Tag Archives: coach and mentor

Engaging the Whole Person at Work

 

When we see ourselves and our co-workers only as tools to get the job done it is difficult to connect with one another as human beings. Connection is essential to building high performing and high functioning teams, not to mention to creating job fulfillment.

There is a story Max DePree shared in his book Leadership is An Art (1987), told by his father about visiting with the wife of the Millwright for the Herman Miller factory after her husband died. It was in the 1920’s and Max’s dad went to pay his respects to the Millwright’s wife. During his visit the Millwright’s wife asked his father if he’d mind if she read some poetry. He thought it would be appropriate and sat back to listen. As she read, the beauty of the poem resonated with him. He’d never heard this poetry before and asked who the poet was. She said it was her husband, the Millwright. The man who had been integral to the Herman Miller manufacturing processes, who provided the power for the machinery in his factory, dismantled machines and moved them around was a poet. This came as a surprise; he’d known the man but didn’t know he had this talent outside of work. It motivated him to see that leaders must, “endorse a concept of person”.

As I read this in the early ‘90’s I realized that this lesson is bigger than the “concept of person” in a tops down view. It is about connection, learning about the people who work with you and sharing yourself with them. When you connect with the people who work with you, you discover other interests, talents, loves, and they in turn learn something about you.

Why does this matter? What difference does it make if you know the Millwright is a poet, the Accountant is a photographer, the HR Manager’s child is seriously ill or the Customer Service Specialist has just loss her mother?

Business is structured as a well-defined hierarchy that defines us by our titles and the roles we play within business, and our interactions are determined by these roles. The playing field is tilted in favor of the leadership, but should it be? By coming to understand more about ourselves and the people we work with, we can see that occasional missteps at work often result from a much larger context; a problem at home, the death of a beloved pet or some other distraction. They aren’t necessarily about lack of competence or skill, sloppiness or a bad attitude.

Without making excuses we understand that we all have days that are a challenge. “Endorsing the concept of person” builds team and team makes it possible to confront unexpected challenges in the day-to-day life of business, whether it’s shaky sales, disruption of production, strained cash flow, the loss of a well-liked co-worker or the acquisition of a new customer with compassion and understanding. We have jobs and roles within a company, but when we can connect not only through job and role but as fellow humans, we create an authentic engagement that fosters an environment in which human creativity and satisfaction grow and thrive. We form a sense of equality in an otherwise hierarchical unequal environment. The consistency with which we can cultivate these fleeting opportunities, over time builds a level of trust essential to a high functioning team. The challenge is that many believe that when a leader opens up they will be seen as weak or vulnerable. The opposite is true.

Here’s how this played out in my leadership experience

I worked with a smart and capable Engineering Manager who had a reputation as a tremendous problem solver, but he had started to become impatient with process and prone to angry tirades. He seemed to be seething inside. Many of his attacks were directed at individuals. My boss at the time wanted me to “get rid of him.” His behavior was undermining his position with the company and his credibility; people were starting to avoid him. What he lacked was Emotional Self-Control.

Instead of turning my feelings off and seeing him as the “problem” and firing him I sat down with him to talk about anger. Not only his, but mine. I shared some of my frustrations and how important it was to see them and be with them, but not project them out onto others. As we discussed the situation he began to explain what was behind his anger. He kept pointing at the things other people were doing, and I’d share more about my own anger and how my frustration was often rooted in not really understanding how to move the needle and effect change.

Finally I looked at him and said, “You know the anger has to stop. It doesn’t matter what provokes you, you can’t act out and mistreat other people on the team, no matter how frustrated you are. There are positive and constructive ways to address the issues that are frustrating you. You need to find them or ask for help. Do you understand?” He replied that he understood. We talked about the possibility of anger management counseling. He didn’t think he needed it. I told him that I valued him as a co-worker and friend but that if he had another angry outburst, I’d have to let him go, no second chances. As we continued to talk, I asked, “Do you want to stay here?” He said, “Yes. I like it here, I want to stay.” I followed with,  “Do you think you can do this?’ His response,  “Yes, I know I can.”

The problem was now entirely within his control. I knew some of the difficulties he was dealing with outside of the workplace, and understood that having control would likely result in a better outcome. Through our connection and sharing, he knew that I’d had similar challenges in my work life, and others had as well. It wasn’t having the feelings that were the problem it was what he did with them. At this point, he began to problem-solve for himself. He identified his triggers and ways he could address them.  He looked at me and said, “Thanks, I think I need to apologize to a few folks.” He kept his job, and worked better with others from that point on.

By being authentic and curious about his issues, sharing my own, and not taking the easy route of simply replacing him, we built a connection together that made it possible to discuss the issue not just as a boss and employee, but as two human beings. By “endorsing the concept of person”, we created a moment of equality and authentic connection that helped him move from being a victim to understanding the impact his behavior was having on the organization and the need for him to take responsibility. This is leading with emotional intelligence.

Recommended Reading:

Emotional Self-Control: A Primer

Our new primer series is written by Daniel Goleman and fellow thought leaders in the field of Emotional Intelligence and research. The following are available now:

Emotional Self-Awareness, Emotional Self-Control, Adaptability,  Achievement Orientation, and Positive Outlook.

For more in-depth insights, see the Crucial Competence video series!

What Hiring Managers Want vs. What Recent Graduates Have

Daniel Goleman’s Harvard Business Review articles have been helping develop leadership skills up to the C-suite for decades. As the class of 2016 begins to enter the workforce, these highly acclaimed articles remain as relevant now as ever before.

What is it employers look for when hiring recent graduates? What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters is a collection of Dr. Goleman’s writings designed to explain the components of emotional intelligence and why they matter at work.

Recent Grads: What Makes a Leader?

Recent research by the Hay Group surveyed business leaders and recent graduates based in India, the U.S., and China. More than three-quarters of managers reported that entry-level workers and recent grads are not ready for their jobs.

According to the Hay Group, recent graduates often lack “soft skills” unrelated to their technical or cognitive abilities. These skills include key emotional intelligence (EI) abilities such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skills.

Dr. Goleman’s article “What Makes a Leader” continues to be one of Harvard Business Review’s best-selling articles. First published in 1998, Dr. Goleman’s message has resonated with people across all walks of life: what distinguishes outstanding leaders is emotional intelligence.

“What Makes a Leader” was just the beginning of Dr. Goleman’s writings about emotional intelligence in HBR. His next HBR article, “Leadership that Gets Results,” summarized the data from Hay Group on leadership styles that build on EI abilities and their impact on the emotional climate of organizations.

More Than Sound has reprinted “What Makes a Leader” and “Leadership that Gets Results” in a collection of Dr. Goleman’s writings, including three additional HBR articles, pieces about the importance of focus for leaders, and other recent brief articles.

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters is available in affordable print and e-book formats, is a compact volume that delivers a wealth of insight and timely information for leaders young and old.

From Daniel Goleman’s Introduction to What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

“This collection of my writing on leadership and EI – mainly articles I’ve written in the Harvard Business Review – reflects how my thinking has evolved. When I wrote Emotional Intelligence in the mid-1990s, I included a short chapter, called “Managing with Heart,” that made the simple argument that leaders need strengths in emotional intelligence. This, at the time, was a new and rather radical idea. That chapter, to my surprise, got lots of attention, particularly from people in management.

As I looked into the data on leadership and EI for my next book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, I became even more convinced. I took advantage of my training back in graduate school from David McClelland, who at the time was a pioneer in the method known as ‘competence modeling,’ which allows a systematic analysis of the specific strengths that make someone in a given role an outstanding performer. When I did a rough analysis of close to 200 such models from a wide range of organizations, I found that the large majority of competencies that distinguished the best leaders were based on EI, not IQ.

That caught the eye of editors at the Harvard Business Review, who asked me to write an article summarizing this. Called ‘What Makes a Leader,’ that article is the first chapter of this book. My next HBR article, ‘Leadership that Gets Results’ – the second chapter here – summarized data from Hay Group on leadership styles that build on EI abilities, and their varying impacts on emotional climate of the organization.

As I looked more deeply at the new findings from neuroscience on the dynamics of relationships – and what that meant for the drivers of excellence and high-impact relationships – I again wrote for HBR. Those articles, too, are included in this book. My most recent thinking has shifted frameworks to explore how a leader’s focus matters for effectiveness. The chapter ‘The Leader’s Triple Focus’ summarizes sections on leadership from my book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. And, the final chapter, written for a magazine (by coincidence called Focus) published by Egon Zehnder International, reflects on the ethical dimension of leadership. I’ve also included several of my blogs, placed after the relevant chapters, that either further delve into the topic or complement it. These first appeared, for the most part, on LinkedIn; some are from HBR.com.

I hope my reflections gathered here will help you along the way in your own leadership journey.”