As Easy As Falling Off A Horse

What if learning to effectively manage, motivate and inspire people were as easy as falling off a horse?

More specifically, what if mastering those crucial leadership skills involved walking beside that horse, learning to dance with that horse, becoming more horse-like over time?

Well, then, you’d be in good company: Because throughout history, the most courageous, innovative, sometimes confoundingly influential leaders—from Alexander the Great, the Buddha and Genghis Khan, to Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth II, and Ronald Reagan—were dedicated horsemen and women. And what did they exercise in the company of horses? That crucial “other 90 percent:” all those elusive, nonverbal skills that strengthen leadership presence, poise under pressure, charisma, endurance, and the sheer power to inspire and influence others.

Regardless of policy and agenda, these men and women exhibited exceptional courage, conviction, and clarity of intention with a marked talent for motivating large populations to endure the discomfort and uncertainty involved in creating innovative empires and/or significant social change. In essence, they exhibited high levels of what we now call Emotional and Social Intelligence.

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The Tragedy Of Unresolved Feelings

As a leader in any organization—be it work, school, church, community/political endeavors, or family life—you’ve experienced the challenges of motivating others to get things done. As a student, employee, or volunteer in a non-commercial organization, you may have felt powerless when you weren’t making the impact you’d hoped to—and you couldn’t quite figure out why.

When left unresolved, these feelings can’t help but intensify into a tangled mass of disappointment, agitation, frustration, anger, blame, and betrayal, as well as other disempowering emotions such as shame, guilt, boredom or apathy. Over time, this leads to a toxic work or home environment where increasing confusion, disillusionment and resentment are expressed through sarcasm one minute, icy silence the next, and, on occasion, outright shouting matches that damage relationships, sometimes irreparably.

Even if your motive is pure profit, there’s no denying this dynamic effects the bottom line at work, costing a fortune in job turnover, ineffective management, lack of teamwork, careless yet expensive mistakes, and, most insidiously, people who simply “retire in place.”

But here’s the real tragedy: It doesn’t have to be this way!

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Have you ever seen a parent listlessly tell a child to “clean your room or else,” with absolutely no result? Have ever you asked for space in a relationship and had someone become even more invasive?

How many times have you heard a co-worker agree to spearhead a committee or accomplish a simple task—only to “drop the ball” at a crucial moment? How often have you felt covertly, or even overtly, undermined by an employee, colleague, supervisor, friend, or family member who insisted he or she was “on your side?”

This irritating, seemingly irrational behavior makes perfect sense—when you understand that what we’re saying to each other is icing on the cake compared with everything else we’re thinking, feeling, and unconsciously communicating. Studies show that during interpersonal encounters, only ten percent of human communication is verbal.

The Other 90 PercentYet in our increasingly fast-paced, technological culture, we’ve virtually become mesmerized by words as our social and educational systems teach us to neglect the nonverbal dimensions of experience. Cell phones, email, and text messaging, though incredibly convenient, further compromise our effectiveness over time as entire populations voluntarily—and unnecessarily—accept the limitations of a machine-like existence, ignoring powerful stores of nonverbal wisdom, the “other 90 percent” that arguably makes us human.

Even more disturbing for those with leadership aspirations, over-reliance on verbal communication causes accomplished, well-meaning, well-educated people to ignore the key to advanced personal and professional success: Namely that the behavior, facial expressions, body postures, feelings, commitment, intuitions, and energy/enthusiasm (or lack thereof) behind our words can either add immeasurable power to the simplest requests or seriously undermine the most eloquent speeches.

What difference would it make in your life to learn the nonverbal wisdom of the “other 90 percent”?

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Ignore Emotional Intelligence At Your Peril

Ignoring Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in the Workplace Can Cost You…

Time and Money

    • The US Air Force selected recruiters with high EQ, resulting in a threefold increase in the number of recruits while generating a savings of $3 million annually.
    • When L’Oreal hired sales people with high EQ, they proceeded to generate an average of $91,307 more per year, resulting in a net increase of $2,558,360 the first year. They also showed 63 percent less turnover during that time period, representing significant savings for the company.
    • A large beverage firm noticed that half of newly hired division presidents left during the first year, usually due to poor performance. When the company hired presidents based on EQ competencies, the turnover rate dropped to six percent, and the new hires outperformed their performance targets by 15 to 20 percent.
    • A manufacturing plant instituted training in emotional competencies such as listening and helping employees solve problems. The results: Time lost due to accidents plunged by 50 percent, and the plant exceeded productivity goals by $250,000.
    • A medical malpractice insurance company analyzed doctors most likely to be sued. Researchers found they could predict with accuracy based on tone of voice alone: Doctors who sounded dominant were at highest risk for lawsuits, regardless of intelligence, training and years of experience. The vast majority of those who sounded concerned were not sued—even when they made significant mistakes.

Professional Advancement

A UC Berkeley study followed 85 Ph.D. candidates in various scientific fields over a 40-year-period, assessing two critical career outcomes: Prestige in the person’s chosen field of science and overall level of professional success. The study concluded that high emotional intelligence was four times more important in determining success than raw IQ and training.

As Bob Wall, author of Coaching For Emotional Intelligence and Working Relationships likes to say, “IQ and training get you in the arena, EQ helps you win the game.”


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