Getting Emotional

This week, take a look at this Harvard Business Review video on emotional intelligence. It's pretty special. I think you'll enjoy it.

For more on emotional intelligence and how it can help you personally and professionally, please be in touch with me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.



To Be a Good Leader, Bring the (Com) Passion

Great leaders don't just possess smarts and directorial qualities. They also need compassion, for themselves and others. In this great blog for The Boda Group, Chris Charyk presents these seven qualities of compassionate leaders:

  • Adaptability: reacting to change and instability with a calm and understanding approach
  • Authenticity: words and actions are reflective of stated values
  • Focus: self-awareness enables the ability to concentrate on priorities
  • Connection and collaboration seeking: looking for feedback and support from their network and others
  • Tolerance for mistakes: understanding and openness about their own and other's imperfections
  • Balance: maintaining a healthy attitude toward work and the need for the well-being of themselves and others
  • Humor: keeping perspective on situations and not being too serious


How do you measure up?

I can help you be a better leader! Reach me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com


Are You Too Comfortable?

#latergram to this blog post on getting out of your leadership comfort zone by Lolly Daskal, a leadership coach/consultant I follow. I particularly like this observation: "The end of your comfort zone is where your leadership begins."

In other words, you can't really be a bold and innovative leader without challenging yourself and moving past what is your norm. For change to happen, risks need to be taken. By questioning yourself and others, you stand up to the "same old, same old" and can forge a new path.

Happy reading!

If you are looking for new ways to challenge yourself and become a better leader, I can help. Reach me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.

Be a Human Leader

More on leadership....

  • Make it about “We” not "I" - it isn't just about you, it's about the team
  • Ask for trust and keep your promises- integrity is a priority
  • Establish key values- values are the glue that holds it all together
  • Find and teach more human leaders- we need to pass on the legacy
  • Build a culture of accountability- share the responsibility and be fair
  • Measure with the right metrics- keep track of goals and progress to keep motivation flowing
  • Fight complacency and negativity- keep moving forward and try to ignore those who are choosing to stay stuck
  • Connect it all to a higher purpose- keep it all focused on the mission and the greater good


Thanks to Terry St. Marie for the original column on More Human Leadership.

Please reach me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com for more on how to be a great leader!

Change Happens

Change is the only constant in life.   ~ Heraclitus Every job ends in a transition. The success of that transition depends on when, how and how well it's managed. When we're talking about a change in leadership, it can be a traumatic process for everyone in the organization. And, the longer a leader has been in place, the more challenges there may be for a successor.

I like to tell the CEOs I coach that part of leading well is leaving well. Part of an "exit strategy" is knowing how to prepare yourself and your organization for the impending change. Here are a few tips that may help you with transitioning out of your organization:

  • Start early: transition takes time. If you are thinking of leaving, start planning. Review your organization's succession plan (you DO have a succession plan, don't you?), inform your board chair, and start the ball rolling.
  • Take an active role: make a commitment to be part of the process, as much or as little as your board requests.
  • Set a date and stick to it: it's much more difficult for your organization to plan for your departure if you keep changing the timeline. Even if it's 2 years in the future, it helps for everyone to have a goal for accomplishing the difficult task of replacing you.
  • Continue to be a leader: Be professional as you prepare the organization, prepare your board and staff, and prepare yourself for what is coming next. Continue to show up!
  • Manage internal and external communications: when appropriate, inform stakeholders, donors and others about your plans. Don't let gossip or social media leaks spread the word.
  • Know when to express emotion: a planned departure allows you to celebrate your tenure and allows the organization to honor your legacy. It's OK to express your emotions about leaving.
  • Leave gracefully and decisively: once your successor is identified, make your plans to step away. If you have been asked to assist in your successor's onboarding, do so and then finalize your transition.


I want to help you and your organization through its transitions. Please reach me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.

Creating a Circle of Safety

Joan Garry wrote a great blog a few weeks ago, "The Top 10 Books Every Nonprofit Leader Should Read." I was pleased to see that I'd read several of them, and I added a few to my to-read list.  One of the books, Simon Sinek's newest, Leaders Eat Last, will likely be on Joan's next Top 10 list. Sinek writes that true leaders create an organization that makes all of its members feel safe, so that they work together with trust and cooperation and are better able to face external threats and seize the opportunities before them. This "circle of safety" enables people to achieve together things that none of them could achieve alone. It also allows people to feel inspired and fulfilled by their work, rather than threatened or useless. Sinek says that organizations built around this conceptual framework are more stable and perform better across the board.

One of the more important points for me was that the circle only works if it is all-inclusive. That is, leaders don't just protect their managers and leave other people out. It's about protecting everyone, creating the environment that fosters trust and cooperation. And that, my friends, leads to organizations accomplishing great things-  together.

For more, watch Sinek's TED talk. And get in touch with me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.


What is Excellence?

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.



What does it take to be excellent? To be an excellent leader, it's important to:

  • Practice self-assessment: Know your own strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at? What do you enjoy most about your work? You can play to your strengths, but also learn how to accommodate the things you aren't as adept at by delegating to others.
  • Get feedback: How do others see you? Observe how people behave when in meetings or in other situations. Ask them for an honest  assessment of how you can improve as a leader.
  • Be responsive to the needs of others: Acknowledge each individual on your team or in your organization, and understand the role they play in making you a better leader.
  • Be your organization: Fully embrace and reflect the mission, vision and values of your organization. If you want to be a leader, you have to behave like a leader!


You might need to practice a bit, but you'll soon make it a habit and BE EXCELLENT!

For more on leadership, please be in touch with me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.

Happy Boss, Happy Life

This post comes to you with thanks to Liz Kislik, organizational consultant extraordinaire (and my dear friend).  Liz writes about how a happy work environment can affect workers' level of engagement in their jobs. Good leadership starts with a smile! Read "Leading with Laughter" here. And pass it on!


Talk Less, Smile More: A Lesson from "Hamilton"

In the first act of the hit Broadway musical, "Hamilton," Aaron Burr's advice to the young Alexander Hamilton on how to be more successful is: "Talk less. Smile more."  Upon reflection, I realized that I give the same advice to the CEOs I counsel on leadership. Being a good listener (talking less) is essential if you want your staff to feel comfortable with coming to you for feedback and guidance.  Being approachable (smiling more) is an asset in cultivating relationships with donors, board members and others important to the growth of your organization. Both work in tandem with other important qualities (integrity, humor, confidence and strategic thinking are just a few examples) to create a well-rounded leader who is capable of managing people, programs and growth.

If you would like to learn more about leadership, please be in touch with me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.

You can download the original Broadway soundtrack to Hamilton on iTunes.  It's wonderful!


Learning to Be a Leader

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.  Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter I've been thinking a lot lately about leadership. Many organizations are led by people who are not born, or even trained, to be leaders. There is often a profound lack of self-confidence about leadership ability, and- even more scary- a real lack of ability.  This doesn't mean that leadership skills can't be taught, or learned.  But having a leader who is unsteady in his or her role can create a huge void in an organization as it grows.

Of course, it is the responsibility of an organization's board to select, guide,  support and evaluate its leader.  If there are gaps in a leader's skills or abilities, it is the board's job to provide opportunities for learning and growth.  And, if such growth is unsuccessful, the board bears the onus of making a change.

If you are a leader or aspire to be one , you might be asking, "What does a leader actually have to accomplish to be effective?" There is no specific recipe for success, but here's a few tips:

  • Make sure your staff is happy
  • Ensure that your organization is fiscally sound
  • Inspire your team to think about the big picture (mission) in everything they do
  • Encourage your staff and yourself to grow as individuals and learn new skills
  • Endeavor to work collaboratively with your board
  • Be open to feedback on yourself and your organization
  • Maintain a sense of humor


I'd love to hear your thoughts on leadership, or answer your questions.  You can reach me at ewoolfe@intuitionconsult.com.



Having a Bad Day?

Sometimes it's because it's Monday.  Sometimes it's because you didn't sleep well.  Sometimes it's just because you're having too many minor- or major- hassles at work.  And sometimes it's JUST BECAUSE.  You're having a bad day. It happens. It's not easy being a leader, responsible for others as well as for fulfilling a mission. One of the nonprofit experts I follow, Joan Garry, has a wonderful blog about what to do when you're feeling a bit wobbly about things.  Read it and have a better tomorrow!


Trivial Pursuit

In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. - Unknown source

Do you find yourself preoccupied with the trivial, unable to take on the heavy lifting? Are you stymied by the morass of mundane tasks that need to get done before your "real" work can be accomplished?  Then the above quote is meant for you!

Work is not always about the big stuff- the glory.  It's more often about the little things- the guts.  Making your way through one to get to the other is all about having a plan.  And having a plan is all about having goals, and a path toward those goals.

It can be as simple as a daily or weekly "To Do" list that you  (with or without your team) actually check off as you go along.  Or it can be bigger and more structured, as in creating a strategic plan for your organization.

Regardless of the size of the plan, the point is: Get a plan. Don't be trivial.

Visit me at www.intuitionconsult.com to find out what we can do together to help you on your path.

This Week's Question: Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

This week, I want to spotlight a recent article that appeared in the Education Life section of The New York Times by Daniel Goleman, on emotional intelligence.  People who possess the qualities of E.I. often make great leaders, because in addition to knowledge and vision, they have the ability to connect with others and relate to them on an emotional level.

Goleman summarized the competencies as:


Realistic self-confidence: You understand your own strengths and limitations; you operate from competence and know when to rely on someone else on the team.

Emotional insight: You understand your feelings. Being aware of what makes you angry, for instance, can help you manage that anger.


Resilience: You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets. You don’t brood or panic. In a crisis, people look to the leader for reassurance; if the leader is calm, they can be, too.

Emotional balance: You keep any distressful feelings in check — instead of blowing up at people, you let them know what’s wrong and what the solution is.

Self-motivation: You keep moving toward distant goals despite setbacks.


Good listening: You pay full attention to the other person and take time to understand what they are saying, without talking over them or hijacking the agenda.


Compelling communication: You put your points in persuasive, clear ways so that people are motivated as well as clear about expectations.

Team playing: People feel relaxed working with you. One sign: They laugh easily around you.

Want to know more about Emotional Intelligence? Looking for ways to connect with your employees and others? Please be in touch to arrange a conversation with me!

Enough is Enough

"If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."  - Oprah Winfrey "Enough is enough is enough" - Paul Jabara and Donna Summer

Those of you who have read my previous blog posts know that I have chosen intentions rather than resolutions to set the tone for my year. (In case you haven't memorized them, 2013's was "Less judgement, more compassion" and 2014's was "Listen and learn").

This year's intention is "Enough."  In reflecting on this word, it became clear that there was more than one way to approach the concept of "enough" and its application to my work and my life. Enough, as in: Does what I am doing make me happy? Am I satisfied? How can I show my appreciation for all that I have that brings me what I need?

But also, enough, as in: What doesn't make me happy about what I am doing? What are my boundaries? What is burdening me or stressing me, and how can I make that go away? How can I create a world that is joyful and satisfying for me and others?

As always, I will be integrating this intention into my daily life, seeing how it affects my perspective and my actions.  I will keep you posted!

Please be in touch to discuss your consulting needs.





Time to Focus

I recently found myself with some unscheduled time, and decided to use it to catch up on reading the latest of Daniel Goleman’s books, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. In my work with nonprofit CEOs, I often draw from Goleman’s insights on emotional intelligence.Focus takes his concepts on EI and re-packages them in a new way, encouraging mindfulness to enhance self-awareness and create needed balance. Focus is defined as a mental asset that is essential for achieving success.  It can be trained, like a muscle, to be strong and supportive.  In today’s multi-tasking, multi-technology world, it’s easy to think in short spurts (like tweets) rather than about the bigger picture.  But good leaders need to be able to do both, and to achieve balance.

Goleman says there are three levels of focus: inner, outer and other.  Inner focus incorporates values, intuition, and decision-making capabilities.  Outer focus enables existence in the larger world, and other focus governs social interactions and connections.  Together, these levels of focus provide guidance, intelligence and navigation.  Leaders who are able to cultivate each of these levels tend to be more self-aware, and more able to use their balanced focus to achieve success.

These successful leaders excel at listening to others while creating vision and direction together; coaching others to be better team members; collaborating and building consensus; and building trust.

How can leaders improve their performance and be more successful? Goleman says that by strengthening their focus through mindfulness, leaders can develop the skills to either “zoom in” to the internal environment or “zoom out” to concentrate on the broader perspective, as needed.

I'm looking forward to applying the techniques I possess to encourage mindfulnessand to help my CEO clients achieve balance and focus.