People are Not Problems to be Solved

by Dr. Nicole Price

Many leaders are promoted to leadership because they are amazing problem solvers as individual contributors. In fact, when asked, no fewer than half of all leaders say that they are rewarded for problem solving even in their current roles. The challenge with this disposition to problem solving is that people are not problems to be solved.

Ron Heifetz, author and expert in this area, helps leaders approach people challenges — including the ways in which we communicate — in “adaptive” ways. This change in mindset is important because when seeking to improve the way teams communicate, leaders have to use different methods than the ones employed with technical challenges like problem solving. As we look to handle more difficult conversations, we have to honor basic human dynamics such as internal biases, emotional triggers, different approaches to conflict and communication in general.

In the difficult conversations session at Bloch, we will discuss ways to approach conversation issues that are not always easily identified. We will also explore how to use some conventional tools (that we know about but don’t always use) to stay engaged in difficult conversations. Choosing to do otherwise is wrought with consequences for our organizations and for us as individuals.

Adaptive challenges like improving the ways you and others communicate does not come with the Cliff Notes manual. It will take time. It will take practice. It will require evaluating your beliefs and some of the underlying beliefs (mental models) of others in order to move the needle in this space for us collectively.

We can start by working on our ability to have these difficult conversations. There are some tools for talking when the stakes are high. Joseph Grenny, Susan Scott and Byron Katie have shared many of them with us.

Come and explore why we avoid using those tools and ways to overcome those obstacles.

Nicole’s next Bloch Executive Seminar is Developing Your Executive Presence & Expanding Your Career on March 3-4, 2021. Register to attend her session and view other seminars to support your professional development at Bloch Executive Education.

About the Author:

Nicole Price, Ed.D., understands that if leadership is anything, it is personal, and that everyone can be a great leader. So she gets personal. Nicole’s transparency allows others to learn from her mistakes and helps them avoid the same pitfalls. Through leadership development, coaching, consulting, keynotes, and other resources, Nicole encourages and enables others to live their lives in excellence. Her energetic and engaging sessions leave participants with strategies and specific tools that they can apply right away.

6 Tips to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to be aware of your own emotions and the emotions of others, then use the information to manage yourself to build strong relationships. While you need to be technically proficient at what you do — whether you are an architect, attorney, engineer or business executive — it’s your emotional intelligence skills that will boost your ability to be successful. Oh, and it can help you improve relationships with family and others.

Here are 6 practical tips to improve your EQ:

1. Be “in the moment”

It’s so easy in our over-scheduled, high tech world to continually multi-task. Research is showing that we can become addicted to looking at our cell phones constantly.  How often do you look at your phone when you are with others?  Are you really “in the moment?”  Ignore the urge to multi-task and stay tuned in with what you are doing NOW.  Be there with others using all your senses and your brain.  It might be surprising what you learn!  You may find that conversations go more quickly when you are tuned in rather than distracted – thereby actually saving yourself time!

2. Recharge during the day

Find a way to take a break during your day and get away from the meetings and your office.  This may mean going for a 10-minute walk outside.  Maybe it’s just walking around the office and talking with people about non-work related topics.  Or perhaps its closing your office door and closing your eyes to meditate and relax.  Figure out what works for you and make it a daily habit.  It can help calm and re-energize you for what you face the rest of the day.

3. Pause

Before speaking, particularly in an emotionally or frustrating situation at work, simply pause or count to ten.  Allowing yourself some space may avoid an emotional outburst and instead give you a chance to craft a more productive response.

4. Do a 360 assessment

A 360 assessment allows you to receive feedback from your subordinates, your peers, and your boss.  These ratings can be compared to your self-rating to identify areas of consistency as well as outliers.  You can identify strengths and also areas for improvement.  This will give you insight into how others perceive you in order to build your self- awareness, the foundation of EQ.

5. Be Grateful

This sounds corny yet when you are grateful it puts you in a positive mind-set.  Try it… write down three things you are grateful for each morning, or prior to attending a meeting.  It is nearly impossible to then be stressed out and on edge once you do this.  This calming influence can help you control negative emotions thought the day and help you handle adversity.

6. Smile and Laugh More

Neurotransmitters called endorphins and the chemicals dopamine and serotonin are released when you smile. These are triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face, which is interpreted by your brain, which in turn releases these chemicals. Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy, and they also help lower stress levels.  The release of endorphins reduces the level of the stress hormone cortisol.  So have fun and get benefits in return!

These tips seem simple, yet when used can be quite powerful.  Incorporate some or all of these into your workday and you may find that you are calmer and better able to manage your emotions in a productive way!


About the Author:

Joni Lindquist, MBA, CFP®, is a Principal and Career/Financial Coach at KHC Wealth Management.  After 20+ years in corporate America, Joni transitioned to a career focused on helping others advance in their business, career and life.  Through executive coaching, career coaching and financial planning; Joni assists corporate executives and their families in achieving their goals.