Where it begins: emotional intelligence for leadership.

EI flowchart

When I started out in one of my first positions in an organization as a Psychologist, it wasn’t long before the chief exec asked me for a favor.  “I have two people on my management team who I’m concerned about.  They joined my team about a year ago – and their enthusiasm for the job seems to have changed.  Dr. Helvig – I’m not sure what it is, but I was wondering if you could just spend some time with them figuring out what’s going on?”  Of course I agreed.  Without going into detail, both team members were having some personal issues that complicated their involvement on the job.  After some discussion – meeting with each of them individually a few times – things improved significantly both on and off the job.  The exec who called me in pulled me aside sometime later and thanked me.  She said, “You know how you just get that feeling when something’s not quite right?  I just didn’t know what to say to them, and it didn’t even feel like it was my place.  It was so much easier to leave it up to you!”

Kudos aside, what I heard the chief exec saying was that in management it can be very difficult to help people navigate their work and personal lives.  However, the two go hand in hand.  Whether you’re the boss or a colleague, you likely need your staff and peers to be on top of their game for things to run smoothly.  In the case above, personal and emotional issues were impacting leaders’  behavior – and when 2 out of 6 leaders at the top of an organization are not on their “A” game there can be some damaging turbulence in the environment.

Now, you’re probably wondering what worked with those 2 leaders who had fallen off track?  A few of my posts in the coming months will provide more insight, but the short answer is that we developed their skill set in the area of Emotional Intelligence.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Leading business thinkers have spent decades examining factors that impact leadership:   Overall IQ (intelligence quotient), cognitive processing, cognitive flexibility & adaptability, ability to navigate new and/or complex situations, managing ambiguity, personality traits, etc.  And while we know that pieces of all of these factors affect leadership and the ability to lead, emotional intelligence has emerged in recent years as an essential aspect of effective leadership.  Not to be a spoiler, but emotional intelligence (unlike other traits that are more static) can be be learned and significantly improved with willingness and commitment to skill development.

Let’s talk more about emotional intelligence and leadership.  It can be the one thing that boosts you (or someone on your leadership team) from being an average leader to becoming an outstanding executive!

Whether you are a board of directors hiring a new chief exec – or a chief exec hiring new leadership – know your candidate’s skill set in the area of emotional intelligence.  It’s essential.  Remember how costly a poorly-fit new hire can be (see earlier posts)?


Until next time,

Dr. Todd

5 Steps to Help You Find Your Passion and Identify Your Dream Job

As a Ph.D. licensed clinical psychologist and certified professional coach, one of the favorite services I provide in my practice is career coaching. Some clients come to me because their job is no longer a fit for them, and common phrases I hear are “I can’t stand one more day of corporate” or some variation of “this job is sucking the life out of me.” Reasons for staying in the job are often due to stability, financial gain, and many times, fear of the unknown. There’s something to the saying, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t,” so people sometimes stay in unsatisfying jobs, relationships, etc. due to the belief that “it could always be worse.” That is surviving, rather than thriving, and my goal is for people to thrive in every aspect of their life.


Medium Career Compass

Some clients who see me already know exactly what they want, which ranges from starting their own business to getting into real estate. I’d estimate those clients are about 40% of my clientele. More often than not, I hear some variation of “Help, I’m [insert age] and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”  They know they want to do something different, but aren’t sure what exactly that is. Some fell into jobs based on opportunity, parental or familial expectations, or preconceived notions rather than identifying what they wanted to do with their life. They operated more from a “should” versus “want” mindset.

In terms of our generation, we’re very fortunate that we have more freedom to explore what we want versus the survival mode of generations past. As I’ve worked with people from ages 20 through 70, I can say with certainty that it’s never too late to find your dream job. However, most people carry fears and blocks of what they think is possible for them, and part of coaching is to explore and challenge these limiting beliefs. One of my favorite quotes is courtesy of Henry Ford:

 “Whether you think that you can or think that you cannot,

you are right.”

So many of our challenges in life are mental, rather than physical, and it’s so rewarding to see people move out of their comfort zones by changing how they think, and then experience personal growth. Coaching in these cases starts with clarifying the individuals’ strengths and passions. I often use a combination of personality and career inventory assessments with clients, as they help to identify potential ideal jobs based on a combination of personality traits (e.g. introvert versus extrovert), and job skills and interests. However, even if you’re not working with a career coach, there are still steps you can take to help you clarify your next career move.  I recommend starting with what you’re passionate about, but what if you’re not sure where your passion lies?

Finding your Passion

Here are a few ways to unlock your potential dream job or career. Take a pen or pencil and answer the following questions honestly. This is important, rather than doing it by computer or tablet, as handwriting has been shown to activate different parts of the brain than typing. There are no right or wrong answers, so write as much as you like, and in any form you like (bullet points, sentences, phrases, etc.)

1. What are your hobbies? When do you feel so involved in something that you lose track of time? The definition of a hobby is: an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. It’s something done due to the love of doing it, rather than a secondary gain. Some potential responses might be: when I’m gardening, skiing, rock climbing, reading, woodworking, playing with my children, or fixing a car. You get the idea but feel free to brainstorm here – you will probably come up with more than one answer, which is great.

I’ll share my own personal story here too: I write sci-fi and fantasy novels for fun. When I started several years ago, it was purely for the love of doing it and I had no idea anything would come of it. Fast forward several years, and I have several published sci-fi novels through a New York publisher and am a regular speaker at Comic Con. My novel writing is different now, because it’s part of my business, which I love, but turning a hobby into a business isn’t for everyone.

2. What skills do you have that you feel set you apart from others? This could be having an amazing aptitude with numbers or being someone who easily makes new friends. If this question is hard for you, think about the last time you got a compliment. Has someone told you that you’re an outside the box thinker, creative, a great cook or that they admire your homemade curtains? Did someone ask you where you got that awesome table or bookcase only to find out that you made it? NOTE: Don’t discount a skill based on not liking an aspect of it. For instance, if you are great with numbers, but didn’t enjoy being an accountant, it doesn’t mean there isn’t another great fit for you involving numbers.

3. Write down your ideal work day. Don’t focus on what the actual job involves (seriously). First, just close your eyes and visualize what your perfect day would look like, and most importantly, feel like. What type of co-workers do you have (motivated, excited, creative, etc.)? What is the relationship of your boss like (or are you the boss?) If you prefer autonomy and don’t like to be micro-managed, then visualize a supportive and accessible boss who encourages your independence. What does the environment look like (bright open space, cubicles, office with door, outside, frequent traveling to different cities, etc.)

When you feel really happy like it almost feels real to you (and you’re smiling), then you’ve succeeded and have tricked your brain, so now you can open your eyes. Jot down everything you loved about this visualization. I’ll do another post soon about the power of visualization exercises and research about how they impact the brain. One powerful exercise I do as a follow-up with my clients is to examine how close or how far this ideal day is from their current work experience.

4. When you surf the internet, read books, or browse magazines, what are you drawn toward? Do you love going to travel sites, or do you prefer reading current news or the latest thriller, romance, or military novel? Clarifying your interests helps you to identify your passions.

 5. What would you be doing right now if money were no object? What would you be doing if money did not matter at all to you? Even if your first inclination is to say “nothing,” think past that honeymoon period of sitting on the couch playing PS4 or binge-watching Game of Thrones. People thrive when they feel they are living up to their full potential. Would you start your own charitable foundation? Your own business? Would you travel the world and experience new cultures? Move closer to family or loved ones?


Now, go back through all of your responses and read them again. Highlight or circle any common themes, words, or ideas. These repetitions give clues as to potential career ideas. Keep in mind that there is usually not one perfect job out there for you (just like there’s not one perfect partner), so you’re just opening yourself up to possibilities at this point. Hopefully, this has given you some food for thought in your journey toward a new career.

Next time, I will go over some of the incredible power of visualization exercises in your career (whether you want to change careers or simply move to the next level in your current career).

Until then…:)  Kristi

Top 5 reasons companies avoid executive assessments for hiring, executive leadership development, and executive coaching

After taking a close look at why organizations either don’t consider – or look past – executive leadership assessment, development, & coaching, we took a few minutes to highlight some reasons we’ve uncovered, capped with our frank responses (in bold/italics). In reverse order, the top 5 are:

#5 – You just can’t see the reasoning behind it. You (and perhaps a colleague or two) started this business and knew what you wanted to accomplish. Now the organization has grown and you’re seeing expenses related to personnel increasing exponentially with increased cost across your financial spreadsheet. However, as a CEO or top exec you don’t have the time or energy to look into the issue. Your small but manageable HR department needs to manage it.

Unfortunately, there are often hidden costs in the expense of personnel included in the hiring, training, managing, and retention of employees. If you don’t have a good idea of what those costs are, why your turnover is growing, and how talent is being vetted and/or developed – then there’s a good chance that valuable time, energy and MONEY is flying out the window – only evident on your financial spreadsheet as “personnel expense.”

#4 – You have a COO (or another exec level staff member) you can trust. Luckily there’s someone close to you and/or the organization who you trust, and that makes them a great candidate for COO. Why spend money to assess, vet, and hire an executive with a talented skill set when that friend of yours is available now?

We’ve seen this time and again. Believe me when I say it’s more common than anyone would care to admit. Unfortunately, while this may feel like a good “gut” move, the consequences of hiring the wrong person for a high level job are huge. While most industries are volatile enough that it’s hard to predict what’s coming one or two years down the road, a solid skill set for leadership and management can be spotted through the right lenses. As can a potential flop. Why spend a million dollars or more over the next 2-3 years on the wrong exec, when you can spend a fraction of that to get it right the first time?

#3 – You’ve already hired your executive team, and you’re going to stick by them no matter what. Sure times were different when you built your team, and organizational needs may have changed, but you’ve got to “stick to your guns” and “ride it out.”

People change. Times change. Organizational demands, obstacles, and capabilities change. In order for any business to adapt as the economic landscape changes, your approach – and the approach of your exec team – have to adapt as well. What worked 10, 5, or 2 years ago may be an outdated approach that is costing your organization its valuable resources. Often a fresh, authentic perspective on what your current culture looks like can be invaluable. With the right talent acquired (or developed from within) you can become a consistent leader in your industry.

#2 – You can’t convince yourself, your board of directors, or your current execs that spending the money to hire the right executives, leadership, organizational development program, or coaching will be profitable.

Yes, this is a problem. You need to know the facts about where your organizational structure currently stands, what the organizational culture is, and what type of return on investment you’ll get. However you won’t uncover these facts unless you use an independent, objective, knowledgeable lens to dig down, examine, and make concrete recommendations about where necessary interventions can be made. This leads to…

#1 – Nationally, there are thousands of companies that provide organizational leadership, organizational development, organizational improvement, and executive coaching options. It’s hard to know where the dollars spent on this engagement will be used efficiently and effectively to truly recommend what’s best and be able to assist in the evolution of your company.

This is (unfortunately) true – and caution is warranted. There are no guarantees in hiring organizational consultants, and hiring the wrong group for your company can be costly as well. However, you can look at credentials, experience, and fund of knowledge as benchmarks for what you’ll get. As is common sense, never pay for someone or something with which you haven’t had a chance to develop a true relationship. Call, meet in person, ask questions, and get a sense of who you’re dealing with. Do they have the credentials to use top level assessments in their recommendations? Are they personable and genuine in their approach? Is this simply their job – or do they actually care about your organization enough to make even the toughest recommendations?

Here at Prosperity – our goal is to be your #1 resource in answer to all 5 of these concerns. We DO believe that our services are important, and that by building a relationship with you and your organization we will be the best investment you can make for today, tomorrow, and years to come. We are licensed Psychologists with 30+ years of experience working in and around all kinds of organizations (and individuals) that strive to improve and evolve as the times demand. We will be there for you too.

Give us a call @ 720.612.0244 – and let’s set up a time to chat about where you’re at, and where you’re going.  Executive assessment, executive leadership development, organizational development, and executive coaching are where it’s at!