Tag Archives: 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.

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:

understanding brain science

Knowledge is Power: Understanding Brain Science Matters in Leadership Development

understanding brain science

Why Understanding Brain Science Matters

In this brief video clip, Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel discuss the value of understanding brain science behind effective leadership.

Understanding equals power – the power to recognize ineffective behavior and to choose actions that work. For leaders, this means having access to a range of styles suitable for different situations. Coaches and other leadership development professionals can use knowledge of brain science to target their work, and enhance their credibility.

The Key to Understanding Brain Science: Brains Can Change

A key message from neuroscientific research is that the brain is plastic, changing with repeated experiences, practice, and learning. In Brainpower, Dr. Goleman and Dr. Siegel share insights from leading researchers about how to change your brain through specific training programs.

In a special preview of Brainpower, Dr. Goleman explains research by Jean Decety, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, who has shown there are three distinct wiring patterns in the brain for different kinds of empathy. Any type of leadership role requires use of empathy to maintain good relationships. Tania Singer at the Max Planck Institute has designed training programs for the empathy circuitry that produce positive changes. And Daniel Siegel’s “wheel of awareness” exercise helps boost brain integration.

understanding brain science

Preview Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

This excerpt from Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership includes two segments from the Lead with Empathy chapter. The first segment features Daniel Goleman and the second is with Daniel Siegel. (Brainpower is also available as an audio download.)

In the first segment, Daniel Goleman uses examples from the daily work of leaders to explain:

  • The three types of empathy
  • How the social brain works
  • Research on the impact of empathy in business settings

In the second section, Daniel Siegel responds to Dr. Goleman’s comments, describing groundbreaking research on the neuroscience of empathy and how to harness the power of the social brain.

Go here to stream a free exclusive excerpt of Brainpower.

Super Soul Sunday

What Oprah Winfrey Has Learned from Daniel Goleman

Super Soul Sunday

SuperSoul Sunday with Daniel Goleman and Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey uses what she has learned from Daniel Goleman every day. And, she thinks everyone can learn from Dr. Goleman’s work. That’s why she sat down with Dr. Goleman for an interview on SuperSoul Sunday. Here’s a taste of what they covered in their wide-ranging conversation:

What is the difference between IQ and emotional intelligence?

Technical and intellectual knowledge can get you in the door for a job, but emotional intelligence is what keeps you there and successful. Oprah shares examples of how she has seen the power of emotional intelligence.

What are the three kinds of empathy and why do they matter?

Any relationship or interaction is enhanced if we can empathize with others. Can you understand how someone thinks and how they feel? Does your understanding lead to concern?

How does Focus relate to Flow?

What is Flow and how can we intentionally get there? Dr. Goleman shares a key to achieving a flow state – pay attention. Goleman and Oprah discuss how our attention is under siege in daily life and how to step away from distractions.

It’s never too early, or too late, to develop emotional intelligence.

At any age, our brains can change, and we can build the mental muscles of emotional intelligence. Parents and schools can help children develop emotional intelligence from an early age. Dr. Goleman talks about the use of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs in schools and how cognitive control is a predictor of future success.

How can we each be a force for good in the world?

Oprah asks Dr. Goleman about his book, A Force for Good, his friendship with the Dalai Lama, and his work to help spread the Dalai Lama’s vision for the world. In the face of what seem like overwhelming challenges, we can each take steps to be a force for good. Dr. Goleman shares the greatest lesson the Dalai Lama has taught him.

Why does the media focus on negative news?

Dr. Goleman explains the brain science behind our fascination with news that is threatening or scary and how the media capitalizes on that fascination. Oprah and Dr. Goleman discuss how to manage the barrage of negative news.

What is the impact of the stories we tell ourselves?

Emotional intelligence allows us to change our relationship with our own thoughts and feelings and have more choice.

Watch the full SuperSoul Sunday interview with Daniel Goleman and Oprah Winfrey.





Are You Smarter Than Your IQ Says You Are?



Have you ever felt more intelligent than your IQ says you are?

What predicts success?            

These are a few of the questions Daniel Goleman explored with Oprah Winfrey when they sat down for a conversation on SuperSoul Sunday. That discussion airs on Sunday, March 20 on OWN.

super soul sunday

What Predicts Success? It’s Not Just IQ

Dr. Goleman looked at the fallacy that intelligence is a predictor of success and shared research that shows the importance of emotional intelligence. Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania has done extensive work on grit – the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. Duckworth and her colleagues have found that some students who don’t necessarily have the highest IQs in their classes get high grades because they keep plugging away despite setbacks.

A 30-year long longitudinal study of children in New Zealand found that the kids with the best cognitive control had the greatest financial success in their 30s. Cognitive control refers to the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of your goals, manage upsetting emotions well, and hold focus. Those skills mattered more to future success than the children’s IQ or family wealth.

Grit and cognitive control are examples of self-management, a key part of emotional intelligence. Self-management shows up in competence models – studies done by companies to identify the abilities of their top performers. Beyond grit and cognitive control, what sets apart stars from average workers are abilities across the emotional intelligence spectrum: self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social effectiveness.

In an article, Dr. Goleman explained,

“IQ and technical skills matter, of course: they are crucial threshold abilities, what you need to get the job done. But everyone you compete with at work has those same skill sets. It’s the distinguishing competencies that are the crucial factor in workplace success: the variables that you find only in the star performers – and those are largely due to emotional intelligence.

These human skills include, for instance, confidence, striving for goals despite setbacks, staying cool under pressure, harmony and collaboration, persuasion and influence. Those are the competencies companies use to identify their star performers about twice as often as do purely cognitive skills (IQ or technical abilities) for jobs of all kinds.

The higher you go up the ladder, the more emotional intelligence matters: for top leadership positions they are about 80 to 90 percent of distinguishing competencies.”

Resources to Enhance Emotional Intelligence

The HR & EI Collection

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership


How the Brain Can Boost Your Emotional Intelligence

How the brain can boost your emotional intelligence

Understand Brain Science, Boost Your Emotional Intelligence

Many people think “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but not Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel. They understand the brain science, which shows we can all grow new pathways in our brain that support our emotional intelligence and Mindsight. That science explains the mechanism of neuroplasticity – lasting change to the brain. During the Brainpower webcast series, Dr. Goleman and Dr. Siegel describe concrete ways leaders can grow their own brains AND help their employees build their capacity for emotional intelligence and Mindsight.

How to Develop a Connected Brain

A key to emotional intelligence and Mindsight is having a connected brain, where different parts of the brain communicate well with each other. How do you make a more connected brain?

Dr. Siegel explained,

“Here are the steps to making a more connected brain. You grow new connections between neurons with synaptogenesis and synapse modulation. You grow new neurons, at least in the hippocampus. Myelinogenesis is the creation of myelin. Myelin when it’s laid down, allows the action potential. This means that the ions flowing in and out go 100 times faster and the resting period, the refracting period between firings, is 30 times shorter. So 30 times 100 is 3,000. So with myelin, you’re 3,000 times faster and more coordinated and balanced.

So, how do you build myelin? Dan’s insightful book, Focus, talks about the key: focus of attention. The way I think about it is this: Where attention goes, neurofiring flows, and neuro connection grows. Where attention goes – how I use my mind to focus attention – gets neurons to fire and where neurons fire, they grow and rewire. I use the acronym SNAGS: Stimulate Neural Activation and Growth. One of the main things to SNAG a brain is the focus of attention. But the context in which that happens, trust, actually helps you promote more growth. There’s a social engagement system that’s turned on when you get trust going. As a leader, that’s the way you can help promote neuroplasticity. Learning and unlearning and deep practice in skill building – this is all stuff that builds myelin.”

CEO of the Mind and the Mind’s Radar

Dr. Goleman responded to Dr. Siegel’s comments focusing in on two parts of the brain that play an active role in emotional intelligence. Dr. Goleman said,

“I want to hone in on the prefrontal area of the brain. This is the part of the brain that’s really the brain’s executive, the CEO of the mind. It focuses attention, can help us integrate, plan, make decision, process information, strategize, learn, pursue goals. The prefrontal area should be the boss of the brain and is in our best moments. The amygdala, however, is at the bottom of a kind of spiral of emotional centers in the brain. The amygdala is the radar for threat in the brain; it’s the trigger for strong negative emotional responses. When the amygdala looks around, it’s asking: am I safe? Is there a threat? And if the amygdala thinks there is a threat, it can take over the prefrontal cortex in what I call an amygdala hijack and in the hijack, several things are going on.”

Three Signs of an Amygdala Hijack

Dr. Goleman explained, “First of all, there are three signs of a hijack. One is that you have a really strong emotional reaction. It might be anger, or fear, or going numb. It’s something that doesn’t help in the situation. The second is that it’s very sudden. It kind of takes you over. You’re surprised by it. Third is that it leads you to do something that doesn’t work, that’s inappropriate.”

What Happens During an Amygdala Hijack

Dr. Goleman continued, “In a leader, an amygdala hijack is never helpful. The mind state during a hijack, as shown by the research of Joseph LeDoux at New York University, tends to be very childish. The logic of the amygdala is that of a child, that of poetry, art, myth. Anything is possible. It’s a very fuzzy logic. It’s not the logic of the prefrontal cortex.

Attention also fixates on the threat. That was great in evolution because we needed to see what was rustling in the bushes. But, today the amygdala responds to complex social realities, symbolic realities. Feelings such as ‘I’m not being treated fairly’ can cascade in the body a whole flood of reactions. Also, memory reshuffles so what is salient to what we think the perceived threat is, is what we most easily remember. This leads us to rely on over-learned response. During an amygdala hijack, our responses are rigid. We do what comes to us most easily, which is what we’ve practiced the most. It might be something very immature such as ‘I’d like to hit this guy.’”

Managing an Amygdala Hijack

Dr. Goleman offered tips on how to manage a hijack.

“There are many ways to manage a hijack, but here’s one approach. First, pause whenever you sense it’s coming on or are in the midst of it. You may not realize because it can happen so suddenly. We need to collect ourselves, pause. Mindfulness is very helpful here. Dan also mentioned something in another webcast that’s really helpful here. ‘Name it to tame it.’ If you can say, ‘Oh, I’m having that reaction,’ you already are doing something neutrally with your mind. You are deactivating the amygdala and energizing the prefrontal cortex. It shifts the ratio of power.

A third thing you can do is calm down. Focus on your breath. Or, if it’s possible, take a break. John Gottman at University of Washington, who studies marital arguments, which are really mutual emotional hijacks, recommends that a couple take 20 minutes out. He says it takes about that long to calm down from the hijack. Then you can come back and talk things over.

The fourth step is repeat as needed. This takes advantage of the neuroplasticity that Dan is talking about. What we’re trying to do is develop a new way of reacting to those triggers.”

How to Help Others Build Their Brainpower

Dr. Siegel described concrete ways to help others build their brains. He said,

“These are ways as a leader you can help promote neuroplasticity. You can have relationships that build trust. You can create a culture with a lot of strength and integrity and intention that encourages the people working in your organization to get good sleep. Sleep is the greatest thing for neuroplasticity. We’re now beginning to understand that sleep helps clean away the toxins that are inevitably produced during the waking state. So, people who are sleep deprived are accumulating toxins. They don’t pay attention as well, they can’t remember as much, they’re irritable. The brain does not consolidate learning when it is sleep deprived. Nutrition. People need to be eating well. Aerobic exercise, keeping active, humor. Some studies suggest that humor actually helps promote brain growth. Novelty, having new things go on and the close paying of attention. All of these things help promote building a connected brain.”

“At drdansiegel.com, we’ve had a lot of people download a simple practice called ‘The Wheel of Awareness.’ It takes about 25 minutes. The results have been absolutely fascinating. I’ve collected and recorded responses from over 10,000 people who I’ve given this to in person. You can actually integrate consciousness to promote self-monitoring and self-modulation. That is, you can modulate your internal state through this very simple practice. What you’re doing basically is distinguishing the knowing from the known of consciousness and in doing that, you’re giving a huge amount of power for choice and change. This is exactly what we as leaders want to do is to provide the people we work with the opportunity to actually create more integration in their life.”

leadership development

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership is a collection of four streaming videos with Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel. This series provides leaders, executive coaches, management consultants, and HR professionals with a science basis for their leadership development work. The video content is a recording of Dr. Goleman and Dr. Siegel’s live webcast series broadcast in February 2016.

ethical decision making

The Brain’s Role in Making Ethical Decisions

ethical decision making

Source: iStock/mattjeacock

How can a leader’s intention steer a company toward – or away from – a society-harming path?

What happens to our own sense of ethics when people around us make morally questionable choices?

What’s going on in your brain when you face a moral dilemma?

How can emotional intelligence and Mindsight help us build our moral muscles?

These are a few of the questions Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel explored in their first of Brainpower webcasts. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.

A Leader’s Intention

Dr. Goleman addressed the power of leaders to make ethical decisions that impact the direction of their company:

Is there something fundamentally undeveloped in a human who cannot know when they’re behaving immorally? That really speaks to a deficit in the ethical system and the literature I’m familiar with describes what’s called the Dark Triad. These are people who are Machiavellian or very manipulative or sociopaths, like Bernie Madoff, who can play people in a bad way. The common underlying deficit from a neural point of view is very often prefrontal cortex damage. Dr. Raine and colleagues at the University of Southern California found that a history of brain damage in this area impacts moral decision making. I don’t know that we can use that to explain Bernie Madoff, but Dan, I’d love to hear what you think. What is undeveloped in someone who has moral lapses?

Dr. Siegel responded:

To think about it from a brain point of view, as an individual, your brain makes lots of maps: maps of what you see and hear, linguistic maps, all sorts of maps. One of those maps is a Mindsight map. You can make a Mindsight map of yourself, what’s going on inside of you. That’s the basis of insight. It includes mapping past, present, and future. You can make a Mindsight map of the other person. That’s the empathy map where I wonder what’s going on in another person. A third kind of map is a Mindsight map of we, honoring the differences and promoting linkages. It’s the basis of morality and there are different aspects of neural studies that support this idea.

Our Ethics in Conflict with Others’ Choices

The two talked about the moral norms of organizations and situations where our ethics conflict with those of the people around us. Goleman said,

If you look at Volkswagon, for example, where for years and years many people colluded to design a device, which defeated the ability for a government to monitor whether a car produced too many toxins in its exhaust. That went on for a long, long time. Many people in the business world are caught in the moral tension between individual ethics and the imperative to make money at any cost. This can create moral dilemmas of all kinds for people. No matter what your own moral rudder may tell you, if people around you are acting very differently and you want to keep your job, feed your kids, send your children to college, and you have your own fears, couldn’t it override that moral north pole?

Our Brains and Moral Choices

Dr. Siegel discussed some of the neurobiology that is at play when we face moral dilemmas.

There may be just innate, inborn reasons you don’t have what’s called a conscience, realizing you are part of a larger connected whole. Your brain may not have developed the necessary integrative circuits. Also, some studies of attachment suggest you can block the development of morality through certain attachment patterns where there isn’t honoring the differences between a child and a parent.

There’s a difference between amorality – lack of morality – and immorality where you commit violent acts towards others. The absence of morality isn’t the presence of violence. However, if a person’s filled with anger and also they’ve had a blockage of the development of morality, then there can be a violent act. There are lots of reasons for that. There’s a very painful and powerful book called “Ghosts from the Nursery.” It is about how many people on death row had not just emotional abuse and neglect, but physical injury to the brain. Such injury may have cut off some of the integrative circuits of the prefrontal region that allow maps of morality, Mindsight maps of “we,” to be made. When you combine having a lot of rage with the absence of a sense of connection to others, that’s a pretty dangerous combination.

Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence Can Build Moral Muscles

Dr. Siegel said,

If you are highly intelligent, you can manipulate numbers, you can do physics, chemistry, biology, even psychology of certain sorts. That is all “physical sight.” Physical sight allows you to figure out how to make a profit. Without the Mindsight map of connections to others, you can use your physical sight to manipulate governments so they can’t monitor what’s going on in a car and can get away making more money. Now, it’s not just VW. There are many other examples, such as the Wall Street system of mortgaging described in the movie The Big Short. We all experience that.

Greed is a factor of physical sight. How much stuff can I get? Mindsight and the emotional and social intelligence it creates allow you to feel moral challenges inside your own body. You would say, “This act we’re doing to deceive the government.” Bernie Madoff lacked the Mindsight to recognize the immorality of his act of taking money from non-profit organizations that are trying to help others and private investors, so he could rip them off. That shows a lack of social and emotional intelligence, a lack of kindness, compassion, and empathy.

Additional Resources

Fortunately, there are many resources available for people who want to increase their empathy and compassion. Tania Singer and her colleague have created training programs to do just that. Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman discussed ways to develop an ethical mind in our discussion for Leadership: A Master Class. Richard E. Boyatzis and Goleman wrote about “Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership” for the September 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review.

leadership development

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership, provides leaders, executive coaches, management consultants, and HR professionals with a science basis for their leadership development work. Register for the live four-part webcast series with Daniel Goleman and Daniel Siegel throughout February here. The high-definition recordings for each webcast are available to stream shortly after each broadcast.