How you can increase your Emotional Capital as a Leader

How you can increase your Emotional Capital as a Leader

Originally published in Forbes on August 29th 2019

By now, you’ve probably heard of emotional intelligence. But have you ever heard of “emotional capital?”


According to researcher Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D., “Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of energy, information, connection, and influence.”

Emotional capital (EK), however, is the make-up of all the skills and abilities that allow you to understand your own emotions, to recognize them in others, and to function with other people in a perceptive and rewarding manner.

Think of it as the ability to empathize with other people and to effectively communicate with them, leading you to develop and enhance strong, effective relationships. Emotional capital is the foundation on which all motivational and decision making leadership skills are based. Defined by the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, it is “the set of resources that inhere to the person, useful for personal, professional and organizational development, and participates [in] social cohesion, with personal, economic and social returns.”

EK is absolutely essential to leadership success. Self-awareness, empathy and assertiveness are prerequisites for building your own EK.

There are several competencies that make up emotional capital. Some of them include:

1. Self-esteem

2. Self-regulation

3. Self-motivation

4. Self-reliance

5. Relational agility

6. Optimism

Think of learning these competencies as a way of making “deposits” into your emotional capital account. These deposits will later be effectively spent in your quest to become the best leader you can be. Emotional capital is built over time and sustained by consistency. It is a booster for human, social and cultural capitals. You can help make emotional capital more useful and beneficial by thinking about ways to generate more of it, as well as ways in which it can be advantageously spent.

Let’s look at these competencies through the lens of emotional intelligence and discuss how you can increase them.

Self-esteem is your emotional evaluation of your self-worth, which is formed by beliefs and values within. You increase your self-esteem by accomplishing your short and long-term goals. These successes, no matter how small, all go toward increasing your confidence in yourself and your ability to operate successfully in the world.

Self-regulation is your ability to calibrate and control undesirable behavior. By being aware that there is an emotion rooted in unwanted behavior, you can address that root cause directly rather than dealing with the more superficial result (undesirable behavior). You are able to replace the undesirable behavior with something more beneficial.

Self-motivation is the emotional energy that pushes you outside your comfort zone, creates changes and motivates enthusiastic action. The best way to increase self-motivation is through inspiring self-talk and achievable goal-setting.

Self-reliance is the confidence to rely on your own abilities. It calls on you to make the best possible decision using all available emotional data. You increase your self-reliance by evaluating the best and the worst-case scenarios with flexibility and impulse-control management.

Relational agility refers to an empathetic “win-win” approach with openly communicated boundaries. The way to increase relational agility is to listen from a place of curiosity, emotional flexibility and mutual respect, rather than from a place of viewing situations as simple, isolated transactions. In other words, you need to delve into the complexities of things rather than just accepting them as presented.

Optimism is a positive emotional outlook that everything will be OK instead of worrying and thinking with a “glass-half-empty” attitude.

Increasing your emotional capital is just like depositing into a savings account. The more you deposit, the more you can take out. Relationships function exactly the same way. If instead of withdrawing emotions, you deposit them, you will get them back but multiplied. Remember, relationships are an essential component of your well-being and happiness.

Svetlana Whitener

How To Market Yourself Without Marketing Yourself

How To Market Yourself Without Marketing Yourself

Originally published in on April 3rd 2019

You don’t need a complicated marketing plan, selfie strategy, or growth hack to market yourself.

If you want people to care about you and your work, double down on its quality, your commitment to those who consume it, and your willingness to share your expertise with the world.

Here are seven simple ways to do that…

1. Make things and put them into the world.

Your work is your greatest marketing tool.

People may ignore what you say, but they’ll pay attention to what you do.

The more you make, the higher its quality, and the more willing you are to share it with the world, the more people will discover and spread the word about you.

2. Help people.

Be known for being generous.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will get you noticed by the people you help and the people they know.

Selfish doesn’t spread.

3. Overdeliver.

An adequate job doesn’t get talked about.

Nobody tells anybody else about the person who did a “good enough” job on work they hired them to do.

To get noticed, you must exceed expectations — not simply live up to them.

4. Respond to everyone who reaches out.

You don’t have to have an answer to every question you get asked and you don’t have to agree to every request you receive.

But you do to have to respond to them.

5. Acknowledge everyone who mentions you.

It’s amazing how many people and companies want to better market themselves while they simultaneously ignore their existing audience.

Everyone is worth your time when trying to grow your audience.

I repeat: Everyone is worth your time.

6. Share what you learn.

That thing you learned today? There are millions of people who haven’t learned it yet, but would love to.

When you share your journey, it makes people want to come along for the ride.

7. Teach what you know.

Your knowledge is an asset that becomes infinitely more valuable when you share it.

Create vessels — mine are my For The Interested newsletter and blog posts like this one — to teach what you know to people hungry to know it.

Teaching not only attracts an appreciative crowd and creates opportunities, but it also unlocks a deeper understanding of your subject matter for you in the process.

Want proof?

After writing this post, I know a lot more about how to market yourself without marketing yourself than I did when I started it.

I hope you do too.

Josh Spector

Finding your Ikigai: how to drive organisational purpose and engagement

Finding your Ikigai: how to drive organisational purpose and engagement

Written by Stuart Taylor.
Originally published in Inside HR on July 9, 2019

Ikigai is a Japanese concept akin to one’s purpose and reason for being, and Stuart Taylor says that uncovering this on an individual level and driving it on an organisational level is critical to success.

Searching for a clear and driving purpose in our lives, or one’s Ikigai, is something humans have been in pursuit of for generations. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that purpose plays a key role in the health of employees and the overall success of an organisation.

And as we become a more secular society, people are searching for purpose and meaning through their work life, and we’re seeing a progressive shift where employees care less about monetary fulfilments and more about how their work seeks to fulfil a greater purpose. In fact, a recent study by LinkedIn found that 74 per cent of job candidates want a job where they feel like their work matters.

A workplace culture thrives when an organisation and its employees identify and nurture their collective purpose.

Purpose in the workplace
While it’s been found that knowing your purpose leads to numerous personal benefits including improved health and longevity, sleep, mental health, cognitive function and resilience, it’s often forgotten amidst increasing demands, deadlines and in striving for the bottom-line is that in the context of the workplace, purpose is powerful.

In the workplace, a collective purpose refers to the shared goals and values of the organisation and its people. It is the understanding of the ‘why’ of the business – why it exists and why it is important. In the absence of purpose, organisations almost inevitably become focussed on metrics, and miss our human need for purpose and our desire to engage in meaningful work. A shared purpose operates as a propelling force behind staff, encouraging them forward with a clear sense of direction and a mutually acknowledged destination.

Without organisational purpose, your employees are simply putting in time. Their minds might be engaged, but their hearts will not be. However, when a business establishes a collective purpose it loses the need for a hard-line approach on productivity and innovation. Workers who buy into the company’s purpose are motivated from within, meaning the age-old method of top-down pressure for performance and results becomes largely unnecessary.

“Without organisational purpose, your employees are simply putting in time. Their minds might be engaged, but their hearts will not be”

In an individual sense, leaders who understand their personal purpose are more likely to be focused, efficient, and productive, and less likely to experience distress and worry. They are also more likely to be confident in their capabilities and more resilient in the face of complex tasks and problems. In the long term, people with purpose experience increased vitality, optimism and job satisfaction. In the majority of cases, they also retire later in life than those without purpose.

Finding your purpose
Finding your purpose begins with the task of identifying one’s values. Start with highlighting what is most important to you, both in the context of home and the workplace. The simple task of identifying values effectively prioritises life’s commitments and requirements, resulting in a grounding sense of perspective from which purpose emerges.

You can do this by landing on your Ikigai, a Japanese concept that can be understood as your reason for being. Ikigai calls you to draw on your passions, talents and skills to identify your role and meaning within society.

Finding your Ikigai leads to a clearer sense of purpose and increased positivity, which is reflected in your attitudes, behaviour and overall wellbeing. Ultimately, these benefits also have an impact on one’s work life, with people who have identified their Ikigai reporting higher levels of productivity, efficiency and better decision-making skills.

To find your Ikigai, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • What does the world need?
  • What can you be paid for?

“When a business establishes a collective purpose it loses the need for a hard-line approach on productivity and innovation”

How to drive organisational purpose
As relates to business, most organisations have a mission or vision statement that communicates what the business is and what it stands for. The problem is that most organisations treat this as a tickbox exercise, rather than a valuable tool that can be used to drive comradery and communicate purpose.

To drive organisational purpose, try integrating the following steps:

  1. Lead from the top. Creating a purposeful workplace requires commitment and action from all levels of an organisation. In order to enable staff to find their purpose, leaders must first strive to find and articulate theirs.
  2. Communicate purpose often. Communicating organisational purpose, encourages employees to come on board. This includes the genuine desire to improve the working lives of employees.
  3. Anchor your decision making to purpose. In every decision you make, ask yourself, “is this decision in line with organisational purpose?”
  4. Get employee buy-in. Ask employees what is important to them and try to integrate their feedback into the overall organisational purpose.

It is easy to disregard the concept of purpose as superfluous, particularly in the context of the workplace, however, it is purpose that separates an average business from one that is successful, healthy and fast-growing. An understanding and appreciation of one’s purpose are what drives workers to go above-and-beyond, sustaining them in their wellbeing, and in turn, sustaining the organisation well into the future.

Image source: Depositphotos

Inside HR

Leaders Focus Too Much on Changing Policies, and Not Enough on Changing Minds

Leaders Focus Too Much on Changing Policies, and Not Enough on Changing Minds

Business transformations are typically built around new structural elements, including policies, processes, facilities, and technology. Some companies also focus on behaviors — defining new practices, training new skills, or asking employees for new deliverables.

Not long ago, I asked 100 CEOs attending a conference how many of them were currently involved in a significant business transformation. Nearly all of them raised their hands, which was no surprise. According to a study by BCG, 85% of companies have undertaken a transformation during the past decade.


The same research found that nearly 75% of those transformations fail to improve business performance, either short-term or long-term.


So why is transformation so difficult to achieve?


Among many potential explanations, one that gets very little attention may be the most fundamental: the invisible fears and insecurities that keep us locked into behaviors even when we know rationally that they don’t serve us well. Add to that the anxiety that nearly all human beings experience in the face of change.

Nonetheless, most organizations pay far more attention to strategy and execution than they do to what their people are feeling and thinking when they’re asked to embrace a transformation. Resistance, especially when it is passive, invisible, and unconscious, can derail even the best strategy.


Business transformations are typically built around new structural elements, including policies, processes, facilities, and technology. Some companies also focus on behaviors — defining new practices, training new skills, or asking employees for new deliverables.


What most organizations typically overlook is the internal shift — what people think and feel — which has to occur in order to bring the strategy to life. This is where resistance tends to arise — cognitively in the form of fixed beliefs, deeply held assumptions and blind spots; and emotionally, in the form of the fear and insecurity that change engenders. All of this rolls up into our mindset, which reflects how we see the world, what we believe and how that makes us feel.


The result is that transforming a business also depends on transforming individuals — beginning with the most senior leaders and influencers. Few of them, in our experience, have spent much time observing and understanding their own motivations, challenging their assumptions, or pushing beyond their intellectual and emotional comfort zones. The result is something that the psychologists Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan have termed “immunity to change.”


We first ran up against the power of mindset two decades ago when we began to make a case inside organizations that rest and renewal are essential for sustaining high performance. The scientific evidence we presented to clients was compelling. Nearly all of them found the concept persuasive and appealing, both logically and intuitively. We taught them very simple strategies to build renewal into their lives, and they left our workshops eager to change the way they worked.


Nonetheless, most of them struggled with changing their behavior when they got back to their jobs. They continued to equate continuous work and long hours with success. Taking time to renew during work days made them feel as if they were slacking. Even when organizations built nap rooms, they often went unused. People worried that if they rested at all, they wouldn’t get their work done, and above all, they feared failing. Despite their best intentions, many of them eventually defaulted back to their habitual patterns.


More recently, we worked with the senior team of a large consumer product company which had been severely disrupted by smaller, more agile online competitors selling their services directly to consumers. On its face, the team was aligned, focused, and committed to a new multi-faceted strategy with a strong digital component. But when we looked at the team’s mindset more deeply, we discovered that they shared several underlying beliefs including, “Everything we do is equally important,” “More is always better,” and “It has to be perfect or we don’t do it.” They summarized these beliefs in a single sentence: “If we don’t keep running as hard as we can, and attend to every detail, everything will fall apart.”


Not surprisingly, the leaders found they were spreading themselves too thin, struggling to pull the trigger on new initiatives, and feeling exhausted. Simply surfacing these costs and their consequences proved highly valuable and motivating. We also launched several initiatives to address these issues individually and collectively.


One of the most successful began with a simple exercise aimed at helping the leaders to define their three highest priorities. Then we took them through a structured exercise including delving into their calendars to assess whether they were using their time to best advantage, including setting aside time for renewal. This process prompted them to examine more consciously why they were working in self-defeating ways.


We also developed an online site where leaders agreed to regularly share their progress on prioritizing, as well as any feelings of resistance that were arising, and how they managed them. Their work is ongoing, but among the most common feelings people reported were liberation and relief. Their worst fears failed to materialize.


Several factors typically hold mindset in place. The first is that much of it gets deeply rooted early in our lives. Over time we tend to develop confirmation bias, forever seeking evidence that reinforces what we already believe, and downplaying or dismissing what doesn’t. We’re also designed, both genetically and instinctively, to put our own safety first, and to avoid taking too much risk. Rather than using our capacity for critical thinking to assess new possibilities, we often co-opt our prefrontal cortex to rationalize choices that were actually driven by our emotions.


All this explains why the most effective transformation begins with what’s going on inside people — and especially the most senior leaders, given their disproportionate authority and influence.  Their challenge is to deliberately turn attention inward in order to begin noticing the fixed patterns in their thinking, how they’re feeing in any given moment, and how quickly the instinct for self-preservation can overwhelm rationality and a longer term perspective, especially when the stakes are high.


Leaders also have an outsize impact on the collective mindset — meaning the organizational culture. As they begin to change the way they think and feel, they’re more able to model new behaviors and communicate to others more authentically and persuasively. Even employees highly resistant to change tend to follow their leaders, simply because most people prefer to fit in, rather than stick out.


Ultimately, personal transformation requires the courage to challenge one’s current comfort zone, and to tolerate that discomfort without overreacting. One of the most effective tools, we’ve found is a series of provocative questions we ask leaders and their teams to build a practice around asking themselves:


“What am I not seeing?

“What else is true?”

“What is my responsibility in this situation?”

“How is my perspective being influenced by my fears?”


Great strategy remains foundational to transformation, but successful execution also requires surfacing and continuously addressing the invisible reasons that people and cultures so often resist changing, even when the way they’re working isn’t working.


Harvard Business Review- By Tony Schwartz 

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The 7 Secret Talents Of Organizational Superstars

The 7 Secret Talents Of Organizational Superstars

Virtually every organization has a few superstars. They’re the employees who’ve fast-tracked their way to the C-suite or maybe they don’t sit at the top of the hierarchy, but they are definitely part of the tacit power structure within the organization.

Generally, they’re well regarded, highly respected and seem to have an X factor that propels them to succeed…But how do they achieve such success? What is it that they do differently? Is there a specific set of skills they possess that others don’t?

VP of Global Talent for Mattel, Michael Nehoray asserts, “ It’s less the what and more the how. It’s the skills that don’t show up on the resume. ” While there may be natural inertia to focus on more technical or measurable skills when evaluating high potential candidates within an organization, seasoned HR professionals attest that the skills that distinguish superstars are often much more nuanced soft skills. I asked several seasoned HR thought leaders to share the unique talents that these organizational superstars seem to possess, and here’s what they said.

Former SVP Human Resources, Chief Human Resources Officer at Dow Chemical – Johanna Soderstrom

Talent #1 – Agile and Adaptable

With technology moving at breakneck speed and organizations constantly changing, agility and adaptability can position a high potential to seize opportunities that others will miss. As the International Bestseller “Who Moved My Cheese” asserts, being able to understand and adapt to change can mean the difference between thriving and failing. Soderstrom questions even the use of the phrase “change management” in the business lexicon. Instead, she insists,

Just call it leadership! Indeed, change isn’t about a new, separate event. It’s ever-present day to day, and organizational superstars don’t miss a beat when changes are introduced. They are ‘change ready’ and agility is just part of their DNA.”

Talent #2 – Tenacious Problem Solvers

All leaders have problems and as a result, they inevitably place the highest value on team members who are effective problem solvers (preferably without much hand holding). Typically, the larger the problems being solved, the higher their stock rises in the organization. As such, it’s no surprise that tenacious problem-solving shows up on the list of organizational superstar traits. While intellect and analytical skills are certainly necessary elements for problem-solving success overall, here Soderstrom focuses on the tenacity and laser focus with which they tend to face problems. She insists,

Organizational superstars throw themselves into battle. They just want to solve problems. They understand the politics but don’t let that deter them from delivering.”

HR Talent and Development Executive – Desmond Atkins

Talent #3 – Organizational Savvy

Few can question the simple reality of power dynamics and politics in most organizations. Those who fly up the hierarchical food chain typically possess the organizational savvy that enables them to flourish irrespective of the political environment. HR Executive Desmond Atkins asserts, “They know how to play the game in whatever organization they’re in. They understand what their organizational culture rewards.”

Talent #4 – Highly Attuned to Their Leadership’s Preferences/Culture

Similarly, superstars are keenly aware that leaders vary significantly in their value system, style, and priorities. As such, these ultra-successful team members are typically both shrewd and flexible in their ability to adjust on a dime to their particular leadership culture. They are keenly aware of the value of learning to “play the game in the way that their leadership recognizes success” according to Atkins. This more sophisticated work approach often requires that they take time to learn their boss’ preferences and manage up regularly.

VP of Global Talent, Mattel – Michael Nehoray

Talent #5 – Influences Others

The ability to wield influence within organizations arguably might be the most valuable currency in any organization, and organizational superstars are typically masterful in their ability to influence not just peers/leadership but ultimately business results and decisions. Nehoray has observed organizational superstars as those who “influence others in a positive way through their energy, perspective, and solution focus. They’re able to move things forward that others simply aren’t able to.” As a result, they maintain premium value within the organization.

Talent #6 – Broad Perspective/Strategic Thinking

Organizational superstars aren’t simply transactional. Instead, they think strategically to consider potential consequences and identify advantageous alternatives for any business challenge. Strategic thinking is arguably a skill set that many organizations use to assess overall leadership potential, and as a result, those who garner support for higher level positions are often those who have clearly demonstrated a strategic mindset. When asked to describe traits of organizational superstars, Nehoray insists, “They’re thinking 2, 3, 4 moves ahead. They typically think beyond the day to day, and their solutions tend to have lasting impact.”

Talent #7 – Resilient Attitude

As resilience is a critical ingredient for life success, the same holds true in professional environments as well. Referencing high potential candidates, Nehoray observes

They don’t fall apart when things don’t work. They tend to have a contagious positivity and belief in the future that others can feel. It’s hard to find a superstar without a forward-thinking, positive attitude. Indeed, their resilience speaks to a particularly healthy mental outlook that doesn’t just allow them to bounce back after disappointment or unexpected change but to quickly shift gears and begin to move forward while others may continue to mentally stay stuck in the past or even worse become dejected, bitter, or passive aggressive. Their healthy, resilient attitude isn’t just more pleasant; it also lifts morale and ultimately positions them to get results.”

While these seven qualities are certainly not an exhaustive listing of what organizational superstars do differently, they are highlighted because they tend to define that nebulous X factor. They’re not classically measurable skills that typically show up on a training plan, but they’re as powerful and consequential as they are hidden. It’s worth noting that the importance of these more obscure talents in no way minimizes the relevance of other more traditionally recognized skills and abilities like presentation/facilitation skills, emotional intelligence, conflict management skills, project management skills, industry knowledge, etc. The two types of talents are not mutually exclusive but complementary and ultimately mutually necessary to distinguish oneself in today’s competitive workplace environment.



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6 Stupid Things Managers Do To Kill Morale

6 Stupid Things Managers Do To Kill Morale

It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.

But managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

Bad management does not discriminate based on salary or job title. A Fortune 500 executive team can experience more dissatisfaction and turnover than the baristas at a local coffee shop. The more demanding your job is and the less control you have over what you do, the more likely you are to suffer. A study by the American Psychological Association found that people whose work meets both these criteria are more likely to experience exhaustion, poor sleep, anxiety, and depression.

The sad thing is that this suffering can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part to give employees autonomy and make their work feel less demanding. To get there, managers must understand what they’re doing to kill morale. The following practices are the worst offenders, and they must be abolished if you’re going to hang on to good employees.

Withholding praise. It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right. This doesn’t mean that managers need to praise people for showing up on time or working an eight-hour day—these things are the price of entry—but a boss who does not give praise to dedicated employees erodes their commitment to the job.

Forbes – Travis Bradberry 

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