Building Emotional Intelligence Competencies

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Dr. Relly Nadler: This week we have Dr. Ed Nottingham as our guest on Leadership Development News. We’ll be discussing building emotional intelligence competencies in the corporate world. Dr. Nottingham has been using emotional intelligence in the corporate world for quite a while. We’ll get his expertise of exactly what he’s doing that seems to be working especially around bringing this idea of being a top performer using emotional intelligence to the work place.

He has been a colleague of mine and Cathy’s for probably about the last 8 years or so. After 26 years of successful practice as an individual practitioner in clinical psychology, Ed decided to move from private practice to corporate America. Since 2003 he has worked for large corporations in different positions including leadership consultant and trainer, and also as a development partner, HR advisor, and a leadership coach.

Currently, Ed is with FedEx Services. His position there is a HR Project Manager where he also does executive coaching as a leadership coach. He focuses on helping develop a coaching culture developing leader coaches through coaching courses and workshops for leaders at all levels as well as coaching the coaches and executive coaching.

FedEx has consistently been recognized on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to work for in America. It was recently ranked #12 on the Fortune’s Most Admired Companies list; one of the most widely respected assessments of reputation; it’s very challenging to get top notch on those lists. It’s usually based on such factors as innovation, social responsibility, people management, and valued as a long-term investment. FedEx has made the top 20 list every year since 2001, so that is quite an accomplishment.

FedEx Services  was recently recognized with a top 10 placement in the Leadership 500 Awards program. In 2013 the group was recognized for leadership programs for both individual contributors and leaders.

Aside from what he is doing at FedEx, he is a psychologist and he and I have been together at many psychology conferences. One of the things that he has done–very few psychologists perhaps less than 10%–is gone through this rigorous process of being board certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology. He has ABPP, it’s called, in three areas: Organization and Business Consulting Psychology, Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology, and Clinical Psychology.

Ed, welcome to the show!

Dr. Ed Nottingham: Thanks. It is such a privilege and honor to have this opportunity to be with you this morning because you know I am such a huge fan of both of you.

Dr. Relly Nadler: You may be our biggest fan. So we so appreciate you. Aside from being a superb trainer and psychologist, with three different board certifications, Ed has a book that is called, “It’s Not as Bad as it Seems: A thinking, straight-up approach to happiness.” It’s revised and expanded and you can get it at Is there another place, Ed, that they can also purchase it?

Dr. Ed Nottingham: Actually, I think is probably one of the best places to get it.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Who have been some of your major leadership influences? This is usually a question we ask to get insight into who has been behind the man of Dr. Ed Nottingham.

Dr. Ed  Nottingham: Well, you know it’s funny, because like many of your guests, I have to say my parents have been significant leadership influences. My father was a minister and he was one of those people who led by example throughout his life. His behavior was always consistent with his words. My mother exemplified servant leadership. She worked behind the scenes to support my father. She never wanted to be in the spotlight, she never had any interest in that, but she had such a significant impact on so many people throughout the years.

When I moved from clinical practice to the corporate world, I have to say that Marshall Goldsmith has had a profound and positive impact on my thoughts and philosophy on leadership. He’s another person whose words and behavior are always consistent. He so freely shares his knowledge, wisdom and resources.

Maybe not a leadership influencer, but the late Dr. Albert Ellis was one of the founders of cognitive, behavioral psychology and was a major influence both during my clinical days and also now.

Of course, I have to say the two of you have had a major, positive impact on me. I mean that honestly because since I’ve had the great privilege to get to know both of you, I know how you, like other influencers on my life, are committed not just to leadership development, but to excellence and leadership development and coaching.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Ed, you were talking about Dr. Albert Ellis. For people who don’t know, maybe say a little bit about who he is and your relationship with him.

Dr. Ed Nottingham: I was very, very fortunate. Al was one of the founders of cognitive behavior therapy along with Dr. Aaron Beck. I was very fortunate to do some of my post-doctoral work at the Albert Ellis Institute in New York with him where he was one of my mentors. I was able to learn so much about him. We’ll probably talk later about how his approach to change, to wellness, etc., has really fit nicely into the work that I’m doing these days in my world. He was an incredible individual. He died in July, 2007, but has left a lasting impact, I think, in the work that he had done.

Dr. Relly Nadler: I remember studying him also. Now it has crossed over into coaching, kind of a cognitive approach. Say a little bit about what your strategy and philosophy is for leadership development.

Dr. Ed Nottingham: It’s interesting; you mentioned that my recent board certification was actually in organization and business consulting psychology. When I was preparing samples, which was one of the things that I had to do as well as preparing for the examination, I came across the concept that quite honestly was new to me. That was psychological capital, or it’s referred to as psycap. We know in terms of the corporate world about economic capital: finances, assets, human capital: knowledge, skills, capabilities, and social capital: who we know, relationships, networks, and so on.

But Fred Luthans and his colleagues present the concept of psycap. It’s referring to who we are, specifically the characteristics such as hope, efficacy—specifically self-efficacy—resilience and optimism. When I think about both strategies and philosophical philosophies associated with leadership development, I think it’s critical that economic, human, social and psychological capital are included.

I also recently attended–since you were at this conference you might have as well–a program that was delivered by Rob Kaiser and Dr. Gordy Kerfy which was called, “Why is the Leadership Development Industry Broken?” The presenters suggested that many leadership development programs focus on results, which is clearly critically important, but fail to address competencies associated with building strong teams that get results.

From my perspective, focusing on results, building strong teams, and including psycap dimensions, specifically emotional intelligence development, can help build and maintain leaders who succeed.

Dr. Relly Nadler: I know this from our experience, that EI is a model and also we have talked about the psycap which fits into some of that same kind of EI models. Can you say a little bit about exactly what you are coaching and consulting. What does it look like? I know when I talk with you, you’re always on the way to a trip within FedEx Services or coming back from one.

Dr. Ed Nottingham: I’m very fortunate, by the way, I love travel. It’s actually a good thing when I’m out on the road being able to do what I do. I do think about myself and I describe myself as being an internal / external consultant. By that I mean I’m an internal employee, but much of my coaching and consulting probably reflects how the two of you operate. Our learning and talent management team share the programs that we offer with leaders and individual contributors and that often results in people reaching out and asking that our program or some type of programs be delivered. You commented, too, when we were kicking this off that my focus is really on helping to create a coaching culture, leader coaches who provide their team members with effective and efficient performance, development, and career coaching.

We provide programs for new managers and then I deliver programs on behavioral interviewing as well as performance coaching programs. Some years ago, I developed what I call our graduate course in leader coaching that really includes the focus on emotional intelligence. After that, we have also developed a program for individual contributors that also emphasizes EI. I have been fortunate to actually do some internal executive coaching in the past, but these days I really focus more on program and course delivery. Most of the coaching I do is just in-kind coaching of coaches when I get emails or calls from leaders who are struggling and looking for some coaching to help them better coach their employees.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Ed, I have actually been the lucky recipient of some of what you have been doing at FedEx. Number one, I’m a big customer of independent consultant who is there all of the time. I love all the folks that I work with in all of the offices where we do business, both in Arizona, Philadelphia, and when on the road. But I’ve also, has Relly I believe, been fortunate enough to help you and support you in your global webinars and have had the honor of meeting some of the folks that you have been coaching. They just really resonate with the whole emotional intelligence component that you use. Can you talk a little bit more about that type of coaching and a little bit about your background with emotional intelligence tools in particular?

Dr. Ed Nottingham: One of the things that I love about Leadership Development News and the podcasts that you two have done over the years, and going back to the beginning in 2007, that you really have included some of the leaders in emotional intelligence, including, Dr. Steven Stein, Ruben Bar-On, Richard Boyatzis, and others. What we do is, or at least in the work that I do, we tie their models and their work into various programs and courses that we offer. I mentioned a little while ago about what I call a graduate leader coach course; in that we actually use the Bar-On EQi. On occasion we have also used the EQ 360. Again, you have interviewed Dr. Bar-On and also Dr. Stein, and these tools are available from MHS. I really like in these advanced courses to use the EI assessment. It tends to shine a light on both strengths that leaders have that can be utilized, and can also be used when they have competencies that could benefit from some tweaking and some improvement.

Also in the work we do, I think one of the most important components is having a robust action plan based on whatever insights that they glean from their EI assessment or other topics that were presented in the two-day program. They are also encouraged to have a peer coach or to work with an external coach, which again I know the two of you do such a great job in, to really focus on building those competencies.

Dr. Relly Nadler: In your advanced class they actually take the EQi 2.0, right?

Dr. Ed Nottingham: Yes, they sure do.

Dr. Relly Nadler: What have you noticed as far as that goes. Again, when you do these EI competency assessments; every organization is different, but in FedEx, which ones are the most important ones, do you think, that you are seeing for folks to be successful?

Dr. Ed Nottingham: Well, you know it’s interesting. I think that is a great question and I am not sure I can really address in terms in our world, but one of the things that I have seen and also the research has told us, in fact the Hay Group did a study at one point and looking at both individual contributors and leaders attempting to identify what is the biggest gap that these individual contributors and leaders have when it comes to emotional intelligence. The biggest gap, according to their research and it was huge from what I remember, was emotional self-awareness. So for me, that is troubling. If you have people who are in positions and they are not aware of what is going on with them, then that could be problematic. So again, being able to focus on that self-awareness.

Also, when I get to this point in one of my programs, I like to play Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” song because I think it really means we do have to take a look at ourselves first.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Let’s continue talking about self management and self awareness. That is a huge component of emotional intelligence. I would like to have you talk a little bit about how you’re using it and why it’s so important.

Dr. Ed Nottingham:  We talk about self-awareness, I talk about—and I forget where I read this—the two “R’s: recognize and then regulate. It’s one thing to know that, for example, I’ve got a problem with impulsivity, or emotional self-awareness, but more than that it’s then going to take the second “R” to regulate to actually be able to do something about it.

In the programs that I deliver, we focus heavily on self management. That comes back to some of the cognitive components: how we think, our beliefs, our attitudes and how that largely determines what we feel and what we do.

I believe that self-management is critical to the successful leader. Again, that’s a formal, positional leader, or informal leader. But if the leader lacks that self acceptance I think it’s going to be impossible for him or her to develop the self-management skills, whether from self management Goleman’s model or EQi competencies such as flexibility, stress, tolerance, optimism, assertiveness from BarOn’s model.

I think again, in terms of those competencies, first we have to develop self-awareness in order to then build effective self-management skills. I also think, going back to what I mentioned earlier about psychological capital, the psycap dimensions of hope, efficacy, resilience, optimism, are in my opinion tied directly to emotional intelligence. I think that exceptional leaders have or build their EI that in turn has a result of increased psychological capital. In Dr. Luthan’s research they have shown that psycap is related not only to individual improvement performance but also team and organizational performance. So developing those can impact the bottom line.

Dr. Relly Nadler: You talked about the two “R’s,” recognize and regulate. I talk about the two “A’s,” awareness and adjustment. Really they are kind of the same thing. All three of us know, and we talk about this idea of responsibility, if you break out that word it is the ability to respond. If you don’t know what you are doing, you don’t have that awareness, you are not going to be able to respond differently. I think that same research article that you are talking about Ed, when they looked at which competencies give you the biggest bang for the buck from the Hay Group, it was self-awareness. They were surprised that if you are high in self-awareness, and if you are listening as a leader with your team, that one has got a synergistic effect for so many of the other competencies that Ed was talking about. So it really is a great place to start.

Want to know more about building emotional intelligence competencies? Listen to the complete interview, above.


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