41. Emotional Intelligence with Special Guest, Kerry Goyette
Kerry [00:00:00] EQ is really about the intelligent use of emotions, which influences your decision-making quality of your relationships, and your ability to be flexible and agile in shifting environments.
Don [00:00:15] My name is Don Rheem CEO of E3 Solutions and author of the book, “Thrive By Design: The Neuroscience That Drives High-Performance Cultures.”
Don [00:00:24] I speak across North America on the neuroscience of engagement and I’m passionate about helping leaders at every level create engaging workplace environments where employees feel safe, recognized and valued. Employees who feel safe are happier, healthier and more productive.
Don [00:00:42] Each week, my team and I take on topics impacting managers and we offer solutions to your biggest workplace challenges.
Don [00:00:51] And, you’re listening to Thrive By Design, a podcast created by E3 Solutions to give managers CEOs and leaders the tips, strategies and tools needed to create an engaged culture at work.
Don [00:01:06] Welcome. I’m your host Don Rheem CEO of E3 Solutions.
Don [00:01:10] Over the next several weeks, we are thrilled to be launching a special guest series where we talk with subject-matter experts one-on-one about critical workplace challenges.
Don [00:01:20] Our special guest this week is Kerry Goyette, founder and CEO of Aperio Consulting Group a corporate consulting firm that leverages people analytics to build high-performance teams.
Don [00:01:32] As a certified professional behavior analyst and a certified forensic interviewer, Kerry is an expert in emotional intelligence. Her new book, “The Non-Obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence,” will be released June 28 and is available right now on preorder on Amazon.
Don [00:01:51] Welcome Kerry and thank you for taking the time to be here with us.
Kerry [00:01:55] It’s my pleasure, Don. It’s great to be with you today.
Don [00:01:58] Kerry, recently the World Economic Forum released a report dealing with emotional intelligence saying that it will be a top skill required for employees by 2020. Help us understand how does this report shed light on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace and what is it saying about how it has shifted over the years with regards to impacting workplace engagement?
Kerry [00:02:21] Yeah, it’s interesting. As I look back over my career and monitoring emotional intelligence over the past two decades it certainly has shifted. But, I want to start off first by defining what it is for our audience.
Kerry [00:02:35] Often when I ask about emotional intelligence, when I’m working with teams everybody knows it’s a really good thing to have.
Kerry [00:02:41] But when I ask what it is, people kind of start to stumble.
Kerry [00:02:45] And, so it can be a bit conceptual. So, I like to always break it down. Emotional intelligence and I will also refer to as “EQ,” which stands for emotional quotient, is really defined as the ability to identify, assess and control your own emotions, influence the emotions of others and that of groups.
Kerry [00:03:04] And, so EQ is really about the intelligent use of emotions which influences your decision-making, the quality of your relationships and your ability to be flexible and agile and shifting environments.
Kerry [00:03:18] You know when we go back to to the report that you referenced, one of the reasons why emotional intelligence is becoming much more of a hot topic and identified as a critical skill going forward, it’s actually for a couple of reasons.
Kerry [00:03:32] And, I know Don you talk often a lot about the labor shortage. So we have that issue going on. Leadership is just simply become much more complex because we’re facing several challenges. So, one of which is the labor shortage.
Kerry [00:03:45] Also, it’s the first time in American history that we have five generations in the workforce and that just presents unique challenges because it’s each of the generations has their own unique styles, the way they approach work, their own context with which they look through.
Kerry [00:03:59] And then, an interesting aspect is that Gen X, the generation after the Boomers represent only 28 percent of the population. So, as boomers start to leave the workforce there actually is not going to be enough Gen X individuals to fill the leadership positions that are going to be needed.
Kerry [00:04:15] And so what’s going to happen is it’s going to thrust millennials into leadership positions that they’re not ready for either emotionally or professionally. And, so researchers are calling it this, “leadership gap crisis” that we’re getting ready to hit.
Kerry [00:04:27] And then on top of that we’re in what researchers call, “VUCA,” environment. And so VUCA’s an acronym that was coined by the U.S. military that stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.
Kerry [00:04:40] And so just that type of environment it naturally can trigger a threat in the brain. And when we experience these kinds of conditions, our emotional intelligence or our EQ will often drop and that’s when we see some counterproductive behavior come out.
Kerry [00:04:56] And so it’s just been an interesting shift looking at where we’re going in the future and then when we can take a look backward into history. Daniel Goleman who is essentially the grandfather of emotional intelligence has been tracking EQ and he reports that IQ, so our intelligence has increased about 24 points over the last three decades, but the problem is EQ has declined over that same time.
Kerry [00:05:21] So there’s this dangerous paradox that’s going on. So children are becoming much smarter in their intelligence but their emotional intelligence is on the decline. So we’re in kind of this interesting environment where the environment is actually demanding more emotional intelligence but emotional intelligence has essentially been on the decline.
Don [00:05:41] Well it’s interesting Kerry because I talk about this issue over the last two, three decades, technology has allowed us to be in touch with people and to reach out and to contact people more easily at lower cost than ever before. And yet at the same time, the number of Americans reporting to be pervasively alone and isolated in their life has doubled from 20 to 40 percent of the population.
Don [00:06:03] And one former. U.S. surgeon general calls this pandemic of social isolation spreading across America as one of the most severe public health threats that we face. So the technology allows us to get in touch but we’re not having this emotional connection that occurs with it.
Don [00:06:22] And, I know the National Institutes of Health has started a longitudinal study about the impact of technology, even of looking at someone on a smartphone, even on Facetime where you see their face digitally, there’s something about the brain in a two dimensional object it sees but it doesn’t resonate. You don’t get an emotional experience from it.
Don [00:06:42] So we have a generation and so we have the millennials and Gen Z right behind them, anyone who’s 24 years old and younger, who are like you say very smart, very adaptive technology and yet we feel more alone and isolated and less emotionally mature than we ever have before.
Kerry [00:06:57] Right. And so this rise in technology and just kind of creates an interesting conundrum because you know again at some level it’s great. You know we’ve got A.I., you know the leaders are getting excited about A.I. data analytics and blockchain and then we’ve got these great millennials that are coming in with all of these great skills.
Kerry [00:07:16] But you’re exactly right, they’re coming in essentially starved for social relationships and even with social media what they’re looking at is yes, we are able to connect with more people and we can connect more often but the challenge is a lot of times that connection is often superficial and it’s replacing the face to face time. And so that’s where you know technology can be used to supplement but it shouldn’t be used to replace good deep social relationships.
Kerry [00:07:45] And what’s interesting with Gen Z coming and researchers are starting to see with Gen Z, they’ve been so dependent on technology that they’re actually coming and starting to enter the workforce and they’re actually wanting more face to face than millennials simply because they’re starved for it.
Don [00:07:59] You know it’s so interesting and compelling for managers. And from a manager’s perspective and you mentioned the increasing complexity for managers in the workplace and historically in an environment where there’s been an abundance of labor for the last two hundred and fifty years in the American economy, we didn’t have to care about these things.
Don [00:08:20] People just showed up and they worked because they needed the job. But in this new environment where employees actually don’t need your job, they can work essentially anywhere they want, managers do have to be more attuned to this.
Don [00:08:34] What are some common, I’m trying to think of some of these common phrases that we’ve used our whole lives that demonstrate emotional intelligence. And I think of words like attunement and being present and active listening. What are some other familiar terms for managers that are good signs that one is expressing a high EQ?
Kerry [00:08:55] One of which is, you know, again it’s thrown around a lot but the ability to be empathetic.
Kerry [00:09:01] Now again, empathy isn’t necessarily the need to feel somebody else’s feelings but to at least have some sort of cognitive perspective to be able to view other people’s perspectives and to include that into your decision making or into the team initiatives.
Kerry [00:09:20] And that’s one thing with this very complex environment that is coming out is that leaders can no longer rely as much on their past experience and what has worked before. So it’s requiring that managers bring in these additional, you know, generations, the younger generations and bring in different perspectives around the team to figure out how to better adapt in this environment. So it’s just requiring the ability to take additional perspective-taking.
Don [00:09:46] So I want to ask you a question. Yesterday I was in Denver working with a company in a workshop. And one of the questions that one of the senior managers asked me was about a disruption in the workplace, when someone’s kind of a troublemaker or there’s you know drama goes up for a manager who’s dealing with either disruption in a team or a disruptive employee.
Don [00:10:10] How does EQ play into that?
Kerry [00:10:12] It plays into it actually pretty significantly. I know when I talked to leaders when I asked them what’s their biggest challenge. The number one answer is always the people.
Kerry [00:10:22] It’s great when it’s going well but all of a sudden when you have an issue or a disruption it creates a lot of havoc. And I typically see leaders kind of fall in one or two areas.
Kerry [00:10:33] And so they’ll either stick their head in the sand and they won’t deal with it and eventually it will just start to spin out of control and then people will start to come and demand that the leader addresses it.
Kerry [00:10:43] Or, they start doing a lot of blame-shifting and they want to just force the employee out. You know I hear a lot of, I just need to terminate that employee. But as you said you know we have to figure out we don’t we don’t have a long line of people to replace an employee. So we have to figure out how to create the conditions where they can be successful. And so one of the issues is really diving into what is at the root of the disruption.
Don [00:11:06] When you think of EQ as a skill set, what would the top three most important EQ skills be that a manager should be striving to learn and demonstrate?
Kerry [00:11:17] The number one by far is the ability to build relationships and deepen those relationships. That’s just the number one.
Kerry [00:11:26] Leaders with the highest EQ always have, you know it’s always fascinating for me to watch, but they always have groups of people around them that are invested in their success.
Kerry [00:11:36] And, so I worked with a leader recently and she just demonstrated such high emotional intelligence and their particular market shifted and it was pretty scary. It shifted much more quickly than what they anticipated.
Kerry [00:11:50] I mean it created a lot of problems and challenges but what was really, you know, really pretty impressive for me to watch was that all of the groups, when I talked to all of her senior leaders around her, they said you know what, we probably should be polishing our resume, but I can’t let her down. I’m staying, we’re gonna figure this out.
Kerry [00:12:11] And sure enough they’ve turned the ship around and to me, that’s just a great reflection. She couldn’t have done it on her own and had she not had such good quality relationships, people wouldn’t have wanted to have stayed in that type of environment.
Don [00:12:24] Sure, what are a couple more?
Kerry [00:12:26] This is an interesting one and I always kind of take issue with some of the positive psychology out there. But, the best leaders with the highest emotional intelligence are acutely aware of what their potential derails are.
Kerry [00:12:37] You know we’re human beings and we’re somewhat messy. And so there are certain areas when we’re triggered that maybe certain bad behaviors or less than productive behaviors will come out.
Kerry [00:12:48] So if we know that we’re naturally a conflict avoider, we know that when issues hit we’re naturally going to want to run the other way. And so I work with leaders on understanding what their derailers are when they often get triggered so that we can develop a script so they don’t have to think about it in the moment when they’re triggered, so they can make a better decision and move the issue forward rather than either avoiding it or going into blame-shifting.
Kerry [00:13:12] And then the last one would be agility, especially in this environment. There’s been a lot about mental agility coming out. So it’s the ability to better read and assess the environment and to determine the best strategy rather than acting from your unconscious biases.
Kerry [00:13:27] And so that’s the point that I hit pretty hard in my book because again we’ve talked about emotional intelligence over the last three to four decades but now all this new science is coming out. And so, one aspect that really hasn’t been discussed a whole lot with emotional intelligence is the environment and it’s impacting our ability to be agile.
Kerry [00:13:46] And so leaders that are expressing this agility are faring better than those that are not in this new environment.
Don [00:13:53] So we just talked about three things that are good signs for a leader. I find one of my challenges and I suspect you do as well, is finding leaders that are not very self-aware of their limitations and what they should be working on.
Don [00:14:08] If there is a manager out there wondering, gee, I wonder what my EQ is, what are some signs that would indicate to them that it’s a big opportunity for them to dig into this and perhaps pick up your book?
Kerry [00:14:22] I would say when a leader is struggling with engaging their team. So when you know when they’re really struggling with gosh, I can’t seem to get the team moving in the right direction. I have a lot of disengagement on the team. Usually, that’s a sign that they have some work to do.
Kerry [00:14:40] Also when there’s poor decision making. We often think that you know we can make decisions from the gut but the science shows us that gut is wrong more often than it’s right. And so when I see a leader that struggles with decision making, the norm in decision making for leaders is about 71 percent. So 71 percent of the time the decisions work out well for them.
Kerry [00:14:57] So I always tell leaders to track and monitor their decision making and see how well that’s working. If it’s below 71 percent, then we need to add some additional strategies in there.
Kerry [00:15:07] Then lastly when they become too rigid and they’re relying on their past experience again that’s a new one that’s coming out because of the environment. But I’m seeing a lot of leaders that are getting forced out because they’re simply relying on what has worked in the past and they’re not willing to experiment try something new and course correct.
Don [00:15:26] When we’ve come out in our lifetime of the last five to six decades where the model for management was fairly simple, top-down hierarchical and often punitive, today’s managers don’t have a lot of modeling for this kind of present, aware attuned leader. There really is no great modeling out there, is there? I mean where would we have gotten this kind of experience to be emotionally present and in this way?
Kerry [00:15:53] Yeah, well you know the first question I always ask when I’m coaching leaders is Tell me about your parents. Tell me about you know who raised you and what was their leadership style like. Because they often pick up as much as they don’t want to admit. They often pick up some of the same leadership habits as how they were parented.
Kerry [00:16:12] I also ask a lot about their mentors growing up or initial leaders that had a significant impact on them. But you’re exactly right. Most of us have not had really effective leadership modeled for us and so we’re just going and trying everything that we’ve seen before. We’re doing our best and leadership is hard and that’s why the one thing I will say with the younger leaders that I have worked with, they’re highly coachable.
Kerry [00:16:38] And, as long as you are able to model it for them, you can be a role model for them and then willing to provide them with tools and resources, I’m finding that the younger generation is really leaning into that because they recognize that there’s room for improvement there and they want to get better at leadership.
Don [00:16:56] And that’s why I love the work that you do, Kerry, and your book because it’s science-focused.
Don [00:17:02] There is so much out there in the leadership space that just is anecdotal and one person’s opinion and it’s really important that managers lean on science to help them.
Don [00:17:12] And I want to talk a little bit more about your book but before I get to that just if a manager is out there thinking you know what I could probably be better at this. I’m not very familiar with this but I could learn more. What are some early quick wins that a manager can start working on without having to pick up a book and read it?
Kerry [00:17:31] You know and I give this advice to everyone, it’s free, it’s easy to do. The best thing you can do to increase your emotional intelligence is to consistently ask for feedback.
Kerry [00:17:41] So asking for feedback from your peers, from your manager, from your direct reports, from your family I did this with my kids, I was a little worried about what their response would be. But you know, what’s one thing I can do to be a better mother? You just start to learn a lot more about the people that you’re asking for feedback from and they can see in your blind spots where you can’t necessarily see.
Kerry [00:18:04] The other interesting aspect of asking for feedback is they usually have some really good ideas so they make it easy for you. You know maybe if you tried this or maybe if you approach the team like this, I think that you might get a better result. So it’s always a little bit scary to ask for feedback but I will say it’s one of the best things you can do to increase your emotional intelligence.
Don [00:18:25] There are some statistics and some research out there around emotional intelligence. When a manager is thinking about, hey, I want to advance my career I want to take it to the next level, how important is this emotional intelligence going to be? Do we have any data any research on that?
Kerry [00:18:41] Critically important research shows that emotional intelligence accounts for 90 percent of career advancements and that’s assuming when IQ and technical skills are roughly similar.
Kerry [00:18:50] So you kind of think of your IQ and your technical skills as a baseline. And so once that gets met then the rest of it comes from emotional intelligence. So it’s ultimately very important. It also and research also shows that leaders with higher emotional intelligence have teams that are much less likely to leave and so they can retain this younger generation that we’re struggling to retain. So again, it’s acutely critical if you want to really focus on engaging and retaining teams.
Don [00:19:23] If you’re a senior leader in an organization or a manager that has an open line of communication with senior leaders inside your company, your organization what can they do? I’m thinking now not manager to employee, but at a cultural level at an organizational level. What should senior leaders be focusing on?
Kerry [00:19:41] They should be focusing on building a growth mindset culture.
Kerry [00:19:44] So creating a culture where there’s feedback. They should also focus on creating a culture where it’s okay to fail. Obviously, you can’t fail in all aspects of business but you’ve got to create the environment where in certain areas and you know where we’re innovating, where we’re testing things that we haven’t done before.
Kerry [00:20:03] We have to be acutely clear and have systems and processes in place so that people feel the need or feel safe to fail because there’s a lot of research out there where organizations are saying it’s okay to fail but employees will say they say that but that’s not really the case. And so, it’s inhibiting a lot of innovation and creativity because when people fear failure they will lockdown to protect.
Kerry [00:20:27] Our motivation to protect is much stronger than our motivation to innovate or to create. And so if there’s any kind of fear element there, they lockdown, they protect and they will sandbag goals.
Kerry [00:20:41] And so that’s where we’ve got to be very kind of cognizant as an organization that we’re really creating clarity and systems and processes that create that sense of safety so that people can experiment try a few things fail a little bit course correct, learn from that and be able to move forward.
Don [00:20:57] Kerry, tell us a little bit about why managers should read your book.
Kerry [00:21:01] I think managers should read my book because I took a little bit of a different spin on emotional intelligence. I brought in more of the neuroscience of emotional intelligence. Sometimes that gets left out of the conversations around emotional intelligence and then the other aspects is I brought in the environment.
Kerry [00:21:17] And so I think it’s really important to think about the context that we’re in right now as leaders and what the environment is demanding or needing in order to be successful.
Kerry [00:21:27] And the other aspect is, I brought in a lot of stories and so I tried to make it feel like, as the book says, making it feel like you’re having coffee with Kerry. And so it’s not a highly technical book. I mean I do refer to the science throughout but I do it through storytelling. So I think it makes for a nice easy read.
Don [00:21:46] Thank you, Kerry, and just to kind of sum up some of the ideas you shared with us, one where you just left off this environment for leaders has changed both generationally.
Don [00:21:56] Also with the ambiguity and complexity that has entered the workforce and how important it is for leaders to be building healthy relationships, their ability to listen and part of that listening is taking in feedback, the ability and willingness to learn because this is uncharted territory in the sense we don’t have a lot of role models for what a high EQ leader looks like. So we’re going to have to build those models ourselves as we go forward.
Don [00:22:24] So Kerry I want to thank you very much for a very enlightening podcast. And we’d like to have you come back again at some time in the future and tell us a few more stories of what you’re doing inside companies.
Kerry [00:22:36] Thank you, Don. I would love to come back.
Don [00:22:38] That’s it for today. I’m your host Don Rheem and thank you for listening.
Don [00:22:42] Our guest next week is Chelsea Sargent, a licensed professional counselor and a certified specialist in the Enneagram, a 2000-year-old personality examination. The Enneagram is composed of nine numbers and Chelsea will speak to us in a four-part series about why understanding these numbers can help people become more self-aware and interact more effectively and compassionately with the world around them.
Kelly [00:23:08] Are you looking for science-based solutions to increase employee engagement and retention? Are you ready to measure key drivers of high performance? Do you want your team to look forward to coming to work? Don’t wait. Check out e3solutions.com right now.
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