Category Archives: About thinking

First manage yourself, then manage others

A client of mine lost her temper with her assistant. She was stressed and tired, and, sooner or later, it was bound to show in her behaviour. As lost tempers go it probably wasn’t very high up the scale – it was more of a momentary lapse of control, a sharp word, some cynicism, a snarl.

But the damage had been done. Months of building a working relationship had been destroyed.

What a waste!

Many people are elevated to be managers without proper training. And, much of what managers are taught is designed to help them direct and support their staff, to motivate staff and bring about effective and productive working. Little or no attention is paid to the skills managers need to manage themselves!

A manager’s emotions can have a profound impact on staff morale, working relationships, and ultimately productivity.  Think about how you have been managed or want to be managed – remember the difference between being managed by someone who is happy or sad, passive or aggressive, resistant or compliant, supportive or indifferent.

Understanding emotions, knowing how and why they ‘happen’, how they affect behaviour and relations with others, is an essential skill for a good manager. One way of improving this skill is offered by the concept of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is ‘the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions’. The American psychologist Daniel Goleman has developed the concept in relation to work and working with others. Goleman proposes that we should have two broad sets of competencies – personal competencies through which we manage ourselves, and social competencies through which we handle relationships with others.


These are Goleman’s suggested competencies for a manager/leader.

Personal competences – self-awareness and self-management

Emotional self-awareness – the ability to recognize our emotions as well as understand their impact on our behaviour, relationships etc.

Accurate self-assessment – a realistic evaluation of our strengths and limitations.

Self-confidence – a strong and positive sense of self-worth.

Self-control – the ability to keep destructive emotions under control.

Trustworthiness – a consistent display of honesty and integrity.

Conscientiousness – the ability to manage ourselves and our responsibilities.

Adaptability – skill at adjusting to changing situations.

Social competences – social awareness and social skill

Empathy – skill at sensing other people’s emotions, understanding their perspective, and taking an active interest in their concerns.

Organisational awareness – the ability to read the currents of organisational life, and navigate workplace politics.

Developing others – the ability and propensity to improve the skills of others through feedback and guidance.

Communications – skill at listening and at sending clear, convincing and well-tuned messages.

Influence – the ability to wield a range of persuasive tactics.

Change catalyst – proficiency in initiating new ideas and leading people in a new direction.

Conflict management – the ability to defuse disagreements and orchestrate resolutions.

Building bonds – proficiency at cultivating and maintaining a network of relationships.

Teamwork and collaboration – competence at promoting co-operation and building teams.


It’s obvious that we all have at least a degree of emotional intelligence – we can sense our own emotions and see emotions in others etc. As a way of improving (we can always improve!) your own emotional intelligence, read through the list again and start to:

  • think about your own level of competence in these areas
  • become aware of some areas where you have competencies you hadn’t noticed, or areas where your competencies need to be improved
  • think about the impact of your emotions on your relationships with people in both your private and work life
  • ask others (staff, colleagues, your own manager, friends and family) for their thoughts.


I run workshops for those new to management or those who have been managers for a while but have never had any proper training. The workshops include an introduction to emotional intelligence. I also deal with emotional intelligence in my one-to-one coaching sessions. For more information email me at or phone 07932 657925.

This list of competences is taken from Daniel Goleman, Leadership That Gets Results, Harvard Business Review, March-April 2000.

You have three brains, this is how to use them

Did you know that your gut contains a neural network that can learn, store memories, and perform complex processes. It sends and receives nerve signals and has every type of neurotransmitter found in your brain. In other words, your gut is a brain!

If that’s not enough of a surprise, neuroscientific research has found that the heart also has a sophisticated neural network and functions in a similar way. So, you have three brains.

Working with these findings and adding some behavioural modelling, researchers have now started to identify how our brains work together, and how each has its own specialisms. It seems that our three brains each have specific forms of intelligence and intuitive functions. Uncannily, the findings are starting to point to specialisms that confirm what we’ve experienced intuitively and expressed as our ‘heartfelt feelings’ and the ‘having the guts’ to do something – plus ‘thinking things through’ in our heads.

It seems that our heart brains play a major role in the processes that we experience as emotions and our connections to others. Our gut brains play a similar role in our sense of self and in self-protection. As we’ve known for a while, our head brains are great at the cerebral activities, like reasoning and language.

There also seems to be a significance in how we use our brains together, with research suggesting that there’s a neurologically preferred sequence that uses their individual strengths. In decision making, for example, the most effective sequence is (1) to start with the heart to see how a possible decision or choice or solution feels. If it feels positive, (2) employ the head brain to work out how to follow through and achieve our goal. Then (3) check things with the heart again to see if things still feel right. Finally (4) use your gut, go or it, draw on the courage that flows from your sense of self and self-preservation.

Another spin-off from this research is a re-thinking of the role and attributes of good leaders. Good leaders must use the strengths of their three brains. They must use their hearts to engage with colleagues and customers, lead through connection, rapport and bonds, not from a position of power and authority. They must use their heads to think creatively to see new possibilities, and rationally to devise strategies, plans and goals to deliver these. And, use their guts to provide the courage and determination to lead from the front and follow through.


For more information on the three brains see:

Neuroscience andthe Three Brains of Leadership, Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka –

Head, Heart & Guts – How the World’s Best Companies Develop Complete Leaders, David L. Dotlich, Peter C. Cairo, Stephen Rhinesmith –

Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff, Grant Soosalu, Marvin Oka –


If you want to know about what I do and how I might help you, your colleagues or your organization, contact me on 07932 657925 or

Telling porkies

I’ve been thinking about personal values.

Even if we don’t articulate them, we live by a set of implicit values. They are the principles by which we behave, expect others to behave, and by which we make decisions.

It’s good to be explicit about values, even if it’s just to ourselves, because it means that we are clear about them and can more easily live by them.

Today a woman phoned from what I believe was an India-based call centre. She called herself Janet and claimed to be from the ‘shop’ attached to my mobile phone network. She was offering a new handset but wanted me to verify my contract details first. I said that if she was from my network she’d know these details. I asked her for her phone number, she gave me a false number. She was, of course, fishing for information!!

A while ago I bought a new car on credit. A day or so later I got a call from the finance company offering me credit protection. The caller quoted me prices based on their gold and platinum policies. I got him to admit that there was also a bronze option. He said he couldn’t give me details of this, and that if I wanted a policy I’d have to choose gold or platinum. He was, of course, lying so that I’d buy the more expensive option.

I’m hoping that both of these people are now covered with sore boils.

And, I’m wondering about their values, and the values of the companies they work for.

Bluffing, lying, deceiving, being economical with the truth, call it what you like, it certainly goes against my values. It gives business, and sales people in particular, a bad name.

There are lots of good honest people in business, it’s a real shame that there are also quite few who think its ok to lie.

What are your values?

If you want to know about what I do and how I might help you, your colleagues or your organization, contact me on 07932 657925 or

Asset-based thinking

Asset-based thinking focuses on opportunities rather than problems, strengths rather than weaknesses, what can be done instead of what can’t. I love the optimism and positiveness of this.

Some asset-based responses:

What is possible? (rather than – That’s impossible.)
What’s done is done. Move on. (rather than – Whose fault is that?)
What am I learning? (rather than – What’s wrong with me?)
How can I get around this? (rather than – That’ll never change.)
What makes him tick? (rather than – He’s out of his mind.)

For more information check out
(it’s American, so try to see through the slight cheesiness!)