Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

From my experience of working with leaders and teams, when I mention “emotional intelligence” you easily see the confused looks on their faces. Some people think it is similar to your IQ in that you are either born with emotional intelligence or you’re not, or it is a special gift or talent that only certain people have. They think of emotional intelligence as a complex leadership competency that doesn’t resonate or relate to them in any way.

What does Emotional Intelligence really mean?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is quite simple. Emotional Intelligence is your ability to be aware of and understand your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. Much like IQ, some think your “EQ” is something you’re born with. While that may be true to a degree (I will address that in a later blog), the good news is emotional intelligence is nothing more than a flexible set of skills that can be developed and improved with practice.

Psychologist Daniel Coleman identified five components of Emotional Intelligence that, when developed and exercised in the workplace, separates the great leaders from the average ones: [bctt tweet=”Emotional Intelligence separates the great leaders from the average ones.” username=”@ValeriePlis”]

  1. Self-Awareness: The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others
  2. Self-Regulation: The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods; the ability to suspend judgment — to think before acting.
  3. Motivation: A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status; to pursue goals with energy and persistence.
  4. Empathy: The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people; skilled in treating people according to their emotional reactions.
  5. Social Skill: Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks; an ability to find common ground and build rapport.

How do I know if I’m emotionally intelligent?

One thing that I have found very common — and interesting — is that most leaders already think they are emotionally intelligent. When I ask my executive clients how they would rate their level of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy or social skill, they generally give themselves an A+. However, when they take an emotional intelligence assessment, the results reflect a different grade — one that typically catches them off guard.

Over the next few months, we will continue to unpack the concept of emotional intelligence and the practical application in leadership. I highly suggest you take an assessment to get a snapshot of your skill level today and the specific EI components needed to improve your emotional intelligence. Two assessments I recommend:

  1. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry – Bradberry’s book/assessment measures your emotional intelligence in 4 specific areas (self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship building). What I like about this assessment is that you take the assessment twice — once to get a benchmark and to identify specific skills for development, and then again in 6 months to see how you’ve improved. The cost for the book and the assessment is around $20.
  2. Emotional Intelligence Test by Psychology Today – This online assessment takes about 45 minutes to complete. You receive a FREE snapshot report with a summary evaluation and graph. You then have the option to purchase your full results for $9.95.

I completed the EI assessment, now what?

Once you’ve completed the assessment, take time to thoroughly read your results. Pick one EI skill (self-awareness, empathy, social skill, etc.) and identify one or two strategies that you can commit to over the next couple weeks that will help you improve your EI in that area.

Here are some Additional Resources to take a deeper dive:

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge

Once you’ve taken the assessment and identified your skill development opportunity, post your commitment on Twitter to @ValeriePlis #strengthsbuilders OR the StrengthsBuilders LLC Facebook page to enter into our November contest. We will have a drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate for the folks who post their commitments to Twitter or Facebook!

Becoming More Self-Aware

Self-awareness is the first component of Emotional Intelligence and is truly the foundation to great leadership. The irony is, when asked, most leaders report they are “highly self-aware,” yet, are completely surprised by the constructive or even negative feedback from a 360 Report. Thus, the problem.

As a leader, having a high degree of self-awareness is critical because:

  • People respond (or react) to your behavior.
  • Your talent (what makes you remarkable) can be misunderstood, devalued, or dismissed as a weakness, therefore, impacting a person’s view of you as a leader.
  • Over time, people begin to form strong perceptions of you (based on your behavior) that influences their response … or reactions.
  • Those perceptions have the power to negatively impact your leadership influence.
  • Your team’s reactions to your behavior has the ability to negatively impact the team’s results.
  • Over time, these less-than-favorable results have the ability to impact your confidence, your engagement, your satisfaction in your work, and, ultimately, your leadership brand.
  • And, because you “believe” you are highly self-aware, you continue to do the same things, getting the same negative results, which is the true measure of a lack of self-awareness.

A truly vicious cycle.

What’s the bottom line? When you lack self-awareness, you may respond to people and situations in a way that creates the very results you don’t want.

If I had the opportunity to share just one leadership principle with someone, it would be this: [bctt tweet=”If you’re not getting the results you want, the change must start in you.” username=”@ValeriePlis”]

According to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, “self-awareness is not about discovering deep, dark secrets or unconscious motivations, but, rather, it comes from developing a straightforward and honest understanding of what makes you tick.”

People high in self-awareness are remarkably clear about:

  1. their talents (how they naturally think about things, feel about things, and do things)
  2. what motivates them to bring their best work which results in greater satisfaction
  3. people and situations that tend to “push their buttons” or bring out the worst in their behavior

Here are some practical strategies to help you jumpstart your discovery and improve your self-awareness:

  1. Know who and what pushes your buttons. It is important to take time to pinpoint those emotional triggers that can cause you to move from joyful to expressively agitated in just a heartbeat. When you can clearly identify these people and situations, it takes their power away because you’re no longer surprised. Instead of “reacting” in those moments, decide in advance how you want to handle yourself and then “respond” accordingly.
  2. Take Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment. Develop a keen understanding of your natural talents and how they play a role in the way you think and feel about things, gravitate towards or away from certain situations or people, as well as what motivates or challenges you to bring your best work.
  3. Take Travis Bradberry’s Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Assessment and follow the self-awareness recommendations from your report.
  4. Clarify your values – what’s really most important to you. Life Values Inventory was developed to help individuals clarify their values and serve as a blueprint for effective decision-making and optimal functioning. It’s free. Check it out!
  5. Define your personal brand. As you are discovering your natural tendencies, part of improving your self-awareness is getting clear about how you would like things to be. How you would like to be perceived. What words or phrases would you like people to use when they are talking about you and you’re not in the room. When your buttons are being pushed, how do you want to respond. What’s the one thing you want to be known or remembered for as a leader? Take the time to clarify these desires and it will help you better understand what you are striving for.
  6. Keep a journal. Take time at the end of the day to debrief and explore the various emotions you experienced throughout the day. Take time to answer the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) and look for any patterns or trends.

Becoming self-aware is not difficult. It just takes time. It takes a commitment to learning more about yourself and choosing new ways of doing things that are more effective and will, ultimately, help you achieve better results.

Stop Chasing the Wind

I went to the Cincinnati Zoo this week with my daughter and six grandkids. They decided they wanted to ride the Carousel (we always called it the Merry-Go-Round). So they all climbed up on their exotic animals and the small ones sat in their mystical chariot and around and around they go, and go, and go, and go. No one appeared to be having any fun except my middle grandson. When they got off the ride, I asked my granddaughter if she had fun and she said “We didn’t go anywhere. We just went in circles.” While everyone else was busy riding the carousel going nowhere, my little grandson was utterly excited about being on this ride.

I was reminded of how often we go through life or we go to work every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, just following the routine. Being busy — but not productive. Being active — but not really accomplishing anything. It’s like being on a Carousel going nowhere. We are riding exotic animals but just “chasing the wind.”

Advancement or “climbing to the top” can be meaningless. No matter what we see, we are never satisfied. No matter what we have, we are never content. Position, popularity, and prestige can be poor goals for a life’s work. Although many pursue them, when there is no purpose, these goals lack substance and rarely produce a life filled with happiness.

Don’t mistake “activity” with accomplishment.

It seems like everyone has talked about, blogged about, presented about, preached about living a life of purpose. And while there is no shortage of information on the topic, there are still days I get caught up in the carousel of life and find myself riding the exotic animals, chasing the wind, and going nowhere.

When we live a life filled with purpose, there is meaning.

When you live a life filled with purpose you become engaged in life and look forward to going to work every day. You find yourself working towards the goals in life and work that really matters. While you are hard at work, you see how the activities of the day move you closer to the bigger goals of tomorrow, next month, or next year. Your work becomes meaningful and life becomes exciting!

How do you stop chasing the wind?

There is a simple exercise I have used often with my clients (and myself) to help them refocus and gain clarity around what is really most important to them. This exercise brings purpose to their day. At the end of the month, it helps them set goals for the next month, bringing more clarity and purpose to their “to do” list for each day.

Get out a piece of paper and a pen and write down detailed answers to each question. And make sure to print off this exercise and keep it close so that you can refer back to it often when you find yourself chasing the wind.

When you think about what you want to achieve …
• What is most important to you Today?
• What is most important to you this Week?
• What is most important to you this Year?
• What is most important to you in your Lifetime?

If you have completed the CliftonStrengths assessment, you can take this a step further by exploring:
1. how your natural talent has a direct connection to your answers and
2. how you can leverage your talents each day to help you achieve your goals.

Take a moment and post your insights below. I’d love to hear your responses to this activity.

20 Things a Thanksgiving Turkey and a Leader Have in Common

Recently, my marketing specialist challenged me to write a “Thanksgiving blog.” So rather than write about giving thanks, being grateful, or showing gratitude, I decided to do something different. In an effort to have fun and engage my readers I posed the question … “what do Thanksgiving turkeys and leaders have in common?”

Here were their answers. Enjoy!

  1. They are both raised and developed over time for a specific purpose.
  2. Both require time, patience, and preparation to turn out good
  3. Great Thanksgiving turkeys don’t cook themselves. There is someone else that invests time into helping that turkey (or leader) become all it can be.
  4. In most cases the sides are what makes the Thanksgiving Turkey even better. Great leaders generally have a supportive team that helps him or her appear even more remarkable than if they stood alone.
  5. If not watched carefully, a Thanksgiving turkey and a leader can become dry and burned out over time.
  6. They can both make you sleepy.
  7. They both make sacrifices to help others.
  8. Sometimes they both run around like their heads have been cut off.
  9. A turkey and a leader with bushy eyebrows both need to be plucked!
  10. They both like being the center of attention.
  11. They’re both full of stuff.
  12. Some leaders, like turkeys, like to run wild.
  13. A turkey and a great leader can bring people together.
  14. Sometimes they share the same name. Tom.
  15. Turkeys and some leaders have beards.
  16. Some turkeys and leaders like to ramble … “gobble, gobble, gobble.”
  17. Their days are numbered.
  18. They’re both turkeys … just saying.
  19. According to “WKRP in Cincinnati,” turkeys (and leaders) can’t fly!
  20. Tough leaders … like tough turkey … are hard to swallow.


QUESTION: Which one is your favorite? What would you add?

Why You Should Join #ExerciseLeadershipToday 30-Day Challenge

I am on the Board for the Greater Cincinnati Association of Talent Development and we recently had a Corporate Learning Event featuring a panel of CLOs (Chief Learning Officers) from organizations around the city. During the discussion they shared their thoughts on leadership in the conceptual age, as well as strategies they had implemented to develop talent within their organizations. During that discussion, one of the panelists shared how their organization promoted “leadership at every level.”

Leadership at Every Level

This concept of “leadership at every level” really resonated with me because leadership is not about a title. You can have a title and not be a leader. You can also be a leader and not have a title. Leadership is simply measured by your ability to influence the actions of other people. It’s that simple and I strongly believe you have the opportunity to exercise leadership in your personal and professional roles that can have a positive influence on others!

There’s personal leadership that occurs within a family unit. A mother or father could be considered a leader. One of the children might be considered a leader as they exercise positive influence over their other siblings.

There’s leadership that occurs within the community, at churches, or other civic organizations. Whether you are the head of the Rotary Club, an Usher in your local congregation, or a volunteer fireman, you are a leader.

And then, of course, there are leaders of organizations … some of which exercise great leadership and others (78% to be exact) exercise poor leadership.

What Could Happen If …

As I continued to explore this idea of “leaders at every level” I began to think about what would happen … what could happen … if every leader at every level began to “exercise leadership?” And not just “exercise leadership” … but “exercise leadership today!”

What positive change would come about if 10,000 leaders committed to exercise leadership every day for 30 days?

What would happen in our families if the leaders began to “Exercise Leadership Today?” What would happen in our communities if our leaders were committed to “Exercise Leadership Today?” What would happen in our organizations if our leaders were motivated to “exercise leadership today?”

As a result of all of this thinking, meditating, praying, and brainstorming, I came up with one of my most exciting ideas ever – a 30-day leadership program called the … #ExerciseLeadershipToday 30-Day Challenge.

The #ExerciseLeadershipToday 30-Day Challenge is a FREE 30-day leadership program designed to guide, direct, motivate, and inspire you to exercise leadership on a daily basis for 30 days. Each day you will receive:

  • a leadership quote
  • a short (micro) lesson explaining a specific leadership competency and
  • a compelling challenge designed to help you take meaningful action

It’s simple.

Think about it. As you make an investment in your personal and professional development … as you engage in developing your skills in a compact, consistent, and compelling manner … your influence and effectiveness as a leader will go from ordinary to extraordinary … in just 30 days!

By participating in the 30-day challenge you will:

  • redefine how you think about leadership
  • develop new skills that will have a significant impact on your relationships with others
  • develop new skills that will have a positive impact on the performance of others
  • increase your influence and effectiveness as a leader
  • improve others’ perceptions of you
  • build trust with others
  • feel more confident as a leader
  • take meaningful action which is the most significant thing you can do to transform your family, your community, and your organization

#ExerciseLeadershipToday 30-Day Challenge is FREE and will help improve the influence and leadership effectiveness of leaders at every level! Don’t delay!

#ExerciseLeadershipToday 30-Day Challenge — ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE!

QUESTION: What area of leadership would you like to work on during the challenge? Leave your comments below. We’d love to know!



Saying ‘Thank You’ More Often Can Be a Game Changer for Your Team!

Did you know January is National “Thank You” Month? How can something so easy to say … be so hard to do?

At our deepest level, every human being has a craving to be appreciated. We all want to know that what we do makes a difference. We want to know even our very existence matters to someone. That need to be recognized or appreciated is not something bad. To some degree, it’s just a part of how every person is wired.

I truly believe that most people come to work every day to do a good job. Unfortunately, they get sucked up in the whirlwind of the day-to-day operations of doing business which causes the team to lose focus. They become distracted, they focus more on “tasks” rather than “outcomes,” and, before long, they lose their sense of direction. These are good people on your team, but they’re drifting. And most people don’t drift to remarkable performance.While recognition programs can run the gamut, what I love about using gratitude as a leadership strategy is this … Showing appreciation for a job well done says we care, you matter, you’re making a difference, and we want you to do it again! Showing gratutide creates a sense of loyalty and respect among the team and it motivates people to continually look for ways to improve their performance. And what I like most … Expressing appreciation with a smile and a “Thank You” costs so little but can mean so much. Here are a few effective strategies for showing recognition to others:

  1. Catch people doing something remarkable … and then recognize it! Don’t recognize “good” or “average” performance because it then makes your recognition meaningless. Look for the 3 E’s … Performance that was Excellent, Exceeded Expectations, or Excelled the team’s mission!
  2. Mix up your approach. Sometimes you may have a private conversation where you say “thank you.” Other times you may want to recognize them publicly or possibly even send a note card. Know your team member and how they prefer to be recognized. And, while you’re at it, make sure you cc their boss. If that’s you, drop a note in their personal file so you can refer back to it when it’s time to complete their annual performance review.
  3. When saying “thank you,” be specific. What did they do that made a difference? Being specific helps them better understand what it takes to “win again.” As long as that is clear, they will continue to strive for remarkable performance again and again and again!

Exercising leadership and saying “Thank You” more often can be a game changer for your team! Don’t wait. Start today!

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge: In the past seven days, did someone on your team do something remarkable? Have you recognized them? Does your team know how much you appreciate them? How do they know? When was the last time you praised someone for doing a great job? And what about your family … Do they know how much you appreciate them? How often do you say “Thank You” to your spouse or child? Before you do anything else, take a moment to tell someone “Thank You.”


What is the #1 Thing Your Team Wants to Know?

Leaders always seem to be searching for the magic solution that will transform an otherwise good team into a great team. Perhaps the answer is better collaboration, improved engagement, or more autonomy. While these are all great strategies for building a great team, there is one strategy that I believe is more effective than them all. It’s simple. Caring.

“Do you care about me? This is what people want to know when they work for you. They may not say it directly, but it is the core question that defines the relationship between you and the people you lead. When people believe the answer is “yes,” they will be more committed to their work, and to you. But when they think the answer is “no,” their commitment to their job and their loyalty to you will suffer.” [Excerpt from Leaders Open Doors by Bill Treasurer]

Unfortunately, showing how much you care doesn’t come easy for some leaders. For the cautious, analytical types, your personality may make it more difficult for you to openly show care and concern for others … particularly in the workplace. Many folks believe the way you treat your family and close friends should be different than the way you treat your coworkers. It’s as if you are expected to check your heart at the front door before walking into the office.
What does caring look like? Let’s break it down because it may not be as “warm and fuzzy” as you might think.
Caring in the workplace simply means …
  • get to know the people you lead — What are their interests or hobbies? Get to know things about their family. How was their vacation last week? Do they have anything exciting coming up for the weekend? Get to know them beyond their role in your organization.
  • leverage the strengths and expertise they bring to the team — Give them the chance to do what they do best and love to do as often as you can. Seek out and value their feedback and opinions. Show appreciation for their unique contributions to the team. Say “thank you” more often.
  • find ways to do small things that show them you care — Check in individually with the members of your team. How are they doing? What do they enjoy most about their work? What can you do to help them really succeed in their role?
  • care, but never compromise — Just because you care about someone doesn’t mean you have to lower your expectations or compromise the quality or integrity of the team. When you are willing to have a difficult conversation with someone about subpar performance, you demonstrate that you care about him or her as a person. If you didn’t care, you’d say nothing, create a “ work around,” or complain behind closed doors to other people, which is truly a disservice to the person and the entire team.

As long as people know you have a good heart, have good intentions, and you care about them as a person, they will let you push them, give them tough feedback, never compromise on high expectations, and will want to do more for the sake of the team.

Think about it. Would would it look like to be …

  • enormously demanding … but not care?
  • easy going … but enormously caring?
  • enormously demanding and enormously caring?

Pete Luongo, author of 10 Truths About Leadership says the best leaders are both. They are enormously demanding and enormously caring.

#ExerciseLeadeshipToday Challenge – What is a small step you can take to #ExerciseLeadershipToday?

What do Competitive Organizations Need — And Do You Have It?

To survive in this environment where change is the new norm, competitive organizations need leaders who inspire and support creative thinkers and flexible problem solvers! There are problems to solve, programs to develop, and innovation to drive business growth — all of which requires a team able to think on their feet and be engaged in advancing the organization’s mission.

In order to succeed as a leader, you need a strong team. You need members who exercise critical thinking, are focused on strategic solutions, and solve problems. Without these people on your team … your leadership becomes more “reactive” and less “proactive.”

While there is no magic formula that insures people will exercise creative or critical thinking, there are ways to influence it. Here are a few of my recommendations.

  1. Manage your behavior. Are you more “problem-focused” or “opportunity-focused?” Do you tend to refer to the situation as a “problem” or an “opportunity?” Do you get upset and show frustration when a problem occurs? When leaders constantly view problems as a nuisance, source of frustration, or a threat, their behavior tends to project fear and anxiety into people. We cannot be our creative and innovative best — in Maslow’s words, “something more than people” — when we operate out of fear. [tweet_box]Great leaders tend to look at problems as “opportunities.”[/tweet_box] Opportunities to create and improve the organization’s products and services. This type of mindset inspires excitement and hope and influences the way your team members view problems.
  2. Set proper expectations. Completed Staff Work is a management principle adopted by the military during World War II. It is an important concept that promotes creative, solution-focused thinking, accountability and responsibility. I love this concept because before you go to your Superior Officer with a problem, you are expected to provide a full and concise analysis of the situation, three viable options, and a personal recommendation of the best option. The Senior Officer simply has to listen and either approve their decision or raise a question in any area their experience tells them something is missing. Personally, I think this concept is BRILLIANT and have used it in leading several of my teams. It truly will shift the mindset of your team from being problem-centered to solution-focused.
  3. In the spirit of the Disney hit movie Frozen … LET IT GO! Let go of trying to micromanage every detail. [tweet_dis]Micromanaging literally suffocates creativity and is the death of innovation.[/tweet_dis] If you want your team to start thinking creatively … you have to let it go!
  4. Take time to recognize and celebrate successes. When someone exercises creative thinking and solves a problem, take time to recognize it. Say something to them personally, recognize them in front of the team, write it in an email, or send them a handwritten note. The possibilities are endless, but powerful. Recognizing good or average performance makes recognition meaningless. So get clear, in advance, on what types of solutions deserve special recognition and then … celebrate the success!

#ExerciseLeadershipToday Challenge: Where will you begin? What can you do today to move the needle towards a team that is thinking critically and creatively and is focused on developing powerful solutions?

Learn a Different Approach to Achieve Your Wildly Important Goals — Once And For All!


“What’s wrong with me? Why does my ‘to do’ list keep getting longer and longer and I get farther and farther behind?”

“There are so many things I should do … want to do … but I can’t seem to find the time to get it all done.”

“I am so stressed and overwhelmed that I don’t even know where to begin.”

These are some of the resounding comments I hear from clients. They have different names, different titles, and live in different parts of the world … but their stories are all the same. They unknowingly are flying on autopilot and are discouraged by their lack of results.

If this describes you, I want to invite you to attend a special webinar I am hosting on Tuesday, February 17, from 2-3pm EST.

Learn a Different Approach to Achieve Your Wildly Important Goals – Once And For All!

This is not your run-of-the-mill webinar on setting SMART goals. It is about discovering what is most important and learning how to take meaningful action on those items first.

What I present during this webinar is not rocket science … but it has worked for me and thousands of clients from around the globe! Most importantly, I believe it will for you, as well.

Here’s why you should attend. You will …

  • stop running on autopilot and will take control of your schedule
  • set realistic expectations on what you can and cannot (or will and will not) do
  • learn a technique that will help you regain focus and a new sense of motivation to take action
  • discover a system that will help you achieve wildly important goals for the rest of your life
  • develop a stronger sense of accomplishment and confidence as you complete goals that are meaningful and wildly important
  • experience reduced stress and frustration, and a greater sense of excitement, as you begin making wildly important things happen

What you learn during this one-hour webinar will have a positive impact on your productivity at work, and bring a new sense of focus for the things that are important to your family. The techniques learned in the webinar will serve as your new compass … always moving you in the right direction!

Plus … the first 25 people who register for the webinar will receive my own personal 2015 Wildly Important Goal Planner. I could not survive each day without this tool and I want to share it with you! It will be a great companion to what we learn during this one critical hour.



ONE THING You Can Do To Improve Your Leadership Effectiveness

It is always surprising to me to hear about organizations that do not promote or support “feedback” for its employees. In one organization I worked with recently, I was told that leadership expects (and wants) its employees to “just know what to do.”

To expect everyone to “just know what to do” is to assume everyone is meeting performance expectations. We know that is not true so, therefore, are their expectations realistic?

Make no mistake. The purpose of feedback is PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT … and we all have room for improvement. In fact, strong leaders embrace continuous learning and development. That’s how they became a Strong Leader.

How does feedback help improve performance?

  • Helps you to understand how others perceive your performance and effectiveness as a leader
  • Exposes blind spots that you, as a leader, might not otherwise recognize
  • Feedback can be very motivating and satisfying as you understand how your leadership is making a difference
  • Most importantly, feedback helps you identify specific opportunities for future development

So what does a leader do when they find themselves in an environment that does not support feedback? They #ExerciseLeadership.Here is a quick, 7-step process to solicit feedback and improve your leadership effectiveness.

  1. Get clarity on EXACTLY what you want to accomplish. Perhaps you want to become a better communicator, be more engaging with your team, or improve your leadership influence throughout the organization. Take time to identify specific goals or behaviors that you want to improve. This is a critical step that will guide you through the rest of the process.
  2. Identify a short list of targeted questions. The key is to ask questions that focus on what you should continue to do or do differently in the future. For example, “What are specific behaviors that promotes engagement within the team that I should continue?” “What is something I can do differently in the future that would improve engagement with the team?”
  3. Ask for feedback from a variety of stakeholders. Don’t just ask for feedback from your greatest fans. Talk with a variety of stakeholders that interact with you on an ongoing basis. This will provide you with a more “rounded” assessment of your performance. Direct reports, colleagues (other leaders at your level), your boss, vendors, consultants, or even customers might be great sources of feedback. WHO you solicit feedback from depends on the goals you identified in the first step.
  4. Manage the session so it remains positive and productive. It is okay to ask for clarity (i.e., What do you mean by “engage effectively?”) … but do not ask for an explanation (i.e., What do you mean “I don’t engage effectively?”). There is a difference. One question asks for clarity and the other can cause the person giving feedback to become defensive and hesitant. Don’t argue or try to prove a point. This is not the place nor time to debate details.
  5. Thank them for the feedback and share what you intend to do as a result. Identify specific behaviors you want to work on over the next month. Give them permission to give you feedback when they observe your progress or if they see you veering off track. Encourage them to watch and comment and thank them for their valuable feedback.
  6. Keep things in perspective. The feedback you receive is one person’s perception. It doesn’t necessarily make it “true.” However, if two or three people share the same feedback, perhaps this is a blind spot and warrants serious consideration.
  7. Continue the feedback loop. Marshall Goldsmith, best-selling author and one of the top 10 most-influential business thinkers states “Leaders that ask for suggestions from their direct reports – focus on improving 1-2 key behaviors – and follow-up on a quarterly basis – are almost always seen as dramatically increasing in leadership effectiveness.” It is much easier to change behavior than it is to change others’ perceptions. Continuing the feedback loop not only supports your development goals but, as colleagues acknowledge your progress and continue to give you feedback, the process will have a positive impact on their perception of you as a leader.

There are two important keys to keep in mind as you go through this process: The goals and commitments must be measurable and the process must be manageable. Now go … #ExerciseLeadership!