Tag Archives: self control

Emotional-Self-Control

Emotional Self-Control: A Leader’s Perspective on Staying Cool Under Pressure

 

According to Daniel Goleman, Emotional Self-Control is “the ability to keep your disruptive emotions and impulses in check, to maintain your effectiveness under stressful or even hostile conditions… staying clear-headed and calm.”

Self-management and control are necessary components of the leader’s tool kit. It’s not so much about trying to muzzle yourself as it is about understanding your role as a leader.

Here’s how Emotional Self-Control emerged in my experience:

Years ago, as a newly minted manager at IBM, I was blessed with an insight into what this means both for the organization and myself. I was promoted to management because I was good at doing things. It’s the same in every business where I’ve worked. Generally, those who are the best at doing the work get recognized and when there is a need for managers they are selected because of their ability as “doer’s.”

In my case, I took over a financial planning department at an IBM semi-conductor plant in Essex, Vermont. The manager I replaced was a hard and dedicated worker, often putting in fifty to sixty hours a week; however, his work was largely transactional, and reactive. We did as we were told under his management and took few risks. Having taken over his department, I found myself sitting at my desk one evening wondering what I was supposed to do and trying to understand exactly what it meant to manage and lead a department of skilled financial analysts, some with far more experience than me.

I could feel the beginnings of panic, a tightening in my chest and a strong feeling that I should be doing something. But what? As I sat with my feelings, I suddenly understood. My job wasn’t at all what I thought it was. My job was to hold the anxiety for my department, for my team.

What does it mean to “hold the anxiety?”

Holding the anxiety involves engaging your Emotional Self-Awareness and Emotional Self-Control so that you can see the difference between your “doer” self and your “being” self. When you don’t have the ability to “do,” your anxiety can increase and you may feel motivated not to feel your feelings, but to push them on to your employees and co-workers. This can manifest itself in many forms. Micromanagement or other controlling behaviors are often at the top of the list. It is easy to rationalize our behaviors. But consider an alternative approach: if you choose to allow your anxiety and fear to take over and you micromanage or control your team, you miss the opportunity to develop your own self-awareness and effectiveness as a leader, and also miss out on the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with your team. You may never really see what great work they can do, instead believing they need you to make decisions for them. They will then wait for your direction before making decisions and moving forward because they don’t feel trusted. But developing decision-making abilities in others is key to good leadership.

In “holding the anxiety,” you create space for them to learn and grow and ultimately increase the capacity of your team.

Applying Emotional Self-Control in the real world

It is a very delicate balance. Those above you in the hierarchy may be acting out their own anxieties from various pressures. This is where Emotional Self-Awareness and Self-Control are critical. You can listen to what your boss wants, feel the feelings you have, hold them, and then calmly talk to your team about what needs to be done and engage them in creating the proper result by listening, guiding, coaching, and leading.

Always take a moment to allow yourself to simply “be” and connect with your self-awareness, but don’t project it onto the team. You won’t always be successful. Sometimes we do project, but when you do if you can own it and recognize your projection you will continue to build a trusting relationship with your team and demonstrate your true strengths as a leader.

Fear is a motivational and destructive force in business. No one wants to fail. If we can understand and own our own fears and not project them on others, we will discover that engaged team members are far more creative and productive than frightened ones.

Victor Morrison has diverse management experience, including Financial Operations Manager for IBM, CFO of Finance for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, CEO of Elan Ski and Snowboard Company for North America, President of American Flatbread, and recently as CEO of Dr. Hauschka Skin Care for the US and Mexico. Victor also works locally as a management consultant, focusing on sustainable business strategy development and executive management coaching. Victor has also been an occasional Adjunct Business Professor in Green Mountain College’s Sustainable MBA Program, teaching classes in People Management, Sustainable Business Strategy, and Finance.  

Recommended Reading:

Interested in learning more about how to apply these concepts at work? Our newly released Primers provide a concise overview of the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies of Emotional Self-Awareness and Emotional Self-Control, as well as an overview of the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model itself.

The Primers are created by Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman, with several fellow thought leaders in the field of emotional intelligence, leadership development, and research, including Richard Boyatzis, Vanessa Druskat, Richard J. Davidson, and George Kohlrieser.

 

changing habits

Changing Habits: Know When to Turn Off Your Autopilot

changing habits

iStock/Shivendu Jauhari

Changing Habits: When Autopilot Takes You in the Wrong Direction

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

If you think about it, we live much of our life on autopilot. We’ve developed countless habit loops for daily activities: brushing our teeth, commuting to work, setting our DVRs. Unfortunately, some of our critical decision-making skills also go into sleep mode.

In the workplace, it’s natural to develop decision-making patterns due to time pressures, other priorities, even overconfidence (“I’ve done this before. I’m a pro.”). Our responses to problems or situations become automatic. When X event occurs, pull lever Y to solve the issue.

However, not all obstacles are created equal. A lack of presence around the nuances of a situation can be detrimental to a project – or an organization. Knee-jerk decisions often lead to costly mistakes. “This is how we’ve always done it” leadership mantras can also stifle thoughtful responses to unique challenges.

Fortunately there are several ways to become more aware of your ingrained behaviors and learn more productive ones.

Changing Habits: Find Your Blind Spots

An emotionally intelligent leader can monitor his or her moods through self-awareness, and change them for the better through self-management. But where does one start? How can you identify the areas you need to improve?

One way is to ask others to help you identify your blind spots. Hearing the truth about yourself can be uncomfortable. But self-delusion can derail even the most talented professional. Gather feedback from as many people as possible – including bosses, peers, and co-workers. Seek out negative feedback, even cultivating a colleague or two to play devil’s advocate. Keep an extremely open attitude toward critiques.

Such 360-degree feedback will reveal how people experience you – and provide you with valuable information about how you tick.

Changing Habits: Know How You Process Emotions

Customer complaints, tech issues or office politics illicit different emotional responses in different people. Knowing how you respond to such challenges can help you discover and practice new thought patterns that are positive and productive.

For instance, anger is a common response to office mishaps. Sometimes it’s justified. But will blowing up at a co-worker solve the problem? Will passive-aggressive treatment change the “wrong-doers” actions? Or would taking a five-minute walk help clear your head? After you’ve calmed down, could you talk with your co-worker to get a better understanding of the factors that played into making the mistake?

Remember, we may not be able to choose our stressors, but we can always choose how we respond to stress.

It’s also helpful to understand how our brains process emotions. The emotional centers are in the middle of our brains, especially in an area called the amygdala. In Daniel Goleman’s book The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights, he says,

“The amygdala is a trigger point for emotional distress, anger, impulse, fear, and so on. When this circuitry takes over, it acts as the ‘bad boss,’ leading us to take actions we might regret later…. The key neural area for self-regulation is the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s ‘good boss,’ guiding us when we are at our best. The dorsolateral zone of the prefrontal area is the seat of cognitive control, regulating attention, decision-making, voluntary action, reasoning, and flexibility in response.”

Changing Habits: Stop, See, Choose

Learning to recognize mental and physical signals to emotions play a major role in shifting mental habits. Do you grind your teeth or tap your pen on the table when meetings get derailed? Practice noticing your responses to triggers. Use them as guides to shifting your internal dialogue to a more neutral place. “I’m doing it again. Let me put my pen down, loosen my jaw and count to five. Then I can gently remind the team that we need to stick to the agenda.”

The more you become aware of thoughts, feelings and physical reactions to triggers, the more opportunities you have to practice behavior change.

Changing Habits: Retrain Your Brain

Making change means rewiring our brains by doing and redoing new behaviors, over and over, to break old neural habits and make a new behavior automatic.

One approach is mentally preparing for a task. This activates the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that moves us into action. More mental preparation translates into doing better at the task. And, the prefrontal cortex is particularly active when someone prepares to overcome a habitual response. Without that brain arousal, a person will reenact tried-and-true but undesirable routines. Learning agendas literally give us the brainpower to change.

Even just envisioning new behaviors will help. Brain research shows that imagining something in vivid detail can fire the same brain cells actually involved in doing that activity. Mental rehearsal and experimenting with new behaviors make the neural connections needed for genuine change, but they aren’t enough to make lasting change. For that, we need help from others – coaches, trainers, or trusted peers.

Changing Habits: Real-Time Test

Habit change may be a self-directed process, but it can’t happen in a vacuum. Our relationships with others help us articulate and refine our ideal self, compare it with reality, assess our progress, and understand the usefulness of what we’re learning.

We need to practice new skills with other people – in a safe environment. We need to get feedback about how our actions affect others and to assess our progress on our learning agenda.

Changing Habits: Additional Resources

Brain Science

Brainpower: Mindsight and Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

Develop a Healthy Mind: How Focus Impacts Brain Function

The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights

Practical Application

Mindful Leadership Breakthrough System

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Intelligence

Welcome to the More Than Sound Podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman talks about emotional intelligence, with Anthony Gell of the Business Voice.

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Anthony Gell- In terms of predicting who is going to be in the top 10 percent of performers, ie: the sort of star performers, you say that EI, emotional intelligence, is a better gauge than IQ. Why?

Daniel Goleman- The answer is very simple. Study after study shows that in order to be in a top profession, in order to get an MBA, in order to get an MD, or be a top executive, you need an IQ that’s about one standard deviation above normal, or higher. That puts you at about 115 IQ. But then studies show there is no correlation between your IQ and actual effectiveness or success in that particular line of work. Whether you’re a CEO, academic, engineer, doesn’t matter. Why? Because that is the IQ level you need to master the technical skills, and is the cognitive capacity you need to handle that profession. But after that, think about it. Once you’re in the field you are competing with people who are about as smart as you are.

Throughout school, IQ is huge advantage for grades. In the workplace, after reaching that criterion level, it has no added benefit and what makes the difference are your personal abilities. How you manage yourself- Do you stay focused? Are you adaptable? Are you self aware? And interpersonal abilities. Can you read other people? Do you know how to get along well? Are you a good team player? Can you be a leader? Those depend on emotional intelligence.

AG- Daniel, I’ve got no doubt that people watching this are sold on your premise of emotional intelligence, but the big question I think they’ll be wanting to ask is, “Once you know your EI level can you improve, or can you become more emotionally intelligent?”

DG- The good news is that you can improve emotional intelligence competencies. These are learned abilities that build from fundamentals. So, for example, emotional self control, being calm under pressure. This is a capacity that can be learned, the steps are quite well known. But you have to want to get better. Listening, listening well, listening deeply is critical, and if you have poor listening habits- the common cold of leadership- then you can improve but, again, you need to be motivated. Why? Because in adulthood you have to undo, at the brain level, over-rehearsed habits, that’s your habitual way of reacting, and build a new one until it becomes more strongly practiced than the old one. Then you’ll do it naturally. And that takes real effort and motivation.

AG- Daniel, talk about self motivation. What’s the core essence of being self driven and motivated to move forward as an individual?

DG- I think motivation has to be true, that you need to align the desire to improve with your own sense of values of purpose, what you really feel is important. What are your dreams? Where do you want to go in life? Is something holding you back? Can you change that for the better. That’s the kind of genuine motivation that helps people really make the change.