Emotional intelligence for lawyers & corporate executive leaders

(M)en decide far more problems by hate, or love, or lust, or rage, or sorrow, or joy, or hope, or fear, or illusion, or some other inward emotion, than by reality or authority or any legal standard, or judicial precedent, or statute.

If you are curious whose quote that is, it’s Cicero – the Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist. As it turns out, human nature hasn’t changed much in two thousand years.

We’re Emotional Beings

We’re still profoundly emotional beings. EI (emotional intelligence) has come a long way since Yale research (1990) and popular books by Goleman (1995). Like the study of “mindfulness”, EI has more mainstream recognition and a greater amount of professional “success” attributed to it than IQ and technical skills.

Mindfulness Training is Gaining Professional Recognition

Gone are the days where law firms and the corporate world recruits by academic achievements and IQ alone. So what in brief, is emotional intelligence good for in the professional workplace, business and law?

  • Better judgement
  • Higher productivity
  • More team cohesion and client relationships
  • Higher sales and conversion percentages
  • Great work satisfaction in teams, leading to higher retention rates.
  • Improved customer or client service (due to improved listening and empathy skills)
  • Better organizational communication
  • More effective leadership (leading to a competitive edge).

Specifically for law firms and the daily lives of lawyers, EI can have a significant impact. Historically, the legal profession has been heavily influenced by the Stoic/Puritan frame of reference and an emphasis on ‘reason’, this is changing towards a more holistic model of human behavior.

The “Nimble Heart” in the Workplace

How might emotional intelligence help those in the Legal Profession?

  1. The ability to correctly identify client values and motivations
  2. The ability to suppress emotions that might cloud objectivity
  3. Psycho-social identification & sensitivity, namely: active listening, empathy and compassion
  4. Reading body language, non-verbal cues and facial micro emotions
  5. Correctly matching persuasion strategies with the target audience
  6. Manage stress and self-regulate effectively in high-pressured environments and long work-weeks
  7. Conflict resolution, halting escalations and defusing negative emotions
  8. Establishing rapport, trust and warmth
  9. Facilitating easy exchanges of information
  10. Adapting not just to frames of reference, but to people more effectively
  11. Influencing the emotions of others through effective communication, feedback and motivational impact.

Clearly EI embodies a broad spectrum of rather holistic “soft skills” that are essential to all professional industry for leaders, managers, consultants and employees.

Can Emotional Intelligence be Taught?

In the “real world” of corporate hierarchies and law firm politics, given that candidates have comparable IQ, experience and technical skills, EQ then becomes the unique qualifying differentiator (UQD).

There’s a significant moment now for MBA programs among others, to actively integrate EI and soft skills training in their curriculum, sometimes called applied human science.

  • Graduate leadership programs continue to integrate EI training into their programs
  • Corporate training programs now specialize in EI training
  • Emotional intelligence has been correlated with leadership qualities

 

Professional efficacy is no longer solely correlated with IQ, so what then can it be attributed to?

A Most Vital Trait in a Top CEO

For CEOs and top executives, EI has a lot to offer in terms of global corporate identity.

EI underpins the ability to inspire discretionary effort—the extent to which employees and team members go above and beyond the call of duty.

This is an “intangible” of the charismatic CEO, who champions the corporate entity internally, much as some CEOs harness their personal brand for effective PR external to the organization and corporate brand.

To earn the respect and fidelity, and to motivate and mobilize talent, are what true visionaries do.

Many HR recruiters and analytics talk about a “skills gap”, EI could well be this “gap”. What we might be seeing as well is a “leadership shortage”.

Never in human history has Emotional Intelligence been at such a higher premium. Never has leadership been such a corporate differentiator in its ability to drive ROI.

 

[An earlier version of this article was published on LinkedIn.]

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2017

Multi-tasking is an illusion, be innovative instead.

“Innovative thinking, after all, comes from extended concentration…” as MIT neuroscience professor discloses that multi-tasking is an illusion.

Humans have limited capacity for simultaneous thought, rather what we perceive as multi-tasking is rapid sequential processing which Prof. Miller states lacks depth and impedes concentration.

If you want to be a leader in your field, try taking long periods of time to focus on the one thing that truly matters.

See this article from Fortune magazine.

Your personality affects your income

 

Your personality traits impact on your success at work and thus your income. What are the traits which are found to positively influence income?

As Adrian Furnham stated, ‘[S]table, conscientious, bright people do better, particularly in more complex jobs. Personality is related to an ability to establish and maintain happy, healthy relationships which is at the heart of business leadership.”

Why and how? Read Furnham’s article “Personality and Income“.

The ABC of leadership

As a leader, you have to be visible.

One cannot be a leader on one’s own. To be a leader is to be recognized as one.

And to be recognized as a leader, one has to Be, to Do and to Relate.

 

This is the second post on leadership, about ‘doing’ leadership.

Leadership can be learned. It is a series of skills which, practiced over time, becomes ‘natural’… as neuroscience indicates, habit-forming. The time and effort invested to learn to lead and to lead often go unrecognized unless we truly see.

How does a leader lead?

  1. Acquire knowledge and improve

A leader aspires and is seen to be aspirational. Bearing the qualities set out in the first post about being in leadership, a leader seeks knowledge. Leaders are humble and ever prepare to admit that we do not have all the answers, that we are researching or obtaining more information, and that we are open to new idea and propositions.

Leaders will be those who seek continuous personal growth, encourage authentic interpersonal relationships, to contemplate product and ways of working beyond what is known.

  1. Bring safety and inspire

Leaders are those who create a safe space within work groups or organisations to allow for creativity to emerge and risk-taking to occur. Creative ventures can fail and this alone will be terrifying for anyone working in an environment that is not tolerant of this. Unless one knows that her job will not be jeopardised for voicing a creative new idea, for trialling an innovative process, for being herself while doing so, nothing will be proffered and all will remain the same.

By being visible in making mistakes, in admitting to mistakes, a leader demonstrates the acceptance of make mistakes, to have gotten it ‘wrong’. A leader will speak of the learning to be had and how to overcome thus signifying the will to continue the good work.

  1. Challenge and support

Leaders see the people around us – people with real emotions, with personal aspirations, hopes and joys, people who face personal trials and challenges. Most importantly, leaders see the strengths, resources and skills of those with whom we work.

With empathy and understanding, leaders challenge and support our colleagues to growth, to aspire, to improve, to be better at what they do and how they contribute to the workplace.

  1. Decide and act

Little can be achieved without our deciding to step into it. Our attention and intention to go into a space of improvement, development and innovation are critical to our leadership abilities. We take risks, we stand convicted of our decisions and we act.

The mark of a leader is one of astute discernment, borne from constant practice of intellectual, emotional and spiritual intelligence; and of incisive unwavering action.

  1. Engage and communicate

Leadership is not without its turbulence… the buzz, I call it, is what informs us. The buzz could be from our personal excitement, nerves… yes, leaders are human after all; or the resistance from within the organization; or an instinctive warning. Listen, evaluate and learn. Positive and negative buzz have lessons to teach.

Leaders engage with emotions and feelings, our own and of those around us. And instead of being a cauldron of emotions or feelings, we communicate them in a constructive way, by asking questions and listening to the answers, without judgement and prior expectations. Leaders have real conversations.

  1. Focus on vision

It is also through conversations that leaders uphold visions. It is easy with everyday humdrum of routine, unavoidable passivity and pessimism to distract us from our vision.

Leaders maintain vision and see how something fits into that vision, not welded to rigidity, instead are prepared to be reflexive.

 

Leadership requires generosity of spirit, dynamic adaptability and grounded vision, all of which are within our grasps, if we commit to it. Yes, leadership can be learned, as every element of what I have indicated above can be learned.

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2016

Finding balance

 

Time is no longer the arbiter for what is ‘work’ and what is ‘family’ or ‘leisure’. The demand, and the rationale, for flexible work practice is on the rise.

Peter Hirst, Associate Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management states,

“Employers need to address these burdens not by seeing how time at work can be more enjoyable, but by identifying the ways that work requirements make life less manageable …”

and recommends the creation of support infrastruture as key, which includes prioritising inter-office communication.

“…it’s important to consider life outside the office walls and recognize that professionals with healthy and happy personal lives come to work with productive, positive attitudes.”

For more, see Hirst’s article on Entrepreneur.