Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A quick exercise to increase your Emotional Intelligence

Whenever I ask my classes of students if there is ‘anybody here that has heard of the term Emotional Intelligence?’ about half put their hands up.  Of that half, I’d say on average, half of that number have heard of the term but are unsure what Emotional Intelligence is.

Now, I could give you a textbook definition so that the interpretation of the term is clear for you to understand, or I could direct you to one of the many definitions available through a simple internet search but, I’m not going to do that.


Because you already KNOW what Emotional Intelligence is!  And I will prove this to you now.

Think of someone who has created a positive impact in your life - ideally, someone who may have been one of your teachers, or colleagues; possibly a coach, a mentor or more likely a boss.  Picture that person in your mind’s eye for a moment.  Remember, it must be someone who has left a positive indelible impression on you. 

Can you see them?  Do you know why they’re appearing in your consciousness like a friendly ghost? 

All will soon be revealed…


Now, grab a pen and a piece of paper and write a list of one-word adjectives that describes that person.  Aim for about 8 to 10.  Are you struggling?  Okay, I’ll give you the first one for free to get you started, how about ‘Honest’ or ‘Honesty’?

Take a quick break from reading so that you can do this and then read on when you’ve finished this exercise.

What you have in front of you is a list of behavioural attributes that are probably emotionally intelligent behavioural traits.  As you recalled your mental image of this person and recollected how they used to operate – or maybe still do if they are currently in your life – you will have probably remembered them with a sense of warmth and fondness. Why?  Because you like them of course! 

You like them for who they are and what they stand for.  You like them for what they do or did.  You like them for how they conducted themselves and importantly, how they treated you.  They were probably supportive.  They probably listened.  And you would, if asked, work harder for them, harder than you would for other people – because you wanted to. 

Emotionally intelligent behaviour is an integral part of effective and positive leadership.  People are drawn to those demonstrating high EI behaviours.  Emotional Intelligence creates a positive followership.  People with high EI are listened to because they are respected.  Followers feel obliged to please them. 

Followers like you! 

What’s more, studies show that people with high levels of EI tend to do better in business as well as in life in general.  That’s why I strongly believe that developing emotional intelligent behaviours should be part of every school curriculum.  It’s my view that they are far more likely to be beneficial than studying algorithms for example. (No offence intended to all those mathematicians, economists and computer scientists out there!)

How do increase your emotional intelligence?  Use your positive role models but always remember what comes naturally.  Be accurate in your own self-assessment.  Ask yourself if others view you in the same way that you view your role model?

Collective EI behaviours create great organisational cultures.  They create companies that are considered as great places to work.  Great culture creates great performance.  Great performance usually leads to increased profit margins and the organisation wins repeat business because they also become great companies to work with.

You know what to do!

With best wishes in all that you do.


Saturday, 9 February 2013

How’s your culture?


 It’s been a while!

Apologies to anyone that may have missed my ramblings but so much has happened in the last 11 months such as relocating back to the UK and a job change however, I’m now planning to getting back to producing regular posts – still on the focus of leadership, management and emotional intelligence so at least there’s no change there.

This month’s focus is on culture – as in the culture of the organisation and how it directly affects organisational performance. 

A healthy culture drives good performance.  And that’s it! 

If only all Managers would remember that!

I’ll never forget walking into a medical centre and reading a sign on the wall stating, ‘Our patients always come first.’  Then I met the receptionist who did what seemed to be her level best at being rude, abrupt and cold.  So much for service!  I hate to stereotype and I’m no way implying that all medical receptionists are like this – anymore than all car mechanics will try to rip you off at every opportunity; nor am I saying that all real estate agents are liars.  They’re not. 

But some are.

The question is why?  I appreciate that we all have bad days but what if this behaviour is endemic across the organisation?  The answer I believe is likely to be found within the organisational culture.   No amount of value statements or customer promises are of any use if they don’t live up to reality.

If you were given a list of prescribed behaviours in a staff handbook during your induction or on-boarding process, and you can clearly see that the organisation isn’t upholding their promises – then tear them up!  Having them look back at you will only increase your frustration and serve as a reminder of how you were tricked into believing what you were first told when you joined.  Remember? Being excited and nervous; hoping that you’d made the right decision to sign the contract that now binds you to this organisation that’s been lying to you from the very start.  Just ignore them, do your own thing and realize that no matter where you go in your professional life, it will always be like this.  Live with it.  And now you have an open license to behave as miserably and obnoxiously as everybody else.

Or, you could try and make a difference. 

Irrespective of where you sit in your organisation you do have the power and the responsibility to promote good values.  It doesn’t matter if you clean hospital corridors or run a profit making organisation – you can still make a difference.  You start by thinking of the image that you portray to others.  Are you helpful?  Are you aloof? Take a close and honest look at your own behaviours and concentrate on how others may perceive you.  The constant display of a positive and welcoming disposition creates interest from others.  People will become drawn to you.  People will like you.  And soon, some will even start to act like you.  Granted, sometimes it may feel like shovelling water uphill but over time, it will cause an effect.  These are the first steps in creating a positive identity and culture.  You will begin to motivate others to act more appropriately and I can guarantee that they will feel better about themselves as will you.  You can make a difference.

Unfortunately, many middle and senior managers are driven by the bottom line.  That being how much revenue they can bring into the company – or how many of their targets they’ve met this quarter and so on.  It’s usually how their performance is assessed and rewarded.  These managers often become so focused on the metrics that they forget how to behave.  They lose sight of the fact that they can and do influence the culture which impacts directly on those around them initially – and then the reputation of the organisation eventually.  The constant pressures placed on them to succeed in these areas often leads to them engineering win/lose situations – when winning comes at almost all cost.  What they also forget is that usually, their success rate is directly or indirectly dependent on the performances of others.  And there’s the rub.  If those other people are disenfranchised because the manager is creating a negative culture, then the manager’s chances of success diminishes.  What’s more, because of their behaviours, these managers start to lose repeat business and find themselves working even harder to hit their targets as they’re always having to find new clients to win over.  It becomes self-perpetuating and causes long-term and sometimes irreparable damage to the business that they represent.

Culture is such an important cornerstone to an organisation’s success.  Sick cultures often come back to bite you.  Look what happened recently at the BBC. 

Culture; how to influence and transform it is a huge area that clearly could never be covered in a single blog post.  My aim here is to get you to think about the culture of your organisation and how you may make a difference.

If you work for an organisation that doesn’t live up to its values or, if you are a business owner, take a few minutes to think about the current culture-state of your organisation this weekend,  then think about how you may influence it for the better.

Wishing you well in all that you do,