New article – interview w Daniel Goleman

I recently interviewed Dan Goleman about Social Intelligence, leadership, and emotional intelligence. Check out the full Neural Leadership article here.

“Mirror neurons are a kind of ‘neural wi-fi’ that monitors what is happening in the other people. This system tracks their emotions, what movements they’re making, what they intend and it activates, in our brains, precisely the same brain areas as are active in the other person,” Goleman explains. “This puts us on the same wavelength and it does it automatically, instantaneously and unconsciously.”

Training Hotel Employees

Fascinating article on new trend in training for hotel employees — the point is that old “follow the script” approaches don’t really work. To create a great hospitality experience workers need to notice their guests, think, and respond authentically.

This is a major shift and challenge for training. Most training I’ve seen, especially in hospitality, is totally behaviorally oriented. Follow the script. Problem is, people are a lot more complex. Instead in our emotional intelligence trainings, we get people to look inside and understand how to connect in a way that’s authentic for them.

Hotels train employees to think fast
By Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY

Excerpts…

The new-style training programs aren’t limited to how to check in a guest or how to stack dishes in a pantry. Instead, they’re aiming to build distinctive organizational cultures that will add to the bottom line by keeping guests satisfied and loyal for years to come. Out of favor are scripted lines that hotel workers utter regardless of whether the customer appears happy, angry, tired or rushed. Now, hotel workers are being trained to speak for themselves, and to help guests in more meaningful and less conventional ways.

The new training pushes employees to understand who their guests are and why they’re at the hotel, and to anticipate what they might need.

[JF: sounds like emotional intelligence!] “Our guests value the design of our hotels, but what they really remember are the people,” says Michelle Crosby, human resources chief at lodging giant Starwood (HOT). “Their loyalty was often to a specific (employee) who’d gone out of their way for them.”

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Starwood decided to focus its training on its workers’ emotions after examining training practices at customer-service leaders like Disney (DIS), Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines (LUV) and JetBlue (JBLU). Crosby, the Starwood executive, says that for too long the industry has been too insular, resisting good customer-service ideas from other industries.

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In other words, emotionally intelligent employees connect at a “heart level” with guests and meet their needs in a way that’s authentic and memorable: The result is customer loyalty.

The missing link is emotionally intelligent leaders who foster a context where people like this can work that magic.

Emotional Intelligence and Age

I just finished posting new research on emotional intelligence and age.

This study started in a workshop where we were talking about Noble Goals. In our model, the “capstone” competence of emotional intelligence is Pursue Noble Goals — there are two reasons:
1. When we engage in the pursuit of purpose we are less defensive and reactive — less about our own ego and more about the larger vision. This allows us, even compels us, to manage our emotions more effectively.
2. Really, what’s the point? We can teach people to be more intelligent at problem-solving and they invent ways to hack the net. We can teach people to be more intelligent at engineering and they develop better ways of killing. We can teach people to be more intelligent about emotions and they become master manipulators. Voila, job done, let’s call it a day. Oh – wait – missed something…. So “intelligence” isn’t enough. We need to apply that intelligence — this is wisdom. So Pursuing a Noble Goal is a way to focus our emotional aptitude and move toward wisdom.

Anyway – point of the story: One of the managers I was training said, “Aren’t older people naturally better at this competence? It seems like young people, at least in my company, don’t really have a vision.” Hrmuph.

So I asked our research team to find out.

The answer is yes – older people are slightly more likely to be emotionally intelligent – at least in four of our eight competencies. I’m excited about this result – it shows that EQ is learned and it does develop with life experience and that age isn’t enough: You have to work to learn these skills.

How Emotional Is Too Emotional?

This is an excellent article:

How Emotional Is Too Emotional?
Nan Mooney, Inc

Mooney says women frequently ask what to do about “being too emotional” at work — I get this question a lot too, and have worried that, as a man, my response might miss the point… so I was glad to read this!
“Professional women are frequently tagged “emotional,” as if it’s a flaw they should learn to overcome. But emotion in the workplace isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Excerpts:
In my varied career history, I haven’t found that women are more emotional than men on the job. We may be more comfortable expressing those emotions, since we live in a society that encourages women to be the feelers and men the thinkers and doers. But being quicker to key into the emotional aspects of a situation largely works to our benefit. It means we may pick up on a client’s or colleague’s unhappiness, make subtle adjustments in a plan or project to please everyone involved, and — best of all — form more trusting and respectful professional relationships.

The place where I think Mooney misses the mark is recommendations of what to DO about emotions. The central premise of emotional intelligence is that emotions are a resource to help us understand and manage the world — inside and outside. Emotions are information and energy — data and commitment. Emotional intelligence helps us access the data and tap the energy. When we DON’T do that, emotions well up and spiral out of control. Women and men are socialized to cope with “out of control” emotions differently (as Mooney suggests, bursting into tears vs pounding the steering wheel and cursing) — but it’s the same reaction.

The real secret is to access the information of the emotions – tune in, gain insight – and then use that data to make a better decision. When we do so, the energy of the emotions automatically transforms into a motive force toward resolution – that’s the power of emotional intelligence!

Interview w Daniel Pink

This is a piece I wrote…

Leading with a Whole New Mind: Daniel Pink’s Memo for Tomorrow’s Leaders

Daniel Pink discusses his latest book, A Whole New Mind, with emotional intelligence expert Joshua Freedman, and identifies key skills for leaders in a changing marketplace.

What do you get when you add up designer toilet brushes, Frappucinos, increasing obesity, innovation and outsourcing? According to trend-watcher Daniel Pink, it’s a new business climate — that calls for a new breed of leadership.

To thrive in the era of the three As — Abundance, Asia, and Automation — companies have to offer significance above and beyond product value. And leading this kind of business takes special talent – talent that’s increasingly hard to find.

The business challenge begins with a changing marketplace, and continues with a new generation workforce. Pink says businesses will find it increasingly challenging to hold marketshare. “Today you have to have the ability to do something that’s hard to outsource, hard to automate, and that satisfies some of the nonmaterial demands of this very abundant age. An age where many consumers in the West have had their basic material functional needs satisfied or over satisfied. The way you stand out in a crowded marketplace is to appeal to spirituality, emotion, aesthetics, and so forth.”

The abundance of the current Western economy translates to a glutted market. With a dozen places for gourmet coffee, why turn to Starbucks? With more cars owned in America than there are drivers, why will someone buy a Prius?

Pink says “this puts a premium on aesthetic, emotional, and even spiritual aspects of goods and services.” This explains why self-help and spirituality remain booming, why a 3-star “middle America” hotel puts aromatherapy and guided meditation in executive rooms, and why there is a line for back massage in the Chicago airport. Sometimes called the “LOHAS” market (Lifestyle of Health and Spirituality), there is a trend Pink calls the “accelerated the search for meaning” that a few exceptional leaders are poised to serve. These leaders are metaphorically using “right-brain” skills of creativity and relationship-building (there’s no neurobiological evidence of the right/left brain concept, but it’s a catchy metaphor).

(More)

EQ and Gross National Happiness

I love how emotional intelligence is becoming a truly international concept. Just saw this article from Bhutan saying that corporate success should contribute not just to GNP, but also to “Gross National Happiness” (GNH). Some good strategies presented for engaging a team – and a country. Here’s the premise:

There is a body of management practice, evolved mainly in US and Europe, on how to develop an organizational culture driven by vision and values shared explicitly by everyone. It is a management science about aligning organizations’ operational and personnel systems, including financial and other incentives facing all employees, strictly to their collective vision and values. It is also an art, to be practiced by leaders in inspiring and motivating their people. Likewise, one should not forget, by everyone else to inspire and motivate their leaders. And, by all to nurture an open and trusting work environment where passion and “emotional intelligence” matter just as much as professional and technical excellence.

Cool! And right on — if leaders truly used their emotional intelligence to create a trusting and trustworthy environment, can you imagine how organizations would thrive? GNH would go up!!

She goes onto point out that relationship-centered leadership creates adaptable organizations: “Wherever successful, the practice has created nimble and dynamic organizations that not only deliver first-rate outcomes, but also learn constantly from their successes and mistakes, adapting proactively to changing environment.” Sorely needed.