Tag Archives: Emotional Intelligence

7 Steps to Sleep Well Tonight

Sleep is a top priority for leaders. Our bodies, our brains, our spirits need to refresh and nourish themselves each and every night. Did you know that lack of sleep over time leads to a loss of brain cells that can’t be replaced? So our brain health is deeply affected by the quality and quantity of our sleep cycles and patterns at night.

We are at our best as leaders when we have the energy, confidence, clarity of thought and capacity to be emotionally available to those that we serve in our leadership roles. How do we get that? With a solid 7 hours of sleep the night before – here’s how to get started.

Prioritize your sleep by planning for it in the following ways:

  1. Establish a non-negotiable time to be in bed and lights out on your regular days of work. On weekends and holidays your time may vary a bit but not much.
  2. Be mindful of what you eat in the evening hours. Eating a heavy or spicy meal can create havoc with your stomach all night long.
  3. Be careful with wine which may put you to sleep faster but because of the sugar content may also wake you up in the early morning hours.
  4. Plan a bedtime routine that relaxes your mind and your body – a relaxing bath and a good novel are my favorites – start the routine 30-45 minutes ahead of “lights out”.
  5. Establish a solid cut-off time for all electronics including iPads and iPhones. And by all means, don’t look at any work email! Your brain will go into work mode instantly, making sleep very difficult as your mind starts whirling around your “to do” list.
  6. Think . . . let go of today knowing that you did the best you could and in the new day you will bring greater clarity of thought, more energy and an uptake of optimism – you have what it takes to tackle all the challenges and opportunities that will come your way.
  7. Finally, say to yourself three things that went well that day. This is Martin Seligman’s “What Went Well” exercise from his book, Flourish, 2011. In this way, you place your brain into a space of abundance rather than scarcity. It’s amazing how powerful that simple brain exercise puts you right to sleep!
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Robots vs. Leaders with Empathy

Speaking from my years of experience working with people, families and communities as a professional coach, trainer, psychotherapist and social worker, I’ve always appreciated that our human needs are very clear – we want to be seen, have a voice and be able to contribute in a meaningful way.

And a robot or computer simply can’t provide that connection in any significant way and never will be able to. A robot is no competition for the human touch, the human heart and the human ear.

As leaders, these subtle but critical sensibilities show up as empathy. Empathy is the core of all social & emotional intelligence: true inspirational leadership never happens without it. Empathy is the ability to see the situation from another person’s eyes and heart. It’s the ability to set aside your own agenda, to listen deeply without judgment and to be able to genuinely understand and appreciate the perspective of another.

Do all leaders have this ability? No, they do not but the ones who do are remembered for their ability to engage and inspire us to always be at our best. We will work our hearts and souls out for that leader who genuinely hears us, values us and gives us the opportunity to use our talents to contribute in meaningful ways.

Can empathy be learned? Yes, it can, with daily practice and an authentic belief and enjoyment of others. It’s part of what clearly differentiates us from any computer program, machine or data package.

A robot can’t compete or replace us when we as leaders are at our best and humanly connected to others.

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Your Brain: 100 Things You Never Knew,

“Your Brain: 100 Things You Never Knew”, National Geographic Magazine (reissue), Produced by the National Geographic Society, Washington D.C. 2012.

I picked this National Geographic Magazine up in Whole Foods and have been intrigued by the wealth of information it contains. It hits all the aspects of brain function from the learning brain, to the unconscious brain to the emotional brain (my favorite). It hits the highlights of the surge of brain science studies and advancements and how this information helps us as leaders be far more effective when we understand how we can “retrain” our brains to embrace more positive thinking patterns.

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What 5 Qualities to Embrace as a Leader

How is leadership developed? Does it come about just naturally or is it a learned set of skills? Or maybe a combination? I love to work with emerging leaders as well as those who have served as leaders over time.

And this is what I have learned . . . great leaders have a wonderful capacity to visualize what “can be” rather than just focus on what “has been”. Great leaders have a gift of being able to inspire and engage others to commit themselves to meaningful work that makes a difference in people’s lives. Great leaders are committed to listening deeply to what is important to others, giving them a voice and a seat at the table to contribute their ideas, talents and strengths.

Have you ever worked with a great leader? We don’t often get that chance but when we do we don’t forget what that experience was like. It meant a lot at the time because we felt recognized, appreciated and honored for the unique value we could bring to the company, project or organization. We simply worked our heart and souls out for those great leaders.

These are five of those best qualities for you to integrate into your own leadership growth.

  1. Visualize the Bigger Mission & Purpose
  2. Inspire & Engage Others
  3. Listen & Communicate Effectively
  4. Recognize and Leverage Strengths
  5. Demonstrate an Authentic Commitment to Team/Consensus
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How to Begin Asking Powerful Questions

What is your favorite question to be asked? What question or questions can someone ask you that engage you right away in a meaningful conversation? And what signals do you pick up that tell you this individual is genuinely interested in you?

It’s a gift when someone is truly curious about us and interested in learning about what we think. And it’s even more unusual for someone to be willing to listen deeply to what we have to say without interrupting with their own agenda or opinions. When we feel “safe” in those conversations we can relax and be ourselves. And just as importantly, we can share our own wisdom freely.

As leaders in today’s rapidly changing world, we all need the very best of everyone at the table. We can’t afford to ignore or minimize the strengths of those we work with simply because we don’t know how to ask the right questions at the right time. But how do we know what to ask and when?

Here’s how to start . . .

First, know that people are naturally “resourceful and whole”. This is a core belief of coaching and challenges us as leaders to create safe conversations for others to bring their best ideas, energy and focus to mutually desired outcomes.

Second, step into your curiosity. Be quiet, mindful and simply curious. Start the conversation off with a “What” question or a “How” question. Avoid “Why” questions because they often have the unintended result of creating defensive feelings. Examples of questions are:

  • “What have you already been thinking of?”
  • “What would that look like?”
  • “How will you know you/we are successful?”
  • “What is the opportunity/challenge here?”
  • “What is your professional assessment/recommendation?”

Third, listen deeply without interrupting, especially if the other person is more introverted. These questions are some of my favorite.

  • “What else?”
  • “What is the part that isn’t yet clear?”
  • “What other resources/planning do you need?”
  • “What is getting in the way of your success/movement ahead?”

Finally, ask several questions directed to action steps and accountability. That’s the easy part for leaders who are strong problem solvers. Remember to stay curious and ask how they want to move forward. Listen for their wisdom – that’s why you hired them!

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