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Manage Expectations to Get Everyone on the Same Page

managing-expectations

Manage Expectations to Get Everyone on the Same Page

By George Pitagorsky

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.

 

Team Leadership: 3 Core Needs of Every Team Member

By Vanessa Druskat

Teams are emotional incubators. This is because interactions in social groups are the largest triggers of emotion in humans, and why team leadership matters. People may not realize it because it happens so quickly and automatically, but emotion is triggered the moment we enter a group. We might feel the joy of entering a group of close colleagues whose company we like, or the uncertainty of joining a new group. These emotions are typically out of our awareness. If we pay attention to these emotions, they can provide us with information and be easier to manage.

Regardless of whether we are paying attention to it, since the 1950’s team researchers have referred to teams as “incubators” or “hot-beds” of emotion. This is due, in part to concerns and needs we have in team environments, but also because emotion in teams is contagious.

Research shows that a team’s culture (or climate, which emerges before a culture is fully formed), influences the emotions we experience.

Thus, the emotions members experience can tip into a downward spiral in which members feel frustrated and less connected to the people or process. This emotional trajectory can reduce collaboration and performance, and increase feelings of tension and anxiety. But, emotion can also spiral upwards toward constructive emotions to increase listening, sharing, connection and collaboration. In this trajectory, when some members feel excitement or joy in a meeting, so do we. Doesn’t the latter sound better?

Today, we know more about emotion than ever before and can anticipate and manage the emotion that floods team environments. For example, understanding how a team’s environment affects team member emotions is an important lever for team leaders.

Here’s a clip of my speaking with Daniel Goleman about this for Crucial Competence:

Susan Fiske at Princeton University and others have studied the unconscious social and emotional needs that people have when they enter a group. Here are the three core needs this research has uncovered. Understanding these essential human needs can serve as levers that team leaders can use to build team environments that create upward spirals of constructive emotion and team collaboration:

1. Belonging.

Do I belong here? Or am I going to get kicked out? You can feel the strength of this concern more strongly when you think about it as the desire not to get rejected from the group. We have a strong need that’s wired into us for not wanting to experience rejection from a group. Lots of interesting research supports this. One study showed that if even one person on the team looks askance at you, and it feels as if they don’t quite accept you, then you feel the whole team is getting ready to reject you. This concern about rejection creates a lot of bad behavior in teams. It creates a lot of moving away from the team, saving your ideas, not listening to others, frustration, these kinds of things. So, the core social need we have is feeling like we belong, feeling we’re accepted, and that we won’t get kicked out. We are always scanning the environment to test our level of inclusion and belonging.

2. Control.

The reason we have a control need is because it helps us not get ostracized or rejected. We want to have some control over what goes on in the team because we want control over our own fate. It also helps us feel like we have an individual role to play, and thereby contribute to the team while being empowered with a sense of autonomy.

3. Shared understanding.

We need to have shared understanding about what’s happening in the team context. When others agree with our own interpretation of the team’s context and process it gives us an increased sense of control, helping us have a greater sense of security in our inclusion and belonging. Shared understanding about the environment and some control over what happens in that environment increases our ability to determine our own fate. Shared understanding in the professional team context also helps us perform better, smarter, and with more information to inform our decision-making, prioritization, and behavior.

These three needs really drive a lot of behavior in teams, and yet most of them happen at a subconscious level. We make decisions based on whether these needs are being met, and our performance is ultimately affected by them.

How Do These Needs Play Out in Your Team?

Based on these insights, ask yourself: Are my team’s meetings facilitated in a way that meets these core needs for everyone involved? Does the meeting create a sense of inclusion or belonging for everyone at the table, or might some people question whether they are truly valued and included? Are there clear guidelines for control and ownership? Is there a shared understanding that offers access to information for all those who could benefit from it, or might some people be limited in their effectiveness based on a lack of understanding?

Take another look at the three core needs above and see how they might be missing in your teams, then take steps to implement ways to address them going forward.

Looking for more ways to incorporate emotional intelligence in leadership? See Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership. Interested in exploring what makes the best performing teams? See Team Emotional Intelligence with Vanessa Druskat and Daniel Goleman.

Two Key Skills for High-Performance Leadership

high performing leader presenting to colleagues at a work meeting

What does it take to be a high-performing leader? Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman explored this question with George Kohlrieser, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD, while they discussed emotional intelligence and leadership.

Their conversation centered on the twelve emotional intelligence competencies many organizations recognize as being essential for effective leadership. Each competency focuses on a specific aspect of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, or relationship management.

Positive Outlook is a competency in the self-management domain. During their conversation, Professor Kohlrieser stressed the importance of positivity, saying leaders must be able to find and convey to others what is positive in any situation. Dr. Goleman described research that highlights ways leaders can learn to be more positive. Here is a brief section of that conversation:

If there is one constant in life and the work world, it is change. Along with being positive, effective leaders must be able to adjust to the changes they face each day. In this brief video clip, George Kohlrieser talks about positivity as an essential precursor to another emotional intelligence competency, Adaptability.

Positive Outlook and Adaptability are just two of the twelve emotional intelligence competencies of leaders who perform better than their peers. Research shows that leaders who score high in six or more of the emotional intelligence competencies are better able to create the conditions needed to improve performance in the groups they lead.

Oftentimes the result isn’t just better performance, but happier and less stressed teams. And who doesn’t want that?

Want to learn more about leadership and emotional intelligence?

Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership is a series of video conversations between Daniel Goleman and his colleagues, including Richard Boyatzis, Richard Davidson, Vanessa Druskat, and George Kohlrieser.

Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence is a collection of Daniel Goleman’s writings filled with advice for leaders on using emotional intelligence to enhance their performance.

How to Develop Empathy When It Doesn’t Come Naturally

how-to-develop-empathy

How to Develop Empathy When it Doesn’t Come Naturally

By Richard Boyatzis

How well do you understand the people with whom you work? In every setting, you can be more effective if you have a clear perception of those around you. Empathy is key for understanding others and is the most fundamental of the social intelligence competencies.

Empathy is the ability to sense others’ feelings and perspectives, take an active interest in their concerns, and pick up cues to what is being felt and thought.

By “understand another person,” I don’t mean merely making believe that you’re interested in their lives, but actually caring about understanding them. Can you discern another person’s motivation? Such understanding is one of the building blocks for any healthy interpersonal interaction, both personal and professional. In fact, when it’s missing, it’s a building block for negative relationships.

Think about a time when you felt that someone was really tuning in to you. What did their behavior look like? Much of empathy comes down to listening. If you want to practice it, practice listening to other people. Very often it means asking them what they’re thinking about or how they’re feeling. You might start in a group meeting where you focus on one or two people during a half-hour meeting and ask yourself, “I wonder what she’s thinking right now? I wonder what he’s thinking right now.” As a way to check whether or not you’re even close to accurate, approach them after the meeting and say, “What were you thinking about during that meeting? What did you think of what happened?” It ends up being a very useful way to see if you can tune in to different people. Ask them an open question and listen closely to the answer. The more you practice that, the easier it’s going to get and the less artificial it will feel.

As a former engineer, a lot of us who were trained technically had trouble even making eye contact. That’s a precursor to listening, and to developing empathy. It’s hard to ask a person a question and to listen to them if you’re not looking in their eyes. There are a number of things that you might have to practice to get to a higher state of empathy, but you don’t have to get to the Spock mind meld, the technique of merging minds that we learned about in Star Trek. Empathy starts with a desire to understand others better.

Here’s an excerpt from a conversation I had with Daniel Goleman for Crucial Competence, in which I elaborate on the foundations of emotional intelligence. You can access the full video series here.

Why Emotional Intelligence is Crucial for 21st Century Leaders

emotionally intelligent leader looking out the window

By Daniel Goleman

Leaders who want to succeed at any level of an organization must be emotionally intelligent. That’s the message I take away from reviewing decades of studies done by researchers and businesses across the world. What do I mean by emotional intelligence? What does the research say about why it matters? How can you develop your skills at emotional intelligence?

crucial-competence-daniel-golemanAnswering those questions is the focus of Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership, a new video series featuring conversations I had with four of my colleagues, Richard Boyatzis, Richard Davidson, Vanessa Druskat, and George Kohlrieser. Here’s a brief introduction to the information we share in Crucial Competence.

A Different Way of Being Smart

Emotional intelligence is a different way of being smart: how you manage yourself and your relationships. To find out whether someone has intellectual smarts, you test their IQ. To find out if someone is emotionally intelligent, you must look at their skill at handling emotional tasks. How aware are they of their own emotions? How well do they manage their emotions? How tuned in are they to the feelings of the people around them? How do they interact with others?

These questions about skill are based on a competence model for determining what makes someone truly capable of exceptional leadership. In a competence model, you do a systematic analysis and determine the abilities, or competencies, that you find in the high performers that you don’t see in the average.

Today, every organization with a high-quality Human Resources operation uses a competence model for their key positions. They use it to hire people, to promote people. And, it tells them what to help people develop in order to become star leaders.

After I wrote Emotional Intelligence, I asked about 100 organizations to let me look at their competence models, including the distinguishing competencies that set apart their outstanding performers from the normal at a given job. I aggregated all of these and looked at the composite with one question in mind: how many of the distinguishing competencies these organizations independently arrived at are based on IQ, purely cognitive abilities, and how many are based on emotional intelligence?

What I found was quite revealing:

For jobs of all kinds, at all levels, on average, emotional intelligence was twice as important as cognitive ability in terms of the distinguishing competencies. The higher you go in the organization, the more it matters.

If you look at top leadership positions, C-suite positions, you’ll see that 80 to 90%, sometimes 100%, of the competencies that organizations independently have determined are the ones that set their star leaders apart are based on emotional intelligence.

What does this mean for you? Developing these competencies could help you become a better leader. One who is more adaptable, more focused on achievement, has better conflict management, and is generally more successful.

There are four parts to my emotional intelligence model: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Within each of these domains, there are learned competencies based on the underlying ability that make people outstanding in the workplace. My colleagues and I identified 12 emotional intelligence competencies spread across the four domains. Crucial Competence explores in depth each of those 12 competencies.

Here’s an excerpt from Crucial Competence where I discuss the neuroscience of self-management with Richard Davidson:

Want to Inspire? First, Develop Trust

trust-emotional-intelligence

By George Kohlrieser

If you want to inspire a team or organization, first you must develop trust.

What leaders have inspired you? Who is the best boss you have ever had? Beneath the inspiration it is likely that there was a strong sense that you could trust that person and that they trusted you. Without having trust in an organization’s leaders, people will not be inspired to follow their direction.

Trust is a key aspect of secure base leadership. I have worked extensively with this concept, which came out of the work of John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory. A secure base is a person, a place, or a thing that creates a sense of comfort, gives energy, and inspires one to be curious, seek challenge and take risk. A secure base is someone who provides both safety and challenge. Secure bases can also be anything that inspires, like goals, symbols, places, memories. Secure base leadership is the ability to create a state of safety not for the sake of safety but to support someone in stepping outside their comfort zone where creativity, innovation, and exploration best takes place.

You can think of it like a child’s relationship to their parent, caretaker, grandparents, or teacher. They want to be close to them to feel safe, but they don’t want to stay there. They want to go out and explore. A leader has to create that same environment. They must create a trusting and safe environment, in which a person can explore possibilities and the potential of what she can do.

For any of you familiar with climbing, another way of thinking about it is like belaying. The belayer acts as a “secure base,” positioning himself or herself at the bottom of the ascent. The climber is attached to one end of the rope and the belayer, using a device clipped to his harness, holds the other end of the rope so that the climber has enough slack to move, but not enough to fall any great distance. As the climber advances upwards, the belayer remains at the bottom to secure the climber. The relationship is all about trust. The climber, like an employee, can take risks precisely because the secure base figure or leader below is supporting them.

Why Is Trust so Important?

Trust has an important effect on how our brain functions. The brain has one fundamental goal: to survive. And most people are living to survive. However, more than 80 percent of people are not really thriving, and are driven instead, by a fear of failure or anticipated loss. For success at life and work, the brain has to be rewired to focus on thriving, on opportunities and on looking for what is right and what is possible when something goes wrong. If there is trust, people can drop their programmed defensiveness and become more open to new ideas and solutions. Leaders who care about their teams are able to dare them to stretch (and to take risks).

There is a paradox here between caring and daring. A leader can show trust — and caring — and still hold people accountable. Caring is not rescuing. I ask leaders around the world, “How caring should a leader be?” It should be 100 percent. AND — How daring should a leader be? It’s 100 percent.

When a leader earns trust, it’s like they are putting her or his hand on your shoulder so that you are not afraid of failure. Great bosses trust others and don’t punish failure. Instead they give high quality feedback and ask you to change.

If we translate caring and daring to leadership styles using Dan Goleman’s model, the affiliative style is a good basis to work from as it is the personal part of leading. However the leader should never accept lower standards and that’s why the affiliative style has to be combined with the visionary style of leadership, which means that people will want to follow the leader to “dare” themselves and to be inspired. These leaders deliver “pain” (feedback) and people say ”thank you, give me more pain (feedback)!” Why? Because they see the benefit of the pain (feedback) to reach high performance.

Trust creates an environment that enables us to attach and to bond with others. It is the opposite of detachment, isolation, over-independence or self-reliance. In teams it creates a sense of belonging which is essential for collaboration in high performance.

What does an organization look like that is based on trusted and Secure Base Leadership?

It starts at the top. When you walk in, people feel welcomed. They feel a sense of calm rather than defensiveness. They don’t feel like they are going to be judged. You see people doing things spontaneously, being able to engage in proactive behavior and teamwork. Most importantly, you see the resolution of conflict. There is always going to be differences, and those differences can drive people apart, break the connections, and break bonds. You always find people are able to engage in good conflict management – a Crucial Competence – because the trust and the bond is maintained.

How can you Develop Trust within your teams?

Developing trust takes focus and commitment. How do you rate yourself on these nine areas that characterize a secure base leader?

  1. Staying calm under pressure
  2. Accepting the individual while encouraging change
  3. Seeing the potential in people
  4. Using listening and inquiry
  5. Delivering a powerful message
  6. Focusing on the positive
  7. Encouraging risk taking
  8. Inspiring through intrinsic motivation
  9. Signaling accessibility

Learn more about Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies in Crucial Competence: Building Emotional and Social Leadership or The Competent Leader with George Kohlrieser.