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Know Your Why

In a moving video talk, comedian Michael Jr. describes the power of knowing your “why.” In it, he showed an audience a clip from a different event, in which he asked a member of that audience to sing the opening stanzas from “Amazing Grace.” The gentleman, a music teacher, began in a deep baritone and sang the refrain flawlessly.

After praising his performance, the comedian asked the teacher to do it again, but this time painted a scenario of true appreciation, such as a family member being released from prison. Not surprisingly, the second performance far outshone the first. This time, the song was performed with added feeling and emotion. The words were more animated and the tone was deeper and richer. Michael Jr. concluded that, “When you know your ‘why’ then your ‘what’ has more impact, because you’re working towards your purpose.”

Leadership expert Simon Sinek calls this “the golden circle.” He says that it’s not enough to know what you do and how you do it. At our essence, we are most motivated by knowing why we do things. And it’s through that awareness that we can best connect with and sell to others.

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The importance of building trust

Leaders in all contexts must build trust in order to achieve their goals. In fact, some, like business consultant Cynthia Olmstead, maintain that the fundamental difference between the enterprises and change initiatives that succeed and those that fail depends largely on whether there is a meaningful degree of trust within the organization. People in high-trust relationships communicate well, don’t second guess one another, understand why they are doing things, and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that goals are met. In the words of Stephen R. Covey, “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

But what exactly is trust? For many of us, it’s one of those “feel” terms that are hard to define. Of course, if we lack a common definition of the term, we can’t really come to discuss it, let alone seek to create it in our workplaces.

In essence, trust is a feeling of security that you have, based on the belief that someone or something is knowledgeable, reliable, good, honest, and effective. At the least, there exists a meaningful combination of some of these attributes. When applied to human relationships, trust develops when people interact and like the results, in terms of the quality of what they get (information, service, companionship, etc.) and the way in which it is presented and/or delivered.

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Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

Oftentimes, the biggest obstacle for a new leader has little to do with how well she knows the job or whether she possesses the right technical skills. In fact, most leadership experts identify poor interpersonal qualities and practices as the main reason that so many new leaders stumble out of the gate. They suggest that such relational transgressions as not communicating often, not being available for people on a consistent basis, and being unpredictable emotionally are primary contributors to new leaders failing to gain traction.

These and other negative interpersonal behaviors may mean that a person is weak in the area of Emotional intelligence (EI.) EI refers to a person’s ability to understand and manage his/her personal emotions and interpersonal conduct, as well as those of the people around him/her. People who rank high in EI are in tune with their feelings and emotions and can accurately predict how they might affect other people.

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