Resilient Leaders Shine Despite Adversity

August 24, 2016

Marcia Hughes
©ATD2016, published May 2016

abelincolnPresident Abraham Lincoln remains a model of transformative leadership
more than 150 years after he served as the 16th president of the United
States. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—a great constitutional
and political crisis. Throughout his presidency, he was focused on his
vision of maintaining the unity of the nation with unwavering passion, yet was
able to exert high flexibility and impulse control in the strategies he employed.
He took time to listen well, seek out and consider diverse feedback, and was
willing to shift his strategies. No one had time during the Civil War to talk about
change management, yet that was the order of the day. Lincoln is one of our
best resilience teachers.

READ FULL ARTICLE: Resilient-Leaders


Multitasking Brings High Costs

July 28, 2016

multitaskpicRemember the days when you could drive your car without even thinking about talking on the cell phone or feeling like you “should” text at a stoplight even though it is illegal? Those were simpler times. In today’s world many think multitasking is an unavoidable process, but how has attempting to perform all of these tasks simultaneously affected performance? What’s the impact to our stress levels? The American Psychological Association published an article examining this very topic. They found that ultimately it takes longer and costs brain power to switch from topic to topic rather than focusing on one thing at a time. In addition to becoming less effective, multitasking greatly adds to stress – is it worth it?

If you are as busy as we are these days your to-do list can become overwhelming. To tackle the multitude of deeds that need to get done it seems reasonable to combine tasks. Why not peruse that new article while on a conference call? There also is a point of pride as we’re too likely to think “My brain can handle multiple tasks at once. I’m smart!” or “I’m efficient!” In the end we need to ask ourselves an important question: “Is it more important that I just get this done or that I get this done to the best of my ability?” Given that what we produce becomes a reflection of ourselves this question is easy to answer – or at least it should be.

A study conducted by Stanford University researchers shows that when we multitask, such as talking on the phone and sending and texting as we open up email, we’re compromising everything we do. Adam Gorlick writes that “People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”

As Dr. Mary Case told attendees at the Emergenetics Brain Summit, “Higher switching = lower productivity!” Switching takes longer and our focus is compromised. The Stanford study found that the multitaskers couldn’t complete simple tests like remembering a sequence of alphabetical letters well. They could not keep the information sorted out because they kept seeing all the details.

The Stanford study tested two groups (heavy media multitaskers and those who don’t regularly do media multitasking) who were given three tests and the heavy multitaskers lost in every case. Heavy multitaskers have trouble filtering out irrelevant information, which can also be thought of as organizing their memories. They have trouble focusing on the project at hand as they’re thinking about what else is going on.

The conclusion we suggest you draw is slow down, enjoy the moment, and deliberately manage your stress. As you breathe take on one task, be it a call, an email or having a good thoughtful discussion with your colleague or family. You will have better relationships, stronger emotional intelligence and greater productivity overall. It’s time to start breaking the habit of trying to do too much at once and claim your life while supporting your brain and well-being.


Top 10 Reasons for Playing!

June 20, 2016

play-rainbow

  1. It feels good and makes you happy!
  2. Happy is good! Good for your health, for your decision-making, for your relationships….. Heck, what isn’t it good for?
  3. It’s good for our world economy – a stretch? Maybe, but what about the recreation dollars we spend even if we’re just driving to a great hike in the forest and taking a picnic. And happy people have more capacity to slug through the difficult conversations to get to good collaborative decisions. Tell that to the G-20 – or even the G-7 leaders!
  4. We build resilience, defined as the ability to recover quickly from setbacks and elasticity, as in the ability to spring back after things are bent out of shape. Resilience is enhanced through play, through relaxing and through nourishing reflecting. Play regularly to be prepared for life’s twists and turns.
  5. It makes other people happy.
  6. You can get good exercise and increase your cardio vascular functioning.
  7. Brain health and well-being.
  8. We satisfy our own developmental need to be creative and feel competent.
  9. We can be more creative while playing with novel possibilities in an environment where we can be flexible and relaxed.
  10. To interact and be reflective without it seeming so serious – “Hey, why did we miss that grounder when Holly hit it?” “What shall our team do next time?”

Play has been described as unplanned behavior, in other words activity that emerges and evolves spontaneously from within its own context. It occurs in a climate that facilitates creativity and innovation. Young children accomplish the majority of their most critical early learning through play. But guess what, adults learn best in the same sort of attitude — relaxed curiosity. We just don’t emphasize play nearly as much as can serve us. For children play is considered valuable because it develops their social relationship skills, helps build positive interactions between the child and their classmates, and provides the chance to let off a bit of steam (reduce or prevent anger). It also builds on their skills of sharing and taking turns. Isn’t this what we want for ourselves, our families and our teams? Of course it is!

At Collaborative Growth we’re declaring July as a great month for playing. We hope you take time to enjoy this beautiful month whether it’s quite sunny for you in the northern part of our globe or snow is whitening your world in the southern hemisphere.

We also want to express our gratitude for Freedom. In the United States where we live, July 4th is the day we celebrate our nation’s Independence. Let us all embrace freedom with our intentions that really includes liberty and justice for all to help build a world that works. Neurologists assure us that seeing requires believing so let’s join our combined vision in seeing a world that works for all!

Blessings and our thanks to all of you!

Marcia and James


Avoid Emotional Intelligence Pitfalls at Work

May 28, 2016

pitfall_guyFrequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Do you agree? Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below.

  • Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.
  • Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

Pitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.

trap-jump-pitfall

  • Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.
  • Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.

people-puzzle

  • Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.
  • Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.

 

  • Pitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.
  • Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. People can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

angry-redhoop

  • Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.
  • Better EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.

 

 


Acting with Collaborative Intelligence: Your 10 Step Guide

April 25, 2016

team_hugCollaboration is a result of people working together to reach a mutual answer to a challenge or opportunity. As our world becomes more integrated and boundaries become more blurred the need and desire to collaborate is heightened. We see this on the internet, such as with Wikipedia, in organizations of all sizes and shapes, such as the better efforts at the United Nations and in performance goals for individuals and leaders, such as the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ’s) that leaders in the federal senior executive service are to meet.

Organizations frequently list collaboration as part of their mission or vision statement or as one of their values. With all of these forms of embracing collaboration, we know it’s something good, the key question is how do we collaborate and when is it useful? We’ll answer this question for individuals by exploring 10 steps for individuals to follow in order to act collaboratively and briefly review how teams build collaboration.

CG Team Model-update2016Collaborative Intelligence™ is a key outcome teams can reach as they build their skills. Collaborative intelligence is a result teams profit from when using the seven skills measured by the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey. When teams build their skills in forming a strong team identity, engaging with motivation, building emotional awareness, enhancing communications, supporting one another in work life balance to manage stress, growing their conflict resolution skills so they can benefit when conflict occurs and act with positive mood they will be engaging multiple strengths and acting collaboratively. Developing these seven skills helps team members learn how to be collaborative and to use this outcome wisely.

Collaboration is a communication and problem solving process that is based on a structured engagement style and process. Those who collaborate well pay attention to personality styles, behavioral engagement strategies, and timing of the decision making as well as who is invited into the discussion, often referred to a stakeholders. Individuals and organizations can act in a collaboratively style informally and accomplish a great deal. More formal collaborative process can be deliberately engaged in more challenging situations and may benefit from engaging a facilitator. Because the process can be slow and deliberative it may be the wrong formal process to use in an emergency, when a quick decision is needed or when the stakes are low, such as choosing where to have lunch. Even in these circumstances when individuals act with a demonstration of inclusivity and intentionally listen to others and incorporate their suggestions as appropriate, they can build buy-in and loyalty that expands their base of support. The following 10 steps will help individuals and leaders be successful in their collaborations. These skills can be integrated into one’s natural behaviors so the benefits of collaboration abound with minimal effort.

10 Steps to Act with Collaborative Intelligence

  1. Be aware. Notice what is happening so you can choose how you are involved. Breathe deeply to benefit from adding oxygen to your brain, to your heart and to feel calm and resilient.
  2. Apply Intention and Attention. Form your intention so you know specifically what you want to accomplish and how. Then decide what steps in the process you will pay attention to in order to keep yourself on track. Intend to collaborate, which means intend to work together, to listen and to respond in order to accomplish your goal together. Clarify your own purpose and goals; this is not a process you can accomplish on auto-pilot.
  3. Commit to the process. Collaboration takes time, energy and patience. If you’re hesitant about using the process you’ll hold back, be protective of “your” information or rush through the process. One way or another without commitment you are most likely to minimize the potential for success. You may end up feeling annoyed or antagonizing others or both.
  4. Attend to others. Create a foundation for engagement by creating a personal connection. It’s out of little personal discussions where you find you have things in common that form the basis for trusting one another. You might find you both have daughters who sell Girl Scout cookies or you might both climb 14,000 foot mountains. Continue paying attention to other participants throughout the process. Often there is a valuable message behind the specific words someone is using; paying attention will help you discern the real message.
  5. Mutually establish goals and other criteria. Be sure you are headed in the same direction!
  6. Express your opinions and share your knowledge. If you keep what you know close to your vest you undermine the ability of everyone to make a good decision, you role model that the process isn’t fully trustworthy and neither are the people involved. Remember your actions speak louder than your words.
  7. List commonalities and differences. It’s amazing how often people struggle over principles they already all agree on because they didn’t take time to recognize the agreement. If you clarify where there are differences and where you agree then you can begin gathering information to move towards a mutual solution.
  1. Apply divergent thinking. Be willing to listen to other people’s perspectives even though they may be very different from yours. At attitude of curiosity will be helpful.
  2. Be appreciative. Keep noticing what works and through this positive process explore what seems to be off-center, to just not work. Explore these inconsistencies with curiosity to find points of agreement.
  3. Make decision(s). At this point everyone comes to a convergent answer and agrees to support the one answer. Before you sign off though, apply some hearty reality testing. Future pace by imaging it’s sometime in the future and you’re observing how well the decision works. Is anything askew? Did you take on too much at once? Does anything else need adjusting? If so make the changes now.

The result of collaborative decisions is that you have tapped into everyone’s smarts, built trust and have gained mutual commitment to success. What’s not to like about that scenario!


Emotional Intelligence: A Leader’s Prime Asset

March 29, 2016

leadership-upIsn’t it wonderful that one of our most important assets as a leader is something which we can improve? Emotional Intelligence (EI) predicts between 27% and 45% of job success, while IQ predicts only 1% to 20%, with the average being 6%. With a healthy combination of awareness and positive intention, we can improve our emotional smarts in the workplace – and in our personal lives. Research shows that one of the most valued assets sought in employees is common sense – and that’s the stuff EI provides. The five key categories of emotional intelligence are: self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, decision-making, and stress management. Each of these five areas includes three skills for fifteen skills at the heart of the model with an additional skill of happiness is added as an overall barometric indicator of EI. Thus 16 skills are measured to find the details of one’s current emotional intelligence. An action plan can be developed once an individual has this information, supporting growth in any desired area. Performance in these skills drives effective performance and predicts job and life satisfaction.

Of the prominent EI measures available, the EQi (Emotional Quotient Inventory) has the greatest body of scientific data supporting that it is an accurate and reliable means of assessing emotional intelligence. Thus, it was the measure used by the Center for Creative Leadership in its research that documents the importance of emotional intelligence in leaders. They also found the reverse – that low EI is related to career derailment and difficulty in making changes. EI predicts 40% of the variance in effectiveness in teams. Clearly, this is an asset worth growing! Application of the EQi by the U.S. Air Force demonstrates the financial power of this information. The exceptionally high turnover rate of recruits was changed by finding that recruits who scored well in 5 skills on the EQi – assertiveness, empathy, happiness, self-awareness and problem solving, were 2.7 times more likely to succeed. By using this instrument to find those who are right for this position, the Air Force retention rate has been increased by 92%, saving an estimated $2.7 million in 1998 dollars. Needless to say, when Congress got wind of this success they said “Do more!”


Unpacking Team Identity

February 15, 2016

box-unpack

As part of the launch of the Expanded TESI 2.0, every month we will look at a new team competency and where the challenges lie in developing it. We begin this month with Team Identity!

In some ways Team Identity is the most fundamental competency of teamwork because this skill set incorporates the desire of the members to include each other and work together as a team. Many of the teams in existence today were assembled by others and told to work as a team but by itself that will never accomplish the goal – especially in national and organizational cultures where competition is so highly rewarded. If members are not compensated as a team in some fashion (bonuses, etc.) the disincentives for collaboration will be hard to overcome, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. This is a good thing, because in the U.S. it is the exception rather than the rule to see employees compensated for the productivity of their teamwork.

Being assigned to a team does create a real degree of interdependency, and this is the glue that holds it all together. If your boss or your bosses boss expects you and several others to get something done together, that expectation can hardly be dismissed or discounted. Unfortunately it’s not enough incentive to cause people to make the kinds of adjustment in their behavior that genuine teamwork requires. There is a constant tension between my need to be recognized as an individual and my need to belong and be recognized as a productive contributor. Let’s consider some of the targets we need to be moving toward.

Effective Communication (another of the seven TESI competencies) is the critical, bare minimum requirement for any team to be productive. This means all information needs to be shared freely and equally among all members and this is not so likely to happen on its own. Everyone enjoys some degree of special recognition when they figure out how to solve a tricky problem. One reason that it’s still a problem is because no one else has figured it out so far. The shift that needs to occur here is in the recognition that the team can provide sufficient praise and recognition to fully reinforce the members’ achievements – if it knows how, and makes the effort every time. (In other words everyone’s achievements must be recognized not just the most assertive or the most drama prone members.)

The way to recognize individual’s contributions includes making sure that all team members are present at that meeting when the recognition happens, then ask the problem solver to tell their story– when did they first recognize the problem, what alerted them, what steps had to occur in what order to move from the problem to the solution. Teaching the team to tell these kinds of stories can provide some of the best instruction through experiential learning that the team is likely to receive, so get the full value by taking your time. Ask questions. Teach team members to recognize and describe the significant details. This helps to explicate their internal problem solving process and makes it a much more conscious, obvious one that everyone (even the problem solver) can observe more objectively and reflect upon. The trust that is demonstrated when someone openly shares their strategy for problem solving with everyone empowers the team as a whole, and builds each person’s identity with the whole group through sharing and appreciating even a small success.

Trust is such a huge part of effective teamwork that every team can benefit from regular practice in developing it! Trust grows as a result of people keeping their word to each other, but you don’t want to wait to develop this team skill until there is a pressing need for it – that doesn’t work! Applying the emotional intelligence skill of empathy is one of the fastest ways to build trust. Use a lot of reflective language in your team meetings like, “I think you’re feeling pretty frustrated because you can’t get a quorum together to approve this change to the project you’re running.”

The meta-message behind this kind of communication behavior is – “I notice you and I’m paying attention to the challenges you face and how you feel about them.” Just paying this kind of attention to each other on a regular basis helps people feel included and lets them know it’s safe to share what’s important to them at a more personal level. Without this, Team Identity cannot grow strong enough to support the team in dealing with the even trickier issues that come into play when serious disagreement and conflict occur. We’ll look at it all as we cover the seven competencies and the cool new features of the Expanded TESI 2.0

Next month we will be discussing Motivation and how the presence or absence of that energy is influencing all the team’s members all the time.