Posts Tagged 'Emotional Intelligence'

Who would admit to having no integrity?

How many of you have come across organisations where one of the company values or leadership values is integrity?

And even if you haven’t explicitly seen this as a value, would you agree that it is often an unstated principle that people will act with integrity?

So how can it be that criticism often comes when the organisation or the leaders within it appear to lack integrity. Do people go out of their way to act without integrity or does conflict occur when one persons version of integrity is different to another?

A couple of definitions of integrity may help to answer this question…………

Integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions
or
The adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

With these definitions it seems that the interpretation of integrity is therefore dependent on each persons map of the world, their own values and their own moral compass. Therefore, when someone is seen to act without integrity, have they really or is it that our version of integrity doesn’t match theirs?

Let’s take as an example the recent actions of Greg Smith, the guy who distributed his view of the Goldman Sachs culture and leadership. Did he or did he not act with integrity? I suspect that some people would say that he absolutely did, that he was honest, truthful and accurate (see definition) whilst others may question his reasons for doing it and question his moral character.

When integrity is so often a characteristic that is highlighted as essential for leaders I question if this is realistic. Surely it means that we must all operate with the same version of what is right and wrong, the same version of what is morally acceptable, the same version of what honesty is.

I wonder therefore, when integrity is put up as a value or principle and when it is seen as an essential part of leadership what is actually meant? Obviously organisations want people to act within a moral framework that is appropriate for that particular organisation, does this need to be defined more clearly so people understand what integrity means in that particular environment? Is acting with integrity the same in every organisation or might it vary if say you work in the tobacco industry, the armed forces, social services, financial services or retail?

It seems that organisations need to dig deeper to interpret integrity more clearly. What thoughts do you have on whether or not integrity can vary and how it can be defined more clearly in different organisations?

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Self awareness of your communication

I recently attended an industry forum where a panel of speakers were giving their views on different subjects. Within minutes of the event starting I was intrigued by the influence one person had on the tone and success of the event. This person was the MC – let me describe briefly what happened.

It was early morning and a lot of people had made their way to the event in anticipation of hearing some insights from industry leaders. All started well with the MC introducing each of the speakers – this was as far as it got before he made blunder number one.

Having introduced each of the male panelists in a professional way, his intro to the one female on the panel was to describe her as beautiful. Whatever you’re personal views on this type of comment, what I noticed was that the MC had immediately put most of the women in the audience off side. Given that it was probably 75% women this was a big chunk of the audience who were now wondering why they’d got out of bed.

From here there were several further blunders by the MC, including a few rather weak jokes that attacked people in the room and one joke that could potentially be considered as racist. This was followed by a lack of understanding of the role of the MC. As the event went on he seemed to think that it was necessary for him to also give his opinion on each question put to the panel, by this time he had lost the respect of parts of the audience.

So why am I telling you this story? There were several learning’s for me as I observed what was happening:

1. Having a self-awareness about the words you use, the response you are receiving and the particular communication role you have are fundamental to good communication

2. If you are standing in front of an audience it makes sense to think about the audience, what their hot buttons will be and how to involve them

3. Creating rapport is fundamental for effective communication

4. There are times when less is more or to put it differently speaking is not always the same as communicating

As you will know from my previous blog on communication mishaps, I totally understand that there are times when we don’t read the audience right, come out with the wrong words etc. The question that I’m left with though is whether or not the communicator had any self-awareness about the impact he had and will use this self-awareness to do things differently in the future. It’s through this self-awareness that our communication style can grow and become more versatile.

Using dollars wisely during onboarding

Whether you are a leader, a recruiter or an HR Manager it no doubt crosses your mind on a fairly regular basis that bringing people in to the organisation and bringing them to an appropriate level of performance is time consuming, energy zapping and costly. The upside of doing it is that a vital gap will be filled and a job will be done, so at some point your investment in time and energy will be repaid. The downside is that you invest and it doesn’t work out. A recent global study on mindset of new and existing employees by RogenSi shows that you have only a limited time to get payback.

The study found that employees with more than one year’s service with an organisation are feeling unenthusiastic, under-appreciated, uninspired and unmotivated by their leaders. Therefore in the first year you need to be doing everything you can to motivate, inspire and grow employees so they perform in year one and beyond. There is only a short window to consolidate new employees’ commitment and align them with the organisations’ culture and vision.

If you add to this a picture of the real cost of hiring someone – adding in recruitment costs, admin, training, management time and their salary; the cost of getting this right for every single employee should be a business priority.

The maths are indisputable and the opportunity to create commitment and alignment is limited – yet so many organisations seem to kick own goals once a new employee is on board.

Own goal number one is the handling of an employees induction process. Hands up to all of you who have started with a new organisation and had a less than enthusiastic welcome in some shape or form? This could be down to the process for getting your pass, a desk, directions to the toilet. Or it could be the often tedious process that you are taken through to learn about the organisation – for many this is usually the mandatory Induction training that comes anywhere between day 1 and day 365 of being in your role.

This is a golden opportunity – the penalty kick with no goalkeeper in the net – when the organisation has the chance to bring the new employee in to the organisation, live the values, display the culture and make the links to the goals, direction and what the organisation is all about. It’s a chance to reach the employees hearts.

And yet, so often, this opportunity is missed. On-boarding and Induction becomes an insipid and cold experience that leaves the new employees enthusiasm fading.

Given the cost to the business of recruiting and then losing your employees, surely a small investment in a makeover of your on-boarding and induction could reap big rewards?

Saying what’s on your mind

As an advocate for clear and authentic communication I would tend to endorse the idea that we should say what’s on our mind. I do this though with a big HOWEVER……

Some people would view the idea of saying what’s on their mind as being absolutely the right thing to do. The HOWEVER with this is that it often goes with the idea of engaging mouth before brain and the repercussions can be widespread and on occasion damaging.

For others the idea of saying what’s on their mind would fill them with dread, bring out the cold sweats and cause lock-jaw. These people are at the other end of the scale and engage brain before mouth, letting their brain convince them that they can’t speak up.

So where’s the happy medium and how do any of us reach this point in every conversation that we have? Whilst an important part of being authentic is to say what’s on your mind I think there are some caveats around it. For instance:
– Be conscious of what you want to achieve by saying what ever it is you want to say
– Check out what response you may get
– Be ready for a potentially emotional response

Let me give you an example – last week I met a man who I hadn’t seen for 3 to 4 years. I know him as being a jolly and friendly man so when he greeted me with a smile on his face and said ” You’re obviously enjoying the good life as you look chubbier” I hesitated. In this instance:
– I’m not sure he was conscious of what he wanted to achieve by saying this. I suspect he thought he was being funny
– He certainly didn’t think about the response he would get.
– I don’t think he was ready for an emotional response. I wonder what would have happened if I’d burst in to tear or started commenting on his own appearance?

This really does highlight for me that we do influence relationships one conversation at a time and that every conversation has consequences. So finding the right balance takes thought and most importantly awareness. I know there are times when I could do with thinking more before starting a conversation and saying what’s on my mind? What about you – any experiences of getting it very right or very wrong?

Listening to Winston Churchill

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”
Winston Churchill

I love this quote from Winston Churchill as it seems to me that so many people find it difficult to listen, really listen. No doubt you have heard and understand that communicating involves so much more than words, yet how often do you or those around you put more effort in to speaking than listening?

Over the years I have been criticised by people I’ve worked with, for being too quiet in meetings, comments have followed along the lines of……”If you want to be a leader in this organisation you need to speak up more and stamp your mark” Even as a relatively new manager many years ago I wondered about this. Now, with years of maturity and experience on my side I actually quite enjoy it when I hear these comments as I recognise that this isn’t about me but about the person making the statement. It usually comes from someone who doesn’t have the courage “to sit down and listen.”

In the workplace (and out of it) we all come across people who are:
– The broadcaster – the ones who have to take centre stage and get their point across loudly and regularly
– The external thinker – who want to say what’s on their mind in any situation
– The uncomfortable with silencer – who fills the space when there is any kind of silence

With these people I would question how much listening and observing they are doing with the recipients of the communication.

There are also people who are:
– Great at listening and observing and then can use all the information they have gathered to take a discussion forward
– There are the listeners who create a space for others to say what they need to say
– The questioners who listen to what is being said and use questions well to reach further understanding, direction, to show empathy and to reach decisions

In any working situation it can be appropriate to have people in a discussion who can take up any of these roles as they all have a purpose. For communication to be effective it may be that sometimes the more avid talkers need to have courage to sit down and listen and those who prefer to listen and observe have courage to stand up and speak.

What ever your preferred style – now may be the time to try out something new and see how well your working relationships grow.