Sword-fighting and Emotional Intelligence Article

The following is a brief excerpt from MindSpring’s article: “Sword-fighting and Emotional Intelligence.” To download the full article for FREE, click here.

In the early years working with Emotional Intelligence we encountered comments like…

“I don’t like to wear my heart on my sleeve,” and “Emotions don’t belong in the workplace,” and “I hope this isn’t going to be too touch feely.”

Clients asked us to change the title of the program from “Leadership through Emotional Intelligence” so as not to scare their people. I suggested “Sword-fighting 101” which they seemed to like better.

Half joking questions like, “You’re not going to make me cry, are you?” and “Do we have to sing kumbaya?” illustrate the level of discomfort many people have with emotions. What is it about emotions that strikes fear in the hearts of otherwise fearless people?

Just as eyes are the window to the soul, emotions reveal our thoughts.

That can be terrifying because we work so hard to hide, disguise and bury thoughts we perceive as unacceptable. There is a history to this pattern…

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Our experiences over the last 18 years have allowed us to redefine for ourselves the nature of leadership development and how individuals should be developed. We have reached the following conclusions but keep in mind, they are only our experiences and observations. They are not in any order of importance.

1. Leaders are over-assessed and under-developed.

2. Many leadership training programs focus on an exchange of information (training) versus the teaching of wisdom (development). Information focuses on effect. Knowledge focuses on cause.

3. The lack of an effective leadership curriculum forces organizations to focus on what has been done before, even if it did not create the desired outcomes. (i.e. MBTI).

4. One size fits all is the most common approach to leadership development.

5. Traditional (military-like) leadership produces short-term outcomes, quick decision-making and problem-solving because the decision-making processes are controlled by a small number of individuals. This “concrete-sequential” approach emphasizes policy over people, rules and regulations and loyalty. It sees productivity in terms of profit versus people. It undervalues imagination and creativity. These leaders keep not only others, but the public in the dark. Money, power, status and control are dominant issues for these leaders.

6. Progressive (team-oriented) leadership is more open-minded and tries to bring issues to the table. These leaders focus on getting the most out of the workforce through empowerment processes. They are more open and direct in sharing their ideas, concerns and decisions in feedback processes. The progressive leader emphasizes people over policy, morale, and consideration. The motto of the progressive leader is “let’s all win.”

7. There is one general barrier in becoming an effective and respected leader: self-deception.

8. From this perspective, successful leadership is a function of two factors:
• The willingness to evolve.
• The ability to produce leadership in others.

9. The most visible sign of a leader’s level of mastery is how well the leader deals with conflict, disagreement and difficult people. Essentially, you don’t get to find out how good you are at leadership until the stuff hits the fan.

10. Effective leaders solicit the very thing that scares them to death: feedback. When this is avoided, mediocrity will and does become the benchmark of daily operations.

11. If #1 is doing it, #21 is doing it.

12. Good or bad, the structure of the organization or team will fit the structure of the leader’s personality.

12. Effective leaders have the ability to direct the intention and the energy of their intellectual and emotional machinery, at will, regardless of the circumstances…even while being attacked.

13. Most learning processes in training and development are very basic, if not well below the skill level of the audience. The use of engaged and dynamic thinking skills are uncommon.

14. Hardiness and resilience are essential in leadership.

15. Effective leaders have and execute a well-articulated platform of stress management.

16. Integrity is always an issue.

17. True diversity has nothing to do with race, gender, etc. True diversity hinges on diversity of mind.

18. Communication is the key to excellence. Effective leaders communicate in such a way that the group / team fulfills the goals and objectives of the leader’s intent.

19. Effective leaders turn negatives into opportunities.

20. The true leader operates out of mission and purpose.

21. The true leader does not come out of their own inner needs but focuses on meeting the needs of the workforce, thus increasing trust, loyalty, dependability and excellence.

22. The worth of a true leader is not based upon how many people s/he oversees or how much work s/he produces, but how many leaders s/he is capable of producing.

23. The true leader is a teacher.

24. Generally speaking, leadership development and outcomes of development over the last 18 years have not produced the kinds of leaders that organizations need.

The Source of All Conflict

Conflict is generally misunderstood…we think it is an aspect of other people and their wrong perceptions. Right?

Actually other people are not the origin of your conflict. There is an underlying reason for all the conflict in your life and it has to do with you, not them.

We avoid conflict for secret reasons, as well. Some reasons we reportedly avoid it include not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings or not wanting to stir things up more. Both sound reasonable but neither is the true source of avoidance. Fear is generally the culprit but fear of what?

I was recently in a situation where I witnessed conflict bubbling to the surface with two people. One woman started out with a smile and what I call a back-handed compliment. The recipient of the back-handed compliment narrowed her eyes, and replied, “Thank you for sharing that.’ Within minutes the smiles were gone and one of the women was standing up yelling in the general vicinity of the other nonsensical accusations and slights from some time in the recent and not so recent past.

What sparked that exchange from both people is the same thing because the source of all conflict in your life is self-doubt. Self-doubt encompasses “I’m not being heard” and “I’m not liked around here.” Self-doubt is the driving force of conflict because nobody likes feeling less than, dismissed, de-valued, left out and so on, so we cover those feelings up with anger and project it out onto someone else.

Take away the self-doubt and you will take away the conflict. You can still have a disagreement. You can still have an issue you want to address. But if there is no self-doubt, there is no conflict. There is just something happening and removing the self-doubt allows you to maintain clarity and balance in determining how to respond. This is path to transformation in leadership.

Check out our August 8, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM 90 minute webinar, “Dealing with Conflict and Difficult People.” https://helpingyougrow.com/calendar/

Terry Hasty is Vice-President of MindSpring Consulting, Inc. in Asheville, NC. www.helpingyougrow.com

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The Motorcycle Ranger and Emotional Intelligence

By: Terry Hasty

“What do emotions and intelligence have to do with each other, anyway?” a disgruntled district ranger asked me when I picked him up at the airport in Asheville. I will never forget the first time I saw him. He was striding toward me wearing a black t-shirt with white letters, “God loves bikers, too” and broken- in cowboy boots.  The year was 2000, and he was asked to attend our “Leadership through Emotional Intelligence” program after his boss attended the pilot program that same year. She told him it was great and he would get a lot out of it, but he was clearly not convinced.

Over the years we have encountered the same confusion, misperceptions and general angst about what emotional intelligence is and what it isn’t. Some consider it to be “soft skills.” Think about the last time you had to tell someone a difficult truth, or hear critical feedback yourself, or be patient and compassionate when you felt the opposite. Those are not “soft” experiences, and require emotional intelligence to navigate successfully. Some perceive emotional intelligence as a “touchy/feely” exercise. It is neither “touchy/feely” nor is it an exercise. It is a life-long journey of directing the flow, energy and intention of your emotional machinery at will, regardless of what is happening around you.

While IQ and technical skills are important, they are more “threshold capabilities.” In other words, they provide entry into a leadership role, but they will not make you a successful leader. What creates barriers to effective leadership? The inability to communicate through conflict, the unwillingness to give and receive feedback, the lack of attention to building trusting relationships, and the absence of mission and purpose, to name a few. In our experience, it is extremely rare that a leader is deemed “bad” because of technical skills. It is almost always a case of low emotional intelligence, which certainly includes the outcome of poor communication. Notice I said that poor communication is an outcome…the cause is at the heart of the issue and that is where the improvement is made.

We are all magnificent beings with multi-layers of consciousness, capabilities, joys, despairs, talents, experiences and dreams. That is why the only leadership model that will work for you is your own individual model, and that cannot be taught or templated, it must be discovered, fine-tuned and honored. It is important to remember, you are not your mind, but it’s essential to have a mind. You are not your body, though it’s wonderful to have a body. You are not your emotions, yet they are helpful teachers. You are the whole, the observer of those elements, and that is where your leadership flourishes.

The most important questions are, “How do you want to experience yourself? What will you have to do to get that experience?” Once you know the answer, over-ride your fixed tape loops, the same old predictable ways of acting and reacting in your mind, body and emotions, to get that experience.

That brings us back to our District Ranger. He left the five day Emotional Intelligence program motivated to return for the three day follow up in a couple of months. At the conclusion of the three day follow-up program he was the first one to say, “What‘s next? We have to keep this  going.” We developed our advanced leadership program, The Faces of Leadership, and our motorcycle riding district ranger signed up. He said he was bringing his family to Asheville, and when the group came over to our house for dinner during the session, he asked if his family could come, too. And here is where we learned the extent of his integration of emotions and intelligence.

After dinner, he pulled up a chair in the living room for his wife. His sons were in the basement playing with our son, so he called them upstairs. He then sat across from his wife with his guitar across his legs, his sons sitting on the floor nearby, while he played and sang a love song he had written for her. What did he teach his teenage sons? How did the other leaders in the room view him? How does that event translate into leadership? How does it translate into work performance?

Leadership is a 360 degree condition. We are leaders at work, at home, with ourselves, our families, our communities. Being aware of what we are feeling and connecting those feelings to their source, empowers us to respond appropriately and create the outcomes we truly desire. Being unaware of what we are feeling and responding through that lens is a sure de-railer of career, relationships and even wellness. Increasing our awareness means our awareness is increased…and you cannot de-crease it after it is known and experienced.

Our definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to direct the flow, the energy and the intention of your emotional machinery at will, regardless of the circumstances. The willingness to express a full range of emotions, not as a reaction, but as an authentic tool to communicate and connect with others, builds trust and clarity. It takes courage and creates legacy.

Emotional Intelligence is not an inoculation or something to be “checked off” and put on the shelf.  It is challenging and demanding to become more and more conscious of the cause rather than the effect. The outcome of that intention and effort is a very rewarding life and experience of yourself and your leadership.