The Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast: Episode 7
Welcome to The Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast from rhondapeterson.com. This is Rhonda Peterson your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Today, Andee and I welcome Fran LaMattina to the Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast. Fran is the President of Strategies for Greatness, a consulting coaching practice that helps leaders and teams become more effective. Fran has been coaching since 1999. She holds the designation of Master Certified Coach, the highest level of certification in the coaching industry. She’s established a niche in strategic planning, team effectiveness, assessments and emotional intelligence. In her coaching business, she draws on twenty years of business experience in the disciplines of marketing, sales, financing and operation gained from leadership in several business sectors. She’s presently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Professional Coaching and Human Development and teaches leadership and executive coaching at the Professional Christian Coaching Institute and the Academies. And I just have to add this personal note, she is my mentor/coach. So, Fran and I have a long-standing relationship. Welcome, Fran.
Fran: Thank you. It’s always great to be with you, Rhonda.
Rhonda: Fran, could you tell us a bit your story and how emotional intelligence became part of your coaching practice.
Fran: That’s a great question because I think that the reason I am so committed to emotional intelligence is because it has really helped me. Years and years ago I read Daniel Goleman’s book Primal Leadership and Emotional Intelligence and he said in that book that emotional intelligence is a 35% plus or minus factor in our effectiveness meaning that if we are emotionally intelligent, we can be 35% more effective. If we are less emotionally intelligent, we can be 35% less effective. And that kind of resonated with me and just growing up in New York and being a part of many organizations, I just saw that the people who were the most effective were the people that were really strong relationally. Most companies say no, your professional competencies are the most important, and they are, but they are table sticks, just rights-of-passage to get in. The really effective people who go higher up in the organization are the people who are more emotionally intelligent. So, unfortunately when I looked in the mirror early on, when I started learning this stuff, I said, “You may not be one of those people.” So, I started on my own journey of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills and really took a lot of assessments, asked a lot of questions of other people. I had to do a little bit of apologizing for my blunt New York nature which I still struggle with on a daily basis. I’ve just been a student of the process, as well as a person who applies a lot of these truths and I’ve found myself to really reap the benefits of it both in my coaching practice and in my relationships outside of there.
Andee: Fran, what I hear in that is that emotional intelligence can be developed to some extent.
Fran: Absolutely. And that’s, I think one of the most and discouraging parts about it. One of my favorite sayings is life is half learning and half unlearning and I think that those of us who become really serious about emotional intelligence are on a learning experience that takes a lifetime. You know Rhonda said I have been in my coaching practice since 1999, I think I was introduced to emotional intelligence probably three to five years before then and I always tell people I’m about 50% there. It is such a process. Even recently I’ve just really learned, just in the last couple of months, how much expectation I communicate to other people that is not kind and not accepting and doesn’t communicate great value to other people. And I’ve really been working on, my personal goal in life is to bring out the best in others but I can’t bring out the best in others when they perceive that I’m not accepting them for who they are.
Rhonda: That’s a very interesting statement and if we think about leadership from that standpoint, we are charged with bringing out the best of who people are today. It’s not our job to change them, it’s our job to bring out the best in them and help them understand themselves better which is what that self-awareness and self-regulation then becomes. Can you say more about the different parts of emotional intelligence? You listed, I believe, five different areas and if you could help us understand what those five areas are. I think that would be really valuable.
Fran: That would be great. You know they have been streamlined and some books have them written with different titles and some have three or four, rather than five. I use Goleman’s article that is a Harvard Business Review article that’s the top number one article requested in the Harvard Business Review and it’s called, What Makes a Leader. It is an article on emotional intelligence and like I said, I found it to be so helpful that I use it with a lot of my clients because people like shorter versions of books, of course.
Rhonda: So true.
Fran: So, I realized as I started teaching the top ten articles on leadership, from the Harvard Business Review, I realized that that one was number one. So, that’s the one that I contextualize. So anyway, the first one is self-awareness. And believe it or not most people are not self-aware. They think they are. They think that they know themselves but that’s one of the reasons I got very much into assessments really early on and I use an assessment tool pretty extensively called Right Path. But the DISC is great, Strengths Finder is a good profile. Now I’m using Lencioni’s Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team. I think that assessments help us learn about ourselves. One of my favorite statements that I like to ask people is something I picked up from a gentleman named Jeff Henderson and he says, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?”
Rhonda: That’s interesting.
Fran: Because a lot of times we can think these things and with assessments, but we really, if we’re open can ask other people, what did you experience in that interaction with me. Now, of course, that’s dangerous and most of us don’t like to do it but if we do it, we enter into the dangerous, Lencioni, one of my favorite statements that he uses, but entering into the danger of really developing self-awareness is the hardest part of developing emotional intelligence.
So, that’s the first one. And we can get that from our children, our sisters and brothers, our bosses, our coaches, you know if we want to become self-aware we can ask a lot of people. And I know when I first started in the industry, years and years ago and I was the first female at so many things that I did, I remember just sitting in my boss’s office saying, just debriefing and saying, could I have done better with that? Could I have done better with this? What should I have done there? And, that just, that just set me off on the trajectory of self-awareness. And I think sometimes we’re afraid to ask but I’ve gotten more and more bold about asking that because it really helps. Because the scriptures say that we have blind spots and usually the blind spots are what give us our problems and so asking other people is entering into the danger by getting really solid gold out of it.
Then self-regulation is the second one and I always tell people that self-awareness without self-regulation is the most miserable place to be.
Fran: If we don’t do what we’re supposed to do then we’re miserable. Like, I know I shouldn’t eat gluten but boy oh boy I love that stuff that contains gluten.
Fran: But we all do that and one of my new favorite quotes is from a guy named Jim Rohn and he says that in life we have two choices, “We can suffer the pain of discipline or we can suffer the pain of regret.” Self-regulation is suffering the pain of discipline and most people because we’re not on this journey, Andee, that you talked about, of learning, we kind of deceive ourselves into thinking that the pain of regret is easier than the pain of discipline. My Pastor Eddie Stanley says, “You reap what you sow, later and greater.” You know, the pain of regret is later and greater but we don’t feel it in the moment of discipline so we just have a tendency to cast it off. And we also live in a culture that is so impulse-friendly. You know, like going in the store, going in the supermarket and having all the candy and stuff by the checkout. You know that’s a form of impulse attractiveness. I remember when I was growing up you couldn’t buy a car on Sunday. Now your bank is accessed every day. Everything is designed for immediacy and what happens in that is that we’re encouraged not to self-regulate and I really think that is the key to us growing in self-awareness.
So, then the next area, the third area is motivation. And motivation, we talk about it upfront which is doing things well, doing it with excellence, having that inner compass to do things right. I think what’s more important as I work with people over these years, it’s more important to get back in the saddle after we’ve been discouraged. After getting a divorce, after losing a job, after a death of a parent, after a child has gone astray, whatever it is. Many people, their song in their heart goes out after these great disappointments in life. I remember one time somebody that I loved and really cared about disappointed me a great deal and I was hurt and I was in my mind, I’m blaming him and saying, “Doesn’t he care about me?” and all this kind of stuff. And I realized, I said to myself, “Yes, he has disappointed me but this person has been such a wonderful supporter of me and he is such a wonderful person. And you know, I’ve probably disappointed myself more times than he could ever disappoint me.” So God just flowed in my heart this forgiveness and just this ability to continue being motivated to love him, continue giving him grace because 99% of the times he gave me grace. And one time he didn’t and for all I know, God’s going to work that out for my good and the best way it can be. But I just was able to really say, “OK, I’m going to get back on my horse and I’m going to just move past this and by the grace of God I’m going to be better as a result of this disappointment than I was before.” And God has shown Himself to be very, very faithful to me in that. So that third area of motivation, it really, as I talk to my clients, a lot of times I can help them go back to the place where they lost the song in their hearts, or what made their hearts sing. And we can go back and say, you know, I’m not a counselor but a lot of times people can say, hey, that happened and because that happened I’ve never trusted that person. I just talked to somebody last night, my last client yesterday and we talked about that process, the process of getting past that.
So, anyway, the first three areas of emotional intelligence are all about ourselves and then the next two are about how we interface with others. So, the next one is empathy and executives are traditionally the worst. This is traditionally the worst area for executives because executives are can-do people and they don’t want to hear that it can’t be done. They don’t want to hear that there is a reason that something can’t be done. They don’t want to hear that you had an extenuating circumstance that interfered with you getting something done. So, there’s a tendency to not be empathetic. And when you are, it draws people to us. There’s a saying that says we admire others based on their strengths and we connect with others based on their weaknesses. You know that empathy part, that understanding part, Steven Covey says, “Seek first to understand rather than to be understood.” It’s hard because we all want our lives to be about us but the more we empathize, the more influence we get and that’s what leadership is about. It is about influence. So, that’s not to say empathize and coddle people. That’s not to say empathize and give them excuses for not doing what they should do. But empathize when things, really bad things happen to good people or empathize, I always say, when you’re talking to a thinker, use thinking words. If you’re talking to a feeler, use feeling words. Those kinds of things go a long way and they bring us to the fifth area which is social skills.
Social skills, which is being able to accomplish things through other people and in the way that is most effective is a combination using your self-awareness, your self-regulation, your motivation and your empathy to accomplish things. The people that are the highest in an organization are the people who are the most emotionally intelligent. Now, somebody will say that that’s not the case in their experience because they’ve worked for a technical company and those people are not emotionally intelligent. And there are certainly pockets where that happens. But what I find is that if somebody is not very emotionally intelligent, if they’re at the top of the organization, they have figured out how to work through other people to accomplish things. But you just can’t accomplish things without that being a bigger part of the equation. In Patrick Lencioni’s terms of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, he says that the teams that get the greatest results are comprised of people who subordinate status and ego and look for the good of the organization and the other people. And that’s just another way of doing it. Jim Collins in his Level Five Leader, says a level five leader is a person who has humility and relentless pursuit of the goal. Whatever it is, all of them say in a different way that they have these skills.
Rhonda: That is a whole lot of information in a really short period of time, Fran. And what I hear out of that is, if a client, if an individual, someone who is listening to our podcast can find a way to become more self-aware so that they can be self-regulated, so that they can be empathetic, then they will become a much more effective leader. And I love the fact that humility feeds into this. Even as you were talking about Lencioni’s definition of subordinating status and ego, that to me equals the word humility. When you work with your clients, how does emotional intelligence feed into that process?
Fran: Well, people come to the coaching engagement with a lot of similar kinds of issues. One is life balance, one is work conflicts in their work life, one is they want to be more effective as a leader. By the way, most people really don’t even know what a leader is. They think of a leader as positional, rather than relational. Which I did in my early days. I thought if I could get promoted and if I could make more money then, that would be an indicator that I’m a better leader. Well, it’s not true. The best leaders are the people that influence.
One of my clients is a stay-at-home mom who does fantastic things in the community. She is a leader in the community, and leadership encompasses influence in all areas of our lives. It could be influence with your spouse. It could be influence with your children could be, of course, influence in the workplace. And what I have found, over the years, is that most of the time when people leave their jobs, they leave their jobs because they feel like their voice is no longer one where the boss is listening. So they feel like they have lost their influence.
When you feel like you’ve lost your influence it’s a terribly disconcerting thing. It really causes people to lose their confidence. So, if I’m talking to somebody and they tell me they have no influence in their organization…
I did a 360 on somebody about three months ago and she had a lot of comments in her written comments that basically said that in the last year she had done some things that had caused her to lose influence. And I said to her, “You know the easy thing for you to do is to leave this organization and start over somewhere else because obviously before this year you did things very effectively. You just had a bad year.” I said, “the other thing you could do is kind of do an apology tour and go out and tell people ‘I have really, I’m not making excuses, but because of this situation, I have lost my way and I want to commit to you that I’m going to change and I want to apologize to you for this, this and this. Would you please forgive me?’” Well, I just heard from somebody the other day, that this person is just blossoming and she is doing so much better because she chose the hard route. She chose the route to go and do the apology tour. What it did was strengthen her from within. It gave her that resolve to get past this and it really gave her an opportunity to see the people that she works with to give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s a beautiful thing when that happens.
Rhonda: So, her confidence and courage has come back in a different way because she was able to, that sounds like self-regulation to me.
Fran: Yes. It is self-regulation. But you know she developed the self-awareness from the 360. In fact, all the coaching books, all the coaching surveys say, that the number one tool for coaches is the 360. Because we think we’re self-aware and then we get these 360’s where our manager appears and our direct reports and our people in our lives in other factors, they give us input about ourselves. And most of us when we read those, I mean I remember I had a client say to me, “Fran, when am I going to be ready to take a 360.” We’re never ready. I mean who wants to hear all that stuff? But you are as ready now as you’re ever going to be because you can handle it, you know it’s going to be for your good. I have friends as clients that have been changed so much from a 360.
Andee: But Fran, pardon me for interrupting. I’m guessing that most everybody knows what a 360 is but on the off chance that there is somebody listening who really is not familiar with that, would you mind explaining?
Fran: Sure, Sure. A 360 is an instrument, an assessment instrument where somebody asks their boss, or bosses, their peers, their direct reports, and sometimes others. There’s an ‘other’ category and sometimes that’s clients, sometimes that’s people in their lives, whatever, in their family or whatever. It gives people an opportunity to hear from them in an anonymous way, in a confidential way how, what’s it like to be on the other side of me? And once again, that’s what, in all the surveys on the effectiveness of coaches, they say that the 360 tool in leadership coaching is the most effective tool.
It’s a life-changing thing and it puts you in a place where you know where your quicksand is, that if you go down in that place it’s going to have some negative implications. But if you catch yourself, and that’s part of what emotional intelligence does, it causes you to catch yourself in those areas of danger. Like, years ago I was a partner in a financial services company and one of my peers said to me, “Fran whenever you lean forward, I always know you’re going to give me a zinger.” Well, I was mortified. I was like, here comes the New Yorker, the assertive bordering on aggressive, the blunt, the verbal, all of those kinds of things, that strength that can become a weakness. And so now, ever since then, whenever I feel myself moving forward I know I’m in quicksand because I know that I’m not listening well, I know that I’m pushing my idea on somebody and I know that that’s a danger zone for me. And so, I encourage my clients to have out-of-body experiences where they observe themselves in these types of things so that they can become more effective in identifying where their quicksand is. And assessments help them with that, 360s, personality assessments, team assessments, all those kinds of things.
Rhonda: That is a fascinating example of where quicksand is that you would never have been aware of until somebody hadn’t shared that with you.
Rhonda: Somebody who had the courage and the value of who you are, to be able to speak that truth to you because that’s not easy to do.
Fran: No, I usually tell people friends don’t tell friends.
Rhonda: And that’s true. A lot of times they don’t unless it’s in a 360 situation where they aren’t going to be called out and have to take responsibility for those words.
Rhonda: When we did a 360 for me, one of the things that showed up was that somebody told me that I hang onto an idea longer than I should. I don’t know why they said that about me. I don’t understand. And I’m sure that person wouldn’t have said that to me in person, but the fact that they could say that in the 360 format allowed them to speak truth. And I think that’s one of the things that as we think about emotional intelligence, one of the things we need to recognize is cultivating relationships where there is that level of trust to be able to speak that truth to each other is so important. And having those people in our life.
Fran: That’s why Lencioni calls it entering the danger. Linda Miller who is just one of the founding people of coaching, says that the difference between a good coach and an excellent coach is courage. Courage to say something about somebody’s behavior and not their person. Having the skills to say it in a way that they know you’re looking out for their best. Where they trust you, that is a very privileged place to be in someone’s life. That’s why I always say that coaching is a privilege. Sometimes the things I say to people, I think oh God, please help them to see that I really, really want the best for them. And most of the time people come back to me and say, “Fran, nobody has ever told me that.” One time, one guy said to me, “Fran, what I love about you is you always enter the danger and I can trust you to tell me what’s best for me. I don’t like it but you always do that.” I ask people to do that for me. One of the ways, if there are people on the podcast who don’t have a coach, one of the ways that you can get other people to do that is you can give them permission. I remember the first time I said to one of my really good friends, who is really flexible. And flexibility if not my strong suit, as you know, Rhonda. I said to her, “Laura, I admire this in you. If you see me not being flexible, would you please tell me?” She’s been a, I’ve been a bridesmaid in her wedding, she’s been a long-time friend. She said to me, “Where did you learn that?” Because nobody had never asked her for that kind of input. I told her that I really want to grow in these areas because I know they make me less effective and I know, back to what we said back in the beginning of the call, I know I’m going to be 35% more effective if I just own those things about myself that if we let them be too scary or too secretive, we lose the opportunity to learn from them.
Rhonda: So, emotional intelligence, if I’m hearing this correctly, one of the key hallmarks of being emotionally intelligent is being open. It’s being willing to look at things that sometimes people don’t even consider that they need to look at. But in order to be more effective in your role as a leader, whether that be in the workplace, whether that be in your home, whether that be in the church, wherever you’re being called to lead in this season of your life, you need to be open because if you’re not open then you lose the opportunity for that increased effectiveness. Am I hearing that correctly?
Fran: Yes. And the faster we go, the less margin we have for that openness.
Rhonda: Wow, that is a great statement. The faster we go, the less margin we have for, well the faster we go, the less margin we have period, but when we think about it in those terms, that is really fascinating. And actually, that’s going to be a thought that we’re going to have to leave things on because we need to wrap up at this point, Fran. So, what, as we think about needing the margin to be able to be aware, to be able to practice emotional intelligence, which would you say is a fair way to say it?
Fran: I would.
Rhonda: How can we leave our Bold & Courageous leaders, what is the final thought you’d like to leave with our Bold & Courageous leaders as we wrap up today in this podcast about emotional intelligence.
Fran: Well, you know way back when, when I became certified to lead, or facilitate the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, that’s just a hallmark work, I just believe that if you practice those habits, it just helps you. Those habits encompass emotional intelligence as well, but Covey says the seventh habit is the habit of renewal. I just happen to have had the book on my desk because I’m facilitating a conversation about this with a team tomorrow actually and I was just reviewing. And the habit of renewal is the when we go back and think about what’s working, what’s not working. John Maxwell in his book, two years ago I think, says the Fifteen Immeasurable Laws of Personal Growth. In there he talks about his end-of-year assessment of his life and what’s working, what meeting worked, what didn’t? What initiatives worked, what didn’t? We constantly have to be doing that, every year or every quarter, whatever works for anybody, or we’re not going to grow in those things. And as we look at those things, and as we renew and as we read, you know that’s another part of leadership, if you ask me. Years and years ago I was told readers are leaders.
Rhonda: Michael Hyatt.
Fran: That’s been out there a long, long time. Even before Michael Hyatt I think. But anyway, I think that that’s important and one of the things that I’ve done in my coaching practice, that sometimes is a little controversial is I’ve tried to be principal oriented and share principals. In coaching, we want to ask questions and ask questions, and ask questions and that’s important. But it’s also important to share principles of leadership because if you don’t know what you need to do, you’re not going to do it.
Rhonda: And you can’t ask the right questions if you don’t know what you need to do.
Fran: Correct. So, that’s what I would say, the renewal part, the constantly keeping your mind active and challenged so that you’re a growing person too. One of the statements in coaching is that you can’t give what you don’t have. And I truly believe, and the title of my dissertation right now is, The Relationship Between a Person’s Self-Leadership as It Relates to Their Effectiveness in the World. And I think that emotional intelligence has to start with yourself if you’re going to bring it to your clients.
Rhonda: Very true. Well, Fran, it has been wonderful learning more about emotional intelligence because you put it out there in such a concise and understandable way. Thank you so much for your time today and we will look forward to getting back in touch with you and learning more about different things you are working on in the world of coaching.
Fran: Thank you, Rhonda, it’s always a pleasure.
To find out more about today’s topic, get downloads of our previous podcasts or to learn how you too can become a bold and courageous leader, visit rhondapeterson.com. Our ever-growing community is waiting for you. If you liked today’s show, there are three things you can do. You can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes or Stitcher. You can give us a rating or a review on iTunes. The subscriptions and ratings help others to find us more easily. And you can help us get the word out by sharing the podcast with your friends. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you for the next Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast.
Resources Fran mentioned in her interview:
Primal Leadership, Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman
Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman
Good to Great, Jim Collins
7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey
What Makes a Leader, Daniel Goleman, from Harvard Business Review
5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, Patrick Lencioni - fivebehaviors.com
Right Path Assessment rightpath.com