Ep #52: Why Emotional Intelligence is Non-Negotiable for Executive Leaders with Leila Bulling Towne
This episode is very special to me.
You’ll hear me talk to my dear friend and mentor, Leila Bulling Towne, on why increasing your emotional intelligence is one of the most effective ways to scale yourself and your career to the top.
Leila is THE expert on emotional intelligence. She’s been coaching leaders from startup founders to Fortune 500 leaders for more than 20 years, AND in 2018 she was named one of the top coaches for startup founders by The Information.
Leila has been featured in the Economist.com, Fast Company, NBCNews.com, BBC.com, Wall Street Journal, Marketplace Radio, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Ladders.com, HR Magazine, Forbes, The Rotarian, SHRM.org, and others.
In this episode, we dig into why emotional intelligence is such a critical tool for leaders – not only because it will help you be successful at the senior executive level, but also because it’ll give you the skills you need to manage and leverage your own emotions as you rise through the ranks.
What You'll Learn:
- What emotional intelligence actually is
- Why emotional intelligence becomes non-negotiable as you rise through the leadership ranks
- The connection between emotional intelligence and influence
- How poor emotional management can make it difficult for the leadership team to see the true value of your skills
- How better emotional intelligence can help you be more courageous at work
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Stacy Mayer: Hello, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. And today's episode is very, very special to me.
You know how when you're getting started in your career and you have those mentors in your life and people that you really look up to and have really helped and shape your career?
And then at some point you get to a point where you're kind of their peer and you're really working and doing the same things that they're doing. And then you get to a point where you're able to have them on your own podcast. Today is that day for me.
So on today's episode, I'm interviewing Leila Bulling Towne. Leila is also an executive coach in the Bay Area.
And I met Leila very, very early on in my career, and she has been such a role model to me and helped so many amazing executives advance their careers and be amazing executives. And I am just so thrilled to have her and to celebrate her and to celebrate our relationship on today's episode.
One of the things that Leila told me really early on when I was trying to figure out where should I get certified? How should I begin coaching and what should I do? She was like; 'Emotional intelligence training. She told me right out of the gate. If you do nothing else, do emotional intelligence training.'
And I was like: 'OK!' And I was really into that at the time. And I thought: 'Oh, this is a great idea.'
And so I thought for the focus of today's interview, we're going to really think and talk about emotional intelligence for leaders and why this is such an important tool, not only to be successful at senior executive leadership, but also because as you're rising through the ranks, it's really important to make sure that you cultivate your own emotional intelligence as well.
So I brought in THE expert to today's episode to talk to your guys. But let me formally introduce Leila to you.
Leila Bulling Towne is an executive leadership coach who has been featured in the Economist.com, Fast Company, NBCNews.com, BBC.com, Wall Street Journal, Marketplace Radio, Forbes, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Ladders.com, HR Magazine, Forbes, The Rotarian. Oh my goodness. SHRM.org and others.
In 2018, The Information named her one of the top coaches behind startup founders. She's been coaching leaders from startup founders to Fortune 500 leaders for over 20 years. Leila is the creator of the new online training and coaching platform called Awesome Leader, and she is a very dear friend of mine. I am so excited to have her on today. Leila, welcome to my podcast.
Leila Bulling Towne: Thanks, Stacey. And I am so excited to be here. And it is really cool to be able to celebrate, like you said. And I was wondering if you would give that perspective for your listeners. It's really amazing to feel like maybe I had just a tiny bit in making you the amazing expert you are now in helping people get promoted. So it's such a pleasure, so much.
Stacy Mayer: So much to do with where I am now. So I'm very, very grateful.
So let's get started right with this idea of emotional intelligence. Can you just define that for us? What is emotional intelligence? Because I feel like we've heard it. We know we kind of have an idea of it. But I would like you to tell us a little bit more about your perspective and and your definition of that.
Leila Bulling Towne: Yes, this is how I define it for my leaders and my team's emotional intelligence is your ability to understand how you feel, why you feel that way, and how to use that information to decide what to do as a result.
And it really helps you think about the relationships you have and think about your stakeholders. So I'm going to leave it there because I know we're going to get into lots of details about it. But it's really that ability for you to understand how I feel and why I feel that way, And how I'm going to use that information to decide what am I going to say or do differently, or maybe I won't say or do anything differently.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah. So in that vein, in deciding and taking action from that place of really first understanding and then what am I going to do, how can executive leaders use this at higher levels? Like why do they need to have high levels of emotional intelligence?
Leila Bulling Towne: Yes. So I think the main reason, there are lots of reasons, but the one that really comes to the top is having high EQ helps you understand better how to influence your stakeholders. And oftentimes your stakeholders are people that you need to influence. And some of them are fans. And some of them are not fans. And you still have to work with those people in that second category. Those people who aren't your fans, you still need to think about influencing them. So the more that you understand who those stakeholders are and how do I feel in a situation with someone who I know I don't really get along with or we've got differing priorities? I still need to be able to influence them. How does my body feel when I'm in the room with them? How does my body feel when I have to negotiate with them? That's really where I see leaders as they progress in their careers. EQ can play such a huge part in your development.
Stacy Mayer: So, I want to get into some specifics on how you have worked with certain leaders, if you have some examples. But before we even do that, I want to get even a little bit more of an understanding of this importance.
So let's look at, not a CEO, but like a CFO. So a c-suite executive, a CFO, a CHRO, all of the c-suite executives. And you've got a myriad of things that you can work on as an executive. You could work on, well, all kinds of soft skills that we could add to the list.
Can you think in particular, right, we have emotional intelligence, what are some of the other soft skills that you would normally work on with leaders? And why does why does emotional intelligence specifically play a key role in this?
Leila Bulling Towne: Even though it's probably too big of a category to be called a soft skill, it's your ability to build relationships. To build relationships and to manage those relationships. And I think once you understand how you're operating and once you really think about like: 'Gosh, these are some things that make me feel uncomfortable and I still have to build a relationship with that leader. I still have to negotiate with them. I have to influence them.' So building relationships is definitely one that comes to the top.
Also, courage. And it's phrased in lots of different ways, in many different competency models or soft skill models out there. But the idea of actually understanding what you need to say at a certain time and having the courage or maybe even having the bravery to understand that even though I'm at this level and I am playing a big role, I'm going to have to bring up some difficult topics. And those topics, I need to bring them up because they're key to the success of the company.
So how I feel as an individual, like: 'Gee, I don't like talking about...' Well, it wouldn't be the finance person or the CFO, but if you don't like talking about numbers but you're an executive, you have to talk about the numbers. Because you are playing a role to help the organization meet its numbers. So really understanding some of the emotional baggage, we can talk more about that concept, but understanding what you feel uncomfortable with and being able to recognize how your body feels and being brave enough to recognize it beforehand and smart enough and knowing how to operate in the moment when you're faced with that uncomfortable topic or person.
Stacy Mayer: Ok, so now we're getting into some examples.
So you feel a little bit uncomfortable and we have a choice, right? We can choose to ignore it. And just like, maybe even just not engage in whatever that situation is, we're just going to ignore it. We're just not going to speak up. We just don't want to, we're not even going to go there.
We can also choose to ignore our emotions and still go there. And I think it's that second one that probably really... Well, actually, both of them, I'm sure, cause problems. So can you speak or share any examples through coaching or really anything that you've done to work with a leader on their own emotional intelligence, maybe in either of those two areas that they're not in touch with their emotions and then they they act out, or maybe they are in touch with their emotions or they are in touch with their emotions and they choose not to engage.
Yes. And actually, I think there's maybe a third one, which is oftentimes you don't even know what you're doing in the moment. So you're in a true emotional hijacking. So this is a situation where people literally, and I've seen it happen with executives, where I'm with them routinely.
We're either in an off-site or in a team meeting. I know them and know their teams. And people are actually in the grip of an emotion and they actually say something or act out in a way. And it's as if... Gosh, I feel bad saying this, but it's as if they're possessed. They are so passionate, and then afterwards, what really is happening in their brain is that emotional center of your brain, the amygdala, it goes back to the days of being out in the wilderness. If cavewomen and cavemen and watching out for tigers and hunting and gathering and so forth.
And it's a fight or flight. And people react in the moment. They don't allow the brain to actually do the other half of it, which is the logical part of your brain to start talking to you: 'Hey, Leila. I don't know. Is that the right thing to do right now? You're so passionate that you just go ahead and you are hijacked. And you are passionate in a way that really detracts from the message you're bringing.'
I'm so passionate. I just am like hitting the table with my fists. I'm so worked up. And what people see, your stakeholders see, is they see that emotion, they don't see the intelligence. They don't see the experience. They don't see everything that is amazing in your role and that you're bringing to the table, because in a way like your emotional hijacking has hijacked them from recognizing the value of your hard skills. Because you're just so in the moment.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, so that's an obvious problem, right? So then somebody would come to you and say: 'OK, what do I do?'
Leila Bulling Towne: Yeah, and that's oftentimes where, when leaders come to me for coaching, they come because they've been told oftentimes: 'Hey, people say, I'm a founder, I've got a great idea, I've got a great team. And maybe they express it like...sometimes I blow up at people and I have trouble recovering. Or I'm like a volcano. I just kind of explode. And then afterwards, people forgive me, but I'm kind of thinking like that, this is something I have to tackle. And I'm like: 'Yeah, you think?'.
So they know, and actually I will say sometimes they don't know. Many of these individuals know. You know what? I think. I can only explode so many times before people actually stop coming to me. Stop coming to me, stop being open, stop being vulnerable. And let's be honest. I mean, I can definitely think in my career of people where I avoided their office because I knew they had really big tempers or they exploded a lot. Because nobody wants to be consistently in that environment where you are just the kind of the receptacle for somebody's anger and frustration. And realistically, someone can only apologize so many times before I say: 'You know what? I'm just going to work around you.'
Stacy Mayer: Right, exactly. And you don't want to be known as that difficult person. Even if it's not exploding all of the time, there's ways that we act out on our emotions and sort of like these micro aggressive ways. These just little tiny things that we'll do, and we end up just becoming difficult. Like, the person that people avoid and don't be around.
Leila Bulling Towne: Yes, absolutely. And I'm known for being extremely direct as a person and as a coach. I will say, like: Who wants to be known for having a bad temper or for being difficult to work with? When I coach executives, one of the first things they do is they go through an exercise around: what do you want your leadership brand to be like? No one has ever said: 'I want to be difficult to deal with.'
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, exactly.
Leila Bulling Towne: I want to be the person that people are afraid of. I want to be the person who's in charge and is the one who tells everybody what to do, and they never come to me with problems. No one ever says. So you dream of being an executive. No one dreams of being that person.
Stacy Mayer: Right. So now let's talk about the angle that's courage. And a lot of my clients are the ones that fall in that category, where they need to have a little bit more courage. Courage to speak up, to have those difficult conversations, to say what needs to be said, and particularly when we're thinking about advancing our careers. And so, what we're afraid of is that we don't want to become that aggressive leader. And so then therefore we don't put ourselves or our opinions out there at all. So how can an emotional intelligence help us develop courage?
Leila Bulling Towne: Yes, so few ideas. So first of all, for anyone, not just people in that category and that description that you've given there, to really think about what are the things that make you uncomfortable? We can call them triggers, we can call them hot buttons. It's the topics, it's the people, it's the times of the day that make you feel a certain way.
So, for example, I hate traffic. I hate being late. Therefore, I know when I'm in traffic or when I'm late, I arrive at a place and I'm sweaty, I'm stressed, I'm rushing. I don't feel at my best. So therefore, now that I know that about myself, I have the ability to try and manage my schedule so I try and avoid traffic, or avoid being late.
So in terms of courage, let's say I am, like you said, I'm not a director and I really need to be able to have thoughtful, direct and courageous conversations with one of my peer stakeholders. And this person makes me feel uncomfortable.
Before you meet with that person, you're not doing back to back meetings. This person is already a trigger or hot button for you. You're not doing back to back meetings. Maybe you're walking around the block beforehand. You're tackling, and I know I'm throwing a lot out there for people to grasp at once. You're thinking about yourself talk. What are the things that you tell yourself that sabotage you? Like" 'Oh, I really don't like working with Stacy is just so difficult.
Stacy Mayer: Don't use me! I'm just kidding.
Leila Bulling Towne: It's so difficult to work with to work with Steve. OK, sorry to see all the Steve's out there. It's difficult to work with Steve. He makes me nervous. That self-talk, you're actually continuing to encode, no joke, in your brain, that this is something you feel uncomfortable about. And the brain is truly like a super highway and we've got freeways, it's like an autobahn. And there are some amazing very fast freeways with good information going down there and some that have bad information. And so your negative self talk can really continue to repave those highways where you make a connection, where, like Steve, difficult to work with. Therefore, I will be nervous.
Stacy Mayer: So what is something that you could do to shift that? Because I could see someone saying: 'No. He is difficult to work with and I don't like having conversations with him.' So why would you do to shift yourself talk in that moment?
Leila Bulling Towne: Yeah. So this goes again to like some of the preparation that I would really be coaching somebody to think about and do. And so it's really clear, I think in this case to say, OK, some of the self talk could be like: 'In my role as a director, I need to do this to help my team. I need to do this to help the company. As a result, I need to meet with Steve and I need to ask him for this.'
So I know that's like longer self-talk, we're getting into paragraphs of self-talk. But what I'm trying to convey there is the fact that each of us plays a role. We play a valuable role. And you need to continue to remind yourself, especially in the moment when you're getting a little fuzzy, like you're about ready to be hijacked. Again, your emotions are really clouding your judgment to say: 'Remember, Leila, this is your job. You're an expert and you have this meeting because you're a respected leader, and you need to just ask for two things. Those two things are this.
Stacy Mayer: So reminding yourself that this is part of your job. You need to have these conversations.
And then the other thing that I heard is that with these triggers, so first it's identifying the triggers, but then once you're identifying them and you understand that traffic consistently causes this, this person consistently causes this emotional reaction, you can rehearse it, right? You can practice it. So, yeah, sometimes it does sound like a paragraph, but it sounds like it's literally being thoughtful about how you're going to have the conversation and practice that. And the more you do that, the easier it's going to be, it seems like.
Leila Bulling Towne: Yeah, absolutely. And it comes down to a lot of things that we probably should have listened to our parents about. Like: 'You just have to practice. Sit down and practice the piano.'
And so it does come down to practice. And that practice can be in so many different ways where it is writing it down, write down your self, talk, say yourself, talk both of those things, help your brain to make new connections. So literally no joke. Your brain is plastic. We know it's flexible. We want to try and build different connections. So it's like we want to detour down that road where you're like, Steve's difficult. I want you to take a right turn and I want to go down there where you say: 'Yeah, he's difficult. He invited you to this meeting. Or the job, the company, the role dictates you meet with him. You're going to have a meeting with him. This is what you're going to ask.'
And just like lots of other messages that we all need, it's like marketing for yourself and for your soul, for your courage, and for your brand. You got to tell yourself these things more than once building those new connections. And it takes time to encode them literally in your brain and for you to feel comfortable with them.
Stacy Mayer: Do you have any examples of clients that really surprised you? Where they did this full shift. That they were the difficult leader and then they really figured it out and got it together and now are quite likable and better at their job because of it?
Leila Bulling Towne: Yeah, I do have several clients, including a few where I followed them throughout their career, or followed them from different organizations where they have been very much willing... And this is key with coaching. When people reach out to me: 'I'm like, look, you have to be willing, you have to obviously have the support from the organization and you have to actually be open to having somebody hold you accountable. And that's what these people, they were in that situation. They were willing, they either had the support of the organization or quite frankly, they have the budget themselves. So they didn't have to because they were leaders at the c-level or at the VP level. And they're interested in being held accountable.
And that accountability. And, you know this Stacy, as a coach, that ability that people give you, it's like: 'hold me accountable. Make sure I do these things.'
And they made some incredible changes. That didn't mean that on the side, it wasn't super difficult for them and that they didn't get frustrated yet what they did as they saw themselves getting hijacked and they saw them and they could feel their body like we were able to identify: What do you feel like? I start to feel nauseous. OK, why do you feel nauseous? Because I have to work with this person on this topic. All right. When you start to feel that way, what can you do? And to help them shift even in the moment. And I remember oftentimes being like, because these were meetings where I would be with them with a team, and you could see that it might take that individual, that executive, like just a second or two longer where they're just pausing. Because they know that's what they're there to... And I know in their head, they're like: 'Leila told me to pause. I'm counting to three. Maybe you're counting to five.'
And that allows again, that literally allows your brain to catch up. It's not a fight or flight. But that emotional center of our brains, it's just evolution. We're going to be like this. We're always going to have this desire and this coding within our brains to react emotionally before we react logically. We can shorten it up. We can shorten it, but sometimes it takes a few seconds.
Stacy Mayer: I love the pause. The most fascinating things to me, because I'm a fast talker and I get nervous. I used to get nervous and I would just keep talking and keep talking. And I realized that other people can't tell that you're pausing. And that is the most, I think I actually learned that back, specifically for public speaking. Leila knows that I've been an actress most of my life, but public speaking was a whole different game. And so, you can pause. It can be five seconds. It can feel like an eternity. It can feel like two minutes. But the person watching you has no idea. They really don't notice.
Leila Bulling Towne: Absolutely. They don't notice. And, you know, it's difficult here in audio because if we pause for five seconds now to demonstrate, people will be like: Uh oh, what's going on? Something's wrong with the podcast. But oftentimes when I'm coaching leaders and teams, I literally hold my hand hand up and I count down on my fingers just like that. Five seconds.
And all of a sudden they're like: 'Oh, well. I didn't know that. I can do that.'
Yes, you can. And they're like: 'what about if I use my hands a lot?' All right. Stick those hands under your thighs. Sit on those hands.
And that's, I think, where emotional intelligence, and there's so many great books and really accessible material out there. But some of the things that any of us can do, any of your listeners can do. Wait five seconds. And I have some leaders where they're like: 'I have to wait ten.' And I'm like: 'Yeah, you really should.' And you know what? You're the leader. They're going to let you wait ten seconds. And guess what? They already know your coach is here. They already see the commitment you're making to your leadership development. So what you're doing physically by having that person in the room there sometimes, which is sometimes a difficult situation to be in, they see that you want to change. And you are making investment in yourself.
And sometimes, I have to be honest, sometimes I start working with people who are already amazing leaders. But they're like; 'How do I get to the next level? And so, people are more forgiving and more accommodating and more interested in helping you as a leader, then I think a lot of big leaders, people with big titles realize.
Stacy Mayer: Now let's look at a leader that has a difficult employee. How do you coach, not you coach, but as a leader, how do you coach and and help rebuild your team if you have difficult employees? How do you coach leaders to do that?
Leila Bulling Towne: Yeah, that's a great one. I think in that situation, it's really key to explain to the person that part of their role is building relationships, and it's influencing stakeholders. And I know I'm a little bit of a broken record, if anybody out there still remembers records. But it's really: 'Hey, Leila. Part of your role is to build relationships with your peers. And right now, what I've observed is, I've observed that these people feel less comfortable than before or they don't feel comfortable coming to you.'
And so, what you really want to do, because you're asking somebody to change a soft skill and by just the virtue of calling it soft, people feel like it's a bowl of jello. Like you just kind of like you get it out of the bowl and you can't hold it. It's like, whoa, I can't even capture it. It's too amorphous. It's too difficult. You want people to understand what the value is to them.
'Leila, with difficult relationships, it's harder for you to hit your numbers. All of a sudden I'm like: 'Oh. Well then I'll do something about it. Now I get it'.
And so helping them understand that it's part of that fuller picture as being a leader, I think there are also ways to let them know; 'Hey, this is part of how I'm evaluating you. This is going to help you not just now. This is going to help you in future roles, future teams that you're going to be a part of. So it's not just you getting along better. That's often where people are like: 'I don't want to get along better with people.'
Well, you have to get along with people in general, no matter where you are. And getting along, you know this Stacy, it's not as simple as that. So it's oftentimes really helping them understand what I'm doing is I'm going to help you be better recognized for what you're amazing at. Let's get rid of that distraction of the fact that people find you difficult.
Stacy Mayer: And I was thinking about some of my listeners who are in that leadership position and they're looking to get to that next level and they have a team member that is difficult, I think if you can be that leader that can turn around a difficult team member... Because your boss sees it. Your boss's boss knows that person is difficult. And if you can be that leader that finds a way to get through to that person, that is courage as well. That you are able to to not just ignore their bad behavior, but to really work with that person and turn them around. That is something that shows the executive team that you're ready for that next level.
Leila Bulling Towne: Absolutely. And yeah, it's huge. And it also speaks to your team members, because if you think that you're the only one who finds that person difficult to deal with, you're wrong. And if you think: 'Oh, I think I'm OK. It's like the emperor without clothes. Everyone sees, they all experience it.
Leila Bulling Towne: People are much smarter. I have to think a better way to describe it. They're just way more tuned in to relationships that sometimes leaders think they are right.
Stacy Mayer: Like, we all have this intuition. We know that something is just off. That's why, at the beginning when I was saying that sometimes it's pounding the fist on the table and sometimes it's much subtler than that. You can just be that person.
I had a client who, it was sort of this rolling her eyes thing that she did. The leadership team was not a huge fan of hers and she could not figure out why. And I'm like: 'You're constantly judging every person in this room.'
And sometimes they wouldn't even see her roll her eyes. But we can tell that you're judging. They know that you're judging them. And that is another form of emotional intelligence that you have to, first of all, understand that that is not going to get you whatever it is. And it's not part of your job. It's not building relationships.
Leila Bulling Towne: Yeah, exactly. And sometimes these are things that, you know, to be fair, many times, and I know that leaders, when I start to work with them on shifting some of these behaviors, they're frustrated because they're like: 'Why didn't somebody tell me this 10 years ago?'
Stacy Mayer: Oh, yeah. Thank you for that for sure.
Leila Bulling Towne: And I'm like: 'You know what? I feel for you. I wish somebody had told you. I wish somebody had given you that feedback. I wish you had been in an environment where someone said: 'You know what Leila? There's this thing that you do. I don't see it all the time. I want to tell you about it because I think it detracts from the value you bring to the team.'
And it's so trite to say feedback is a gift, but there are so many times in my life where I feel like: 'Why didn't somebody tell me that?'
Stacy Mayer: Exactly. Especially those subtle behaviors, because we just don't know. And again, now you'll tell us a little bit more about the awesome leader. But the awesome leader is the person who tells people that. Who Has the courage to point out things. But the only way that they're going to be able to do that is if they have self-awareness. Because they have to be able to see it within themselves before they can start coaching other people on that as well.
Leila Bulling Towne: Exactly. And it's developing that self-awareness. And these are almost in almost every EQ model. These are the four areas. It's that self-awareness. Can I identify how I feel in the moment? And it's self-management. 'OK, now that these are some triggers for me. What do I do to self manage?
And then going on to social awareness. 'Hey, what am I observing in the room? Oh, there's so-and-so. She's rolling her eyes again. Uh oh. I wonder what her reaction is? You start to think about how you react based on others and what they're doing. And then the final one is the drum that I keep beating, which is the building relationships. What do what do I need? What do others need? What do we need to do together? How do we connect that to the bigger picture? And that's where EQ, even just subtle changes can make a huge difference and can, quite frankly, do things like make you happier at work. I mean, wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't that be nice? And also help you be healthier? Oh, wouldn't that be nicer? All these things?
Stacy Mayer: Yeah. And the way you just described it as well is that sometimes people think of emotional intelligence as soft and squishy. But it is a scientific method that actually gives you very specific tools to better yourself. And it's really nice for leaders who like to be able to measure things and like to be able to know if they're improving and really have that data. And it gives you that tool as well.
Leila Bulling Towne: Yes, absolutely. And I think one of the, and I may be skipping ahead here, I don't want to throw out too many resources for people, but oftentimes people say: 'If I'm a leader, I want to learn about EQ, but I also want to learn about leadership. One of my favorite books is Primal Leadership. And so I'll say that again. Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. And that book allows you to really understand EQ and also understand leadership and different leadership styles.
And if you go into what you just said, Stacy, if you want research and you want quotations and you want the citations, you're going to find it in a book like that. It's not soft. It's hard. It's real. And by the way, people with higher IQ earn more money. So there you go. Yeah.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah. So I wonder if you'd be open and willing to share any personal experience with your own emotional intelligence and how this has maybe helped you in your business, helped you as a coach, anything that you have learned through investigating emotional intelligence in yourself?
Leila Bulling Towne: Yes, absolutely. So I find conversations about money uncomfortable. And so that's my baggage. And that's one of the shticks that I use often in training and coaching is: What's in your baggage? What are those rocks that you're bringing along with you? Dragging along with you?
And years ago I found a purse and there are several of them out there. You can find them on Etsy. But it said emotional bag. It just was about 10 years ago, I was in Amsterdam for a work trip and I was like: 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to get that.'
And when I use that bag, whether I'm on a plane or walking around, I'm in a city walking around, people are like: 'Oh, that's so funny. Emotional baggage.'
Well, one of the things in my emotional baggage is I don't like to deal with money. I don't like to have money conversations. So then, for me as a businesswoman, because I'm running a business, I need to understand that. And I need to be clear about how I phrase money discussions. How I do contracts. And you've known me a long time, Stacy, you know to be successful, you run a business. So I'm not just a coach, but I'm running somebody running a business. So understanding: 'OK, why do I feel this way? Because I got to write that contract. Write that contract.'
Stacy Mayer: Your emotional baggage. It just reminded me. So Leila's emotional intelligence trainings are very entertaining. She has lots of toys and different things that she brings and lots of catchy stuff. And so I just have this image of your your little stuffies and your icebreakers and your sweet smelling markers and everything else. You got to keep it fun.
Leila Bulling Towne: Yes, exactly.
Stacy Mayer: That's great. I love it.
So, Leila, how can we find out more about you. So tell us how people can connect with you more.
Leila Bulling Towne: Yes, you can find me first at AwesomeLeader.com. That's my new online coaching and training platform. So that is a six week program so that companies can train managers online, watch 15-minute lessons, join weekly coaching calls, and get not only the skills that you need, but also the accountability you need to make sure you do those things. So you can find me an AwesomeLeader.com.
And I'm also really easy to find on LinkedIn. I actually am the only Leila, like if you actually go to LinkedIn, I was the first Leila to join LinkedIn.
Stacy Mayer: So before we go, I wonder if you have any final words of wisdom. It's in particular for leaders who are looking to advance their careers. They want to start learning the skills now that it's going to take to be successful at senior executive leadership positions. What would you say to them, across the board? Anything. It doesn't even have to be about emotional intelligence?
Leila Bulling Towne: Yeah, I would really ask you to think about celebrating yourself and also marking some of your accomplishments. So really thinking about: 'Gee, if I wanted to learn about EQ, I did it and I marked it.' And to really celebrate and think of it as a journey.
It's a little bit like performance reviews in a way. Managers and employees are often like: 'Oh, I have to write performance reviews. It's such a pain.' Well, if you do a little along the way, you will see how far you've come. So the more that people can mark those things, whether you're writing it down. I mean, I'm not the best example because I like to celebrate by buying myself shoes. That's how I reward myself. But the ways in which you reward yourself and acknowledge what you've done and that also encodes in your brain. And that helps give you the the motivation to keep going.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, this this is just a quick side note, but it just reminds me of: You can come so far, in particular with managing your emotions and emotional intelligence, and then that one thing happens. And you just lose yourself a little bit. And you think that you've gone all the way back. But in truth, you haven't. It was just one incident. And the way that you can know that you haven't gone all the way back is because you're looking at how much you've grown. And it's really clear to you: 'Oh, ten years ago it would have been much bigger than this. So you're not backtracking, but it's so important to keep track of those wins and to really to really say to myself: 'I'm making progress. Because every day we're going to have a situation that's new to us. We're not going to be facing the same thing every day. Every year.
Leila Bulling Towne: Yeah, absolutely. And to add on to that, when you do find yourself like having those little volcanoes, sorry, goes a long way. And sorry, doing it immediately, like: 'Oh, I wish I hadn't done that. I'm really sorry about that.'
And so there you're really like you're doing it, but you're self aware. You weren't able to self manage as you hoped, but you were also able to really think about it immediately. And maybe it's sometimes actually going and calling somebody. Instead of a mass email: 'Hey, team. Sorry, I exploded there.' Send each of them an email, send them a text. 'Hey, I hope you can forgive me. Who boy, things are stressful.'
Those little touches go such a long way towards helping what I know you want your leaders to do, which is help them get promoted. You're also promoted because you retain your top performers. So that's the way to retain your top performers.
Stacy Mayer: I love tha. Let us end on that note, you're also promoted because you retain your top performers. Huge. I love it.
Leila, this is such an honor. It's a huge milestone for me to have my mentor on my podcast. Thank you for being here with me today and all of us. I'm sure we're going to learn a lot about that and from you and check out AwesomeLeader.com Thank you. Bye!
Leila Bulling Towne: Bye! Thanks, Stacy.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.
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