Does It Pay To Be Emotionally Intelligent?

Does It Pay To Be EI - 1Would you agree with me that the ability to “read” people would be a handy skill to have? According to a recent paper in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, if you’re good at discerning other people’s emotions, you are probably bringing home a bigger paycheck than your emotionally challenged co-workers and colleagues.

Now, I am not suggesting that money is the greatest motivator. In fact, studies have shown that money is a terrible long-term motivator with affects being seen for only the briefest of time. But money (income) does affect our actions and behaviors.

Does It Pay To Be EI - 2Recently, some researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany showed a group of study volunteers a series of images and voice recordings and asked them to identify the emotions being expressed. “On average, the participants succeeded in 77 percent of the cases,” lead author Gerhard Blickle, a psychology professor at the university, said in the press release. “People who succeeded in 87 percent of the cases were considered to be good, and people who succeeded in more than 90 percent of the cases were considered really good. Those below 60 percent, in contrast, were seen as not so good in recognizing emotions.”

Blickle and colleagues also sought information about the careers of their study participants, including basic facts like income along with more subjective information gathered from interviews with people who worked with the participants. Those who scored higher on the emotions task were also rated as more socially skilled by their colleagues and supervisors, and they tended to make more money than people who scored lower on the emotion-reading task.

I believe that the finding makes intuitive sense. People who are more socially adept are usually more adept at navigating the work environment and keeping the “boss” happy. At any rate, this work suggests that it literally pays to be emotionally intelligent.

So what is the leadership lesson from this study? Continue reading “Does It Pay To Be Emotionally Intelligent?”

You Can Only Steer A Moving Ship

Propeller and Rudder

You can’t steer a ship that isn’t already moving in some direction. Think about it. The propeller must be spinning and a ship must be in motion in order to affect the direction in which it is traveling.

This principle is true in life and leadership as well, yet so often we miss it.

I’ve come across many people who are waiting for life (or God) to show them which direction to take next. Unfortunately, if you’re not already moving, you can’t be steered. Instead, you need to be “started.” And that is a topic for another time.

Bow Thruster

I have a cousin-in-law who is an expert in cruise ships. And he tells me that modern cruise ships do not have to have forward momentum to be steered. They have what are called “bow thruster” that can move and seer the ship from a stationary position. But even so, the bow thrusters have to get the ship moving in order to accomplish the purpose of steering the ship.

If you’re looking for direction in your life, health, finances, relationships, parenting or any other aspect of your life, don’t sit around waiting for a miraculous neon sign to point you in the right direction. Get moving! And get a “coach” or “navigator” to help you navigate and steer once your ship is moving.

What is the Leadership Lesson here? Continue reading “You Can Only Steer A Moving Ship”

“Help Ever – Hurt Never” and the Lost Skill of Discernment

Help Ever Hurt Never - 1I saw a bumper sticker on the way to meet a friend for breakfast this morning. It said “Help Ever – Hurt Never.” I thought “What a great idea.” And I thought “What a great way to live”.

Help Ever Hurt Never - 2And then it hit me. That doesn’t make as much sense as I thought that it did a few moments ago. If that statement were true, and the more that I think about the more that I don’t think it is, then going to the dentist or going to the doctor would take on a whole new set of anticipations. Most trips to the dentist involve a little bit of pain.  But it is for my own good.  And usually because I didn’t do as good at brushing and flossing as I should.  The dentist is helping me.  But he is also actually hurting me a little bit.

You see signs like that all over the place and you need to be careful that you take a look at them on something a little more than just a surface level. You need to be a little discerning in your reading and in your application of what you read.

So what is the Leadership Lesson in this? Continue reading ““Help Ever – Hurt Never” and the Lost Skill of Discernment”

Can There Be Change Without Chaos?

Change without chaos - 1We all know that managing through change is never easy. But you can increase your chances of inducing change without chaos by leading through change instead of just managing through change?

Do you know how often major change initiatives succeed? The success rate is not good. In fact, a 2013 survey of global senior executives by Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) and the Katzenbach Center reveals that the success rate of major change initiatives is only 54 percent. Now if you were a major league hitter, that would be phenomenal. If you were a shooting foul shots in the NBA, it wouldn’t be acceptable. And I would suspect a nearly 50% failure rate in your organization would not be acceptable.

Since change is inevitable, what should you and I be doing within our organizations to minimize chaos and maximize success? Continue reading “Can There Be Change Without Chaos?”

Blending In vs. Standing Out


Blending in vs Standing out - 1When I graduated from college in 1983, and started to look for jobs, I had to do two things during interviews. First I had to convince employers that I understood the basics of their business — the lingo, the process, the requirements of being an employee of their company.

But I also had to give them the sense I was different than other applicants. I needed them to know that I stood out from the pack. I wanted them to believe that I’d work harder and deliver a better work product than anyone else.

It’s a conundrum that faces everyone trying to get ahead in the world of business, from recent graduates, to those moving up the ladder, to entrepreneurs of every stripe: how to stand out, while also making it clear you fit in.

The implications of these two facets of a valuable employee are obvious. But consider for a moment these in the light of being a leader and not just an employee.

Blending in vs Standing out - 2What are the leadership implications of blending in versus standing out? Continue reading “Blending In vs. Standing Out”

Leading With Humility


Leading with Humility - 1We have just experienced a bit of a momentous election here in the U.S.  And we are seeing changes in the upcoming Congress such as have not been seen since Herbert Hoover was president.  Regardless of your political affiliation and whether or not your side gained or lost, how will our newly elected or re-elected representatives lead?

I have written in the past on the recently elected pope and I would suggest again that Pope Francis may have some more words of wisdom for our elected leaders.

Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose the name “Francis” when he became the first Jesuit pope of the Catholic Church in March 2013. Inspired by the modesty of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis anchors his philosophy and approach to life in humility.  After the selection of Argentinian Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope in March 2013, his humility, caring and willingness to be vulnerable captured the fancy of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world. Pope Francis, who labels himself a “sinner,” famously asked, “Who am I to judge?

Leading with Humility - 2In his nearly 40 years as a priest in South America, Bergoglio was as an unpretentious man who took public transportation to visit Catholics and non-Catholics in Argentinian neighborhoods. Fifteen months after he turned 75 – and submitted his mandatory resignation to Pope Benedict XVI – Bergoglio was elected to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, stepping in to head a church plagued by controversy. His tenure as pope thus far exemplifies some important leadership lessons.  Humility is one of them.

Pope Francis believes that humility is the single most important leadership characteristic and that everyone should learn to be more humble. For his first public appearance as pope, Francis chose not to stand on a platform that would raise him higher than other cardinals.  Before addressing the crowd, he requested a prayer for himself, a decidedly untraditional gesture. Few corporate leaders demonstrate that kind of humility. Continue reading “Leading With Humility”

Leadership Lessons from Texas History


Texas History 1I wasn’t born in Texas.  But I got here as quickly as I could.  We moved to Texas during the summer of 1998.  And we have found Texas to be a great place to settle and raise our family.

My wife and I are nerds.  So, when we get a chance to get away for the week-end, where do we go?  We spend a day at Washington on the Brazos learning about history and how Texas declared its independence from Mexico.  See?  I told you we were nerds.  But in the midst of our nerdiness, I discovered an incredible leadership lesson.

If you don’t know the history of Texas, you would do well to familiarize yourself with the key points and timeline of Texas independence.  Following Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, the huge northern area that would one day be the 28th state of the United States of America.  But prior to statehood, Texas would experience a period of nationhood after it declared independence from Mexico.

Independence was declared in the town of Washington, Texas in an unfinished storefront that was made available to the 59 delegates to the convention.  The convention was meeting while General Antonio López de Santa Anna was beginning the siege of the mission in San Antonio.  The situation was desperate and Col. William Travis sent word of the situation to the delegates at the convention.  Many delegates considered their pleas and wanted to take up arms, close the convention, and come to the aid of those besieged at the Alamo.

So what is the leadership lesson in the midst of this history lesson?

Texas History 2It is this.  Sometimes leaders need to overcome the desire to deal with an immediate need or concern and stay focused on the greater goal. Continue reading “Leadership Lessons from Texas History”