Is it anger you are really feeling? How High EQ Leaders label their emotions

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One way you can grow your EQ as a leader is to name your emotions beyond your primary emotions. For example, "I am angry..." may be true for you. You are angry. But what is underneath the anger? Anger is a SECONDARY emotion and the result of some deeper emotion/feeling/thinking activity.

Do you feel sad? insulted? embarrassed? humiliated? Do you feel like you are out of control? Powerless?

The next time you feel angry, step away from the feeling and look at it the way you would look at an object. Make that feeling three dimensional by asking yourself what is generating this feeling of anger? Get curious about your feeling. 
1. Where is this coming from? Is this about the person or the situation?
2. Do I have some underlying assumptions about this that is effecting how I think/feel?
3. Do I have past trauma that is getting triggered by this situation?
4. Am I in a state of stress and anxiety and that is driving this response?
5. How can I label what I am feeling for another person so that they better understand my point of view?
6. Does this feeling serve me and my relationship or does it do damage?
7. How would I like to use this emotion?

Then use language to describe what you see.

"I feel angry because my expectations and your expectations are different and I don't like the way that feels. I thought we were on the same page and we aren't. When that happens I feel like I have been deceived, even if I haven't been--it is what I am feeling. I don't like to feel that way and it leads me to feel angry that you didn't meet my expectations..."

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we would just go one layer deeper under our primary emotions and name the REAL emotions instead of going straight to the primary emotion--in this case anger? I think the world would be a better place.

If you aren't sure how to do this, let's talk. Our "Empowering Emotionally Intelligent Leaders" workshop is the place to start.

What is your go to strategy for labeling and talking about your emotions?

#leadership #communication #EQ #emotions #motivation #coaching#inspiration #planbe #wypbe

Leaders SHOW UP

Leaders show up.


All too often a leader decides to “opt out” when it comes time to show up for training and development. Brene Brown tells the story of a female CEO at a LARGE company who threw a fit when she learned that Brown was invited to keynote a company event where she would talk about…women and failing. Brene overheard this meltdown and courageously introduced herself. She asked, “Are you staying to hear my keynote?” to which the CEO replied, “I wasn’t planning on it.” 

(I won’t tell the rest of the story but encourage you to seek out the talk on YouTube. Simply search Daring Greatly to Unlock Your Creativity and enjoy.)

Her story serves a purpose, one that I see far too often. Leaders will “pay the invoice” for the speaker, keynote, or facilitator but won’t show up and participate. Why? There is a leadership mindset that is prevalent—one defined by the holy trinity of leadership hubris:  

1. I am too important to attend an event like this

2. I don’t need this training, they do

3. I don’t have time

At the same time, I hear: “Why is my boss not here?” “Wow could our leadership use this class!” or “This is a waste of time. If my manager/boss/leader doesn’t hear this same message, nothing changes.” 

These observations lend themselves to a culture of unengaged team members. If their leadership doesn't care, why should they? It is these experiences that have cultivated ONE of my leadership philosophies:







On occasion, I am pleasantly surprised by a leader who does show up.

I worked with a group from a large global company recently. The group was assembled from around the world—The United States, South Africa, The UK, and Australia to spend the day taking their speaking skills to the next level. Their leader, Sam, joined us for the day and was engaged for the entire class (no laptop, no checking his phone, no stepping out every ten minutes for important leader stuff).

As a part of the training, participants received two coaching calls and one presentation submission —a chance to work one-on-one to address their specific needs. 

I was pleased to see Sam sign up for his coaching calls. 

This is what it looks like for a leader to show up. 

If you want to be the kind of “show up” leader that people want and need, try these three things and see how the dynamics of your relationships start to change.

1. Participate in a training class in your organization. Participate. Ask questions. Stay curious. Resist the urge to present yourself as the expert and embrace the chance to be the learner.

2. Get social. Take the time to know your people by showing up at social events. But don’t talk about yourself for goodness sakes! Ask questions and listen. Just listen. Show interest and stay curious. Make it about them, not you.

3. Think one-on-one. Unlike a classroom setting or a social event, connecting person-to-person is another way you can show up. What better way to communicate you care and are committed to each person on your team?

How do you demonstrate “show up” leadership? I collect examples and stories about the best of leadership. Share them at and opt in for other Bravo cc “good stuff” about leadership and communication!

Libby Spears, educate liberate and entertain


"Don't make me cry" The Value of a Classroom where you can Be Vulnerable

"Don't make me cry this time" said one of the leaders who was in my afternoon class "Managers who Motivate". I had worked with this group last year at a program called Institute--a four year certification program for Chamber Professionals. It is one of my MOST favorite things I do. In our class last year lots of vulnerable and hard stuff happened that day--it was cathartic and necessary and good. There were lots of tears.

"I don't think there are any crying moments in today's class so we should be good." I laughed.

When we started class I said "OK what's good? Tell me about great things that have happened since we were together last year" and oh the amazing stories I heard.

--A 40 under 40 in her community

--Named woman of the year

--Facilitated a youth conference and used my "Your Three Words" activity and two volunteers came out to the group (wow! what a risk) and the group was supportive, kind, loving toward them

--Found the courage to let someone go after our class

--Found the courage to have the tough conversation

--Is RUNNING FOR STATE CONGRESSMAN (and asked me to coach him for speaking events to which I said "I gotta know your platform brother before I can do that!")

That's the good stuff.

And then she raised her hand. She was crying before she even got a word out.

"I left here and found the courage to get a divorce."

Wow oh wow.

"I had known for a while but could not muster the courage to face this reality. My marriage was over."

People programs like this don't just change us when we go back to work. They change us when we go home too. For her that meant leaving a marriage. And look--I don't celebrate the end of a marriage. But I am old enough and been around the block to know that for her that was the way forward.

I have had other people tell me their marriage was saved. They became better parents etc.

Whatever it is, it is.

Damn. I have the best job.