|Vol. 2, No. 45
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From the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach
Leadership, Sushi & Email
A colleague of mine Bill Bergquist thought that
“leadership, sushi and email would make a good book
title so I’m trying it out. It actually has nothing to
do directly with what I’m about to write about…and
perhaps some of you may find that perturbing. Since I’ve
learned that I’m the kind of person who has to ask
forgiveness because I don’t ask for permission, I’ll say
“I’m sorry about that” now to get it over with.
AND, that brings me to my topic…emotional intelligence,
or in deference to myself, the lack of it.
The story I’m about to tell you is real, some of the
names have been changed to protect the guilty, I mean
the innocent, because I’m guilty!
Ok, here’s the deal.
For the past 7 years, I’ve realized that emotional
intelligence is a misnomer.
Most people who are using it are really failing to see
that emotional intelligence is not the right standard to
measure superior performance and I’ll try to use my own
Since early qualifying back in the late 90s for
emotional intelligence assessment work with my clients,
I first began to use the material on myself. I knew,
even at that time, that I was a perfect candidate. If it
could work with me, it could work with anyone.
Now, 7 years later, I’ll say it hasn’t worked.
Of course you could say that it’s just me and I’m sure
you could find a majority to agree. Yet here’s why this
is important beyond the disclosure of my own results.
Have you ever heard, “it takes two to tango?”
In emotional intelligence, one of the things I’ve found
out the hard way is that it is “followers that make
leaders emotionally intelligent.” Here’s what I mean.
For some people and I “are” one, our systems are wired
with a little thing called fight, usually associated
with competitive people and not uncommon to a number of
In other words, we’re limited in terms of our ability
to draw on other skills because of an underlying
motivation for a lot of things…most of which anyone who
has had some psychological training would consider
“bad.” That’s why I warn most leaders to stay away from
people who are constantly labeling people with one of
those diagnoses found in any medical billing manual.
Yikes, in my career, I’ve been labeled by many of these
people in some pathological way or another.
Quite simply, the best of us---warriors—and the worst in
us---dictatorial steamrollers are not pathologies, they
are ways of coping. Now, many people claim that we are
not emotionally intelligent. Yet, I’ll take a warrior
any day in the world we live in. No, it’s not going to
be pretty and in some cases, it’s downright alarming and
really hard on people, but there is still a place for
people wired up as warriors.
And if we warriors can keep from being “convinced” that
there is something wrong with us, we can live pretty
Yet, it won’t be by working on our selves. For the most
part, it just doesn’t work. I will say in one short
sentence that it’s damned hard to make any progress on
being anything but a warrior. And here’s the key. If you
get into a design that is NOT “emotionally intelligent”
you’ll be hung out to dry, or banished from the crowd,
believe me on this one.
Ok, word to the warriors, stop trying to change
yourselves and get yourself into a design that is
Second, to all you people who need warriors (and more
and more of you will SOON)---people who have ideas, are
willing to persist, be stubborn, passionate and full of
energy, and are NOT emotionally intelligent in the
“touchy-feely” form emotional intelligence is involving
into…then learn how to motivate and work with these
people—make them emotionally intelligent.
Here’s a real story from the heart.
This morning I was having a conversation with colleagues
about one of my latest ideas. Now, when I get one of
these and take responsibility for it, it’s an investment
for me and an attachment. Yes, yes, of course this is
“the” problem for all you analyzers, I shouldn’t get
attached. But sometimes, you just do, let’s not
psychoanalyze me, let’s just assume I’m not emotionally
intelligent and let it go at that…I agree with you.
While I was trying to relate, which might look like
fighting to some…I found myself becoming more and more
passionate about some really simple things, that in all
retrospect, are not really that big of a deal…yet,
here’s what happens to us warriors in the “battle.” And
again, yes, yes, I know it’s not supposed to be a
battle, but live inside my skin for a moment.
During the “battle” if you perceive that other people
are “battling” you, your amygdale response and threshold
heightens…leaving less and less room for conscious
choice as the reptile in us (the things that make us win
battles, i.e. warriors analogy to compete) gains a
greater hold--becoming more sensitive to triggering.
Now, the EI experts will tell you this is the beginning
of an amygdale attack as your neurophysiology puts you
into the “low road” (thalamic system) and you lose the
ability to be diplomatic, tactful,
relationship-oriented, etc. etc. by remaining conscious
in the high road (neo cortex) The warriors who have been
through emotional intelligence training know all of
this. And it’s not that we don’t want to change. Quite
frankly after the conversation this morning, I felt
deeply frustrated with my own lack of emotional
intelligence. This is not about knowing what to do and
what’s causing all this stuff, this is about being in
the grasp of your strengths…and here’s the important
When people try to “neuter” us warriors through
everything from sensitivity training to anything else
you want to put in the blank, you’re merely creating a
wash over effect that works while these people are not
attached, or if they are hellaciously lucky, surrounded
by people who have the “strengths” to understand how to
work with these people.
I know this is way too long, but if you’ve read this
far, let me say a couple more things:
1. Emotional Intelligence shouldn’t be about change, it
should be about design.
Because it takes two to tango, if one person is not
emotionally intelligent, then I can and will find
another “collaborator” who pushes this person’s buttons,
or fails to note this person’s strengths. They don’t
call us warriors because we lose! I often tell people
based on the story of the frog and scorpion. You know
where the scorpion talks the frog into giving him a ride
across the pond and then stings him part way and they
both drown? As they’re going down, the frog says why are
you killing us both and the scorpion says, “it’s just my
2. Don’t poke the shark.
To me, and I know this is probably not coming through as
clear as I wish it would, emotional intelligence is
always about “all” the people in a fight! Not just the
one everyone labels as lacking emotional intelligence.
In other words, I can show you how to take a person who
at “resting motivation” demonstrates fairly high levels
of emotional intelligence and turn them into something
that could only happen through their "bizarre"
collaboration with others. Therefore, this is not about
pulling someone aside and coaching them, this is about
coaching the entire team.
3. Blank Slate is Dead
Forget about how much or whether or not people can
learn. If you keep thinking that people can learn, if
they want to bad enough, you’ll keep making the same
mistakes with warriors and many other types of leaders.
You can’t convince me I don’t want to learn. You can’t
convince me that I am not motivated to develop emotional
intelligence. Yet, why isn’t it working for me? Am I
dumb, block-headed, or oppositional? No, I am not
willing to compromise who I am to be something which is
unnatural to me even when it means ”we” drown. For ME,
the only way I can manage this is to work with other
people who don’t trigger this in me.
Let me give you an example…the real reason I’m writing
all of this is to recognize someone who for me holds the
key to my own effectiveness because they give me the
slack I need to “rein” myself in, they don’t just keep
escalating me until I’m “sting the frog” and everybody
This morning, we’re having what I call a passionate
conversation and it’s with people who are themselves
passionate. For the most part, I just kept feeling like
I had to fight for my baby…my idea. However, something
happened during the conversation that REALLY made a
difference. One of the people who I would consider one
of the most emotionally intelligent people I’ve ever
met, knew how to get from me what was needed, without
triggering me further into the stinging mode.
When it “happened” it just completely deescalated my
state. I’ve only known one other person in my life who
had this ability…and the way they did it---just in case
anyone wants to know—was to say, “I’m with you Mike.”
Then they proceeded to make their point. They could,
like the others have continued to trade ideas, or cut me
off, or worse given me those--you're not very
emotionally intelligent looks--but even though no
competition is meant by these people, they don’t see
that they are triggering the amygdale response in an
"attached warrior"…as a cascading affect.
From that point on, “I’m with you Mike,” I began to find
ways to deescalate my own tension and gradually I came
back to consciousness. I had not known how “involved” I
was or attached I was to my idea and I was beginning to
fight for it, even though no fight was needed. I never
said the unconscious state made any sense, and it
doesn’t but it’s there, it’s triggered and it’s
This person, who I’ll call Wendy, knew what she was
doing in my view. She knew that to first side with me,
would not only cause me to stop escalating, but then I
would trigger my natural motivation to do better, to
come to my senses and to begin to self-manage. That was
all it took, just a simple “interruption” in the
process, an acknowledgement from someone I believe in
and know has mine as well as others best interests at
hand. This is inspiring leadership, both a noun and a
THIS is emotional intelligence.
Not me, but her knowing how to manage the emotions in
herself and the emotions in others…a definition of
emotional intelligence. Yet, by doing this, she allows
me the opportunity for my own emotional intelligence
training and desire to be more emotionally intelligent
You see, little things make a real difference when it
comes to emotional intelligence.
Sure, I continue to be frustrated about my own inability
to self-manage and to be more self-aware and socially
responsible for myself and the emotions and feelings of
others, but emotional intelligence takes two! Just like,
if people want warriors and need warriors, they need not
emasculate them, but allow them to use those strengths
and whatever else they can muster to contribute.
In my view, the true nature of collaboration has to be
in design, not re-making everyone in their own image.
This requires the application of emotional intelligence,
but not from where you think…but around these high-value
people who are rare and able to contribute in ways that
in a lot of cases will be less than emotionally
I hate to see what is happening in board rooms around
the country as we whittle the legs off of stars through
this seemingly required emasculation prompted by the
holy grail—emotional intelligence.
What I think works is to create the kinds of design that
are populated with people who can inspire leadership and
through that process support higher intelligence,
emotional or otherwise and learn that it takes two to
Thanks Wendy, you’re special, and I hope every warrior
can find a Wendy to help them become more emotionally
able to offer their gifts.
For those of you who want to read more about design and
get help, my book CPR for the SOUL comes out in Jan, I
hope you’ll purchase a copy.
The countdown has begun:
Mike Jay, Founder
P.S. Please visit my blog
http://www.integraleader.com/ to comment on this and
other articles about leadership.
P.P.S. Mike's private, member-only blog is available to
those who wish to join, at their own risk: http://www.ontheprofessionaledge.com/founder
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