As a leader, what do you radiate? (Part Two)

You may want to read part one of this post on August 27.

So how do you begin to increase your emotional intelligence as a leader and as a person.

Step One: Observation

    Heighten your sensitivity to your emotional intelligence as it directly relates to your leadership. Watch how you come across to your team/organization. Pay more attention to the responses you receive when you meet with people. Notice your own emotional reactions when you lead your team or are in front of your organization. You may even want to ask a few trusted colleagues to answer the questions I posed above (see the August 27 posting).

Don’t make a lot of changes or grow frustrated if you are less than pleased with what you see in yourself. The cultivation of E.I. is a life long dynamic that requires patience and time (and often good coaching). For now, just notice and smile. If you can avert potential trouble in your leadership through this observation, more power to you. But don’t make get hung up on changing what you see. First, just learn to see what is and let the change come later. Be gentle with yourself as you observe. Beating yourself up won’t help either. In fact, it’s a sign of low E.I.

You may want to keep a small journal of you observations to increase you commitment to this process. Learning to connect your E.I. to your leadership will increase your sensitivity the next time you find yourself leading. Journaling is a reflective tool that can help you do this.

Keep this question front and center:

    What am I radiating in this leadership moment?

Two Emotional Intelligence Resources For Leaders

1) Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Organization. Robert Cooper

2) Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee, Richard E. Boyatzis 

As a leader, what do you radiate? (Part Two)2019-03-26T10:44:33-04:00

Idea Killer

So, I'm sitting at a Starbucks working. But, I'm actually eavesdropping on the conversation next to me. A woman is throwing out one idea after another to her boss, trying to get him to embrace some creative change for their organization--and for a specific event they are trying to plan.

She's got great ideas. They are innovative and yes, a bit exotic. But, good.

Every response from him begins with the word:


The message: We just can't innovate.

Too bad. I wonder how long she'll stay. I wonder if he'll ever get it.

Idea Killer2019-03-26T10:44:33-04:00

Getting customer service feedback…fast

I've been corresponding with a publisher about a potential partnership around a project. One of the representatives and I have been emailing back and forth. I noticed, on the first email she sent me, something about her signature block that was quite unique.

Below her name were these words:

How's my driving?

If you are satisfied with my customer service, please send a reply to this email (and a link was provided)

If you are not satisfied with my customer service, please send a reply to this email (a different link was supplied).


What's great about this is not just that it's soliciting feedback on customer service, but that the solicitation is immediate. I can give feedback on the representatives "driving" in almost "real time." This is good for her and good for me.

What's even more brilliant about this idea is that it provides a way to provide feedback in the virtual world--which is fraught with horrible customer service and few channels with which a customer can express dis-satisfaction. On the email I received, the company--and its reps--decided to change this by giving people a way to give feedback AND a way to collect that feedback into trends and patterns. Perfect.

So much customer service feedback these days comes in the form of complaining to someone on the phone who is simply going to hang up and move on. But, this email system doesn't allow things to fall between the "virtual cracks." The data is collected and speaks for itself.

Maybe we should all begin to ask our clients, in real time, "how's my driving?"

Getting customer service feedback…fast2019-03-26T10:44:33-04:00

As a leader, what do you radiate?

What Do You Radiate?
Invisible, But Oh So Real...

    We all know from our days in science class that invisible fields exist all around us. One field—the electromagnetic field—occurs naturally, but is also generated by things like household appliances. An electromagnetic field grows stronger the closer you are to its source and it decreases in strength as you move away from that source. Can you sense a leadership principle or two or three or four coming?
    People, like appliances, also radiate invisible fields. The affects of these fields increase the closer we get to each other. Leaders are notoriously shortsighted in their understanding of these fields. They emit all kinds of “vibes” that can diminish or enhance their effectiveness. Yet, often little to no attention is given to the intentional cultivation of these fields. Some leaders are too busy doing “important things” to pay attention to these "softer issues" (fields). Other leaders miss these opportunities because they are overly focused on task completion rather than on the all important relational aspects of leadership.

Emotional Intelligence: Invisible Human Field

Take a moment to ponder:

    Do you inspire the confidence of the people on your team?

    Are the people on your team afraid to risk because of your reactions to failure?

    Are you demeaning or sarcastic toward team members when you’re frustrated?

    Do people feel energized or deflated when you challenge or motivate them?

    How aware are you of people’s emotional state at any given moment?

    How aware of your emotional state are you at any given moment?

Would you alter your leadership based on the emotional state of your team, or your own emotional state?
How different or similar do you think your team’s answer would be to the above questions? (Maybe you should ask your team)

    Robert Cooper wrote in his excellent book, Executive EQ, “Emotional intelligence emerges not from the musings of rarefied intellect, but from the workings of the human heart.” Emotional intelligence has to do with our capacity for self and group awareness and our capability to express authentic presence, creativity and originality. Further, E.I. is about our ability to connect deeply with others in ways that inspires them to reach for their own potential as individuals and members of a team or organization.

more to come...

As a leader, what do you radiate?2019-03-26T10:44:33-04:00

Flip your org. chart on its side and “think stream” (part two)

This is part two of my post on "stream thinking" --a different way to think about organizational structure and collaboration. You might want to read part one (August 22).

Imagine the scene:

Frustrated Frank:   I really wish you would’ve let me know before you made that decision.

Hard Charging Hanna: Sorry. I thought we were moving forward based on my conversation with Sr. Leader Joe.

Frustrated Frank:   Well, Joe didn’t have all the information when you talked with him. This affects my team big time. In fact, team member Susie got wind of the decision and came into my office and hit the ceiling. I don’t blame her. I was mad too.

Hard Charging Hanna:  Look, I’m not trying to cut in on your team, but we have to keep things moving or will never get anything done. Do you want to include EVERYONE in EVERY decision?

Frustrated Frank:
  “I don’t call including ME or my team ‘everyone.’”


    The trouble with Hanna and Frank is that they don’t understand how stream thinking and leading should influence decision making and change. 

When I sit with leaders and Executive Teams I hear the above conversation—or others similar to it—all the time.  Executive leaders seem to have a propensity to move forward without including the right people (up and down stream) in the decision or change process. This weakness will thwart the possibility of healthy change (and actually slows change down).

Why do leaders leave people out? 

Hanna’s fear is real. Teams and organizations can over-talk decisions to a point where nothing seems to get done. Leaders are leery of conversation because they’ve seen it go nowhere and waste too much time. However, the way to overcome over-talking is not by enforcing a no-talk rule. Rather, dialogue about decisions should include the right people at the right time. This may slow the process down a bit at the beginning, but in the long run you will avoid the trouble Hanna and Frank encountered.

A healthy conversational process includes the right people up and downstream in three ways:
•    To consider the value of the decision.
•    To evaluate possible consequences—foreseen and unforeseen.
•    To anticipate as much as possible what it will take to make the change/decision a reality (this is something leaders frequently underestimate since they don’t do most of the actual work attached to a proposed change).

To leave key up and downstream people out of the conversation is trouble every time. It doesn’t mean everyone up and down the stream gets to vote on the decision. It does mean that important voices should be heard. If they are not, the decision or change is less likely to stick and you (as leader) are more likely to encounter resistance up and down the stream.

    A few years back, I was working with an Executive Team who was wrestling with the need to improve stream dialogue and leadership. Together we came up with the following questions they (and everyone else in the organization) now ask when considering changes or entering a decision making process. You may want to develop something similar for your team or organization. Here are the questions:

1.  Is the potential decision congruent with our mission and guiding principles?

2.  Who should I/we process this decision with before the decision is made and implemented?

3.  Who (individuals and groups) will be effected by the decision?  When and how will they be affected? 

4.  What needs to be communicated to whom and when?

Flip your org. chart on its side and “think stream” (part two)2019-03-26T10:44:34-04:00

If you don’t want to be surprised, don’t be a leader

I was facilitating a seminar a few weeks back, and one of the speaker's, at one point in his comments, said:

Well, I'm a leader, and I don't like surprises.

He said it with great bravado, so it was easy to get swept up in the legitimacy of his words.

There's only one problem: It's a stupid declaration.

The new world, whether that world is business, government, church or non-profit, is predicated on the inevitability of surprise.

If you don't want to be surprised, don't be a leader.

Now, you might say, well maybe he just meant he doesn't want people to hide things from him when they  find out important information or make a mistake. And, that's quite possible.

But, here's the deal: If you use your John Wayne swagger when you declare that you don't like surprises, here's the real message you're communicating:

First, you better not blow it.

Second, if you do blow it, you better tell me immediately, so I can punish you and clean up your mess.

Third, and this might be the loudest message you communicate:

    Don't risk, because of if you risk and it doesn't work, well...refer to 1 and 2.

If you don’t want to be surprised, don’t be a leader2019-03-26T10:44:34-04:00

Flip your org. chart on its side and “think stream”

I talked briefly about this idea yesterday (at the tele-seminar), but I think it warrants a bit more attention.

It’s about a stream.

What if cool ideas were discovered through dialogue rather than through leader driven monologues that are full of convincing, selling, spinning and enlisting? Instead, what if vision was the result of inclusion, discovery, innovation, and mutual stewardship. 

Look again at the second list of words.

The common denominator in all of the words is relationship. Leadership is as much about the cultivation of relationship as it is about anything else. For too long leaders have viewed relationship as a way to get things done rather than as a way to discover what should be done. If leadership is a relationship of discovery, then dialogue becomes an important portal through which that discovery can occur.   

It’s about a stream.

But  how we might ask?

Just how do you, Dave, propose that we include more people in the discovery process of vision and still accomplish something more than endless chatting?

It’s about a stream.

    Hierarchy has been the dominant way we’ve viewed relationships of leadership and followership (top-down). In this system people related to each other based on their positions in the hierarchy. This structure has not naturally fostered dialogue. It fostered monologues, commands, directives, and corrective types of communication, but not dialogue. What we need now is a new side-to-side way of thinking about relationships that allows dialogue to become a part of the texture of everyday work.

I call it the stream.

Part two is coming soon...

Flip your org. chart on its side and “think stream”2019-03-26T10:44:34-04:00

leading thoughts tele-seminar: Risky Biz

Yesterday a good group gathered with me to talk about risk. We considered why some leaders and organizations are able to engage risk in a way that leads to cool opportunities and why some can't.

Take a listen. The actual seminar begins around 6 min 10 seconds.

Risky Business tele-seminar.

leading thoughts tele-seminar: Risky Biz2019-03-26T10:44:34-04:00

300 page iPhone bill, the media and personal assumptions

You've probably heard about the 300 page iPhone bill a woman received recently from AT&T.

When I first heard this I jumped to conclusion based ONLY on the headline.

A 300 page bill; you're kidding. What the heck is AT&T doing?

I began to rant in my mind about the exclusive contract Apple entered into with AT&T. I built an entire case  in the span of two minutes about how bad of an idea this was (which it was) and how this 300 page phone bill would make Apple look bad.

Then, while driving in my car, I heard--on NPR--the actual story. You can listen to it here.

It turns out that the proud owner of the bill had 30,000 text messages in one month. Yes, that's the real number--30,000.

Apparently, she's a life blogger with a twitter account. With the aggregates from her twitter account and her life blogging adventures, she had 30,000 text messages in one month. I hope life blogging is a lucrative business--for her sake.

Even though I still think the exclusive contract is a bad idea, I had to do some major repenting for my internal rant. AT&T had offered the woman, like all iPhone users, an online option for her bill. She opted for the print version. So, they simply gave her a bill that reflected her actual use. It wasn't a dumb mistake on their part.

The Point: We live in a sound bite, headline driven world. If you don't augment the sound bite, people will believe the "bite" without even reading the story. This is true whether the headline is a one line banner on Yahoo! News, or the latest talk around the water cooler.   

300 page iPhone bill, the media and personal assumptions2019-03-26T10:44:34-04:00

I just wanted extra Guacamole

A couple of days ago I was on a biz trip. After finishing my meetings for the day, I headed to a local fast food-ish Mexican restaurant. This was the type of place where they build your salad or burrito right in front of you. I got to the end of the line and I asked the cashier if I could have a larger side of Guacamole (the small plastic container just wasn't going to do it).

Do you have a larger container for extra Guacamole, I asked.

Um...., came the reply. Then, silence.

A wave of panic came over the cashier. The problem wasn't that she didn't have a larger container. She did.The problem wasn't that she was shocked by my gluttonous request. She wasn't. The problem was that she had no idea how to charge me for a larger side of Guacamole. It wasn't on the menu and it wasn't on the screen of her register. A different price didn't exist (fade in scary horror music).

Just charge me whatever extra you need to, I replied- trying to help out.

That didn't help. Apparently, there isn't a "whatever you need to" button on her screen either.

We looked at each other. She wishing I would have never put her in this position and me thinking, this is isn't your fault, it's your leader/manager's fault.

The Point: If you don't encourage and foster creativity and "out of the cash register thinking," you won't get it.

I've been in this type of moment dozens of times. A person has been trained to follow the rules. Boring. A person has been trained to work within the buttons of the screen which, I know, is necessary;  but  it's also limiting.  

Leaders and managers have a responsibility to ensure that work processes and rules are followed. I get it. But, they also have a responsibility to teach creative solution making. There's always going to be the weirdo who wants more Guacamole. In fact, that's really not that weird, really. If leaders want people who can adapt and pull great customer service out of thin air, then that's what they need to model and develop in their employees.

By the way, the Guacamole was great.

I just wanted extra Guacamole2019-03-26T10:44:34-04:00


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Written by Dave Fleming