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.

Which Is the Better Story @Image Journal’s Good Letters blog

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox Studios.

“There’s a scene early in Ang Lee’s majestic Life of Pi film in which the main character watches everything he loves die. Pi is floating in a vast, murky sea as the ship carrying his family and their zoo animals recedes into the distance and sinks. His arms are stretched out wide and his whole body seems to reach for them as they slip away.

This is the moment when I forgot I was wearing 3-D glasses and felt as if I was in the water with Pi, losing everything I love. I’m not sure I would have reacted as viscerally as I did to the scene if it had not been produced in 3-D. As it was, I sat in my seat and wept.”

Read my whole [spoiler alert!] review at Good Letters. It’s my first appearance at the Image blog and I’m honored to see my byline there.

Recapturing Innocence With Ang Lee @TheHighCalling

NYC Life of Pi Press Junket

Director Ang Lee in New York City, courtesy Explorations Media, L.L.C.

The sound of a baby’s laughter. A six year old’s wide-eyed wonder on Christmas morning. The moment you first believed. Who doesn’t want to relive innocence like that?
For Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, recapturing innocence in life, in filmmaking, in the cinematic experience is at the heart of his film adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, Life of Pi. Speaking to a group of journalists in New York City last month, Lee said the film is about what happens to a young boy’s innocence after the ship carrying his zoo-keeping family sinks and he’s set adrift on a lifeboat with a dangerous tiger.

The ocean becomes like a desert, Lee said. “It’s a test of his faith, his strength.” …

Read the whole thing at The High Calling.

A New Kind of Heroine @TheHighCalling

Katherine Sarafian (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar.

The protaganist of Disney/Pixar’s newest feature film “Brave” is an unlikely heroine. The Scottish princess confronts and overcomes what she views as a constricted future for her life, but she also learns that her own unfettered dreams can be both limiting and dangerous. The film’s producer Katherine Sarafian identifies with the character and says working on “Brave” taught her to more fully integrate the diverse components of her own life. Sarafian has been withPixar since 1994 and has done production work on blockbusters from “Toy Story” and “A Bug’s Life” to “Monsters, Inc.” and “The Incredibles.” She has also served as director of marketing for the studio. The High Calling talked to Sarafian about what it’s like to work for a company that is notorious for its habit of changing course mid-project, how “Brave’s” protaganist Mirada inspired her, and how her faith informs her work.

Read the interview at TheHighCalling.

Micromanagement: Leadership Style or Pathology @TheHighCalling

Occupy movement protest 3/30/12, Union Square Park, New York City. Photo by Christine A. Scheller, Explorations Media, L.L.C.

Micromanagement. The term screams negativity, but is the practice inherently pathological or a misunderstood approach to organizational leadership? For answers to this question,The High Calling asked three leadership experts to weigh in.

“Micromanagement is, by definition, a pathology,” said L. Gregory Jones, senior strategist for leadership education and professor of theology at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina.

Jones notes, however, that the tendency to micromanage can emerge from passion for an organization and its goals. “Wise leaders know how to hold both the broad vision and the execution together. People with vision but no execution may have great ideas but nothing really happens and people who have great execution but no vision often get stuck in ruts of continually doing the same thing while failing to adapt to changing circumstances,” says Jones. “What we need is not ‘micromanagers,’ who end up getting into other people’s business too often and in the wrong ways, but rather integrative leaders who can move smoothly back and forth between the big picture and the details that are necessary to ensure effective execution.” …

Read the rest at The High Calling.