor of the job you can get and hold. It takes a high ability level in handling cognitive complexity to be in a profession like medicine, a C-suite executive, or a professor at one of those prestigious business schools.

The more your job revolves around cognitive tasks, the more strongly IQ will predict success. A computer programmer, accountant or academic will all need strong cognitive skills to do well.

Then why the dismay of that CEO?

The more your success on the job depends on relating to people – whether in sales, as a team member, or as a leader – the more emotional intelligence matters. A high-enough IQ is necessary, but not sufficient, for success.

Just as is true for IQ, there are many models of emotional intelligence. In mine there are two main parts: self-mastery and social intelligence. The purely cognitive jobs require self-mastery – e.g., cognitive control, the ability to focus on the task at hand and ignore distractions.

But the second half of emotional intelligence, social adeptness, holds the key to that CEO’s question. As long as those super-smart MBAs are working by themselves, their IQ and self-mastery makes them high performers. But the minute they have to mesh on a team, meet clients, or lead, that skill set falls short. They also need social intelligence.

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.

Along the same lines, my colleague Richard Boyatzis, professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western University, has found that the vast majority of leadership competencies that predict the performance of sales leaders are based on emotional and social intelligence – not cognitive intelligence (like IQ).

Then there’s a brand new meta-analysis of 132 different research studies involving more than 27,000 people, which I heard reported on by a co-author, Ronald Humphreys, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. That yet-to-be published analysis concluded emotionally intelligent leaders have the most satisfied employees – if you like your boss, you’re more likely to like your job (just contemplate the opposite, morbid reality).

And reviewing all peer-reviewed research to date, the same study says emotional intelligence has been found to boost:

And then there’s general life satisfaction and the quality of your relationships.

So even though some academic studies seem to show emotional intelligence matters little for success in a job like sales, I’m skeptical.

Daniel Goleman

October 2014

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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Put theory into practice with the Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide. Each module offers individual and group exercises, self-assessments, discussion guides, review of major points, and key actionable takeaway plans. The materials allow for instructor-led, self-study or online learning opportunities. Includes over 8 hours of video footage with George Kohlrieser, Bill George, Teresa Amabile and more.

What Makes a Leader

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters presents Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking, highly-sought Harvard Business Review and Egon Zehnder International articles compiled in one volume. This often-cited, proven-effective material has become essential reading for leaders, coaches and educators committed to fostering stellar management, increasing performance, and driving innovation.

FURTHER READING

Let’s not underrate emotional intelligence

It’s not IQ part 2

Leader spotting: 4 essential talents

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