Why is creating a sense of wellbeing at work such a rare commodity in the business world? What is being done to build it into company culture? Can coaching help executives and business leaders foster wellbeing with employees, even in times of stress and rapid change? Let’s learn from our network and see EQ coaching in action.
Alison Lalieu, CEO of UBalancer Solutions, a national network of professional neuroleadership coaches based in Australia, describes the challenge organizations are facing today: “Most of the coaching programs that we are asked to roll out at the moment are around people who are frightened of what’s coming, of losing their jobs to change initiatives, and frightened of what this all going to mean; they’re trying to prepare themselves, but by the same token they really don’t know what to do. There is a desire for a leadershift, finding a new way of thinking, infused with emotional intelligence and conversational intelligence skills to better navigate the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity that abounds.”
So what can leaders do when their employees are skittish, distrustful, and anxious? For starters, they can learn to stay calm and focused so they are in better places to respond rather than react, and to make wholehearted strategic decisions engaging their logic and the critical information to be gleaned from their emotions. Alison is optimistic about their ability to embrace this mindset.
“We’re getting lovely successes,” she reported. “It’s about deeply infusing a brain-based approach, the neuroleadership approach, with EQ. We see shifts in the way people are thinking and increases in their level of trust. It comes down to helping people to slow down and build some mindful practice into their days. Finding even 10 minutes of silence each day, to just be with our thoughts, appreciating with presence the good things we do have, and learning strategies to stay calm in the face of this time of incredible change and distrust.”
How Trust and Fear Drive Leadership
Trust, a key ingredient in being able to achieve personal wellbeing, is also at risk. As Alison said, “We are required to form trust more quickly than perhaps was asked of us previously, and this further fuels uncertainty. Certainty is one of the primary needs or drivers of our brains, and so it’s no wonder that people are struggling with the current state of the world.”
What exactly are these clients afraid of? Why is their trust, and their sense of wellbeing, at such a low ebb? Alison sees a long laundry list based on lack of security, uncertain employment, and changes in the skillsets that are going to be required in a world of automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The pace of change has instilled a fear of the unknown that hums underneath the surface.
2/ and the level of expected connectedness has overtaken where our brains are prepared to beClick to tweet
Each quarter, Six Seconds focuses on a different emotional intelligence theme. This quarter, the theme is wellbeing, a sense of balance and equanimity, which seems timely as so many changes are happening throughout the world at such a fast pace, whether it is technological change or political or social upheavals. From her view in Australia, Alison says, the pace of change reflects what is happening globally and her clients are not immune to the resultant anxiety.
What about technology accelerating the challenges by speeding things up? Some employees are expected to spend more time online working after hours from home, or even remaining connected on their weekends and holidays. How does that affect their sense of wellbeing?
She noted, “With social media, we are exposed to what’s happening in the rest of the world within seconds and everybody’s affected at some level. I see it in my coaching work. The world has simply become too fast for a lot of people and the level of expected connectedness has overtaken where our brains are prepared to be. For me, it’s trying to make sense of things when we’re tired a lot of time. And, in fact, when we’re expected to do more than is really reasonable most of the time.”
Workers can experience difficulty drawing boundaries between home and work life, and prioritizing what matters most to them. Both tend to suffer from neglect, and most of all, people tend to look after everyone else and put their own needs last, resulting in overwhelming feelings and burnout. Alison agrees, saying, “You have to establish what’s o.k. and not o.k. and if you isolate times in your day to disconnect from the internet, the benefits are huge. A wonderful leader told me the other day that he has started using a virtual assistant and now only finds out about his critical emails, receiving only the most important ones in his inbox. It’s one creative way to buy back face-to-face time and precious me time.”
We can enhance wellbeing through self-trust by just understanding ourselves and others, listening to connect, sharing our successes in life and living non-judgmentally and with empathy. Living with authenticity, while all the time staying true to our self, our values and our noble goal.
Partners for Positive Change
UBalancer is one of Six Seconds Preferred Partners; the name UBalancer comes from the PhD research of Dr. Robyn Young, whose research focused on life balance. Alison has a Master of Counselling degree, is an ICF certified coach, a Conversational Intelligence Enhanced Practitioner, as well as a Six Seconds certified practitioner.
A few years ago, Alison discovered Six Seconds, in a moment of “serendipity.” She remembers, “I found Josh Freedman on Twitter, can you believe it! Because I’d always had a passion for emotional intelligence and I’d had a career in healthcare as a physiotherapist, I had a passion for physical and emotional wellbeing. I became an avid follower.” She took a course in Adelaide after meeting Angela Giacoumis, and later took the Vital Signs and Practitioner training in Singapore. She was hooked.
“I’ve never looked back,” she said. “That was two years ago and I now infuse Six Seconds EQ deeply into my coaching. We’re 18 coaches at UBalancer Solutions, and I’ve encouraged all of the coaches to become SEI assessors; 12 are currently certified with many others on the journey with Sue McNamara currently. Another one has become a practitioner. All have said that finding the Six Seconds philosophy has deepened and enriched their coaching experience. In all of our coaching programs, we are using the Six Seconds reporting tools as pre and post measures of success, and loving integrating the learning. We are humbled and honored to be partnering with Six Seconds and excited to see what the future holds in store as we work to spread EQ, one conversation at a time.”
We can enhance wellbeing through self-trust by just understanding ourselves and others, listening to connect, sharing our successes in life and living non-judgmentally and with empathy.Click to tweet
Tapping the Science of Happiness
It’s often been said that variety is the spice of life, and science bears that out. Researchers studying happiness have found that varying one’s routine increases happiness dramatically. Alison says diversity is important to life balance and trust, and thus to wellbeing: “It’s very protective to be doing a variety of things rather than just focusing on one aspect of life. So much of that comes back to our values, understanding how we prioritize things and the benefits of slowing down enough to stay very aware. Keeping a kind of true north that aligns to our values. In this way the decisions we make will also align with our values which is essentially our EQ noble goal. We’re more likely to stay motivated to make decisions that are going to take us down that legacy track.”
Alison says it’s all about awareness of why we are doing what we’re doing, and aligning our actions with our noble goal. As she remarked, “If we have an awareness that we are working 70 hours a week and love it, and it’s our absolute passion, we’re probably feeling in balance. It’s about going back to our values and noble goal, and thinking about how our behaviors and choices are aligning with our intention. What’s the impact on our family? How do we use our EQ to help us make the decisions we want to make so that we have that head/heart/gut feeling we are heading in the right direction?”
Alison goes on to say, “When we think of being authentic, it also speaks to how we create that deep bond and connection with the words that we use. Everything we do is helping our clients or our coaches to have better conversations, to interact with people differently, to understand how others’ brains work, how our own brain works, and aligning that to the neuroscience behind emotional intelligence. It’s such a powerful blend.”
The Spark of Connection – Engaging People in Authentic Dialogue
At a recent EQ Café, Alison said a room full of mostly strangers went from feeling cautious to feeling engaged. The focus was on building trust to achieve a sense of balance and connection. As she noted, “We had 22 mostly corporate people from many different organizations, and the café was hugely experiential. With only one hour for the cafe, it was wonderful to witness the way people were delving into meaningful and purposeful conversations, the way they were interacting, the way they were listening; there was such a shift in their trust levels. Thanks to Josh for creating the template for this workshop, it was really great.”
So, perhaps if total strangers can greet each other wanting to learn to be more aware of their patterns, then that EQ awareness will ripple outward and reach more and more people, reversing the trends of fear and dis-ease currently underway.
And, if high-level executives are having trouble managing the pace of technological change, so are teachers, parents, and kids in school. The age of Instagram, selfies, and Twitter has ushered in a whole new batch of threats to living a stress-free life imbued by a sense of wellbeing. For more strategies to develop Wellbeing and Trust in Organizations check out this article.
To help instill social emotional learning (SEL) at all levels of the school community, UBalancer is developing a three-school pilot SEL program in Australian schools. UCare Education programs are tailored to inspire a growth mindset, perseverance, optimal decision making and, most important, a belief in students that they can achieve whatever they want to in life.
Alison reflected, “I have this dream that we’ve got our main organizing idea, and it’s about planting seeds. We’ve got some wonderful stories happening in these three schools.” For more on developing thriving culture in schools, check out this article.
Alison Lalieu will present her project and the results starting to emerge from the Case studies underway at the upcoming EQ Summit in Dubai.