Seven Things Successful People Do When Interviewing

panel interview

From Interview To Conversation

I’ve been doing quite a bit of career coaching in the last three years, particularly working with people on developing their professional brand and their go-to market strategy.

When I coach my clients on how to be their best in interviews the intention is to transform the interview into a conversation.   A conversation is when people, either one-on-one or in the case of panel interviews one-on-many, show up on equal ground to talk about problems that need to be solved, skills required and potential partnerships/opportunities to be had.

To achieve this, I’ve done what I like doing which is to break things down into simple formulas that anyone can follow and achieve success.

Seven crucial things to do when  interviewing for another role, or even having exploratory conversations about potential career opportunities:

  1. Go in curious, not selling. You don’t know if you want the role yet or if it is the best match for you.
  2. Know what you want to learn from the other party and know what you want them to learn about you.
  3. Don’t assume that anyone will be a good interviewer. Be prepared to collaboratively lead the interview to get the information you will need to make a decision to continue in the process or not.
  4. Know who you are talking to, find common ground, and create a relationship and let the conversation start from there.
  5. Write down some questions that are provocative and conversational that allow you to shine.
  6. Substantiate everything you say with tangible results you have achieved previously and connect the dots between your achievements and what the role requires.
  7. Listen to what is said, not to what you want to hear.

These things may seem like common sense, but you know what they say about common sense….not so common!

Copyright 2014, Sheila Madden, Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Sheila Madden is an Executive and Career Coach  and an Organization Effectiveness Consultant. She works with individual contributors and leaders at all stages of their careers to maximize performance, impact and happiness.    Career Coaching Package Summary

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Want To Be The best At What You Do? Take Naps, Seriously

polarsnappinFor 25 years my husband has been teasing me about my inability to take a decent nap. He can take a nap anywhere, anytime. The usual scenario for us is that we lie down and within two minutes he is sound asleep and snoring. Within five minutes I am twitching with restlessness. Within six minutes my mind has turned into a roller coaster of thoughts about what I should be doing, what I have forgotten to do, what I am worried about doing or not doing and a thousand “what ifs” that torture me unmercifully. In the meantime my husbands slumber continues and the deeper his innocent and effortless sleep goes the more agitated I get. Not just because he is right, I can’t take a decent nap, but because I want to and I haven’t been able to figure out why I can’t!

The Accidental Answer

Recently I cracked the code. I had major surgery several weeks ago  and every afternoon since I have been taking a blissful, cozy life enhancing nap with a heating pad wrapped around me. So why can I suddenly take such great naps and most importantly, why did I finally understand the necessity of this renewing ritual? The answer is two-fold: First, I gave myself permission. Well, actually the doctor gave me permission and then I gave it to myself. Once I did that, I was able to experience the positive impact that napping had on my focus and work performance. That is when the second barrier to my napping disappeared: the guilt.

Am I Being Delusional?

This napping thing really got me curious. Was it just my imagination or was there any scientific evidence to substantiate my experience, which is that I feel great, I think more clearly and have more energy when I take naps?  It turns out there is plenty of supporting evidence. At Harvard Medical, research on napping shows an increase in learning ability, memory and creative problem solving.  Those are all capabilities we need at work and in life.  And NASA did a study with military pilots and astronauts and found that a 40 minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%. Many companies are starting to understand this as well. Google provides its employees  with what they call “nap pods” which block out light and sound where their team members can get some quick shut-eye.

Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, works with Fortune 500 Companies around the world and advises them to create  cultures and facilities that support naps and many other energy enhancing activities. They take his advice because it makes good business sense.  Businesses are in the game to win and you win through sustainably increasing profits and productivity.  These goals are achieved when people are inspired, respected and given what they need to contribute in meaningful ways.  Research shows that particularly in our knowledge economy,  this is facilitated when people can refuel with naps.

Four Tips  For Getting The Most From Your Nap 

As a coach I always encourage my clients to try new behavioral strategies and approaches and then to  gather their own evidence as to the efficacy of their shifted behavior. If you are curious to see if naps can impact your productivity and impact, here are some tips from WebMD on how to get the most from naps:

1. Be consistent with the time of  naps and keep them between 1-3pm
2. Make them quick. Set your phone alarm for 20-30 minutes
3. Go dark, wear a mask or keep lights down or off
4. Stay warm (don’t underestimate the impact of the amazing $4 heating pad, my personal favorite!)

Renewable Energy Starts With Each of Us

We are all big on renewable energy but we forget that we have to start with ourselves. And, by the way, it doesn’t have to be napping. It can be any number of things: walking, riding the bike path, meditating, golf or surfing.

The important thing is for all of us to find out what renews us and start making a habit of incorporating those activities into our lives. Our individual and collective sustained happiness and success depend on it.

Can we achieve the same goals if we don’t nap or surf or ride? Of course, but when we renew ourselves along the way, we will achieve everything in life with much less effort and far more joy. Role modeling this practice for our children, friends, work teams and colleagues is a positive way to demonstrate personal and/or organizational leadership.

To read more research on the benefits of napping: 

The Wall Street ; The Guardian ; The National Sleep Foundation

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth organizations, young professionals who want to accelerate their career success and individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life .

Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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What Every Employer Needs To Know About Gen Y’s

genymulticultural(This may look familiar to some of you. I was recently asked to repost this blog from 2012)

I broadened my practice two years ago to include coaching young professionals. It has opened my eyes and invigorated me in ways I never dreamed.

Most of you know that I am a self-described human potential junkie. I am possessed when it comes to wanting to support individuals and organizations in developing leadership capability. And I have to be candid, this passion collides head-on with how I see the media disrespecting this generation and writing about them with such gloom and doom.  After complaining about it to anyone who would listen, I finally realized I had to put up or shut up. That is when I  started coaching millennials and I am more excited about the leadership future of this world than I have been in a very long time.

The fact is that this is an extraordinary generation that is uniquely positioned and talented in ways that are exactly what the world needs.  WE NEED THEM and every employer needs to understand how to hire, develop and engage them for the good of us all.

Fast Facts About Gen Y’s

Dan Schwabel  is one of the most impressive members of this generation, and his company, Millennial Branding, partnered with Payscale late last year and did a survey of 500,000 millennials. Thanks to them and their good work, here are some of the truths that emerged in their survey about just how amazing this generation is:

  1. They are the most educated generation in US history 63% have bachelor’s degrees and 13% master’s degrees.
  2. They are more likely than any generation to major in Chinese, Neuroscience, Engineering of all types, Digital Media and Communications Studies and perhaps most important, Entrepreneurial Studies.
  3. They are in fact, very entrepreneurial…47% of respondents work at firms with less than 100 people
  4. And of course we know that they are more mobile and tech savvy than any generation before them, the potential of which, in terms of business and job creation, we haven’t even begun to tap into.

Here is what I have learned first-hand in coaching them:

  1. They have a greater global sensibility than any previous US generation.  Many of them have studied, lived and worked abroad during highschool and college.
  2.  They have an inherent understanding of the interconnected complexities of the world’s economic, social, political and environmental systems, which means that they are better equipped to tackle the economic, environmental, social and political issues that face us today and in the future.
  3. Yes, they are facing unprecedented economic challenges but this is not a permanent condition and they understand that. And guess what? As they face these challenges they are responding brilliantly and with a level of resilience that is the mark of true success. The Millennial Branding and Payscale survey showed that 89% of them say the bad economy impacts their daily lives and here is what they have done about it:
    1. 51% of the 89% have cut back on their entertainment budgets
    2. 32% are looking for additional work
    3. 84% of them have delayed major life events because they aren’t ready financially (38% put off buying a home, 31% waiting to start a family.)

I find their responses incredibly refreshing. I want this kind of responsible resilience to become epidemic across the world!!

The Myths That Will Kill Us If We’re Not Careful

People accuse Gen Y’s as being “entitled”  because they demand work environments that provide continuous learning opportunities. I say, “Bravo” to that requirement. They demand that their employers measure them on results not by the time they arrive at the office, nor the time they spend there nor where they do their work.  They demand that their employers understand that being a parent is job #1 and that they need flexibility to do a great job for their  kids and their employers.

I want to tell you something: I genuinely do not know how people can possibly criticize them for these things.  I, and most of the other HR professionals that I know, have been advocating and fighting (and I do mean fighting)  for these changes in the workplace for years.

In 1993 I was the Corporate Diversity/EEO manager for Tandem Computers (now HP) and worked with Artemis Management Consulting and the Ford Foundation on a major Work/Life Balance project. Our work was featured in Fortune and The Wall Street Journal…big stuff…We introduced what were then new concepts, like telecommuting and measuring results, not face time.  That was 1993. We HAVE NOT made much progress…until this generation came along.

They will transform work as we know it and I can hardly wait!!

Their assertive entrepreneurial nature is exactly what we need now. In my opinion, in many ways the struggles they are facing are because they do not fit into this economy. They are joining an economy where 50% of the jobs in 2018 have not yet been created!

My prediction is that their success will not come from fitting into the old but by creating the new.

This generation gives me  confidence in our future. There has never been a generation more capable of dealing with the challenges that face them, and us, today and in the future.

But we have a very real problem that we all need to help with. The world is facing a very real leadership gap.  There are approximately 70 million Baby Boomers, 30 million Gen Xer’s and 70 million Gen Y’s.  This upcoming shortage of leaders requires that we accelerate the development of this generation. We must quickly and carefully construct ways to develop, mentor and coach them so that  they:

  1. Smoothly transition from education to work
  2. Onboard quickly into their careers and chosen professional roles
  3. Get the work experience they need to prepare them for the roles they must fill
  4. Develop their emotional intelligence rapidly so that they can fulfill the leadership needs we face
  5. Fulfill their own potential and the potential of the organizations in which they work

We also need to understand that  WE (anyone older than 30) have a ton to learn from THEM and we will sub-optimize ourselves and our organizations if we fail to create the right infrastructure to ensure that we do.

I am personally committed to doing what I can to support this endeavor and I will be writing more on this topic in the weeks and months ahead.  If you or your organization are doing some cool stuff in this area, or know of others who are, please let me know. I would also gladly invite guest bloggers so that we can make others aware  of new ideas and/or new programmatic approaches that are working.  If you’ve got something you want to share, please call me at 831 277-4919 or email me

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth organizations, young professionals who want to accelerate their career success and individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life .

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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5 Ways To Be A Leader Whom Innovators Will Follow


According to Korn/Ferry’s For Your Improvement, 90% of the problems and challenges that leaders from the middle level up through executive level face are characterized as “ambiguous”, meaning that it is neither clear what the problem is nor what the solution is.

Also, according to Korn/Ferry and Lominger, the ability to deal well with this type of ambiguity is one of the Big 8 Leadership Competencies that are associated with the highest performing leaders across all organization levels.  It is directly related to the ability to create the new and different or to innovate.  And how important do global leaders feel it is to be able to lead teams who innovate? In PwC’s most recent Pulse Survey of global CEO’s, 97% of CEO’s see innovation as their top priority because of the necessity to find new sources of revenue as well as to develop better products and services. Innovation is not an option, it is a requirement for building competitive advantage and it starts with the ability to deal well with ambiguity.

And here is some good news:

Dealing well with ambiguity is not a skill highly present in the talent pool.

So what does that mean?

It means that if you want to differentiate yourself as a leader, develop the ability to comfortably make more good decisions than bad with less than all of the information, in less time and with few or no precedents on how it was solved before. In other words, don’t try to predict the future, learn to invent it. 

So, How Skilled Are You In Dealing With Ambiguity And Leading Teams To Invent The Future?

You are pretty good at it if you:

1. Cope well with high levels of change

2. Can shift gears easily

3. Can make decisions without having all of the information

4. Don’t get upset if things are unlear and in flux

5. Are comfortable handling risk (and failure) 

On the other hand, you may need to focus on developing this competence if:

1. You don’t like change and uncertainty

2. Find yourself wanting and asking for more and more data before making decisions

3. Avoid dealing with problems that are unclear

4.  Like to do things the same way you have done them before

5. Avoid risk at all cost 

Here Are 5 Approaches That Can Help You Be A Leader Whom Innovators Will Follow: 

1. Learn to ask the right questions and listen to the answers. It may sound obvious, but before trying to solve a problem, ask the right questions to make sure you know what the real problem is and that you understand what is causing it. This will give you a better chance of asking deeper and better questions and getting the right people involved which will help you come up with the most innovative solutions.

2. Be an incrementalist:  You don’t have to dive into the deep end of the pool immediately. The key to success is remembering that innovating is a creative process. You have to accept that you and your team will be wrong some of the time; just make sure that you are wrong on smaller stuff, not the catastrophic stuff.  Start small so you can recover quickly if you are wrong. This will also give you and your team time to increase your overall ability to tolerate and learn from mistakes made along the way.

3.     Prepare to pivot. Don’t get attached to one right answer. Make a decision, see if it works or doesn’t and why and decide if you need to get more data, course correct or completely change directions. Stay open to responding to what you learn with each step of the process.

4.      Give up the need to be perfect, right and in control. Einstein once said that success looks like failure half way through. This state of mind, of curiosity and exploration, is what will help you proactively sense and respond and invent what needs to come next. You simply can’t get there, or lead others there, if you are expecting to be right and feel comfortable all of the time. Exploration is about moving out of your comfort zone…that is where the good stuff lives!

5.     Become a trapeze artist…meaning, master the ability to know when to hold on and when to let go. Oh, and get comfortable with that hang time in the air. This is about listening to your intuition in addition to your intellect. Learn to lead from the intelligence within your whole body, not just from your head. If you define the problem correctly and you engage in inquiry and non-attached problem solving and you collect good information, you will feel it from the inside out if you are on the right track or if it is time to let go.  Trust that and don’t second guess yourself.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life and young professionals who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character. She is certified to use the Korn/Ferry Voices 360 Leadership Architect Assessment, HayGroup Emotional and Social Intelligence Assessment and the Hogan Leadership Assessments.

2013 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

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5 Things No One Will Tell You About Being A Great Leader

10871528-leadershipLeadership failures are failures of the soul. They are always the result of people losing sight of who they are, what their real job is and what the right thing is to do. We tend to make leader heroes out of those who have the sexiest products, the most successful innovations, the best financial results or IPO’s. Those are all great results, but they are just that: the results of great leadership.  But what is the actual secret leadership sauce that is the catalyst for creating results like these? There are lots of combinations of things, which definitely include external as well as internal factors. But when you examine those stellar leadership stories, you will generally find individuals who understand that these 5 building blocks are key for creating a foundation for great leadership. 

1. You must become deeply self-aware and then get over yourself. Sounds strange, I know, but it is true. I talk a lot about the importance of self-awareness in leadership. It is a key component of emotional intelligence. But what isn’t talked about very often is the interconnected and essential next step: getting over yourself. Only then can you become the kind of leader who is fully focused on those around you who have placed their trust in you.  When you are able to suspend your own ego, you can really see and hear what people  need to be at their best. You can lead with laser-like focus, listen whole-heartedly, coach insightfully and help people, and your organization, reach their fullest potential. You have to do your own work first, but don’t stop there. Ultimately, as a great leader, it is never, ever about you, it is always about others.

2. If you are really lucky, leadership will break your heart, break it wide open. Something, someone, some situation will awaken in you the universal vulnerability of the human experience. It will be humbling. You will be leading a group and then something will happen to you or to someone you lead: a child may become ill, there may be a diagnosis of cancer, someone may die or there may be a catastrophic failure. From the humility gained from this experience your role as a leader will forever change.  Your perspective will widen to include a broader definition of what is important. Your thinking will become more integrated and holistic.  This will change your priorities and how you approach achievement, for yourself and for your team. Your heart will fill with compassion and at last you will truly lead, from the heart AND from the head. You will lead with a vigor and fearlessness that you have never before experienced. Effortlessly, you will begin to notice that you are seeing the best in people, the potential perfection in each of them. And because you can see it clearly, you can help others see it in themselves. You will engage with people on a different level and great things will happen.

3. One of the greatest gifts you can give to those you lead is to be happy, no matter what is going on. Happiness is not a temporal emotion. It is a state of mind and it is one you have to choose. There are good days and bad ones as a leader: successes and failures, calmness and stress. The onslaught of challenges never stops. In fact, they come at you with a velocity that is ferocious. The volume of things over which you have no control will increase daily. The only thing that you control, and that you control forever, is you and how you choose to respond to life’s events. You must decide ahead of time to be happy no matter what situation arises. Circumstances don’t determine your happiness, you do. Stay mentally focused and do not let yourself become distracted by the outside situations that you face. When your team sees you happy, determined to not let anything ruin your day, your optimism or your impact, they will learn to do the same. This will create resilience, confidence and, ultimately, more success. It will change you, your team and your workplace, forever.

4. The only measure of success that matters is yours. While judging yourself as successful by way of specific achievements is tempting, don’t succumb to this temptation because sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you will fail.  That does not mean that you are a failure.  But through failure or facing any difficult times, you will learn that you and only you can define success for yourself. Other people’s definitions of success are moving targets. Set your own target. Is it what you achieve, or how you achieve it? Is it a combination? What is the balance?  Whatever it is, remember this: Look inside yourself, not outside.

5. The ultimate reward of being a great leader is when you realize that you don’t need to be rewarded. In fact, you actually come to realize that there is a sanctity that is inherent in being a great leader.  The fact that people are willing to follow you is a tremendous honor and it carries great responsibility for being the best you can be as a human being. Only when you are relentless in your quest to be the best you can be, can you fulfill your ultimate responsibility, which is to help others do the same.  When this happens, your state of mind shifts from expecting to receive “Thank you’s” to giving them, with deep gratitude. Miraculously and happily, you realize with clarity that this is the reward in and of itself.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life and young professionals who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2013 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

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Are We Teaching Leaders The Right Things?

leadership signpostHow do you lead?

Do you lead with an open heart or closed heart? With only the end in mind or in every moment along the way? With the intention to enhance others or just yourself? With your ego or your soul? With seriousness or with humor? With bravado or humility? With greed or with magnanimity?   Mindful or mindless?  Fearful or fearless?

The Difference Between Management and Leadership

There is often confusion about the difference between management and leadership. My simple distinction is that management is what we do and leadership is how we do it.  We manage budgets, hiring processes, product releases, mergers and acquisitions and financial returns.  How we do those things defines who we are as leaders and is what has the largest impact on results.  How we lead comes directly from inside us, from our character and our values.

Are We Teaching Leaders The Right Things?

Much of leadership development focuses on what we manage. When I first became a manager at IBM early in my career I spent a week at the Management Development facility in Armonk, New York. For eight hours a day, five days I was riveted by what I was learning: performance evaluations, managing difficult employee relations issues, managing a budget and managing the process of terminating an employee should that be necessary.

When I left New York at the end of that week I knew exactly what to do as a manager. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had learned how to manage, but not how to lead. It was several years later, after continuously facing the inevitable humanity of the workplace (things like someone coming to terms with their failures, someone’s career aspirations not happening because of their fear of failure, someone’s spouse dying, someone dealing with a crisis of confidence while they were learning something they had never done before, someone’s son being diagnosed with AIDS), that I began to understand that my tool box was only half full.  The “whats” would only get me so far.

At that time, I noticed something else: I was mostly focused on tasks, not on people. I fully understood what was expected of me, what I needed to make sure got done and what measurements showed achievement or lack of achievement, etc. But the fact that all good things come only when people are willing to share their  creativity, intellect and desire was not something I understood. And I most assuredly did not understand that my role as a leader was to inspire this generous sharing, one person at a time. If I truly wanted to unlock the potential in the people that worked on my team, I had to learn to lead.

The Tao of Leadership

Later in my career with IBM I was put in charge of management development for a particular location of the company. There my understanding of real leadership was born when I received a life altering gift. I was given the book The Tao of Leadership written by John Heider by a management consultant whom I had hired to do some training for us.  I read that book and my understanding and passion for leadership was ignited. I never managed again, I led.  It was not easy. I had to come face-to-face with my own imbalances: my  fears, performance anxieties and needs of all kinds, (to be liked, to be in control) .  I had to  learn how to be silent, to be vulnerable, to stay centered even when my own buttons got pushed. 

Reading The Tao of Leadership was the beginning of my transformation from manager to leader. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching is one of China’s greatest books of wisdom. So, what is The Tao and where is it? Tao is pronounced, “Dow”. Tao means The Way. Michael Singer says it well in The Untethered Soul:  “It’s the place where there is no energy pushing in either direction. Everything has its yin and yang. The Way is the place in which these forces balance quietly.”

This is when I learned that the role of a leader is to create an environment that balances the needs of all and that this can, in fact, be done. We can balance financial, product, personal, environmental and community needs and be successful.  In the book Firms of Endearment, Raj Sisodia found that the companies that practiced these types of leadership principles out-performed the S&P 500 7:1 during a 10 year period.

What Changes Might You Expect If You Lead Instead of Just Manage?

What happened for me was that the results  that I used to try to “drive” began to happen without the stress and exertion that had characterized my previous efforts. I focused on being a vigilant observer and listener.  I learned that the volume and velocity of high quality results increased when I acted as a catalyst instead of being the one trying to do everything myself.  I began to partner with my teams instead of being their boss.  I stopped trying to have all of the answers and instead made very sure that I was asking the right questions.  And you know what else happened? I slept better, worried less, got promoted more often, laughed more and enjoyed my work more than I ever dreamed I could.

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

The ability to manage is critical for achieving goals, no question. But the difference between ordinary enterprises and the extraordinary ones  is when they are managed by leaders. We have to focus on developing both in our leaders.  

Here is how you can tell which you are developing:  Management skills are developed from the outside in: strategic planning, product road maps, budgets. Leadership skills are developed  from the inside out: empathy, self-awareness,  communication skills, inspiring others.

Learn to integrate management and leadership seamlessly and you will have found the Tao of Leadership and you will joyfully watch as your teams deliver extraordinary results.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life and young professionals who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2013 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

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3 Truths That Will Make Or Break You As A Leader

Sheila Madden, CEO, Madden Coaching & Consulting

Sheila Madden, CEO, Madden Coaching & Consulting

The Cost Of Leadership Failure

These 3 truths about leadership are important to understand not just because they make for a successful leadership career and joyful experience of work. The fact is there is a staggering  financial reality associated with poor leadership that can mean the difference between enterprise success or failure.

Research done by the Center For Creative Leadership indicates that approximately one-third of new managers and executives will fail within 18 months. The cost of those failures can be as much as 5X the executive’s salary.

The 3 Truths That Make or Break A Leader:

Truth #1: The deeper our level of self-awareness, the more effective leaders we are now and will become later. There are many of reasons for this, but the first is that when we know our strengths, weaknesses, values, goals and triggers (both positive and negative) it enables us to  make good choices about the roles we take.  We simply don’t put ourselves into a situation where we won’t be successful.

That said, even when we are successful we experience failures. That is life and that is leadership. A high level of self-awareness allows us to know exactly when we are leaning into risk: we don’t do so unconsciously. And if we fail,  self-awareness is what helps us to look at our failings honestly, taking full responsibility for our decisions and our actions. When we do this, we are able to self-correct and move forward with more wisdom, humility and commitment. This process, by its very nature, makes us better leaders and enables us to lead others through similar developmental cycles.

How do we get more self-aware?

  1. Ask for feedback
  2. Listen to it with your heart and your head
  3. Learn from it and make the right changes with integrity and commitment

Truth #2: It is all about other people, not you: We know that the better we know our customers and focus on serving them, the more successful our business is, right? It is the same with being an effective leader. The more we know the talents, strengths, hopes, dreams and aspirations of the people we lead, the better we will be at matching people with the purpose and business model of the enterprise we are leading.  If it becomes all about us, our egos, our ambitions, we spend too much time trying to control things and we can end up acting out of our own fear of failure. Most importantly, when we act as individual contributors instead of leaders,  it is not scalable because we are counting primarily on ourselves to solve problems and get things done.  A leader’s job is to create an environment where people can thrive, learn, contribute and share in success individually and as a team. If we aren’t spending most of our time doing this, there is something wrong.

How do you develop empathy?

Make it a habit to ask yourself:

  1. What is this person or group thinking?
  2. What are they feeling?
  3. What do they want to accomplish?
  4. How can I help them succeed?

Truth #3: Leadership requires more emotional intelligence than IQ: This has been studied repeatedly, originally with Harvard graduates and in other studies and the results are always the same: The people with the highest IQ are rarely, if ever, as successful in their careers or their lives as the people with high EQ (Emotional Intelligence). In fact, 3 of the top 5 reasons for leadership failure are all about a lack of emotional intelligence:

The Top 3 Reasons for leadership failure according to the Center For Creative Leadership are:

  1. Problems developing interpersonal relationships
  2. Difficulty in building and leading teams
  3. Difficulty adapting to change

These lead to the remaining 2 reasons for leadership failure:

  1. Failure to meet objectives (because they have to be achieved through others)
  2. Too narrow of a functional orientation versus having a strategic company view (because more time is spent doing rather than leading)

How do we develop EQ?

  1. Get a measurement of where you are. Do a self-evaluation ( or a have a 360 done. A great read is, Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.
  2. Work with a good coach to put together a development plan with specific leadership objectives that are tied directly to the metrics of your business
  3. Use discipline and practice to continuously develop EQ just like you would if you were training for any high performance sport. It doesn’t happen by itself.

When we choose to be leaders, we must choose wisely and understand that we are not playing  roles or filling  slots on the org chart. We are stepping into stewardship and we are responsible for the financial, professional and emotional success of others both inside and outside of the organization that we are leading.

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth companies, individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life and young professionals who are ready to launch their careers with competence, confidence and character.

2013 Copyright Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

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