Disclaimer : the blog post below describes the just a fraction of the course material and it focuses only on the emotional aspect of leadership and in particular coaching with compassion.
I wrote a while ago about some lessons learned while reading Satya Nadella’s Hit Refresh. The main point that I was interested in was the empathy aspect in connection with leadership and how this helped him with his company’s cultural shift.
I’ve started to do more research on emotions and emotional intelligence starting with the biological aspects of the human brain and the nervous system and leading to how behavioral neuroscience and how emotions affect an individual or groups of individuals in a work environment. I highly recommend the “Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence” online course from Coursera. It’s very dense in information and exercises and after 8 weeks you will have a complete and thorough understanding of how emotions are formed in the limbic system, to how they are transmitted and received and interpreted by others and even more than that you will understand what they describe as a resonant leader.
Good leadership vs bad leadership
Let’s put down some generally accepted examples of attributes that a good leader might look have in contrast a bad leader.
Good leadership: empowering, values followers, protects, engages, challenges, helps others to understand context, makes others feel part of something important, they inspire hope and vision.
Bad leadership: micro managing, blaming, demeaning, hostile, negative, treat people as resources, narrow, self centered.
After reading the above, try to think about those attributes on your own past experience. A boss that you’ve liked, how did he/she make
The book “A General Theory of Love” published in the year 2000 introduced the concept of limbic resonance.
Limbic resonance is the idea that sharing emotions come from the limbic system of the brain.
Over the following years the term has gained more popularity and has become synonymous with mood contagion or emotional contagion or empathic resonance.
The idea is that groups, therefore, like individuals, ride emotional rollercoasters sharing everything from jealousy to angst to euphoria.
So the leader’s mood and behaviors drive the moods and behaviors of everyone else.
Being in sync with the people around them, a leader must make sure that not only is he regularly in an optimistic, authentic, high-energy mood but also that through his chosen actions his followers feel and act that way too.
A particular case of lack of group emotional connection can be explained by the so called “CEO disease”. The idea that the more an individual goes up the leadership hierarchy, the more he can lose emotional group connection.
Coaching with compassion
Now we understand that as a group we are connected emotionally and being a leader we are very much influencing the emotional state of the group.
By taking the approach of coaching a person towards their dreams, their values, their passion we encourage their feeling of being cared for and understood.
Richard Boyatzis defines this process as follows:
We can begin the coaching process by encouraging the person to dream of the possibilities in their life and work, to reflect on their core values, their passion, their desired legacy, this way we can arouse the Positive Emotional Attractor (PAE).
Positive Emotional Attractor (PAE)
- neurologically and hormonally open to new ideas and perceptions
- coaching them with compassion
- helps to stimulate dramatic improvements in the emotional, social and cognitive intelligence competencies related to leadership effectiveness
Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA)
- we call it “coaching for compliance”
- in this approach, the coach feeds back assessment data or summarizes results from previous performance reviews, and asks the person what he or she could do to change. This is creating a Negative Emotional Attractor by invoking what others (i.e., bosses, spouses, coaches) think the person should do and how he/she should change.
When we are trying to help someone, whether a subordinate, friend or family member, we have a tendency to try to make it simple by telling them what they should do. In the process, we are not paying attention to them but imposing our will and goals onto them. The result is a response that could be acquiescence, coping or passive resistance.
What that person
Model for sustained desired change in a person is not continuous.
It’s instead formed of separate moments of either PAE or NAE that trigger over time.
In a persons life this can be coming in from anywhere: from close family, relatives, friends, teachers that gave you these moments.
Another way to attract PAE is via role modeling and coaching.
I’ll give two examples here from my own experience.
First one is regarding my parents, in particular, my mom. Back when I was younger and still in middle school both my parents ware working two jobs. And I have a very vivid memory of my mother coming back from school where she was a teacher and tired, making food for us and she looked exhausted. After all of that, she would rest for a little bit, stand up straight and would go on to work on the second job which was family business of wood-working painting frames .
The second one from my old friend Andrei, which I met while attending a meetup about programming in .NET. This was early in my career when I was very eager to learn and without knowing, I was looking for mentorship. I remember very clearly the first meeting I attended was his presentation on Streaming files with WCF. I left the meeting feeling “dumb” of all the things that I did not know and also very intrigued and excited to expand my knowledge. Then and there I knew that I had to follow him and we eventually became close friends. A lot of things I’ve learned in my early career including technical skills and salary negotiations are lessons from Andrei.
The majority of the stories people remember have to do with somebody who invoked the part of your aspiration, ideal self or personal vision.
And this is where as leaders in an organization we should strive to be for our colleagues.
- Video : https://www.coursera.org/lecture/emotional-intelligence-leadership/watch-the-positive-pea-and-negative-nea-emotional-attractors-4GRcY