The Results Killing Virus

Are your results being impacted by an infectious disease? Science has proven that attitudes are literally catching like a virus. We live in a society where avoiding responsibility (non-responsibility) and placing blame is deeply rooted in our culture. Do you allow your mood to be determined by how others treat you? Do you feel others cause you to be offended or frustrated. If you do, you are probably infected with the highly contagious blame disease.

Blaming is often associated with strong emotional feelings. Author Daniel Goleman writes, “…emotions are contagious. We ‘catch’ strong emotions much as we do a rhinovirus – and so can come down with the emotional equivalent of a cold.” (Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence) American Psychiatrist, Daniel Stern, says our minds are continually interacting through a type of neural WiFi. (Daniel Stern, The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life, 2004, p. 76) Parents blame teachers for low test scores, teachers blame parents for unruly children, employees blame their bosses when work gets too hard, and citizens blame the government for their economic woes and more.

When we think our problems are externally caused, it reduces our power! It causes us to focus on who to blame rather than on finding a solution and changing our circumstances. If we believe our problems are external, then we are at the mercy of those external conditions. For some people this is convenient. It gives them a ready made excuse when things go wrong. Taking personal responsibility is a much more difficult doctrine. True, some circumstances are beyond our control. I will discuss how to approach those in future articles. Let’s inoculate you from the blame virus.

Stop the spread of blame today!

The author Spencer Horn is the President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC. Additional articles which may interest you: Leadership Is About Impact Not IntentionHow To Prepare Your Next Generation Of LeadersIncrease Your Effectiveness As A Leader With Perception Science; How To Create Success From Failure; How To Get Your People To Change TodayCure For The CEO DiseaseThe Importance of Values

How To Make A Stronger Impression

One thing you are doing is hurting your efforts to make a strong impression in sales, networking, or job hunting. This one simple change will improve your approach.

Have you ever wanted to make a stronger impression? Either during a job interview, landing a new account, on a first date, making a speech or presentation or networking? If you are like me you want to put your best foot forward in these situations. You want to let a potential employer know why you are the best person for the job. You review all your skills and abilities, which you believe to be a perfect match. You let the potential client know how knowledgeable you are about the product. You believe this will motivate them to buy from you.

For example, This past week, I was working with a leadership group to help them improve alignment and communication. The topic came up of “trust versus competence.” I asked the team, which they thought, was more important in their working relationships. The newest member of the team, (just five days), eager to demonstrate his knowledge and skill to the rest of the team, said “competence” without hesitation. He explained that he “had” to know the people he worked with knew what they were doing. Throughout the meeting he took opportunities to explain his competence. He thought he was proving his worth. Not true.

Also, I was recently at a networking event. Most people I know go to networking events to meet new contacts and gain potential clients. Some people go just to be with friends. Others seem to take the networking challenge seriously. I had two very different interactions with people that evening. At one point, I was sitting with an acquaintance having a serious conversation about the Hubspot marketing approach (Stop interrupting. Start connecting.). During our conversation, the hostess interrupted and asked for our attention. During this time when we were being polite to our host, a man walked up and thrust his cards at us informing us if we should every need a personal injury lawyer he was the one to call. The irony was not lost on us. I kept the card as a reminder to never call.

I was introduced to several other people who immediately began to tell me why I should use their services or expertise. These people only seemed to be interested in what they had to say or sell. They wanted me to respect their competence. You may ask, isn’t that what you are supposed to do at a networking event? Yes and no. Let me explain by sharing another experience at the same networking event. The event was held on the top floor of the Mandalay Bay in the House of Blues Foundation Room, Las Vegas. There was an open deck where you could look out over the city. I was standing by the edge admiring the view when I noticed two ladies gingerly approaching the railing. I let them know I would make sure they would not fall. We started a conversation and learned about each other’s families and professions. We started to involve other people in our conversation, which was fun and full of energy. Only after getting to know them a little did the discussion turn to business. Because of their interest, I offered to give a brief demonstration of what I do for my clients. We exchanged cards and moved on to other conversations. Of all the people I met, these are ones I was most interested in following up with.

I have always believed developing relationships is key to successful outcomes. I believe most people are more comfortable working with someone they trust and someone they know. They prefer someone who has their best interest at heart, rather than someone who is merely competent. Harvard Psychologist, Amy Cuddy, argues that when people meet you, they judge if they can trust and respect you. She says most people believe it is more important to be respected than trusted. That is why they spend so much time convincing others how smart, reliable, effective, capable, eligible, and competent they are.

Of course it is a given you must be competent. If you are not, you will soon be found out and lose the opportunity you hoped for. Amy Cuddy suggests it is more important to be trusted first, based on my experiences, I agree. Once someone trusts you, then you can demonstrate your competence. Then you can make the impression you desire.

Suggestions to build trust and make a stronger impression:

  1. Get to know others:

    Ask questions about their interests, hobbies, family and business. Learn what is important to them. Be courteous and polite. Be present and give them all your attention.

  2. Smile:

    Make good eye contact, be interested, shake hands firmly.

  3. Be relaxed:

    Avoid nervous habits like jangling keys or coins in your pocket, touching your face or hair, fidgeting, etc. Have your hands relaxed at your side when listening. Use some gestures with open hands when talking.

  4. Be a tease:

    When someone asks what you do, be brief. I believe the 30 second elevator speech is too long. Can you explain what you do in 10-15 seconds? Tease them by giving just enough information that you leave them wanting more. Think of this conversation as a first date. Leave more to be discovered. If they are interested, they will ask further questions. Show restraint with your additional answers.

  5. Be indispensable:

    Be willing to offer your services or expertise for free as an audition. Let people know you are willing to help. This builds trust and helps other’s quickly discover your competence. Most reasonable people do not expect free services in perpetuity. The sample should just be enough to encourage a formal business agreement. Be willing to start small before you propose all your goods and services. Remember, build trust, and then you will become indispensable.

  6. Use a wingman:

    Have others introduce you or talk about what you do. Third party endorsements add credibility. Be sure to return the favor.

  7. Be of service:

    Help people anyway you can. I introduce my clients to each other all the time. I have construction clients whose services I don’t personally need. I introduce them to my other clients who do. Interestingly, I only introduce my clients who I trust to my other clients. I feel making the introduction reflects on me. So again, trust comes first.

  8. Be aware:

    Learn how your behavioral traits may be helping or hurting you. For example: A highly extroverted person may have a compulsive need to be heard and speak leaving little time to listen to others. They can also get bored if the conversation is too serious. A high dominant person may want to get to the point too quickly or may be thinking about what they want to say next instead of listening. A highly patient person may be too accommodating of others and miss an opportunity. Their quiet approach may be perceived as weakness by more intense personalities. A high conforming person may look at things pessimistically, bury people with facts, can be closed-minded and have a fear of embarrassment. Awareness of your tendencies will go a long way to help you make a stronger impression.

As a business owner, I am constantly in the market to buy goods and services. I also want to hire the best candidates. I prefer to buy from those people I know and trust. I also prefer to hire people I feel would be a great with our organization. Sure they need to be competent, but if I don’t trust they are a great fit with our current team, it doesn’t matter how smart or competent they are. I would rather have a better cultural fit and train for the skills I need. It is harder to find someone that understands how to build trust than it is to find someone who is ready to tell you all they know.

Related topics: What Is Innattentional Blindness Costing You? How Asking Questions Strengthens Your TeamAct As If…Today, When Being Too Smart Hurts You, 5 Suggestions To Achieve Your Dreams.

The Author, Spencer Horn is the President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC

When Being Too Smart Hurts You

Is being too smart getting in your way of being more effective as a leader?

In his article “Leadership that Gets Results” (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2000), Daniel Goleman reported on studies, which rated emotional intelligence as a predictor of success in business as more significant than intelligence and technical skill. He states, “New research suggests that the most effective executives use a collection of distinct leadership styles—each in the right measure, at just the right time. Such flexibility is tough to put into action, but it pays off in performance. And better yet, it can be learned.”

Do you know someone who was a good employee who was promoted to a supervisor or manager and failed at that position? Think about why they were not successful. Typically it is because they lack the skills required to manage people which are different from the skills required to manage a task. How well do you balance your tasks and the people you manage or report to? Balancing tasks and relationships requires emotional intelligence. Our knowledge and technical skill can only take us so far. It is usually what gets us hired. However, it is our emotional intelligence that gets us promoted or fired.

Most of us understand that emotional intelligence is important. We have heard of it, yet just knowing about emotional intelligence does not make us emotionally intelligent. Talent Smart surveyed 500,000 people around the world about their emotional intelligence in business. Only 36% were able to identify their emotions as they happened. This means, most of us are controlled by emotions and are unaware of how to handle them effectively. Perhaps you have worked with some of them, perhaps you are one of them.

Why do so many have low emotional intelligence? I believe it is because we are conditioned to be right. We judge ourselves by how right we are or how smart we are. We are rewarded for being smart, for having the correct answer. Relying only on intelligence and wanting to be right might work if we all worked alone and never with a team.  As a leader, how do you get things done? You get things done through other people’s efforts. You must be aware of how to accomplish goals by creating engagement and teamwork.

There is nothing wrong with intelligence unless it is getting in your way from being an effective leader. The research suggests, the smarter you are, the less effective you may be in a leadership role when you are unaware of the impact of your emotions. It does not matter how smart we are when our emotions take over. Author Malcom Gladwell argues dedication and practice opposed to raw intelligence are the most crucial determinants of success. If you want to improve as a leader, please read, “Cure For The CEO Disease”  Remember, unlike IQ, EQ can be learned.

Improvement takes constant effort. Success to you!

Disengagement And The “Love What You Do” Myth

5 Dynamics of Increased Engagement

Diseangaged Employees

I am not sure how many times I have heard the saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” (Marc Anthony) If you are like me, you have heard this or something like it a bunch. When I heard this, I felt inspired to search for what I love, because after all, I don’t like to work! My life experience, and the experience of some very successful people I know, has taught me this philosophy is costing business, relationships and families dearly.

Have you ever had an employee that you were so excited to hire and it didn’t turn out well? Have you been the employee and starting a job with so much hope and enthusiasm only to find out it was not what you thought or expected? Have you experienced team members who became disengaged, frustrated, or angry and left?

Have you ever been in a relationship that started of with great promise? You found your soul mate, only to realize that initial feeling was not sustainable? When this happens, many leave their current partner and go off in search of the ideal they thought they found the last time. This cycle can be repeated again and again searching for the perfect ideal.

What is going on here? According to Gallup, 70% of employees are disengaged. Disengagement caused by unrealized expectations is the problem. Well-meaning parents and other mentors in our life want to inspire and encourage us. They tell us how great we are. They tell us we deserve the best things and the best people in our life. They tell us to follow our passion. They tell us we will be most successful when follow our passion. You want to believe this. I want to believe this! Who wouldn’t want to believe this?!

It is important to follow our passions and interests. It certainly makes life better. However, take caution about “never working a day in your life.” A quote by the singer Toni Braxton adds balance to the Marc Anthony quote: “To do what you love can sometimes be stressful.” We need to be prepared to handle the adversity and challenges of life that will surely come. What happens when things don’t work out like you planned? How do you react when things don’t go your way? I know that this has happened in my life and in the lives of almost everyone I know. We have had jobs and careers were we were following our passion and doing what we loved. However, even in these circumstances, we all had to do things we were not excited about, that felt like work.

Many of the youth today and our current workforce are not equipped to handle the challenging environments of business. They have not learned how to work. They are not prepared to handle the disappointments of relationships. Many give up when things don’t go the way they had expected. They may quit a job or relationship. Or worse, they stay and are miserable. It is how we behave in these challenging times which defines individuals as leaders, and as dedicated spouses and significant others. Many who are not equipped to handle disappointment show up in a way that is detrimental to the business or to the relationship.

The point here is not that we can’t pursue our ideal and passions; it is that we learn how to manage our disappointments, challenges and setbacks. There are definitely valid reasons to leave personal or work relationships. There are also many relationships that can be saved, improved, and become deeply fulfilling when we fight through the storms.

Five dynamics of increased engagement.

  1. Create a great culture:

    When ranking job satisfaction., 72% of respondents indicated that respectful treatment of employees at all levels was “very important”. This was the top contributor to overall employee satisfaction. This ranked higher than pay and benefits. Hiring and HR professionals must ensure their workplace culture and employee engagement strategies are of equal importance to compensation, benefits and other responsibilities. Here is an additional reason to develop a great culture!

  2. Be honest: 

    64% of employees rated trusting their senior management as the second most important contributor to job satisfaction. (SHRM, Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Study, 2015) Be open about the way it really is at your company. Don’t paint the picture that everything is perfect. Let candidates know there are challenges. The pay received is based on work, which requires effort. Being honest will help develop trust with leadership and narrow the gap between expectation and reality, which are necessary ingredients of employee engagement.

  3. Hire for behavior, train for skill:

    Find the people who are willing to be flexible and fight through adversity. Use effective tools, these will help remove the frustration of hiring by helping you, better match people to jobs. There are effective tools to create accurate job models based on your best performers and input from management. With the correct application of these tools, you will more effectively attract the best candidates. These tools will also help hiring managers ask the right questions to find the best possible person for the job. When you effectively match people to positions, you will strengthen the culture, increase employee engagement, increase productivity and reduce turnover and waste.

  4. Provide the right praise:  

    Many of the younger generation, coming in to the work place, do not know how to respond well to adversity and criticism. Many are part of a generation, which have been praised by well-meaning parents who told them how smart and talented they are. Sporting programs meaning to boost self-esteem may also be contributing to the problem by providing awards for kids who just show up. The result is well stated by the psychologist, Carol Dweck, “many can’t function without getting a sticker for their every move.” (Mindset, Carol Dweck, 2006) Employers are perpetuating the problem through recognition programs to support these employees who need constant reassurance and can’t take criticism. The alternative is to praise for taking initiative, for commitment, for overcoming a setback, for learning something new.

  5. Develop your people:

    Organizations that dedicate a portion of their budget to professional development send a message that they invest in their employees. Additional benefits of professional development include personal development and greater opportunities for career advancement. Although employees continue to place value on professional development opportunities, fewer organizations are investing in these types of benefits. (Society for Human Resource Management, 2014. Workplace Visions: Trends in Workplace Professional Development. Issue 3)
 As more and more of the experienced workforce retire, developing employees becomes more necessary. Employees are more likely to be engaged when they feel their employers are invested in helping them develop their careers.

Implementing these suggestions takes commitment. The payoff will be worth the investment!

10 Stress Reducing Habits

Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress.

Here are 10 positive healthy habits you may want to develop.

  1. Talk with family and friends.A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write your friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys.
  2. Engage in daily physical activity.

    Regular physical activity relieves mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Go walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.

  3. Accept the things you cannot change.

    Don’t say, “I’m too old.” You can still learn new things, work toward a goal, love and help others.

  4. Remember to laugh.

    Laughter makes you feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when you’re alone.

  5. Give up the bad habits.

    Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress. If you smoke, decide to quit now.

  6. Slow down.

    Go for “pace” instead of “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done.

  7. Get enough sleep.

    Get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression (See other 9 steps). Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.

  8. Get organized.

    Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.

  9. Practice giving back.

    Volunteer your time or return a favor to a friend. Helping others helps you.

  10. Worry less.

    The world won’t end if your grass isn’t mowed or your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to do these things, but today might not be the right time.

What Sets You Off?


My Emotional Intelligence Experiment

So what is it that sets you off? Becoming aware of what your triggers are, or what pushes your buttons is a great way to increase your emotional intelligence. We all have something or someone who drives us crazy. One of my triggers is, when someone tells me to “calm down”. It seems that approach usually creates the opposite effect in me. Think of Adam Sandler in the movie “Anger Management”. Other triggers for me are public criticism, my kids leaving their shoes where they take them off, picking on each other or placing blame, borrowing things and not putting them back and over-drafting my checking account.

Most of my life I have avoided looking at my behavior too closely. Why? Because it is not comfortable for me. If something upset me I usually repressed my feelings or “powered through”. Not only is that not healthy, it prevented me from learning how to better manage my emotions and feelings. Knowing who and what sets you off is essential to getting control of your behavior. When you become aware of your triggers, you are more likely to stay in control and respond to challenging situations instead of reacting.

The next step is to understand why these triggers set you off. I have found for example, when I am frustrated with some of my children’s behavior, it is usually for behavior that I see in myself. Ironically, I seem to get most frustrated with my children that are most like me in behavior and temperament.

Another source of frustration for me is, because I understand emotional intelligence, it is all the more frustrating when my emotions get triggered. In other words, when I get mentally hijacked, this hijacks me even more because I know better. Kidding aside, knowing your triggers and their sources is a great place to start to control your behavior and emotion. This will allow you to apply self-management techniques as you learn them.

Keep learning and growing!