Why Senior Executives Lack Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is universally touted as the “must have skill” for anyone who wants to succeed in business.   Dr. Travis Bradberry, a recognized authority in the field, summarizes research into some important findings for those who want to attain, and remain in, the C-Suite.

In a recent posting, Dr  Bradberry states that CEOs, as a group, rank lowest in emotional intelligence.  This will come as no surprise to many, but as he points out, one provocative finding in particular makes EI a vital trait for the CEO to have, even if he or she has less of it than anyone else in the organization.

The CEO who wants to succeed in the role (and those working for him or her) will profit by learning “Why Your Boss Lacks Emotional Intelligence.”

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Are You Fooling Yourself


On February 15, 1988, this Nobel Prize-winning physicist died at age 69 of abdominal cancer.  At his death, he was best remembered as a brilliant young scientist who cut his teeth on The Manhattan Project and subsequently rose to the top of his profession after World War II.  A New York Times obituary described him as “arguably the most brilliant, iconoclastic, and influential of the postwar generation of theoretical physicists.”

Despite his importance in the scientific community and his status as a 1965 Nobel laureate, he was not well known in popular culture when he was asked to serve on the presidential commission investigating the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986.  During the hearings, he stunned the nation and humiliated NASA officials when he placed an O-ring seal in a glass of ice water and, in less than 30 seconds, demonstrated the vulnerability of the seal.  If NASA scientists had paid attention to this simple principle, he suggested, the disaster would have been avoided.

Despite his serious scientific credentials, he was a free-spirited eccentric who enjoyed playing the bongo drums almost as much as he enjoyed playing practical jokes on colleagues.  When once asked if he could explain in simple terms what he had done to earn the Nobel award, he said: “Hell, if I could explain it in three minutes, it wouldn’t be worth the Nobel Prize.”

He once offered an observation about science that applies to every aspect of life:

   “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself,

    and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Who is this man?   (Answer below)

THIS WEEK’S THEME:  “In What Ways Have You Been Fooling Yourself?”

The quotation in this week’s Puzzler makes a point that’s been made countless times over the centuries: it’s easy for human beings to deceive themselves.

The big problem in life, though, is that people in the middle of fooling themselves are not aware of their folly.  Even worse, in the middle of expressing a false belief, they may even be thinking they’re completely correct.  The eminent philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein expressed the problem this way:

   “If there were a verb meaning ‘to believe falsely,’

    it would not have any significant first-person, present indicative.”

In plain English, this means that it is virtually impossible for people to say “I am believing falsely” when they’re in the middle of falsely believing something.   Of course, they might — and often do — say in the past tense, “I have believed falsely.”  But when people believe something, at the very moment they express the belief, they invariably conclude that it is true.

For centuries, great thinkers have reminded us that it is common for people to engage in self-deception, especially when they’re describing personal traits and qualities.  This is true even when people begin their observations with the caveat, “I may be wrong, but….”  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever met any people who said those words and really believed they might be wrong.

This week, think about how all of this this may apply to you.  The next time you begin to pontificate on some topic, simply stop and ask yourself, “What if I might be wrong?”  You may even want to go a little deeper and ask, “What are some beliefs about myself that just might be wrong?”  Think about it.  And as you do, reflect on these other quotations on this week’s theme:

   “The man who suspects his own tediousness is yet to be born.”

          Thomas Bailey Aldrich

   “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”

          Leonardo da Vinci

   “Who has deceiv’d thee so oft as thyself?”

          Benjamin Franklin

   “We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.”

          Eric Hoffer

   “No estimate is more in danger of erroneous calculations than those

    by which a man computes the force of his own genius.”

          Dr. Samuel Johnson

   “Our enemies come nearer the truth in the opinions they form of us

    than we do in our opinion of ourselves.”

          Francois de La Rochefoucauld

   “The most common sort of lie is the one uttered to one’s self.”

          Friedrich Nietzsche

   “Where we have strong emotions, we’re liable to fool ourselves.”

          Carl Sagan

   “The worst of all deceptions is self-deception.”


   “We do not deal much in fact when we are contemplating ourselves.”

          Mark Twain


On February 9, 1866, George Ade was born in Kentland, Indiana.  One of seven children brought up in small midwestern town, he was a teenager when he became interested in the newspaper business.  He went on to major in journalism at Purdue University, graduating in 1887.  In 1890, he moved to Chicago to take a job with the Chicago Daily News (later the Chicago Record), and it was not long before he brought his endearing country-boy ways to the big city.

Originally hired as a weather reporter, Ade took to the streets, asking local residents for their thoughts about the weather.  The practice of reporting the comments of regular folks proved so popular that Ade was soon writing a daily column called “Stories of the Streets and The Town.”  His first three books, all based on his newspaper columns, featured some of the city’s most colorful characters: “Artie” (1896), an office boy, “Pink Marsh” (1897), a black shoeshine boy, and “Doc Horne” (1899), a gentlemanly con artist.

In 1899, Ade’s “Fables in Slang” became a national best-seller (he went on to thoroughly “milk” concept, writing eleven additional humorous books of fables over the next several decades).  He also became one of the most successful playwrights of his era and, with the birth of the motion-picture industry, one of the earliest screenwriters.  He is not well remembered today, but in the first decades of the twentieth century, his popularity rivaled that of Mark Twain’s.  When a respected Oxford professor of literature visited America in 1915, he described Ade as “the greatest living American writer.”

I’ve long been a fan of “altered aphorisms,” sayings that parody or slightly tweak famous sayings.  Ade favored the form:

   “Familiarity breeds contentment.”

   “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home

    for wearing what you like.”

   “Early to bed and early to rise is a bad rule for any one who wishes to

    become acquainted with our most prominent and influential people.”

He also authored these other memorable lines:

   “For parlor use the vague generality is a life-saver.”

   “Anybody can win unless there happens to be a second entry.”

   “‘Whom are you?’ he asked, for he had attended business college.”

   “If it were not for the presents, an elopement would be preferable.”

   “The music teacher came twice a week

    to bridge the awful gap between Dorothy and Chopin.”

Like Mark Twain, Ade traveled the country, enthralling people from the speaking platform.  And also like Twain, he had an irreverent streak that occasionally offended religious people.  On a lecture tour in the early 1900s, he checked into an Indianapolis hotel that was hosting a convention for a group of clergyman.  One of Ade’s companions, noticing the irony, asked the humorist how it felt being around so many members of the cloth.  Cleverly reversing the biblical story about Daniel, Ade replied:

   “I feel like a lion in a den of Daniels.”

PUZZLER ANSWER:  Richard Feynman


   “When describing ourselves,

    the great temptation is to confuse the ideal with the real.”

Until next week,

Dr. Mardy Grothe

Visit Dr. Mardy’s web site:    www.drmardy.com

Check out Dr. Mardy’s daily Twitter quotations: @drmardy

Other books by Dr. Mardy Grothe:

“Neverisms: A Quotation Lover’s Guide to Things You Should

Never Do, Never Say, or Never Forget” (May, 2011)

“Ifferisms: An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin with the Word ‘If’” (2009)

“I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like” (2008)

“Viva la Repartee” (2005)

“Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit & Wisdom” (2004)

“Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You” (1999)

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Vistage International Launches Initial Four Networking Groups

San Diego (Jan. 26, 2015) – Vistage International, a global organization which assembles and facilitates private advisory boards for CEOs, senior executives and business owners, today announced the launch of its first four networks: Corporate Social Responsibility, Deal, Golf and Manufacturing.

“Networks were created to provide more opportunities for peer to peer connection among the 19,000 leaders who are engaged within the Vistage global community,” said Steve Dobbins, senior vice president of Member Engagement. “The networks will give members, Chairs and speakers access to deep subject matter expertise and connections that might not be found through a traditional geographic-based Vistage peer advisory group. The networks will allow everyone within the Vistage community to further enhance their knowledge base and become even better leaders.”

Network members will have access to dynamic in-person events; monthly webinars; and an online network, which will include thought leadership, expert resources, discussion boards, and network directories with deep profile information, among other benefits.

Corporate Social Responsibility
The Corporate Social Responsibility Network will serve those who are committed to creating a better world through business by providing best practices for implementation, action plans for company integration, opportunities for community engagement, as well as exploring CSR trends.

The Deal Network, with the support of its founding sponsor Axial, will provide education, resources and connections for those in the Vistage community who are interested in pursuing transactional and business opportunities for their companies in general and with other Vistage peers.

The Golf Network will provide the Vistage community with recreational and educational golf events at leading courses around the world, exclusive skill building events, best practices for leveraging golf as a business tool and access to other Vistage golfers through the Vistage Golf Exchange.

The Manufacturing Network will provide opportunities for its members to grow their expertise, the health of their companies and their industry connections with targeted education and peer-to-peer best practice sharing.

New networking groups will be added throughout 2015, with even more to come in 2016.

About Vistage International
Founded in 1957 and headquartered in San Diego, California, Vistage assembles and facilitates private advisory boards for CEOs, senior executives and business owners. Vistage members participate in monthly, Chair-led private advisory board meetings. More than 19,000 members in 16 countries also have access to one-to-one executive coaching, expert speakers, and our global network of business leaders.


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To Learn Something New–Try Spending Time with Others Companies

The most innovative ideas often come from crossing boundaries. So if you want to learn new things this year, try spending time at other smart companies – even those outside of your industry. Learning directly from other companies is a useful, underutilized form of research for finding ways to improve performance. Venture out to see other firms or invite another organization to visit yours. By taking the time to visit other companies, you’ll have the chance to see how other organizations do their work and approach problem-solving. You’ll see how peers set goals, find ways of achieving them, and measure performance. Encouraging visits from other companies can also help connect you to possible future employees. It lets the frontline staff serve as tour guides, thereby honing their communication and presentation skills. And it shows off what you can do.

Fortunately, our Tucson Vistage groups provide precisely this opportunity for 40 fortunate local executives…every month!

Adapted from “Learning New Things Means Getting Up From Your Desk” by Brad Power.

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The Problem with American Management

Is explained in a comical, albeit perceptive way at tickld.com. Check out the short and sweet satire at this link.

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Three out of four ain’t bad.The economy has more than made up for its negative first quarter performance (due mostly to weather) with a real (inflation adjusted) GDP Growth of 5.0% for the  third quarter.  This is the strongest quarterly growth rate since 2003.  Economist Brian Wesbury looks ahead at what this means for the economy, stock market and interest rates in a one page analysis.    Hopefully Q4 will continue the trend.

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Get These Three Business Mistakes Out of the Way Now

Vistage CEO Leon Shapiro recently contributed a short article to Fast Company in which he suggests that there are 3 essential mistakes every leader should make as early possible in his or her career.

He says “these mistakes will test you as a leader on just about every level—from the strategic to the tactical to the emotional Quite simply, getting these big three business mistakes out of the way now will make you a better leader.” Read the article here.

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Congratulations to Vistage Member Brad Smith, CEO of Airtronics

Please join me in congratulating Tucson Vistage Member Brad Smith and the entire crew at Airtronics. Airtronics is a recipient of a 2014 Copper Cactus Award in the category of Blue Cross Blue Shield Best Places to Work.

Way to go Brad and all the employees at Airtronics.

See the article here.

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What’s Your Excuse (for not delegating)?

What’s Your Excuse (for not delegating)?

Whether you are CEO, C-level executive or first line supervisor, you no doubt have more to do than one person can accomplish.

Vistage speaker Tom Foster in his latest blog entry notes 8 great reasons, and most of us have used them all at one time or another. Before you flip over to Tom’s blog, ask yourself what your favorite is. Find Tom’s blog entry at Tucson Business Coaching.

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Turn the Ship Around

Vistage members gather once a year for “All City Events”.   At a recent All City Event Navy Captain David Marquet shared leadership lessons learned and applied in turning the nuclear submarine USS Santa Fe from  “worst to first” in the US Submarine Fleet. He’ll share  a few of them with you if you’ll invest 18  minutes in a brief TEDx talk Captain Marquet gave at Scott Air Force Base based on his book  “Turn the Ship Around..”

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