Tag Archives: emotional intelligence

Influencing skills for Project Management – lessons from the military


By Elisabeth Goodman, 27th April 2019

Photograph of Emma Dutton MBE by Louise Haywood-Schiefer for “How to win wars and influence people” in Project, Spring 2019 pp.22-27

Project is the APM’s (Association for Project Managment) regular publication for its members.  This spring’s issue carries a fascinating article by Ben Hargreaves, editor of Project, featuring Emma Dutton MBE.  The article describes how she has founded a consultancy, the Applied Influence Group, to apply what she has learnt from gathering intelligence for the British Armed forces in Afghanistan, to the world of Project Management.

Parallels between military influencing and influencing projects

The article highlights some of the points made by Emma Dutton in her talk to the APM’s recent National Conference for Women in Project Management.  The parallels between the two worlds of influence include:

Multiple, complex stakeholder relationships

Shifting loyalties and volatile environments

A [or some] very demanding client[s]

The first and last points are certainly ones that the Project Leaders / Managers in the Life Science companies that we work with at RiverRhee would echo:

  • They often have to work with a range of stakeholders within and outside their companies, with different cultural backgrounds and communication styles, and with high expectations of the project team.
  • Although the loyalties are perhaps more stable, and the environment not as volatile as those which Emma Dutton experienced, there is often a high degree of uncertainty as to the possible outcomes of the scientific work

Emotional intelligence at the heart of good influencing skills

Emma Dutton makes an interesting observation from her experience of working in Afghanistan that is quoted in the article:

Afghanistan is a country built on relationships.  Afghans’ interpersonal skills are much more developed than the average Western person’s.  That’s how they survive.

and:

The mission was to influence hearts and minds as much as it was to collect information.  You had to be genuinely empathetic.  We are all humans, and we know when people are being real.

Emotional intelligence is a strong component of RiverRhee’s training, workshops and coaching for project and operational leaders, managers and team members.  See www.riverrhee.com for details of our various courses, including those on influencing and communication skills.

This, together with what Emma Dutton describes as “emotional management” or regulation of ones emotions, is also described by Daniel Goleman* and others as emotional and social intelligence:

  • being aware of our own emotions, attitudes, behaviours and those of the people we are interacting with
  • making conscious choices about how we express or adapt these emotions, attitudes and behaviours in order to get positive outcomes for all parties

These are the qualities that will enable project managers and leaders to influence the diverse and challenging stakeholders that they interact with.

Emma Dutton’s advice seems very wise indeed:

[do] your work  before you get in the room. Understand the people you are talking to.

As Ben Hargreaves concludes in his article:

Understanding drivers, likes and dislikes, motivations, anxieties, interests, attitudes and beliefs is all-important for the influencer.

Notes

*Daniel Goleman et al are authors of a very helpful series of booklets “Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence” that Elisabeth Goodman has reviewed in earlier blogs as listed here:

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus. 

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Advertisements

Inspirational Leadership – through the lens of Emotional Intelligence


By Elisabeth Goodman, 5th February 2019

12. Inspirational Leadership, in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman et al, Key Step Media, 2017

Here we are at the twelfth and last of the booklets that I have been working my way through in these blogs, and in my RiverRhee newsletters (see full list in the notes below.)

Each booklet has provided me with some terrific insights, and ones that we have also endeavoured to share in RiverRhee’s courses for managers, leaders and individual team members.

So here are some key points from this last booklet and some other sources …

What is inspirational leadership?

I wrote previously, in a RiverRhee newsletter, about some characteristics of inspirational leadership based on a book of that title by Claudio Feser.

Feser suggested that the basis of this type of leadership is to have a strong focus on the goal to be achieved, to influence people in such as way that they are committed towards a course of action, and to encourage and support them to take ownership for their actions.

Goleman et al define the competency of inspirational leadership in a very similar way, as:

“..the ability to inspire and guide people to get the job done, and to bring out their best.  With inspiration, you can articulate a shared mission in a way that motivates and offer a sense of common purpose beyond people’s day-to-day tasks.”

These are Goleman’s and the other author’s suggestions for how to make this happen…

articulate a vision, mission or purpose – share it and keep it alive

We know from the work of Dan Pink and many others that having a clear sense of ‘why’ we are doing something is a great motivator.  Goleman cites an example of Medtronic, which makes medical devices, inviting patients in to talk about how their devices had saved their lives.  I had a similar experience when working at GSK where our Chief Medical Officer interviewed patients or their carers in the auditorium to give us an insight on how our work could make a difference to their lives.

The people working in the small and medium sized Life Science organisations that we work with often have a clear vision of what their organisations want to achieve.  And they have a passion for that.  Leaders who can keep that vision and passion alive, and articulate it clearly and with conviction, will be more effective than others.

As Annie McKee points out, it is all too easy to lose touch of what she calls “the noble purpose” of an organisation.  It can become buried by short-term goals and pressures.  The larger the organisation, the easier it is for this to happen.

Here are some things that she suggests leaders can do to keep that vision and passion alive:

  • Develop your own self-awareness: tune into what is important to you in your work, keep your energy and attention focused on that, communicate it in the conversations that you have with others
  • Take some time out, as a leadership team, to reflect and reconnect with a joint sense of purpose.
  • Initiate discussions throughout the organisation to help everyone reconnect.

Engage with the heart as well as the head

Matthew Taylor builds on some of the ideas above, for example by saying: “For leaders to truly inspire they must get out of their heads…, into their hearts.., and authentically connect to their people.”

This means connecting at an emotional level with what is important to you, and with what is important to the people that you work with.  It requires not only self-awareness, but the ability to truly listen and observe.

In fact, as Matthew Lippincott says, inspirational leadership requires all four parts of the authors’ emotional intelligence model: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Mette Miriam Boell puts this very well: “It [a systems approach to leadership] calls for a quieting down internally, so that leaders can be present to the interconnected nature of our lives.  That’s why refinements of emotional and social skills are as important as any cognitive processes for a leader to truly come into character.”

This cognitive and emotional awareness will give leaders what they need to enable them to influence others – something that is more explicitly explored in Claudio Feser’s characteristics of inspirational leadership

It is possible to develop your own and others’ skills as inspirational leaders

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz takes us through his own, and a Japanese female manager’s journeys into becoming inspirational leaders.

He suggests that individuals need to start with some underlying potential, and then have “a combination of best practices for development and the right partner for your change process”.

Underlying potential

In the case of the Japanese manager’s case study, the underlying potential seemed to be a combination of curiosity, insight, engagement and determination.

Mette Miriam Boell reminds us that leaders can be found at every level of the organisation – not just at the top.  She also reminds us that the Latin origins of to inspire (inspirare) is “to breathe life into”.  So that an inspirational leader is able to share their vision in such a way that it is owned by everyone in an organisation, so that they too become leaders, and so that the vision becomes a collective aspiration.

Boell tells us that for a leader to do this requires a certain humility, a willingness to step aside and make room for others to step up to leadership, and a courageous openness to the unknown and the uncertainty that might result from this.

Matthew Lippincott adds integrity and vulnerabity to the list.  Also an active interest in the personal and professional wellbeing, and in the development of others (both technical skills and personal growth).

Best practices for development

Fernández-Aráoz’s case study of the Japanese manager showed how giving her the opportunity to lead strategic initiatives, combined with leadership training and support from a mentor was instrumental to her development as an inspirational leader.

Lippincott shares another case study where the CEO in question developed the leadership potential of others in a number of ways including:

  • Rotating his team through such responsibilities as managing meetings
  • Training team members in public speaking and developing presentations
  • Providing continuous, improvement-oriented feedback in internal meetings
  • Assigning reading and dialogue among team members to foster better understanding of customer service, integrity and quality
  • Creating a mindset that “passionate arguments” are acceptable and, handled constructively, are a vital part of the creative process and of personal and team development

Concluding thoughts

Do you have the qualities and the opportunities to become an inspirational leader?

How are you, and how could you develop others to become inspirational leaders within your organisation?

NOTES

Blogs on the other booklets in the Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence series:

About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). 

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

New Year resolutions! Adopting a positive attitude


By Elisabeth Goodman, 29th December 2018

What better topic to select from Daniel Goleman et al’s Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence, as we prepare for a new year, than booklet #5 on “Positive Outlook”?!

What is positive outlook?

According to the definition in the booklet, “Positive outlook” is about:

Seeing the positive in people, situations and events: being open to the idea that people might mean well, much as whatever they have said or done has come across differently.  And having a mindset that something good might come out of change.

Seeing the opportunity in situations. It’s also about having “dispositional optimism” (Michael Carver, Charles Scheier et al) – focusing on what is important to us, and on what we can do in a given situation.

Persistence in pursuing goals: keeping focused on what is important to us, despite setbacks and obstacles.  It’s also about having an “optimistic explanatory style” (Martin Seligman et al): bad things happen, but not everything will be bad, and I will deal with it somehow.

Expecting the best from others – if you show people that you believe in them, then you are more likely to respond to that in a positive way.

But an unrelentingly positive attitude might not always go down well!  As Daniel Goleman points out, what makes for a positive outlook in America, may come across as unrealistic in Europe, or arrogant in Asia! And the obstacles to achieving something may indeed be insurmountable, or unsafe to try to overcome.

So “positive outlook” is also optimism tempered with “realistic pessimism” or humility, to suit the different cultures and situations that we might find ourselves in.

Why a positive outlook is so important

Why a “positive outlook” is important. Illustration based on #5: Positive Outlook in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman et al. Keystone Publishing, 2017

As the illustration above shows, a positive outlook will lead to positive emotions, which in turn will help us to be more effective in our work with colleagues and customers.

Positive emotions are contagious!  People who give out positive emotions will get positive emotions back from others. (Just think what happens if you smile at someone – well most of the time!)  In teams this effect will lead to greater cooperation, less unproductive conflict and improved performance.

These positive emotions will also lead to greater well-being and resourcefulness in our day-to-day lives.

How to increase our positive outlook

How to develop a “positive outlook”. Illustration based on #5: Positive Outlook in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman et al, Keystone Publishing, 2017

According to Richard J Davidson, the centre for having a “positive outlook” is in our pre-frontal cortex.  It is what enables us, in early childhood, to reach out, learn and respond to stimuli from our parents and those around us.  Apparently, mindful meditation, for instance taking time out to focus on our breathing and close out distracting thoughts, is a great way to further develop the pre-frontal cortex and so increase our capacity for having a “positive outlook”.

Richard Boyatzis advocates practising visualisation to train our neural networks, as athletes do.  We can practise visualising positive outcomes.  We can reflect, ask ourselves and others questions in order to find the silver lining in any given situation.  We can be more aware of the small acts of kindness that others do for us, and return them.

As Vanessa Druskat says, teams can also create this kind of affirmative environment by looking for silver linings, and for causes for hope in their work.  Yes things will go wrong in a project, or in day-to-day processes.  But team members can proactively identify potential problems, solve them and gain satisfaction from what they have learnt. They can also remember their successes and keep focused on the team’s purpose.

Will you develop your positive outlook in 2019?  How will you do so?

Notes

Blogs on other booklets in the Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence series:

About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). 

RiverRhee

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Leadership achievement …with balance


By Elisabeth Goodman, 17th November, 2018

What is “Achievement Orientation”?

The fourth primer in Daniel Goleman et al’s series on Emotional Intelligence is entitled “Achievement Orientation” – as summarised in this illustration.

Illustration of the meaning of “Achievement Orientation” – from primer 4. in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman et al. Key Step Media, 2017

The authors highlight the difference between what individuals might have excelled at early on in their professional careers vs. what it might take to get them to the next level of management or leadership.

This booklet seems particularly apt to illustrate some of the key concepts that my colleague Liz Mercer and I explore in RiverRhee’s course on the Transition to Leadership.

Balanced leadership

According to Goleman and his co-authors, the best leaders balance their personal drive for excellence, continuous improvement, challenging goals, and calculated risks with an understanding of the needs and goals of the organisation and of the people around them.

Richard Boyatzis shares an insightful perspective on “toxic” leadership.

He suggests that indications of a “toxic’ leader are when they micromanage, and demonstrate unhappiness or stress.  According to Boyatzis, these signal an over-emphasis on personal goals, as opposed to a more balanced concern for the team and for their and the organisation’s goals.

Leaders can achieve a more balanced approach through:

  • greater use of emotional and social intelligence
  • 360 degree feedback
  • practising goal setting, measuring performance and visioning as part of daily routines
  • support from a coach

We can also harness our brains for a balanced approach to achievement

According to Richard J Davidson, we can also develop greater proficiency in “Achievement Orientation” through our understanding of the brain as illustrated below.

The pre-frontal cortex supports the thinking associated with setting goals.  The nucleus accumbens is rich in dopamine and helps us to feel ‘good’ about what we are doing.

Davidson suggests that the left and right sides of the brain can respectively support or act against a positive approach to goal setting and to feeling ‘good’ about it.

As with all things, practice will help to activate these parts of the brain and so help us to get better at achieving the right balance of personal drive and support for others’ goals.

High performance teams can also demonstrate achievement with balance

Each of the twelve primers in the Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence has a chapter by Vanessa Druskat where she describes the behavioural norms that teams might demonstrate.

Druskat and her colleagues studied the performance and behaviours of a number of high performing and average performing teams.

They found that the distinguishing factors were the extent to which the members of the teams developed strong interpersonal relationships as well as the more performance related norms.  The performance related norms that Druskat cites are:

  • Performance orientation
  • Team self-evaluation
  • Proactive problem solving

A full list of all the team norms can be found in: Defining team norms for high performance teams (this is based on the 11th primer: Teamwork)

Grit and calculated risk

According to Goleman, leaders who demonstrate “Achievement Orientation” will have the tenacity to overcome obstacles and set-backs.

They will also be both bold and realistic in their approach to risks.  They will pick the right peg in the ‘ring toss game’ or ‘hoops’ – far enough to stretch them and the organisation, but not so far as to risk disaster!

These concepts are also illustrated in my full-page summary of yet another fascinating booklet in Goleman et al’s series on Emotional Intelligence!

Full page illustration of the meaning of “Achievement Orientation” – from primer 4. in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman et al. Key Step Media, 2017

Notes

My blogs on other booklets in the series:

About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

How to increase our emotional self-awareness


By Elisabeth Goodman, 29th September 2018

Emotional self-awareness is at the root of emotional intelligence, and it is a skill.  I am increasingly realising, as I work with managers and individual team members, that emotional self-awareness is a skill in which people have varying levels of proficiency.

I’ve gone back to the very first of Daniel Goleman et al’s “Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence” to learn more about what emotional self-awareness is, why it’s important, and how to go about developing it. [See the notes at the end for links to my blogs on some of the other booklets.]

Emotional self-awareness_Goleman et al

1. Emotional Self-Awareness in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence.  Daniel Goleman et al, Key Step Media, 2017

What is emotional self-awareness?

Daniel Goleman defines emotional self-awareness on pages 5 and 34 of the booklet as:

“the ability to understand your own emotions and their effects on your performance.  You know what you are feeling and why – and how it helps or hurts what you are trying to do.  You sense how others see you and so align your self-image with a larger reality.  You have an accurate sense of your strengths and limitations, which gives you a realistic self-confidence.  It also gives you clarity on your values and sense of purpose, so you can be more decisive when you set a course of action.  As a leader, you can be candid and authentic, speaking with conviction about your vision.”

Why is emotional self-awareness so important?

As Goleman explains, if our self-awareness is strong, it makes us better equipped for the three other core components of emotional intelligence: self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

As with so many aspects of emotional intelligence, being self-aware helps us to get better results out of the situations that we find ourselves in.  Because we experience emotions both physically and intellectually, being more in touch with our emotions will have beneficial effects on our mental health, our physical health, and our intellect. And we will interact more effectively with others.

For leaders in a business environment, the positive effects will spread to our colleagues, teams, and to the organisation as a whole.  Goleman quotes results from the Korn Ferry Hay Group that quantify the benefits:

  • Where leaders had multiple strengths in emotional self-awareness, 92% had teams with high energy and high performance
  • Where leaders were low in emotional self-awareness, they created negative climates 78% of the time

How can we improve our emotional self-awareness?

Daniel Goleman and his co-authors have three or four suggestions for us.

  1. Interoception. The first way to improve our emotional self-awareness (according to Richard Davidson) is to tune in to what is happening in our bodies: our internal signals.  The technical term for this is “interoception”.  Basically, our heart rate, our muscle tension and our breathing are all affected by our emotions – and our awareness of this is controlled by the part of the brain called the insula.  Apparently, MRI scans can pick up increased activity in the insula when we are actively interrogating how our body feels.  So, we can learn to pay more attention to what is going on in our bodies.
  2. Reflection.  We can also increase our emotional self-awareness by taking the time to think about how we are feeling.  How this is connected to whatever might be going on.  How we’ve reacted to a particular situation.  And how we could behave differently.  Keeping a daily journal is one way to do do this.
  3. 360 degree feedback.  This is a popular tool for management and leadership development.  We can use it to get feedback on how others perceive us: our strengths and our opportunities for development.  And we can compare that feedback to our self-perception, and discover gaps or mis-matches between the two.
  4. On-going feedback.  We can also ask supportive colleagues to alert us to situations where it might be helpful for us to be more aware of how we and others are feeling, and where our behaviour may be more or less helpful to others.  George Kohlrieser suggests that we have colleagues help us, or that we have a mentor or a coach to support us in this way.

A couple of additional tips

  1. Team self-assessment.  Vanessa Druskat writes a chapter in each of the series’ booklets about the topic’s relevance to teams.  Here she reminds us that teams can also demonstrate emotional self-awareness by taking the time to actively monitor how they are doing, from an emotional and relationship perspective.  Vanessa Druskat also suggests that it takes a courageous team leader to do this: to not worry about what the findings might indicate about their effect on the team, or about bringing any conflicts into the open.
  2. Checking-in as a regular practice.  Daniel Goleman tells an effective anecdote in the booklet’s conclusion about a nurse who takes a moment, before visiting each of her patients, to tune into her feelings, and to remind herself to give her full attention to the next patient.  We could do the same before we initiate any conversation at work with direct reports, colleagues, managers, customers or suppliers!

Notes

My blogs on other booklets in the series:

About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Organisational awareness – combining intellectual and emotional intelligence


By Elisabeth Goodman, 5th September 2018

Booklet number 7 in Daniel Goleman et al’s “Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence” is entitled ‘Organizational Awareness”.

As with the previous booklets that I have documented:

I have found it helpful to summarise the key points from the various contributors in the book.

Here is my summary in the form of the ‘why’, the ‘what’, the ‘how’

Why is organisational awareness so important?

Key points from 7: Organizational Awareness in Daniel Goleman et al’s Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence

What is organisational awareness?

A system that involves the awareness, development and use of both intellectual and emotional intelligence in the context of:

Informal and social networks (within and outside the organisation).  Knowing who are the opinion leaders, decision makers, influencers.  Who are the people that people defer to?  Who are the people who make things happen (or block them from happening)?  What is the nature of the interactions with external partners, suppliers, customers?

The engagement of every employee: the demonstrated connectedness between the organisation’s mission, values, goals and day-to-day behavioural norms.  How people are focusing their attention and their energy.

External forces affecting the organisation e.g. through PESTLE analyses (Politics, Economics, Social, Technical, Legal, Environmental) to understand the external landscape and how this might affect the organisation; how it should be adapted.

Extension of personal emotional intelligence to the wider organisation: applying all the skills we have for understanding and controlling our own emotions to the wider context in which we operate.  Using these skills to understand the emotional undercurrents in the organisation and, in a leadership situation, to influence and channel them towards a positive outcome.

How to practise organisational awareness

  1. Listen to and observe conversations within and outside meetings (applying your emotional intelligence skills)
  2. Ask yourself and others about what is going on when decisions are being made and change is taking place.
  3. Find out who are the ‘go to’ people: the ‘movers and shakers”.
  4. Carry out analytical research, or commission external consultants to help you with this.
  5. Make use of established tools such as stakeholder analysis when planning to implement change; and team temperature / health checks or diagnostics

Now… how will you approach organisational awareness?

For my part, these are again extremely useful insights to weave into RiverRhee’s courses for managers and teams.

NOTEs

About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Some insights on emotional self-control


By Elisabeth Goodman, 1st July 2018

I’m picking my way, as the mood takes me, through Daniel Goleman et al’s twelve “Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence”.  My latest read is “2. Emotional Self-Control”.

Emotional self-control

Each of these little booklets (or primers) has little nuggets of insights which I frequently find helpful for myself, as well as for generating ideas to weave into my RiverRhee courses for managers and individual team members*.

Why self-control is important

As Goleman points out, emotional self-control is not about denying our emotions, rather it’s about choosing when and how we express them so that they don’t get in the way of, and actively support the results we want to achieve.

We will all have experienced situations where one person’s mood (whether negative or positive) has affected our own, or that of other people’s in the room – whether that person .  Or situations where we’ve had to work hard to keep our own equilibrium when the person we’ve been with has been angry or upset.  Moods can be contagious and, without self-control, we will ‘catch’ each others.

So Goleman reminds us that it is a leader’s responsibility to be aware of and to regulate their mood, so that they can ensure that the one they bring to their team’s day, and to individual situations is as conducive to positive and constructive interactions and results as possible.

Similarly, any individual wanting to influence a situation or another person, will want to regulate their mood so as to be able to interact and perform in the best way they can.

Vanessa Druskat talks more about the importance of self-control at a team level, and how certain team norms as well as leadership behaviours will be conducive to that.

Team norms

Illustration summarising key points from the Teamworking primer in “Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence”.

A lot of this rests on ensuring that team members feel included (social belonging), understood and valued.  I’ve written more about these team norms in my review of the Teamworking primer.

Interestingly, I’ve just read Kristie Rogers’ very good article “Do your employees feel respected” (pages 63-70) in the July-August 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review, where she shows how respect is the key to ensuring that team members feel included, understood and valued.

The neurological basis of self-control (or the absence of it!)

Richard J. Davidson has a chapter in the primer devoted to this topic.  He reminds us that the amygdala is the part of the brain that is very involved with emotion; whilst the prefrontal cortex is associated with rational thought.

There is a major pathway between the emotional and rational thinking part of the brain which is the uncinate fasciculus.  The trick, with emotional self-control, is to be aware of what is happening (in the amygdala), to prevent the amygdala “hijacking” our logical thinking (in the prefrontal cortex), and to then actively influence the amygdala to get the result we want!  All of this emotional and logical sensory flow will be going on via the uncinate fasciculus.

Uncinate fasciculus

Apparently, the more we work on this, the more we will strengthen our neurological capability for self-control.

Some strategies for generating self-control

Emotional self-control relies first on being aware of our emotions, and then on developing strategies to help us regulate them.

George Kohlrieser encourages us to start engaging in an inner dialogue to recognise and label our emotions – and to work out what they are connected to: what has triggered them.  Building this awareness will be instrumental in helping us develop the strategies for regulation.  He suggests that we can also enlist trusted colleagues, family members and friends to help to alert us when we are displaying emotions that we want to be aware of.

Emotions will also affect how we feel physically – so we can mitigate the stressful effects of nervousness, anxiety, anger, depression by physical means such as breathing techniques, how we stand or hold ourselves, by going for a walk, by looking at the things around us.

As Davidson reminds us, mindfulness or meditation can help us to acknowledge how we are thinking and feeling, and then to just ‘let these thoughts and feelings go’.

He also describes how we can ‘re-programme’ our minds, for example as in cognitive therapy, so that our intellectual responses to the context that triggers our emotions changes.  We might do this by realising that something that happens is not personally directed at us – it’s just something that has happened and we can choose how we respond to it.  We can put it into a larger or different perspective.

Notes

*The RiverRhee courses this primer is going to be most helpful for are:

About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.