Self-Awareness Workshops

3 Key Ways to Encourage Emotional Intelligence in Your Workplace

Many leaders have discovered that emotional intelligence isn’t about being weak or indecisive.  It’s a valuable tool that helps them connect with their employees and create happier workplaces.  The trap we tend to fall in is thinking that only certain emotions are acceptable in the workplace and others are inappropriate.  Emotions are a valuable tool to understand how our employees are doing and what may need some additional attention.  Here are three key ways that leaders can use emotional intelligence to improve the functioning of their workplaces.

Be Able to Read People More Accurately

Have you ever worked for someone who seemed to react the same way regardless of the situation?  Perhaps they had no idea that people have emotions for a reason.  Emotions signal that something needs attention.  A leader who has a high degree of emotional intelligence will be able to tell what’s going on with a person and will be comfortable dealing with whatever emotion comes his or her way.  They use emotions to create workplaces that run more smoothly instead of environments where everything comes to a screeching, uncomfortable halt when someone feels something.

Build Empathy

Empathic leaders understand what their employees are going through and are able to let them experience their own feelings.  They can step outside their own heads and give importance to someone else’s perspective.  Leaders like this aren’t uncomfortable when emotions come their way and they comprehend that other people’s way of dealing with things may be different but is not inferior, weak or inappropriate.  They understand that emotions aren’t something to run away from but an opportunity to make a difference and help people grow.  Empathic leaders set an example by accepting emotions and using them to create more cohesive and caring workplace.

Being Comfortable with Your Own Emotions

Many experienced leaders have found out that when they are comfortable with their own emotions (and not just happiness and anger) they are able to deal with a range of situations in the workplace.  Healthy leaders have learned how to deal with their own emotions and use them in a positive way that improves workplace functioning.  They know how to not let their own personal feelings affect others negatively and lead from a perspective that uses emotions as a way to build better relationships with themselves and others.  Leaders who understand and accept their own emotions are less likely to overreact or behave inappropriately toward others.

The next time you notice some kind of emotion visiting your workplace think of these three key tips to use it as a tool to improve your workplace.  You’ll find that, as you and everyone else get comfortable with accepting emotions, your workplace becomes a more enjoyable place to be.  How will you encourage emotional intelligence in your workplace?

Take care,


Diversity Training: 10 Benefits of Workplace Diversity

Walk into any workplace and you’ll get a pretty good sense whether their leadership values diversity.  Better yet, visit the executive suite and see whether their leadership reflects their workforce.  I’ve talked with leaders who get bent out of shape about diversity training because they think it’s about redistributing power or opening up wounds.  I like to think of it as a way of building a stronger organization.  Here are ten benefits of workplace diversity.

  1. Employees get along better.
  2. People trust employees outside their own group.
  3. Everyone is welcome and respected.
  4. All ideas and perspectives are welcome.
  5. People’s talents are recognized.
  6. The company culture encourages positive interaction.
  7. Cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives.
  8. Leadership and employees aren’t separate.
  9. No cliques or privileged groups.
  10. Celebration of all people.

Think of what your workplace would be like if you enjoyed all ten of these benefits.  Resourceful leaders understand that having their people get along and support each other creates a much more effective organization than one filled with mistrust and strife.  How will you start enjoying the benefits of diversity in your workplace?

Take care,


Team Building and Autocratic Leadership

I was reading a discussion on a business site about team building recently.  Two vocal contributors talked about how team building was only a fluffy, superfluous activity that could only lead to coddled, lazy employees.  What was needed, they contended, was discipline and a strict adherence to rules and directives.  They added that employees were there only to carry out the leader’s vision and not to have a good time.

I said to myself, “Where do I sign up?  Sounds like a great place to work.”

Many leaders still function under the paradigm that the only thing that matters in business is to drive people until they break.  They genuinely believe that organizations are solely about their leaders and the rest of the employees are just there to carry out their vision.  Everything is wrapped around one charismatic disciplinarian who leads his flock bravely off the cliff into glory.

This style would be much more effective if people had no minds, no dreams, no independence, no skills and no need to grow or be fulfilled in any way in the workplace.  In the real world, there are very few people willing to have someone boss them around mercilessly all day.  So what’s a budding autocrat to do?  I might look at relaxing a bit and letting people be who they are.  I don’t say this to make leadership more difficult, I offer it as a way to create workplaces that run better because people feel better about themselves and the organization.

Feeling good is a difficult concept for leaders bred on discipline and order.  Many equate feeling good with being weak but I tend to think that it’s about people performing well while feeling like they’re important individually and collectively.  There’s a big difference between doing work because you have no other choice or because you want to intrinsically.  When leaders motivate their employees from within they can count on them using their natural talents and abilities to greater advantage.  The trick is finding a way to encourage people to succeed based on their own inner motivators rather than those imposed from someone on the outside.

Team building requires the ability not only to have people produce but also to move beyond simply requiring people to perform tasks in some predetermined way toward a single goal.  It’s about providing choices and opportunities and recognizing that people are able to think for themselves if given the chance.  It’s easy to boss people around but much harder to have them direct themselves.  How will you practice excellent team building?

Take care,


Effective Communication: 5 Key Ideas for Leaders

Leaders often think that effective communication is about showing how powerful or in control they are and talking on top of their employees or clients.  This approach overlooks the reality that there is more than one person involved in a conversation.  Here are some practical tips to help you practice effective communication in your workplace.

Talk Much Less

It’s much easier to understand what other people are saying when you’re not talking, thinking of the next thing you’re going to say or how you’re going to defend yourself.  It’s very difficult to accurately grasp what other people are saying if you’re talking at the same time they are.

Listen Much More

A frequently overlooked skill, active listening helps you get more information from the other person so you can then make better decisions.  Listening actively means that you are intensely focused on understanding what the other person is saying and you’re there with them the whole time they’re talking.

Keep an Open Mind

Effective communication isn’t just about forcing one point of view on others, it’s about understanding that other people have ideas that may be greatly beneficial to the organization.  Try not to go into conversations with an agenda or strategy for victory.  Be willing to consider ideas that don’t agree with yours.

Value the Input of Your Employees

Show your employees that you value what they have to say by letting them say it.  Give your employees the opportunity to share their ideas and perspectives.  Create a workplace where people are free to use their knowledge to make their jobs more satisfying and improve how the company functions.

Lose the Ego

Conversations aren’t exclusively about you.  Let go of the need to control communication and you will have more opportunities to learn about your employees and what’s actually going on in your workplace.  Let go of having to defend or rebut and you will have smoother, more easy-going interactions and get more done.

How will you start focusing your workplace communication skills?

Take care,


Effective Communication: Interviewing for the Ideal Candidate

Leaders and organizations can use effective communication skills like active listening and open-ended questions to increase their chances of hiring excellent people.  Let’s look at how you can use these skills to understand your job candidates better and increase the likelihood that you’ll find a person who is a good fit for your organization.

Open ended questions area a valuable tool to help you get more information in less time.  When you’re developing open-ended interview questions, think in terms of asking questions that allow people to answer without saying yes or no such as, “In what ways does your previous experience relate to A or B,” or “Tell me more about your philosophy on A or B and how it would impact C and D,” or “How would you deal with A, B, C?”

Open-ended questions allow the candidate to demonstrate proficiency in whatever area you would like to highlight.  They also help you steer the conversation away from proscribed questioning that tends to elicit yes or no or canned answers.  They make your job easier because the candidate is required to show you what they know and tell you about himself or herself without you having to guess.

Active listening is another key skill to help you obtain information that you might not get in a standard interview.  Practice asking a question and then not talking at all.  Let the candidate tell you about their perspective and only prompt when absolutely necessary and, then, only to encourage them to keep expanding on the subject.  You don’t have to direct the conversation so it makes the process more enjoyable.  Remember that you can’t listen actively if you’re busy talking.

Practice these skills and you’ll get to the core of what you want to learn about the candidate and make better hiring decisions.  It’s remarkable what happens when we simply listen to people telling us about themselves.  How will you practice effective communication in your interviews?

Take care,