The Power of Connections: Emotional Intelligence at Work

Check Out Dr. Dupree’s interview with Michelle Bergquist of Connected Women of Influence on Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Women Lead Radio.

 

Three Ways to be the Smartest, Most Respected Leader

A 2002 study by Gallup revealed two amazing things about what most employees want in the workplace.  Surprisingly, it’s not about money and it’s not about title.  Instead, it’s pretty simple:  1) to be called by their name, and 2) to be acknowledged.

As a corporate trainer and workplace mediator, these findings intrigued me.  If two simple things like this were the most important to employees, what were managers and leaders doing, or not doing?  What was getting in the way of employees being more productive, being satisfied at work, and growing the bottom line?  In a 2008 study by Consulting Psychologist Press (CPP) called “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses can Harness it to Thrive,” fourteen top reasons for employee dissatisfaction and conflict in the workplace surfaced across nine major countries.  Here are the top six:

  1. Personality clashes/warring egos – 49%
  2. Stress – 34%
  3. Heavy workloads/inadequate resources – 33%
  4. Poor leadership from the top of the organization – 39%
  5. Lack of honesty and openness – 26%
  6. Poor line management – 23%

What does this mean for leaders?  Based on my 20+ years of experience training and mediation workplace issues, I say that employees feel disconnected from their bosses and from each other.  And, people at any level of employment seem to fear confronting difficulties with others, fearing retaliation, job loss, or public humiliation.  People often lack the skills to effectively communicate through difficult situations or don’t feel it’s a safe environment.

TIP #1:  Engage your employees in interactive, fun team-building training for today’s multi-generational workforce.  Actively learn and apply emotional intelligence in the workplace, powerful and persuasive communication skills, and strategies for managing conflict and differences among people.

Leaders often think their employees have the skills to resolve differences, or at least bring them to their attention, but they don’t.  Too often, leaders are viewed as unapproachable (“my way or the highway” kind of thinking), not really interested in them as people, or are not viewed as trustworthy.  And, leaders tend to view soft-skills training as a poor investment.  But not engaging employees in fun activities outside the day-to-day work routine has costly side effects (read on).

When leading training, I do some things at the start of every program to charge up energy, warm up the environment, and to show how easy it is to connect with those around you.  It’s phenomenal to watch the shift in people’s demeanor, how their faces light up when they make a connection, and how much more engaged they are.  It’s what I call “going below the water line” to demonstrate how “the power of connection” can energize an organization.  The excitement and enthusiasm generated in a group of people is infectious.  It sets the tone for the program and allows us to go places where we might not otherwise venture.

TIP #2:  Do your part in knowing your employees, reaching out and engaging them regularly and often.

Putting strategies like this one to work for you helps make connections among your people, makes you seem more approachable, bolsters your credibility and leadership. Why is this so important?  Another study by Gallup in 2008 called “Turning Around Employee Turnover” showed how critical the concept of engagement is to the health and wealth of an organization.  Surprisingly, Gallup found that only 20% of employees are truly engaged.  Another 20% are fully disengaged.  This means a whopping 60% of the workforce is moderately engaged!  The financial impact of engaged vs. disengaged means $450-600 million lost to American businesses annually.  The ability to engage employees is a skill often overlooked or considered unimportant.   If appearing disinterested or self-absorbed, the mood or attitude of the leader is contagious throughout the organization and becomes a model to others on how to behave.  Employees tend to view their leaders as either an ongoing source of inspiration at work or a hassle to be avoided.  Which one are you?

This notion of the mood of a leader as contagious comes from Daniel Goleman’s “Primal leadership:  The hidden driver of great performance,”  This ties into the Gallup study where they found good bosses are aware of this and actively connect with their employees at all levels.

TIP #3:  Commit to your own professional leadership development: communicate effectively, put your emotional intelligence to work, and effectively resolve conflict at the lowest level.  Be sure that you are not implicitly condoning bad bossing behavior among your management team.

As a leader, we owe it to ourselves and our employees to take a good hard look at how we impact others.  We also owe it to all involved to take a good hard look at how engaged the workforce is, how much is the lack of engagement costing us, and what can be done about it.  Here are four key cost factors to look to see if bad bossing is happening at your organization:

1)  flattened or declining profits,

2) high turnover or unanticipated departures of good employees,

3) increased absenteeism at any level of employment, and

4) increased use of health and/or EAP benefits.

So, if this is going on in your organization, it’s time to take action.  You have tremendous influence and impact on others and in ways that impact the financial, emotional and physical health of your organization.  So connect with your employees and see what a difference you can make!

Do this exercise for a quick look at the impact of good bossing vs. bad bossing:

  1. Pull out a sheet of paper and write down on the left side 3-5 words that describe someone you regard as a great boss or leader.
  2. On the right side of the paper, write down 3-5 words that describe the worst boss you’ve ever had.
  3. What do you notice?

If you’re like most people who engage in this little exercise, you’ll see some stark differences with positive, inspiring words on the left and negative, uninspiring (even derogatory) words on the right.  Look at these two lists…where do you fall?  Where do you want to be?  Most of us want to be that inspiring role model but seldom do we realize how we fail to deliver.  Seldom do we admit or care how we impact others as our goal is to simply get the job done (i.e. the sale, the project, or the deadline).  When we don’t care, we tread a thin line of appearing as a bad boss.

Just what is bad bossing?  Bad bossing is someone who lacks awareness or doesn’t care about the impact of his/her behavior on others, how it demotivates not motivates, how it demoralizes not inspires, and how it make employees disengage rather than engage. Unfortunately, as the Gallup poll also reveals, “bad bossing” is growing, not declining.  Which side are you on?

Get your own Manager Makeover and goof-proof your leadership style!

Authored by Dr. Debra Dupree, the 3D experience.   

Debra is speaker and author, a business and conflict coach, credentialed mediator, and a licensed psychotherapist.

Debra’s intrigue with the effects of leadership on employee performance led to her doctoral dissertation in 2014 on the “Psychology of Good Bosses versus Bad Bosses:  An Examination of Attachment Orientation, Leadership Styles and the Neuroscience Behind Behavior” as part of her graduation requirements at Ryokan College in Los Angeles.

Four Ways to Lead by Example

Do you have a clear sense of direction and purpose that inspires and energizes you?  If not, you are most likely setting an unintentional tone for the day and influencing those around you…your mood and attitude are contagious and ripple through the organization.

How different your life becomes when you establish your purpose and use it as a framework for planning, setting goals and examining tasks and behaviors – when you become and do what matters most.  It involves the total person to discover total purpose. Where are you in your leadership journey?

These kinds of questions are what challenged the founder and owner of a company called Gravity Payments, Inc. in Washington State when he read a study on income and happiness.  Owner Dan Price made a startling discovery when he learned that people who make $70,000 per year are generally happier than those above and below that threshold.  Happier employees stay longer and are more productive, generating increased profitability.  What’s he doing now?  Considering the average salary at Gravity Payments was $48,000 per year with knowledge that many employees were struggling, he’s diving fully into that concept.  He’s started by slashing his own salary from nearly $1 million per year to $70,000 per year along with investing 75-80% of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profits to make this happen over the next three years to help employees reach that level of income and happiness.  He’s making a difference in the culture of his organization not to mention the lives of his people.

In The Economist, management guru Warren Bennis offered some great insights about leadership.  Bennis lists four competencies that leaders need to develop to lead effectively and profitably; you can see that Dan Price operated from this set of four principles:

First, leaders articulate a clear and compelling vision, that provides people with a bridge to the future.  They are visionary and capable of communicating that common vision to give people purpose and meaning.  It outlines the priorities and direction of the group.   In Price’s situation, he saw the need to help reduce the daily stressors and help people feel valued.

The happiness research behind Price’s decision is based on the work from Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist.  Emotional well-being — defined as “the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience, the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant” — rises with income, but only to a point.  As a leader, what you are doing to make a difference in the people who follow you?  It may not necessarily be money, but you CAN do things differently to enrich the lives of those around you.

Second, they act confidently and optimistically, giving meaning to that vision through communication.  The leader’s confidence, conviction and optimism is contagious; it rubs off on the followers.  A good leader is the lifeblood of any organization.

Price’s decision clearly sets a new tone for his organization and invigorates each and every employee at every level.

Third, they express confidence in their followers.  Great leaders have high confidence in people and make them feel good about themselves.  They foster confidence and optimism.   Building trust is key, “trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”  In Price’s case, his act of taking his own income and the profits of his company instills a sense of confidence in his people that his actions will yield a big return to the benefit of all concerned.  When there is clear direction and enthusiasm, your team knows where it’s headed, understands what’s expected and gets the job done when they feel valued.  It’s a “both-gain” outcome in the end.

Lastly, they lead by example.   As a leader, all eyes are on you, whether or not you know it.  Regardless of how your employees truly feel about you, they still look to you as a role model.  Do your actions match your words?  Do you do what you say you are going to do?  Can they “trust” what you will say and do next?  Consistency and predictability are key to building trust.  Price’s actions are all about leading by example to instill trust in the people who work for him.

There’s a big difference between managing and leading.  A manager and a leader are two completely different roles, although we often use the terms interchangeably.  Managers get things done…leaders know how to get things done to move the business forward, to develop, and to nurture growth.  Another way of saying this is that managers do things right while leaders do the right thing!

One must learn to wear different hats when dealing with different circumstances and with different personalities as well as look at things from different perspectives.  Flexibility is key for a leader to lead effectively.  What’s important is that a leader knows how to tap the potential of their employees and knows how to customize the approach to help them become a better person in the end.

Unfortunately, too many executives don’t understand the difference and don’t work hard enough on building these leadership skills to invigorate and value people.  You can “manage” dozens of people, but you can “lead” millions.

In Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Resultsa landmark 2000 Harvard Business Review study, he and his team engaged 3,000 middle-level managers over a three-year period.   The research discovered that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability! Imagine how much money and effort a company spends on new processes, efficiencies, and cost-cutting methods in an effort to add even one percent to bottom-line profitability.  Compare that to efforts that simply inspire managers to be more kinetic with their leadership styles.  When we look at the cost of investment, it becomes a “no-brainer.”  Again, Price saw the answer in his company’s future growth through the value of investing in his people.

No matter what you’ve already achieved, no matter where you are in the organization, no matter what your leadership goals may be, you can profit from learning more about leadership excellence, your emotional intelligence, and leading by example.  Just like all of us know how to breathe, few of us do it really effectively.  Is this what happens to your leadership?  Do you realize how much you are setting the tone and leading by example that yield behaviors from employees that erode the bottom-line?  Invest now in YOU through leadership development services.

About the author:

Dr. Debra Dupree combines her workplace and family background by helping business professionals look at the cost of conflict, designing systems and solutions to strengthen performance and increase profitability.  Her experience is built upon many years of service as a Workplace Mediator/Consultant and today she specializes in business mediation and leadership services.

Email:  dr.dupree@relationships-at-work.com
Phone:  1-800-743-1973                    TWITTER:  @RTMcoach
Linked In:  www.linkedin/in/debradupreerelationshipcoach

Ten Steps to Leadership Excellence

March 11-12, 2015:  Two days with the United States Marine Corps Logistic Base (MCLB), Barstow, CA and Dr. Debra Dupree, sponsored by SKILLPATH Corporate Strategies.

A good leader is the lifeblood of any organization. Under his or her direction, your team knows where it’s headed, understands what’s expected and gets the job done.  Goals are met and success is achieved. It’s a “both-gain” outcome in the end.

I worked with 20 leaders at MCLB over two days in March and we laughed, we learned, we explored, and uncovered the challenges to being great leaders.  It was invigorating to see the eyes light up and energy level soar as participants gained insight and new learning as to the possibilities available.  We took real life problems and came up with solutions on what to do differently moving forward.  Here’s what the folks at MCLB learned:

  • How to inspire their teams to achieve true greatness—personally, professionally and for their organization.
  • How to make decisions quickly, rationally and appropriately for their organization.
  • How to overcome barriers by confidently overseeing and guiding all levels of employee performance.
  • The secrets and strategies that make a successful and effective leader.
  • How to gain leadership confidence to effectively command groups, large or small .
  • Understanding leadership styles and how to best use it to their group’s advantage.
  • Removing the barriers to creative leadership thinking and problem solving.
  • Building solid teams that can dramatically multiply their chances for success.
  • Learning the latest performance management tools.
  • How to minimize and solve performance problems early.

No matter what you’ve already achieved, no matter where you are in the organization, no matter what your leadership goals may be, you can profit from learning more about focused leadership philosophy, leadership excellence, emotional intelligence, communication skills building and practical application of what you learn.  Just like all of us know how to breathe, few of us do it really effectively.  Is this what happens to your leadership?

Here’s what a couple of key participants had to say as we wrapped things up…

“Eloquently and magnificently presented!  Unique and creative delivery style while clearly teaching the message. Dr. Dupree is a gift as a presenter and has instilled very positive and enriching changes that I am motivated to implement and reflect on daily.  Please bring her back!“

– S. Lamey, Division Head, Fitness/Wellness/Health Promotion

“Dr. Dupree did an excellent job.  I have a hard time buying into philosophies normally, and tend to “critical think” them to death.  This information was logical and presented in a way that I like to learn.”

– P. Frisbie, Financial Management Analyst, Marine Corps Logistics Base

Is this what you would like to hear your leadership say?  Contact me now to bring me to YOUR organization.  Schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation to take the next step!

DrDebraDupreeDr. Debra Dupree is a business mediator and leadership coach with over 25 years of experience.  Dr. Dupree brings humor, insight, and to leadership development as a motivational speaker, psychotherapist for executives, and conflict coach.  Contact her now to learn more about what she uncovered in her 2014 Doctoral Dissertation on the psychology of good bosses versus bad bosses.

Phone:     1.800.743.1973

Twitter:    @RTMcoach

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/debradupreerelationshipcoach

Email:       dr.dupree@relationships-at-work.com

Five Tips to Avoid a “Bad Boss” Reputation

Nearly every working adult reports having an intolerable boss at one point in his or her lifetime.  Conflict, and the toll it takes, surfaces through acts of bullying, bad boss practices, personality clashes, dysfunctional teams, and strained executive-leadership relations at CEO and board level positions.   California now has new legislation (AB 2053) in place that calls for mandatory training on the prevention of abusive conduct.

What does this mean to your organization?  This is not just about compliance!  It is truly a “cost” issue that leaders often ignore, writing them off as “people issues.”  What it really means is 50% less productivity and 44% less profitability.  In a time of competitive advantage when most companies need to work lean and mean, the impact and cost of bad bossing and poor leadership practices is no longer something that can be ignored.
A 2008 Gallup poll addressing the “State of the American Workplace”  conducted across one million employees revealed that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is because of a bad boss.  Companies need to not only hire the right managers, but need to make sure they have the skills to manage and motivate others.  And, it starts at the top. Promotions into leadership roles are often used as rewards for technical expertise or profitability.

People in leadership positions seldom possess the emotional intelligence and communication skills to effectively deal with people or fear dealing with the emotions that drive behavior.  However, the last 10-15 years of neuroscientific discoveries amply demonstrate that all behavior and all cognitions are driven by emotion.  Too often, people react to what they see, what they hear, and what’s being said, without going “below the water line.”

Here are five tips for developing personal mindfulness to avoid a “bad boss” reputation:

  1. Awareness—Identify your own cultural worldview.  How attuned are you to those around you, the impact of your behavior on others and the impact of their behavior on you?
  2. Attitude—Examine your attitude toward cultural differences.  Do you have internal biases towards people of other backgrounds, from different age groups, or from different parts of the country or world?
  3. Knowledge—Expand your knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews.  Learn more about those you work with…use the power of connections to find out why people are motivated to work for your company, what are their goals, and what are they good at and not so good at.
  4. Interpersonal skills—Learn to relate.  Do you know the names of your employees and co-workers?  What do you know about them?  Learn the power of open-ended questions and the four-part exchange to structure meaningful conversations.
  5. Willingness—Be open to the idea of changing your own behavior.  As Stephen Covey says, seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.  Are you getting the kind of results you want?  How does your behavior impact others and contribute to less than positive outcomes?   Time to do some self-assessment!

Over the last 30 years, investing in leadership development, communication skills, and emotional intelligence was considered a waste of time and investment with little impact on the bottom line.  However, in today’s enlightened leadership climate, investment in people management skills seems to be the most profitable answer to making miserable employees not so miserable and bad bosses into great leaders.   Why?  Bad bosses negate the work benefits and organizational profitability while good bosses lead employees to increased revenue.

What next steps can you take to avoid a reputation as a “bad boss?”

First, be curiously courageous and ask for input from your trusted colleagues – what is their perception of the impact of your behavior on others?

Next, meet with a coach to explore further assessment of your style and which behaviors may be contributing to such a perception by others.

Then, develop and implement a plan of action over the next 30-, 60- and 90-days to develop new skills, increase awareness of constructive conflict management skills, and practice to make permanent (not perfect).

Lastly, maintain a journal throughout this process, capturing difficult moments, “Aha” moments of insight and realization, and revisit the process at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals to see what has changed; and, plan for your next step of enlightened leadership development.

So, how much is conflict costing your organization and you don’t even know it!  Take steps to measure what you’re losing and how much you can regain.

2015-03-14 10.46.27Dr. Debra Dupree is a business mediator and leadership coach with over 25 years of experience.  Dr. Dupree brings humor, insight, and to leadership development as a motivational speaker, psychotherapist for executives, and conflict coach.  Contact her now to learn more about what she uncovered in her 2014 Doctoral Dissertation on the psychology of good bosses versus bad bosses.