Leadership Guide to Striking Balance

Meet Harry & Harriet, two very busy Leaders in an organization similar to yours. As they interact with stakeholders in different time zones, their day begins at the crack of dawn when they check their work email.  After eating a hurried breakfast and dropping the children off at school, the rest of their workday consists of a slew of meetings, intermingled with bursts of brainstorming and team debriefs. In the rare occasion that a spare moment presents itself, they check email, their calendar and try to catch their breath. Their biggest problem is time pressure, as they find it difficult to complete an ever-growing list of competing priorities. Their harried, multi-tasking lifestyle prevents them from being fully present and engaged in their work and personal life. Recently, they have encountered health problems, such as rapid, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and aches and pains throughout their body. Because of these issues, their children are often let down when they can’t attend their after-school sporting events and music recitals.

Harriet & Harry’s situation is endemic throughout many organizations and costs billions annually in lost productivity. In our globalized economy, pressures to accomplish more with fewer resources, and our hurried, frantic lifestyles are causing leaders to sacrifice their health to complete a long list of seemingly endless responsibilities. Aside from the personal toll, families may feel disappointed and neglected as interpersonal contact steadily decreases.

For today’s time-pressured leader, the following is a guide to harness Emotional Intelligence skills to strike the elusive work-life balance:

Keep Work in Perspective
Work is an essential component for leaders in organizations. Nevertheless, it should not consistently overtake other responsibilities. Use Reality Testing skills to maintain an objective view of your schedule and your various obligations (professional and personal).

Temper Unrealistic Expectations
Leaders are only capable of taking on so much before physical and emotional resources deplete. Use Emotional Self-Awareness to gauge emotional reactions to unfeasible demands, which can serve as a trigger to adopt a more efficient/streamlined schedule.

Set Boundaries and Leave Work at the Office
When work continually encroaches on a leader’s personal life, quality of life suffers to the detriment of Happiness. Use Assertiveness to ensure that discontent with work volume is vocalized as much as appropriate, and implement Flexibility to secure breaks at lunch and in the evenings/weekends.

Change Your Mindset20140911_151138
Leaders frequently feel compelled to shoulder a great deal of responsibility to achieve the strategic vision of the organization. Use Problem Solving to alleviate strain, and leverage Optimism to alter perspective (adopt the mindset “this too shall pass”).

Meditate and Exercise
When pressure mounts, leaders often focus their priority on achievement and neglect their well-being. Meditation and exercise boost Stress Tolerance and Optimism, both of which help you to refocus attention and manage competing priorities.

Harness the power of delegation; assign tasks to your team to alleviate the burden of competing deadlines. Leverage Interpersonal Relationships to identify those who can shoulder some obligations, or those who need exposure or development in a particular task, and use Flexibility to ensure fair distribution of work.

Prioritize Responsibilities
Leaders must ensure that duties are prioritized according to importance, and tackle obligations in order of impact on organizational goals. Use Reality Testing to address the most significant issues, and implement Problem Solving to create a plan to address tasks.

Ensure Proper Rest and Community Engagement
Use Flexibility to ensure you receive proper sleep to help reframe challenging situations, and leverage Interpersonal Relationships and Social Responsibility to participate in community engagements that buffer the effects of competing priorities.

Indulge in Your Passions
Leaders devoid of hobbies or extra-curricular activities are not well-rounded, which can prevent a holistic or alternative view of the organization. Use Independence and Self-Actualization to identify interests and ensure that you engage in these pursuits.

QUESTION: How have you seen Leaders you know and respect manage their responsibilities and maintain balance in their life?

RELATED WORKSHOPS: Visit http://www.schreiber-training.com/Workshops.html and view course descriptions on Emotional Intelligence, Time & Priority Management, ReEngage: Enhancing Your Contribution At Work & 5 Keys to Energize Work & Home.

(Adapted from content originally authored by MHS Inc.)

Posted in Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Personal Renewal, Relationships

4 Essential Conflict Management Strategies for Leaders

Managing conflict of any kind can be a frustrating task for most of us. For leaders, resolving some sort of conflict is usually the norm rather than the exception. From competing resources and deadlines, to new project teams, mergers, and managing through organizational change, leaders are continually required to flex their interpersonal conflict management skills.

In addition, more and more of the work we do today involves multiple teams to reach organizational goals. The increased need for clear communication and role clarity between teams will help to ease potential conflict, and if navigated well, can provide team members with the opportunity to be innovative, take risks, and increase productivity.

As a leader, you may find the strategies below can help you to leverage your emotional intelligence skills in times of conflict.

Manage yourself first.

1. Listen to yourself with purpose.  Leverage Emotional Self-Awareness skills to recognize your reactions, thoughts, and feelings regarding the conflict at hand. What are your thoughts about the conflict; the way it has been handled thus far and what can be done to get through it? What frustrates you about it? What is good about it? Remember, even though it may feel personal at times, the conflict is often not about you. Pay attention to how you feel and bring the focus back to the issue.

2. Timely expressions of yourself. As a leader, your emotional expressions are always in the limelight, and while some situations call for instantly expressing yourself, most require a more deliberate and controlled expression. Your genuine expression and authenticity will be appreciated by others—especially when it is timely and constructive.  Along with the awareness from Strategy #1, utilize your Emotional Expression and Impulse Control skills to make the conscious decision to express yourself in a constructive manner, thinking through the outcome you expect from your expression before you express it.

conflict_resolutionManage others second.

3. Empathy in conflict management? Yes! So much so that without empathy, conflict would bring nothing but harm to your team and your effectiveness. Use your Empathy skills as a tool to bring down the temperature of the situation. Listen to the other side attentively and genuinely—make it “their” time. Even if you disagree completely with the other side, find ways to express your genuine understanding (e.g., how frustrating the situation must be for them; the amount of effort being dedicated; how much is at stake for them). Validation in this way can be the single most powerful tool to get others to pull back their defenses. If the conflict is within your team, take the time to truly listen to each individual. The time spent will be a rewarding investment.

4. Conflict resolution management. Note that the title of this article is conflict management—not conflict resolution. Yes, there will be situations that call for immediate action, and you will need to make use of the authority behind the position you hold at your organization. For others, try simply managing the conflict as opposed to resolving it. Leaders usually have the tendency to jump right into problem solving mode, especially when problem solving skills are second-nature, or it seems easier to solve it yourself than allow others to do so. Make the conscious decision to use Impulse Control skills and apply your Problem Solving skills at a different level—manage the conflict as a leader and use it as an opportunity to develop your team. Use your InterpersonalStress Tolerance, and Optimism skills to guide and develop your teams to find innovative solutions to the conflict they experience. Provide them with the latitude to generate solutions and then review the best course of action with them. Remember, conflict can be a good thing! Learn to manage its destructive potential and harness its constructive energy.

QUESTION: What impact have you noticed when leaders skillfully manage conflict conversations versus jump in and try to quickly resolve conflict?

RELATED WORKSHOPS:  Visit http://www.schreiber-training.com/Workshops.html and view course descriptions for Conflict Management,  Crucial Conversations & Emotional Intelligence.

Posted in Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Relationships

The Foundation Of Emotional Intelligence

“Mindfulness is the foundation of emotional intelligence,” meditation teacher Mark Coleman said at a Google Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute training event in New York on Tuesday.  We can look at mindfulness as a radical shift in the way we pay attention, Coleman explained. It is “attentive but without judgment.” It’s a skill that anyone can develop, and one that can have real benefits for those in leadership positions.

At the training, hosted by Coleman and Search Inside Yourself CEO Marc Lesser, participants went attention and mindfulness training exercises designed to build emotional intelligence, which the program deems key for successful leadership and peak performance. At the crux of the program’s philosophy is the idea that attention and self-awareness set the stage for leadership success.

Meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches five exercises to help you practice mindfulness. http://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-practice/mindfulness-and-awareness/five-steps-to-mindfulness.

First Mindfulness Exercise: Mindful Breathing
The first exercise is very simple, but the power, the result, can be very great. The exercise is simply to identify the in-breath as in-breath and the out-breath as out-breath. When you breathe in, you know that this is your in-breath. When you breathe out, you are mindful that this is your out-breath.

Second Mindfulness Exercise: Concentration
The second exercise is that while you breathe in, you follow your in-breath from the beginning to the end. If your in-breath lasts three or four seconds, then your mindfulness also lasts three or four seconds. Breathing in, I follow my in-breath all the way through. Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through. From the beginning of my out-breath to the end of my out-breath, my mind is alwayswith it. Therefore, mindfulness becomes uninterrupted, and the quality of your concentration is improved.

Third Mindfulness Exercise: Awareness of Your Body
“Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I am aware of my body.” I know my body is there. This brings the mind wholly back to the body. Mind and body become one reality. When your mind is with your body, you are well-established in the here and the now. You are fully alive. You can be in touch with the wonders of life that are available in yourself and around you.

Fourth Mindfulness Exercise: Releasing Tension
The next exercise is to release the tension in the body. When you are truly aware of your body, you notice there is some tension and pain in your body, some stress. The tension and pain have been accumulating for a long time and our bodies suffer, but our mind is not there to help release it. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to release the tension in the body.

Fifth Mindfulness Exercise: Walking Meditation
When you practice mindful breathing you simply allow your in breath to take place. You become aware of it and enjoy it. Effortlessness. The same thing is true with mindful walking. Every step is enjoyable. Every step helps you touch the wonders of life. Every step is joy. That is possible.

Question: What benefits have you experienced from practicing Mindfulness?

Posted in Emotional Intelligence, Personal Renewal

Do You Hire For IQ or EQ?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is becoming an increasingly important quality in the workplace and 71 per cent of hiring managers in the United States value EI in an employee more than IQ, found a recent survey of 2,662 hiring managers by CareerBuilder.  Fifty-nine percent of employers would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low EI. For workers being considered for a promotion, the high EI candidate will beat out the high IQ candidate in most cases – 75 percent said they’re more likely to promote the high EI worker.

“We’re starting to see a growing comfort in talking about (emotional intelligence) or soft skills,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of HR at CareerBuilder in Chicago. “We’re starting to see, progressively, companies getting more comfortable admitting they’re using a more holistic view when making important decisions.”   The ability to remain calm under pressure is the top reason why employees with high emotional intelligence are sought after in the workplace, found the survey. This quality has been especially valuable over the last few years as many companies have been stretching employees and putting even more on their plates, said Haefner.

The ability to resolve conflict effectively is the second most desired trait of people with high EI, found the survey. “(EI) helps with managing emotions — for people not to lose it and to keep cool, especially in a team or leadership environment,” said Steven Stein, CEO of MHS (Multi-Health Systems) in Toronto, which publishes psychological assessments. “It keeps emotions at a level where you can function well and it prevents derailment.”

451846939When asked why emotional intelligence is more important than high IQ, employers said (in order of importance):

  • Employees [with high EI] are more likely to stay calm under pressure
  • Employees know how to resolve conflict effectively
  • Employees are empathetic to their team members and react accordingly
  • Employees lead by example
  • Employees tend to make more thoughtful business decisions

HR managers and hiring managers assess their candidates’ and employees’ EI by observing a variety of behaviors and qualities. The top responses from the survey were:

  • They admit and learn from their mistakes
  • They can keep emotions in check and have thoughtful discussions on tough issues
  • They listen as much or more than they talk
  • They take criticism well
  • They show grace under pressure

If you ever been on the side of the desk making a hiring decision, consider the criteria you’ve counted on when it comes to adding to your team.  (EI) Emotional Intelligence is not only what employers must look for in candidates, it’s also what they themselves must use when choosing who to hire.

Question:  How much impact have you placed on Emotional Intelligence in your hiring decisions?

Many organizations use the EQi 2.0 in their hiring process to reliably assess a candidates Emotional Intelligence.  For more information on the assessment, contact Tom Schreiber @ 913.568.2111 or tjmschreiber@gmail.com.

Posted in Career, Emotional Intelligence

9 Steps To Take Tough Feedback

Feedback is the breakfast of champions. The degree to which people are open to accepting feedback often correlates to their willingness to excel. If they’re satisfied with the status quo or unwilling to change, feedback won’t have much impact on their performance. For those committed to getting better every day, feedback is necessary though sometimes tough to take. Here are 9 steps on how to take tough feedback.

  1. Take A Breath – Deep breaths provide a calming effect.
  1. how-to-handle-feedbackTake Notes – This allows you to maintain composure, accurately reflect what you heard and provides a resource should follow-up communication prove worthwhile.
  1. Take Accountability – Listen for and acknowledge what you can own and share the actions you can take to address the issue.
  1. Take A Picture – See everyone and everything that is involved including who is providing the feedback, the origins of their feedback, and the intent of their feedback.
  1. Take Time – Consider asking for time to reflect on the feedback so that you respond thoughtfully and with grace.
  1. Take It Seriously – Let your words and behaviors demonstrate that you appreciate the importance and significance of the feedback you’re receiving. Thank the person for the feedback they’re offering.
  1. Take Responsibility – Speak up on your behalf and respectfully address factual or perceptual inaccuracies.
  1. Take Care – Be diligent not to attack the sender or take people down by how you respond.
  1. Take The High Road – It’s easier to think about what you wanted to say than take back what you said.

Have you ever received tough feedback, the kind that’s hard to hear? Are you prepping for a meeting where you know it’s coming? Share your thoughts and insights on how you take it so that the relationship is preserved and you move forward.

Posted in Career, Coaching, Emotional Intelligence, Relationships

5 Questions to Break Your Belief Boundaries

Rosa Parks believed she deserved to sit in the front of the bus and started a revolution.

Fred Smith believed business would pay a premium for overnight delivery and revolutionized his industry.

Susan B. Anthony believed in the right to vote for women and revolted against inequality.

Each of these revolutionaries and thousands more like them possessed beliefs that broke the boundaries of contemporary thinking. Everyday we are faced with choices that are formed by our beliefs: what to wear, who to marry, where to invest, which cause to support and what to “like” on Facebook. Often our beliefs follow conventional norms and we make accommodating choices. Then, without exception, we brush up against a new reality that impacts a relationship, a business outcome, a societal condition or our personal wellbeing and we are forced to examine our beliefs.Mountain Goat

Let this message today cause you to pause and consider these vital questions.

  • What beliefs do I possess that challenge the way I’ve always done it?
  • How many of my ideas shake up my status quo?
  • How willing am I to break free from beliefs that hold me back?
  • What emotions cloud my thinking?
  • How passionate am I about experiencing new levels of joy & satisfaction at work, at home and in my community?

If you’re not satisfied with the areas of your life you most value, revolt against the beliefs that simply aren’t working anymore.  Take your life off auto-pilot and fly by the instruments that give you unfiltered, objective feedback regarding where you are and what you’ve accomplished.  Use that information to rethink your beliefs, redirect your course, reignite your passion, and refuel your commitment to live out your greatest dreams.

Posted in Commitment, Emotional Intelligence, Motivation, Personal Renewal, Uncategorized

Technology May Displace 47% of US Workers

The accelerated rate of technological advancements is transforming the composition of most businesses’ workforces. Most workplaces of the future will be staffed by some combination of smart robots, Artificial Intelligence smart machines and humans. In many cases, the number of human workers will be reduced, and, in many industries, that reduction will be significant. Carl Frey and Michael Osborne of the University of Oxford published a compelling study about the future workforce in September of 2013. They looked at 702 types of jobs in the United States and made judgments, on the basis of required skills and expected technological advances, about whether there was a low, medium or high risk that technology would displace workers in those jobs over the next 10 to 20 years.

Robotwork1Their conclusion: 47% of total U.S. employees have a high risk of being displaced by technology, and 19% have a medium risk. That means that 66% of the U.S. workforce has a medium to high risk of job destruction. That raises an important question for every person: What will we be able to do better than the smart machines? Frey and Osborne, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, authors of The Second Machine Age and John Kelly and Steve Hamm, authors of Smart Machines, believe that the activities humans will be still better at doing will require either creativity, innovative thinking, complex critical thinking, moral judgments or high emotional and social intelligence.

Thinking critically and innovatively is hard emotionally.  Many neuroscientists, including Antonio Damasio and Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, believe that our emotions influence and are integrally intertwined in most of our cognitive processing. In other words, rationality is a myth. Emotionally, we seek to affirm and defend our self image.  Additionally, fear comes all too naturally to most of us — and makes it hard for us to engage in the messy work of critical thinking and innovation. Fear of failure and fear of looking foolish are part of our human nature.

To really think critically and innovatively and to have high emotional and social intelligence, one has to learn how to overcome those natural cognitive and emotional proclivities. Almost all of those skills and capabilities need to be learned by doing — doing them enough to engrain new habitual ways of behaving and thinking. This requires individualized developmental attention, real-time feedback, and a lot of hard work.

Posted in Career, Emotional Intelligence
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