Emotional Intelligence and Resilience with Scott Taylor Webinar

First Republic Bank
May 29, 2020

Watch a special presentation by Scott Taylor, Associate Professor of organizational behavior at Babson College. Empirical findings from converging disciplines such as organizational science, neuroscience, psychology and social psychology are reshaping what we think about leadership. This session focuses on key emotional intelligence and social intelligence competencies and how to develop them.


See below for a full transcript of the recording.

Brian Moroz:  Good afternoon.  My name is Brian Moroz. I'm a Senior Managing Director and a Deputy Regional Managing Director for First Republic Bank in New York.  Thank you all for joining us today for our special presentation with Scott Taylor.  Dr. Taylor is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Babson College, a research fellow with the Coaching Research Lab at Case Western Reserve University and a core member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.

The primary focus of his research is leader assessment and development.  He enjoys studying the various methods organizations use to assess and develop their leaders, evaluating the effectiveness of these methods and develop new methods and technologies to improve leader assessment and development.

Today we're excited to hear from him and before we start a quick housekeeping note.  Scott will take questions at the end of this session.  To submit a question, please utilize the button on the left side of the screen appropriately labeled Ask a Question.  And now, we'll turn it over to Dr. Taylor.  Scott?

Scott Taylor:  Great, thanks Brian.  Hello everybody.  I'm excited to be with you today. I've looked forward to this for a long time as I've learned more and more about your business, and in particular your organization.  As Brian and I were chatting before we went on the air, a lot of similarities between the DNA if you will of Babson College and what First Republic Bank is seeking to do and their approach to the market.

Today's topic I think is very relevant, not only in general, but also especially in the times in which we're in.  And I'm going to spend a little bit of time at the end addressing what many are calling in the press the new normal.  What does that mean for leaders and in leadership?

But before we get there, let me just share a couple of things that will often pop up in questions.  Number one, if you desire, we are going to make these slides available.  So, you don't need to feel like you have to write anything down that you see on the screen.  They'll be available to you.

What I would ask you to do, if you are viewing this sitting down, and have the screen in front of you, is grab a sheet of paper.  I believe in active learning.  And I, like you, probably attended a lot of webinars over the last several weeks.  And it's easy to do multiple things while you're listening in.  This is not that webinar.  We are going to be very active and I want you to feel like it's almost interactive. 

So, if you have a sheet of paper, there are some things I'm going to have you do that you'll need a sheet of paper for.  But to kick that off, what I'd love for you to do is think about a question or concern that has come up for you, say over the last six to eight weeks, about your leadership, or about leadership in general. 

As you think about all that we've kind of gone through over the last several weeks, a lot of times it brings up these kinds of questions.  How would I approach this? What do I do with this?  Or how am I going to confront this later on?  I'd love for you to write that question down.

Now, it's not that we will get to all of those questions.  But often in a webinar like this where I'm asking you to be active learners, rather than passive observers, a lot of times those questions or concerns get addressed by something that's said or an insight that comes to you in the process of what we're going to do together today.  So, I invite you take a moment just to write that question down. 

And lastly, I would say that I also believe, and I'm known for this on campus at Babson College for giving a lot of homework. And it's not necessarily a bad thing that the students say that.  They actually like the homework that I assign.  I'm going to do that today.  There's no due date.  So, you've got a lot of flexibility. But I'm going to give you three assignments to act.  I don't believe in kind of doing executive education where we just present a lot of interesting ideas and we feel good and move on.  I'd like a little more substance out of these experiences together.

So, I'm going to give you three homework assignments.  Now you're not in my class, so I can't hold you accountable for them.  But I will tell you this, over the last 20 years, I've been an executive coach and worked with about 300 leaders directly in a variety of organizations including many, many banks, which you're familiar with.  And none of them have come back and said these exercises that I'm going to give you today are a waste of time. In fact, quite the opposite.

Many of them have said that they have been transformational.  They've been enlightening.  They've increased their understanding in meaningful ways.  Not just in terms of their professional lives, but in their personal lives.  And you'll get a sense of what I mean by that later on.  So, I invite you to do the exercises.  And again, you'll see them in the PowerPoint deck.  But I'll also discuss them today.

So, let's kick off with the topic.  Resonant leadership.  We're going to define that in a minute.  Leading with emotional intelligence.  As Brian said, I've spent a lot of time studying emotional and social intelligence in organizations.  And looking in particular as to what are the outcomes of those who possess those capabilities.  What do they actually do as a result differently than those that don't?

So, rather than share all that research, let's just jump right into the issue.  And do that by raising a question.  What distinguishes truly outstanding leaders from those that simply occupy the role?  And what I'd like to do is actually gather some data, real data.  So, this isn't textbook that we're going to cover.  This isn't theory. This is real data, live data.  The best kind of data as a social scientist that I like to get. 

And so, we're going to collect some data. And that way we're going to do that is I would like you to take that sheet of paper and divide it into two columns.  And on the left column, I'd like you to think of someone who is an outstanding leader, a great leader.  Now, there's a couple of caveats with that before you jump to thinking about who it might be.  This needs to be someone you personally know, that you've interacted with. So, it can't be somebody from a historical perspective.  It can't be somebody you've seen on TV or you've read about.  This is someone you personally know, you've observed them, you've interacted with them, that you think is an outstanding leader.

And with that sheet of paper what I'd like you to do is jot down words, characteristics or phrases that are concrete and specific in describing what this person does.  What is it about them that makes them outstanding?  What do they do?  Use words or adjectives, descriptions, words or phrases that capture why are they outstanding to you. 

Now, before you get too far, on the other side of the paper, the other column, the right column, I'd like you to think of the opposite.  Again, someone you know, specific person you've seen, you've observed, you've even interacted with them, that you think is a lousy leader, disaster.  Better they hid under a rock and never tried to lead anybody ever again.  Specific person, someone you know.  Can't be somebody you read about, someone you've seen on TV.  And again, I'd like you to write down words, phrases, characteristics that capture why are they so lousy.  Why are they a terrible leader?

And I'm going to give you about two or three minutes just to fill this out.  I'll be quiet so you can think.  But let's describe as accurately as possible your great leader and your lousy leader in words that are emblematic of why you consider them great and lousy.  And I'll pause for two or three minutes.

Okay, here we go.  Now first of all as we report out on some of this, if you read or see or something in a chat box or I mention something, and you go, you know what, this person I was thinking of did that too.  Feel free to add it to your list.  This is where plagiarism or borrowing from your neighbor is completely fair.

What I'd like to do is have you go to the chat feature or the part where you can add in comments or questions and I'd like you just to put in, let's start with the left hand column the great leader, words or phrases that you wrote down.  Let's just get a sense of what we're looking at here.  Words or phrases that you put down for the great leader.  We'll deal with the left hand column first.  And then I'll switch us to the right hand column.

So, let's start with the great leader.  And as you're typing those in, let me just share a little bit of context to this question.  For the last 17 years, a small group of us have been asking this question all over the world. We've hit every single continent.  My colleague Richard Boyatzis is the one that went to Antarctica to work with some scientists down there.  So, I wasn't in Antarctica.  But we have hit dozens and dozens of countries.  We've talked to boards of directors.  We've talked to C-Suite lead executives.  We've talked to high school students.  I personally have been to Central and South America. I've been to Europe.  We've been doing this for a long, long time.  And we've found a pattern in the responses. 

Let's see what we've got here.  I'm just going to share with you some of what's coming up on the chat screen. You might be able to see it as well.  Compassionate. Has vision.  Possesses content expertise.  Excellent.  These are great.  Let me just read a couple more.  Connects the dots. Listens patiently. Calm, smart. Delegates.  A few more.  Authentic.  Vulnerable.  Empathetic.  These are excellent. Humble.  Listens carefully.  Humility. Fair. Non-judgmental.  Trusting.  Listener.  Excellent. These are great.  Influences others.  Checks in to see how I'm doing with a project.  Supportive. Funny.  Present.  Has integrity.  These are super.  Seeks opportunities for advancing people and projects.  Leads with heart. Models the way.  Will stand side-by-side in tough decisions.  Friendly.  Engaged. These are super.

Now I would like you to think about how did this person make you feel?  What was it to be around them?  What did it feel like?  And again, feel free to go into the chat box and just type down the emotions that you felt being around this outstanding leader.  What did it feel like to be with them?  To interact with them? Or to observe them interacting and working with others?  What did it feel like?

This will give us a sense of the impact, not just what they did, but what it felt like as a result of what they did.  Let me just share some of what's coming up.  Safe. Seed. Full of energy.  Felt cared about.  Appreciated. Heard. Proud. Inspired. Worthy. Valued.  Empowered to lead.  These are great, thank you.

Now let's go to the dark, excuse me, not the dark side, let's go to the right side of the piece of paper. And again, please go to the chat box and let's write down what did the lousy leader do?  What words or phrases did you capture to describe the lousy leader?  And please feel free to put those again in the chat box.  And we'll get a sense of the difference between these two types of leaders.  What did the lousy leader do? What did you write down as their words, phrases?

Here's what we've got so far.  Resistant to new ideas.  Uses people.  Blames others.  Bully. Never shares credit.  Judgmental.  Inconsiderate. Hostile. Disrespectful.  Authoritarian. Bully.  These are great, very specific, very concrete. Selfish. Unethical.  Does not share credit with team or others.  Liar.  Oh, my goodness, liar. Inconsistent. Lazy.  Doesn't take charge.  Indiscrete.  Difficult to work with.  Blamed others. Egotistical.  Hotheaded.  Alright, these are great.  I think we have enough to work with here.

I won't ask you how they made you feel.  Because we know from doing FMRI scans when we have people like you talking about these leaders, that it creates a stress response in your system that stays in your body for 48 hours.  So, I want to minimize the stress.  Having you simply recall them the way you have will stay in your system at least for 48 hours.  But if I have you start pondering the emotions, it gets worse.

So, with that in mind, let's take a look at what we have.  What do you notice about these leaders and the differences?  Now, when I ask young high school students or my undergraduate students I get they're the opposite. Yes, they are.  But let's dig a little deeper.  What do you notice about these two leaders?  What is it about them?

And let me tell you what we found.  In every country, regardless of industry, regardless of educational experience, regardless of years in the workforce, regardless of level in the organization, we found a very clear pattern over the last 17 years everywhere.  I don't care if you're a democracy, a socialist country, communist country, it does not matter.  We found this everywhere. 

And so what we think we captured is part of the human condition that rises above all the factors of diversity that are so relevant and important in organizations.  Here's what we found.  First of all, the outstanding leaders create an overall positive tone.  Everywhere in the world, always. Doesn't mean they don't have a bad day.  Doesn't mean they never use a curse word or lose their temper.  But the overall climate, the tone which they create is positive.

Whereas the leader on the right, the right hand column, does the opposite.  The overall environment they create is negative or hostile in terms of its emotional tone.  And you captured that.  You said that.  You talked about the emotions and they were all very positive emotions. 

Second thing we found all over the world everywhere always, for the last 17 years we've asked this question, is that the leader in the left hand column was outward focused.  In fact, their focus was you.  They somehow made a connection with you.  And we, my colleagues and I, have called that resonant leadership.  Actually coined by my co-author, friend and colleague Richard Boyatzis in a book he titled Resonant Leadership.

And we found with resonant leaders they have these two predominant characteristics, an overall positive tone and what we called synchronicity synchrony.  A connection with the other.  How did they do that?  You described exactly how they did that.  We saw in those descriptions in the chat box, vision, hope, inspiration, courage, and example, we saw all those words and many more.

And how did they create the connection?  Trust, that was one of the descriptions we saw. Empathy, we saw that.  We saw openness as well.  And many others.  Now, let me tell you what we don't often see in those descriptions of these outstanding leaders.  Very rarely, maybe 1%, one out of 100 people we survey, will say they were smart.  They were the best technical expert in their field that we've seen.  If its financial services, boy, they knew how to really analyze the data.

Now, it's not that that's not important.  It just doesn't show up.  Cognitive capability, technical expertise does not show up, very rarely, as a distinguishing factor between how we conceptualize or think about outstanding leaders versus lousy leaders.

Again, it's not that it's not important.  You're going to lose your job if you can't do what the requirements of the job are in terms of cognitive capability and technical expertise.  It's just not a differentiator between outstanding and average or even lousy managers.


What else do we see?  The leader on the right hand column has what I like to refer to as internal noise.  That cognitively, emotionally, and hormonally, and I won't talk about those in too much depth today, impair their ability to focus on you.  The negative emotion and what's going on inside of them, for a variety of reasons, impairs their ability to be outward focused.  So, where is their focus?  Inward.

Inward in terms of insecurity.  Inward in terms of a need to control you.  Inward in terms of a lack of clarity or vision or understanding of self or others.  They are literally, cognitively, hormonally, and emotionally impaired in looking outward and addressing outward needs.

So, let me shift the gears and focus a little bit on this issue of positive emotion that we said these outstanding leaders demonstrate.  We have learned a lot in the last 20, 25 years about positive emotion that's kind of shattered a little bit some of the myths and misunderstandings about leadership.

For example, the command control approach is rapidly, rapidly losing favor and influence in organizations.  Yes, you can get away with it for a short time.  These dissonant leaders, the opposite of resonant leaders, this dissonant leaders that you thought about certainly got results.  But the window of how long they can act that way to get results is quickly closing.

Years ago, my parents had lousy leaders like that, dissonant leaders. They just put up with it. They were socialized to do so.  Not so today.  I spend most of my professional time with young adults, MBA students, graduate students and undergraduate students. Their tolerance for dissonant leadership is much, much lower than mine was or my parent's was in their day.

So, what about positive emotion have we learned that's so fundamental to leadership that we're now connecting these two worlds together?  We know that positive emotions literally increase our cognitive capability compared to negative emotions.  We are more innovative and creative when we're feeling positive emotions versus negative emotion.

We know that we have an ability to see others more accurately and comprehensively, holistically, when we feel positive emotion versus negative emotion.  For example, Barbara Frederickson, and I have the quote there on the slide from her.  She's at the University of North Carolina.  Has a positivity lab.  She'll bring in groups of people and subdivide them into two groups, randomly.  And say to one group, I want you to go into this room.  And they'll go in that room.  And she'll say, Group A, you're group A. I want you to think about a positive experience you had at work or in your life over the last month. And on that notebook you've got right there, I want you to just to jot down words or phrases or experiences related to that experience that come to mind.

She'll go to the other group, you're Group B. She'll say I want you to think about a negative experience you've had at work recently or in your personal life.  And start journaling about that experience.  And write down words or phrases that capture what that felt like to you.

Then she'll bring them in front of a computer screen like this.  And she'll say to an individual, I'm going to show you five people who are groomed identically.  Same gender, same ethnicity.  And groomed and dress identically. And I want you to tell me if these are the same five people or if they are five different people.  And then she'll flash five photos very quickly.

If they come from Group A, where they've been journaling about a positive experience, over 85% of them will say these are five different people and I can tell you how they're different.  If she brings in Group B who's been journaling about a negative experience, that's conjuring up negative emotion, they'll come in and over 80% of them will say these are the same five people.  So, literally the emotions we have influence what we see and don't see.  So, positive emotion helps us see others more accurately. 

We know for example that doctors, if they're feeling positive emotion are more accurate at diagnosing the proper treatment for the patient they're seeing.  Negative emotion does the opposite.  It causes misdiagnosis, for example. So, make your doctor happy when you go in and see them.  

What else does positive emotion do?  We actually are more receptive to feedback and new ideas when we feel positive emotion versus negative emotion.  And lastly, and appropriate for our day and time, positive emotion increases our renewal capability. Our sense of renewal and rejuvenation and also helps us to be more resilient in handling the challenges we face.  Great leaders have always known this.  We just didn't have the science to explain the importance, but now we do. 

On the other hand, let's take a look at those dissonant leaders. Why do they do it? I don't believe most people wake up in the morning and say, hey I want to be an idiot today and go lead a bunch of people and make them feel bad.  So, why do dissonant leaders do what they do?

So, there's a number of reasons why and here's some that we found in our research.  Effective leaders give too much time and they don't have time for renewal.  They're sacrificing themselves on behalf of the cause, the organization, which is not bad in terms of giving your best, doing your best.  But they don't allow themselves any time for renewal.  They forego vacations.  They allude times of things that they enjoy doing for the sake of work or so forth.

Another challenge, effective leaders develop defensive routines.  So, someone tries to tell them feedback, and you're focused, you're trying to accomplish what you're trying to do, and we become resistant to that feedback and over time, it leads to us becoming dissonant.  Overall, negative tone and a disconnection from others.

And lastly, some organizations out there actually foster dissonant leadership by their policies, practices, procedures and norms and the way things are in the culture. I don't think First Republic Bank is one of those given all that I've read and those that I've talked to.  But there are banks that I've worked with that have parts of them which certainly foster dissonance in their leaders by the way that they act and treat each other.

So, here is your first homework assignment.  And this one is a reflective assignment.  And there's two parts to it.  I'm going to show you a series of questions that I'd like you to ask yourself, and you've got to be honest, put away all your biases and your tendency to maybe self-enhance, that we all have to some degree or another.  And I want you to be brutally honest with yourself in answering these questions. 

Then after you write down your responses, and I don't want you just to think about them, I want you to journal about your responses to these four questions.  I invite you then to go ask a trusted peer or an advisor or mentor or someone that you believe cares about your development.  Could be a family member, doesn't have to be someone at work. And I want you to ask them the exact same four questions about you and have them respond about you to these same four questions. 

Now, when they do respond, you need to be quiet and say nothing.  Your goal is simply to listen actively to their responses.  You can ask clarifying questions, but we're not going to debate their response.  Here's the first question.  Am I authentic and in tune with myself, others and the environment?  Resonant leaders are.  They're outward focused. 

Number two, have I done the recent work, self-work, necessary to be inner directed and outward focused? Now, if you go what do you mean by recent self-work, I'm going to give you some self-work to do.  One thing I've found about resonant leaders is that the reason why they're outward focused and can be is because they're inward directed.  They've done self-work necessary.  And not just once, back when they were in some graduate program, or when they had an executive coach 10 years ago, they do ongoing inward self-work that helps them be outward focused. And inward directed by the self-work they do.  And again, I'm going to give you some help on that self-work and what I'm talking about.

But what it does is create clarity so that they don't have that internal noise that the dissonant leader has.  They're driven by their values.  So, they know what they want. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses.  They have a vision.  They have a purpose.  And that guides them in their decision making and frees them up, cognitively, emotionally, hormonally, to be outward focused.

Question number three, do I create an overall positive tone?  If I were to come and observe you in the context in which you work and operate, in and outside of work, do you create an overall positive tone?  Doesn't mean you don't have a bad day, but overall the tone, is it positive that you create?

And number four, am I in touch with others?  Do I know what is in their hearts and minds?  Easy to do if you're resonant because you're creating that synchronicity, that connection.  If you're dissonant, or we fall into dissonance, we tend to stop thinking about that question or even investing the time and effort to become aware.

So, that's your first homework assignment.  To reflect on these four questions.  Write down your responses.  Then go ask a trusted advisor, mentor, friend, someone that cares about your development, to respond to the same four questions about you.

Well, let's dig a little deeper into how do you leaders create resonance.  What do they actually do?  And that brings us to emotional and social intelligence and competence.  Leaders who are emotionally and socially intelligent create resonant naturally.  It just happens because of the behaviors that they demonstrate and embody, by themselves create resonance and I'll show how that happens a little bit later.

But I want to drill deeper into one or two specific competencies that make up this, what we're call socially and emotionally intelligent leaders.  Let me define the term first of all.  Social and emotionally intelligent leaders are leaders who are aware of themselves.  And aware of their own emotions and the impact of their emotions on themselves and others.  And they use that awareness to effectively manage themselves.

It's not just enough to be aware.  We focused for years in management training and development and education on awareness.  We've got all kinds of tools and assessments out there to help you with awareness.  The Myers Briggs, the FIRO-B, StrengthsFinders.  All good, all helpful, but awareness is not enough.

I may be aware that I'm an idiot and just not care.  Awareness is not enough.  They also use that awareness to effectively self-manage in ways that drive superior performance. 

The second part of social and emotional intelligence is the social side.  Emotional and social intelligence is the social side.  Socially intelligent leaders are aware of others. Their strengths, their weaknesses, their values.  And they use that awareness to effectively manage those relationships.  So, that's the definition. 

I want to dig deep into one or two of these competencies that are related to social and emotional intelligence.  And let's start with self-awareness. I love to ask leaders, do you think you're self-aware? And unashamedly, I get the answer yes, I'm self-aware.  And they are for the most part.  They're aware of their strengths.  They're aware of their weaknesses.  In fact, we did a study, a graduate student of mine, where we surveyed the top 20 MBA programs worldwide.  Actually we started with the US and then we expanded it.  To see how they taught self-awareness in their leadership, management or organizational behavior classes.

And we found that they all defined, except for one program, Columbia University, self-awareness the same way.  And that was the same way we define it or see the definition in the dictionary.  Awareness of my own character, my feelings, my motives, my desires.  It's an awareness of me.  Do I know me? Do I understand me?

I like to refer to that definition as understanding your self resources.  My character traits, my strengths, my weaknesses, my motivations, desires, core values.  This is how most people out in the world today would define self-awareness.  And they're completely accurate.

If you look at most management development and leadership development historically this is how we've defined it.  The problem is in psychology there's a broader definition.  And unfortunately, in most management and leader development, historically we've ignored the second component. 

The second component of self-awareness, which has been around for over 100 years in psychology, self-awareness is also my ability to anticipate how other people experience my leadership.  Both of these components are critical.  Think about it in terms of an internal aspect of self-awareness and an external aspect of self-awareness, but both reside within in you.  And these two are absolutely fundamental to leadership and by having them, we can drive resonance. 

Well, let's play a little bit with these two very quickly.  I want to do another quick exercise.  Now, in psychology, we describe the self in multiple ways.  We use metaphors, in fact, to describe who we are.  Now, we're all one person.  It's not like we have multiple people.  We are one self.  But we use metaphors to describe the motivation and intents for what we do. 

So, let me give an example.  One self that we use, one metaphor, is the current self.  The current self is who I am today, my strengths, my weaknesses today, my identity and how I see myself today.  There's another metaphor we use called the possible self.  The possible self is who I want to, what I'm trying to become.  I can see myself as possibly doing this or doing that or I'm going to become this kind of leaders or this kind of parent.  I'm considering options. That's a possible self. 

Another self we talk about in psychology is the ought self.  O-U-G-H-T.  The ought self is what you expect me or others expect me to be.  It's who I should be, ought to be, must be to satisfy the needs or demands of others. Ought self.  It's not a bad self, it's just another metaphor.

Then there's the ideal self.  The ideal self out of all these metaphors is the least understood.  It's only been within the last few years that we've actually, in a concerted way, started to research this ideal self.  Some sprinkling of studies over history, over time, are there.  But not like what we're seeing today. There's a lot of interest in this ideal self. 

Why?  Because we found that the ideal self is directly tied to positive emotion and is a major driver for one of the most powerful forms of human motivation, intrinsic motivation.  The ought self, O-U-G-H-T, is tied to extrinsic motivation.  Trying to please others.  But this one's tied to what I call the most powerful form of human motivation which is intrinsic motivation. 

The ideal self is the aspirational self.  It's who I want to be.  Or what I want to do.  And it's not about a goal, it's about a dream.  It's about a passion. It's about a hope.  And it's easy to see young children on a playground, imagine three or four year old children playing on a playground, or maybe you have a three or four year old, they have no problem considering ideal selves.  I'm going to be this.  I want to do this.  It's dreaming.  It's imagining.  It's hoping.  And it's playful.   

The ideal self is truly our genuine desire, what we want to be or do. And again, it's not about a goal.  I want to be senior vice president of marketing at First Republic Bank. That's a goal.  If a student says to me, that's my ideal, I'll say why.  And he or she may say, well, because I want to have a large P&L, I want to be responsible for a large group of people. I want to have an impact on the business.  Why?  I'll respond. They get a little stumped a bit.  And they think a little deeper, well, because I want to make a difference. I want to make a real difference in peoples' lives. Good, I want you to go home and write about what that looks like.  The difference.  What do you mean by that?  Why do you want that? 

Now as a student does that, we're not talking about a goal anymore.  It's not practical.  It's not realistic.  It's not even necessarily achievable in terms of its specificity.  But it's a dream.  It's a hope.  It's an aspiration.  That's the ideal self.

With that in mind now, here's the exercise.  I want you to assume you have to give up your given name.  My name's Brian.  My name's Scott.  My name's Amy.  My name's Sally.  You have to give up your name.  And choose one word that describes your ideal self.  One word.  What would your one word be that captures your idea self? 

And I'd like you take that sheet of paper you have near you and I'd like you to write that one word down.  Now, as you're thinking about this, don't choose the word you think your mother wants you to choose. That's not your ideal self necessarily.  Could be, but rarely is.  That's the ought self.  I want you to choose the word that you ideally would love to be, or to do that captures your ideal self.

Now it's a little hokey exercise if you will, but let me tell you what happens when we hook leaders up to FMRI machines and watch their brains when they think about this one word and more importantly, when they share a story to describe why that word is so important to them.

It activates a network in their brain called the default mode network.  That network is directly tied to creativity, innovation and empathy.  It also lights up their para-synthetic nervous system.  The para-synthetic nervous system when it's activated lowers your blood pressure, increases your immune system, and starts to foster neuro-genesis, the creation of new neurons which increases your ability to retain and learn.

And the other thing that it does is it creates an impulse of positive emotion through the system.  And this stays in the body.  We've measured it up to five days.  And this is after a 10 to 15 minute discussion about their ideal self, one word, and stories that capture why this is important to them. 

So, it may sound like a hokey exercise, but it's extraordinary the impact on reflecting and envisioning this ideal self has on us.  Leaders are very good about helping people consider their ideal self. 

Martin Luther King gave a speech that's famous in the United States called the I Have Dream speech.  It wasn't I Have a Plan speech.  The language was very intentional.  He just didn't have the science to understand how important it was.  But if you, and I had a colleague, Anita Howard, who did this, analyzed all of the speeches that were published by Martin Luther King.  You will find a preponderance of ideal statements, positive language.  It wasn't that he was ignoring the realities of the day.  He talked about the current state, the current self if you will of the United States, but there was a preponderance of the positive over the negative and idealism over realism.  And that matters.

So, let's dig a little deeper.  Second component of self-awareness was can I anticipate how other people experience my leadership?  Well, let's dig in with a quick quote from US history.  I live in the Boston area, so I love reading about US history and trailing it here in the area. 

Here's a true story from Charles Francis Adams. Charles Francis Adams, the grandson of the second president of the United States, was a successful lawyer and member of the US House of Representatives and the US Ambassador to Britain.  Amidst his many responsibilities, he had little time to spare.  He did however keep a diary. This is a true story, by the way. One day he wrote, went fishing with my son today, a day wasted.  On that exact same day, Charles' son, Brooks Adams, wrote in his own diary, went fishing with my father today.  The most wonderful day of my life.

The ability as a leader to anticipate how people are experiencing our leadership is fundamental.  It's critical.  It's a critical aspect of self-awareness.  And in this case, if Charles Adams isn't aware of the impact of fishing with him, his son with Dad, had on his son, I highly doubt they had many more days of fishing after this.  So, that second component, anticipating accurately is important.

Let me briefly talk about empathy and then we're going to jump into some homework assignments. Two more.  Empathy we define as respecting and relating well to people of diverse backgrounds. Listening attentively.  The other, which is hard work.  But it creates shared meaning when we truly listen.  Understanding others' perspectives when they're different from our own.  Understanding the reasons for others' actions.  And reading people's moods and non-verbal cues.  That's how we define empathy.  It's not sympathy.  It's not compassion.  Empathy is really putting yourself in someone else's shoes. 

So, here is homework assignment number two.  And this one you need to do with a partner.  And that's why I want to give you these slides so that you have the ability to recall what I'm asking.  This one is an exercise that we have used a number of years and after doing it we acknowledge with the group that participated in it that we've created resonance. Overall, positive tone, connection with others. 

Here's what you do.  With a partner, again, you can do this with someone outside of work that you care about.  You're interested in their development, they're interested in yours.  Or you can do it with your direct reports.  Start with ones that you have the best relationship and trust with because they're doing to wonder why you're asking these questions.  Just say I was on this webinar with Professor Taylor at Babson College.  It's a homework assignment, please do this with me. 

Here's what you do.  I would like you to share a highpoint moment at work or in your own life. We all have ups and downs.  I want you to share a highpoint moment.  What is a highpoint moment?  It's a time when you felt the most alive, the most engaged, or some goal that you achieved or an accomplishment that really you look back and say, hey, that was meaningful and important to me.

And I don't want you just to give the Cliff Notes version, the summary version. I want you to add some color.  Help the person know what was going on.  What happened?  What did you say?  What did they say? What did you do?  Really let them see kind of the videotape of the story.

Your partner's job is to simply listen.  They're not going to one-up you. They're not going to try to interrupt you.  They're simply going to listen to your story.  Because, by the way, you're going to switch roles and they'll do the same thing. They'll tell a highpoint story.

Then I want you to share your one word with them. And give us a story as evidence.  There's millions of words you could have chosen.  You chose this one word.  Why this one word?  Tell a story to help us know what's behind the one word you chose.

When they're done, I want you to ask them to respond to three questions.  What strengths do you see in me?  Based on these two stories and only based on these two stories.  If they now you in other context, they have to draw from only these two stories. What do they think you value?  And lastly, what is one quality you admire about them?

And then I want you to switch roles.  Now, start with somebody you feel comfortable with.  So, it passes the snicker test.  The why are we doing this test.  What will happen by virtue of this exercise is you're going to create connection and a positive emotion.  Do this with a significant other.  Do this with one of your best top talented direct reports.  But what also will happen is the results of what I shared earlier, you will see each other differently.  Even if you've known each other for 20 years.  You will catch some insight into them and them into you that will be meaningful and important.  You're creating resonance. 

Now, I'm going to give you a bonus exercise, if you so choose to do it.  This is bonus homework.  But it's designed to grow both types of self-awareness that we talked about earlier.  I'll go through it quickly.  It's to create a list of strengths that you believe you have, as exhaustive as you can be.  List all the strengths, and be very specific and concrete.  I'm a people person, too general.  Be very specific.

Then I want you to identify 8 to 10 other people who know you really, really well.  And I encourage you to choose them from a variety of context, not just at work. Could be friends, could be family.  Could be community organizations that you volunteer for. People who know you well.  And you're going to ask them to respond to two questions. These questions were actually created out of the University of Michigan by some colleagues there.  They call this exercise the reflected best self exercise. So, I'm borrowing these questions from that exercise.  Reflected best self.

Here are the two questions.  And they have a follow up responses once they answer the question.  First, give me an example of a time when you've seen me make a special contribution.  To respond to that question, you ask them to tell you a story.  And then you follow it up with what distinctive strengths did you think I displayed in that story? 

Second question, give me an example of a time when you've seen me at my best.  They tell you a story when they've seen you at your best.  And then you ask them, what unique value do you think I created? 

Now, because it's positive stories, they're going to be forthcoming.  We're not asking negative information.  Your job is simply to listen.  Now, you can do this over email.  You send them the questions that I have there and they can respond to email.  You can do it over the phone.  You can do it over Zoom.  Once we have clearance, you can do it face to face, if you have proper protective equipment on. 

But there's a variety of ways in which you can gather these stories. But before you ask the questions, I want you, with these 8 to 10 people, to guess what, as a group, not individually, they will say.  In other words, the reason I'm asking for 8 to 10, and that's a minimum, is because when you ask that many people what always happens is you start to see a similarity in the responses.

Now, the stories they tell will be very idiosyncratic to their relationship with you.  But what bubbles up from those stories is the similarity. And I want you to try to predict what those stories will be.  What will they generally say?  What's the cream that rises to the top?  Patterns and themes that you see across those stories.  And by doing this exercise and them comparing your lists of strengths to what they actually said, to what you predicted, is a way to develop those two aspects of self-awareness.

So, let me summarize the homework.  First, we had the reflection questions for resonant leaders.  Second, we had the exercise with a partner around empathy and self-awareness where you're asking about a highpoint story and you're asking about a one word that would capture the ideal self.  And then you share that information with each other.  And then we had the bonus assignment.

Let me just wrap up and take questions for 10 minutes.  And before I do, in fact, please feel free to go to the chat box and start putting in questions that have popped up for you.  But I often get asked recently about what about the new normal. What should we as leaders take into account given COVID-19 and the situation we're found in?

And here are some suggestions.  First of all, it's important to create boundaries for ourselves. You can't be fully online all the time.  And so, ensure that, what happens when we go to technology like this and we're on all the time, we tend to not allow our time to step out of that.  And so, just as we would as we're working face to face, you've got to set some boundaries so that you can allow, what I call time for proper selfishness.  Where you can do your own things that you really enjoy and relaxation and renewal.

The other thing is encourage that of others.  Also, plan on working to use different modalities to connect.  Email and Zoom are not the only two ways we can connect.  Sometimes it's a lot easier just picking up a phone and having a conversation.  Especially when I'm inundated with emails, I'll often start just calling people, rather than send three or four more emails back and forth.  That change of modality is almost renewing if you will.  So, use different modalities to communicate. 

Often when we go online, we have an agenda.  And because we're so online worked nowadays, it's helpful, we often just want to get on, have the meeting and jump off.  But that's not creating those resonant opportunities if all we're focused on is the agenda. So, feel free, and I encourage you, to jump online and if it's an hour long meeting, make it an hour and 20 minutes where you just spend 20 minutes talking about how everybody's doing and what's going on and what's exciting that's happening. Because we need to build in the relational opportunity if we're only relying on technology as a way to connect.

Focus on what you can control. Too often we think I've got to get all of these things done and here's the outcome that's needed.  Special Forces training often has people realize the outcome, but just work on what you can do today.  It sounds simple, but even with Special Forces if we focus on the desired outcome, we often get lost.

And then resilience is not something we have.  I find that it's something that we have to go build and find ourselves.  So, let me be quiet and turn to some questions.

If you've got some, Brian, go right ahead.

Brian Moroz   Sure, Dr. Taylor.  I've got a couple we've pulled here for you.        First of all, thank you so much.  I feel like we could spend all day on this.  Really an outstanding presentation. Before we jump into the questions, just an observation.  And I feel confident I'm speaking for the hundreds of people on the call, this is just a great reminder that leadership does matter. 

When you had us list the strengths and the characteristics of strong leadership, and contrast those with what we would consider not so strong, I was actually very surprised at the emotional response both good and not so great that was elicited within myself as I listed those characteristics.  And just how impactful one way or another people can be on you from a leadership perspective.  So, just really a great exercise.

The first question I have for you, Dr. Taylor, in terms of leadership, and I've always struggled with this question internally. How much of true resonant leadership would you say is innate versus learned?

Scott Taylor:  I love that question.  I believe resonant leadership is completely developable.  We know for a fact that emotional and social intelligence is developable.  Those competencies are developable. 

Here's the way I like to answer the question. If you can visualize a board and I write the word Made on the chalkboard.  So, developed, not innate.  Excuse me, that is innate, Made is innate, that's the genetic side.  And then I draw a line under Made and I wrote underneath Born.  Actually, I'm confusing everybody.  So, the Made is the develop and on the bottom is the Born.  So, that's the innate, the genetics. So, Made Born.

What am I able to control?  Can develop into?  On the top and on the bottom is the Born piece.  The innate piece. Then I ask students this question and I ask everybody this question. How much of leadership do you believe is made versus born?  And I wrote it as a ratio, numerator denominator.  So, I want a percentage.  And people don't like to do this, but finally I force it and I'll get everything under the sun.

Oh, it's 70% born and it's 30% made.  In fact, I was with 100 doctors once and 100 lawyers in the same room and they got into a heated one hour discussion about this question.  Then I say this to the group, look, we know that there are innate parts of it that matter.  Charisma, for example, is a personality trait.  Hard to develop.  Extroversion, introversion, are personality characteristics.  Hard to develop.  And so they tend to be more innate and we see those manifested early in childhood.

But I wrote it as a numerator.  Let's assume that that made piece is infinite.  In other words, what is the restraint or what is the cap on human potential?  We have no idea.  When we think we've figured it out, it gets blown away by some new statistic in terms of human performance. We don't know what the limits of an individual are. 

So, if it's infinite, you have an infinite numerator and a fixed denominator.  Because, yes, many of those characteristics of leadership and of human performance are fixed.  Our height, for example, is fairly fixed. Then you divide that denominator into the numerator, what's the outcome? And this group, better than some that I speak to, know.  The outcome is infinite.

So, yes there are aspects of leadership that are innate. Resonant leadership is not one of them. But we can, what you think about that numerator matters more than anything.  Both about you and others.  In other words, if you think you're fixed or you think others are, and can't change or develop, then we've already capped it.  And so instead I like to think about leadership as becoming and we don't know what the limits are.  Especially as it relates to the topic today which are developable characteristics. Great question.

Brian Moroz   Excellent, excellent answer.  It's a journey indeed.  Next question here is what can I do as a manger to help my direct reports grow to be resonant leaders themselves?

Scott Taylor:  Well, first of all we've got to demonstrate a model. That is one of the most powerful ways. When direct reports see and envision an example of those characteristics, the things we've been talking about.  So, as you create an overall positive tone, they learn how to create an overall positive tone.  As you spend the time and effort to make connection, they'll spend the time and effort.  They're observing that from you.

Human emotion is highly, highly contagious.  Resonant leadership and dissonant leadership are highly, highly contagious.  As we see it, we emulate it, or it affects us. Either we run from it or we start to emulate it.  So, first exemplify it.  

Second of all, give people the opportunity to share with you what it is about their ideal self. What is it about their visions and aspirations?  As you have those conversations, and these exercises help to do that, that connection builds.  And they then, through practice, gain that capability.  So, create some of these discussions.  Take time out of a staff meeting to ask the opening conversation we had today about great leader/lousy leader.  And have them reflect on the impact those resonant leaders had on them is another way to help them develop it.

So, it's practice.  Leadership is practice.

Brian Moroz   Great. Thank you.  And one last question here as we're approaching the top of the hour.

You alluded to this perhaps a little bit when you came to the, initially talking about the description of good leadership.  What would, in your opinion, what's the most common misconception about strong leadership?

Scott Taylor:  The strongest misconception is that, there's a couple.  But probably that leaders are born not made is a myth.  That you need to be charismatic.  That is just not the case. In the US, we like charisma. Certainly more than you would see in other countries. But I would rather think that we need to be resonant, not necessarily charismatic.  Charismatic leaders make us feel good and they give us hope.  But resonant leaders can do that as well.

Another strong misconception is that compulsion and command control are okay to do when, as a kind of a motis operandi when we're in difficult circumstances or we're under stress or we need to get some outcome quickly.  Those will engender four responses, resistance, rejection, rebellion and revolution in that order always.  And so, compulsion, for example, should be avoided at all costs. 

Now, there are times when, yes, we've got to come in strong and have that command approach.  But we should be careful when we do.

Brian Moroz   Excellent.  Thank you so much, Dr. Taylor.  I regret that we're at the top of the hour.  Like I said, this is a topic that we could spend a lot of time on.  But certainly impactful for this group. We appreciate you spending the time with us and we thank you, everyone, for joining. And Dr. Taylor, we wish you and yours a great Memorial Day weekend.

Scott Taylor:  Thank you very much.  Take care everybody.  Take care.  Thanks, Brian.

Brian Moroz   Alright, see you.  Thank you.

The guest speaker(s) is neither an employee nor affiliated with First Republic. Opinions expressed by the guest speaker(s) are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of First Republic.