Emotional Intelligence for Everyday Leadership @TheHighCalling

Saxman 1

Some leaders seem to instinctively understand people: what motivates them, what frustrates them, what inspires them. Other leaders don’t. They are blind to the emotional landscape around them. These leaders lack what is commonly known as “emotional intelligence.” EI can be defined as “the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions.” The concept has a long history, but was popularized in the 1990s by psychologists Peter Salovey,John D. Mayer, and Daniel Goleman.

The director of Seattle Pacific University’s Brain Center for Applied Learning Research, John Medina, Ph.D., prefers a more scientifically verifiable concept called Theory of Mind.  He describes ToM as a gadget in the brain that allows a person to do two things: 1) peer inside someone else’s psychological interiors and understand the rewards and punishment systems inside those interiors; and 2) understand that the rewards and punishments that motivate that person are not same as the rewards and punishments that motivate oneself.

Medina says that having “terrific” ToM is what people mean when they talk about emotional intelligence. “If you’ve got really good Theory of Mind, you can make a terrific manager, because you can understand your emotional landscape all around you very, very quickly. If you have very poor Theory of Mind, you’re an emotional blunt instrument. You just bang around inside people’s hearts and make them mad and make them happy and inadvertently you do both and you have no idea how you do it, because it’s random, because you don’t see anything, because you’re an emotional idiot,” he said. (Note: This kind of forthright talk typifies the Medina Grump Factor, which is how Dr. Medina and others describe his commitment to rigorous scientific methodology.)

Whatever one calls the intuitive ability to read and respond well to others, nurturing this characteristic can help leaders create and foster cohesive, productive teams. After all what leader wants to be an “emotional idiot”? …

Read the whole thing at The High Calling.

When Storms Come @Faith&Leadership

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Bay Head, South Pt. Beach

Bayhead, New Jersey

Like a thrill ride gone terribly wrong, Hurricane Sandy barreled through my beloved Jersey Shore last month. Except during college and a six-year sojourn in California, this area has always been home, the place where I grew up and where I have lived for most of my life.

When the storm was over, the terrain upon which my memories live had been torn asunder. Friends have asked how I’m dealing with the destruction. My home wasn’t damaged, but I have been through so many deadly storms in the last decade that they’ve been worried for me.

The loss of wealth, health, ministry, community and, most impossibly, the loss of my firstborn child to suicide have left me vulnerable, they think.

But I’ve become adept at responding effectively and efficiently to trauma. So much so that I sometimes think I should work in disaster response. …

Read the rest of this gratitude reflection at Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership site. It’s my first article there and I’m honored to see my byline at the website of such an esteemed institution.

Managing the ‘Disaster After the Disaster’ @NJShorePatch

Hurricane Sandy Election Day

“You’ve probably been asked by out-of-state friends where to send Hurricane Sandy donations and what kind? It’s a daunting task to advise people when you’re in the midst of a crisis, but as the Associated Press reported, unwanted donations can become a “disaster after the disaster.”

‘Ad hoc relief groups need to make sure they are taking in only items that are requested and can be distributed. Money is the best because organizations don’t have to pay to move it and can tailor spending to changing needs,’ James McGowan, a representative from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster reportedly told AP.

I saw this problem firsthand after the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks when I volunteered with the Salvation Army.”

Read the rest at Brick Patch.

What I Wrote This Week @UrbanFaith: August 27-September 7

Hitchhiker, NYC

Q & A: John Piper on Racism, Reconciliation, and Theology after Trayvon Martin’s Death @ChristianityToday

John Piper was one of the first and the few white evangelical pastors to make a public statement on the controversial shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Not only is his passion for racial reconciliation informed by his self-proclaimed history as a Southern racist; it also fueled by his experience as the father of an adopted African American teen daughter. Piper is the author of Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian, a book that inspired a public discussion about Race and the Christian at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in New York City Wednesday night. The Minneapolis, Minnesota, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church was joined onstage by New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church pastor Tim Keller and Anthony Bradley, a theology professor from the King’s College in New York City. Christianity Today spoke with Piper on Thursday about various kinds of reconciliation, including what it would mean to reconcile with someone like author Rob Bell. …

Read the interview at Christianity Today.