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​Maxwell Leadership Podcast: Emotional Intelligence (Part 1)

March 25, 2020
​Maxwell Leadership Podcast: Emotional Intelligence (Part 1)

We are so excited to bring you a new series on Emotional Intelligence! In this series, John Maxwell references the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and shares five attributes of an emotionally intelligent leader. In this part of the series, John teaches the first two points and explains the importance of self-awareness and self-regulation.

We’re also excited to bring back Chris Goede as the co-host for this series, along with Mark Cole, the CEO of The John Maxwell Enterprise. Chris and Mark emphasize the importance of self-awareness in relation to consistency. The less we know ourselves, the more we roleplay, causing us to behave inconsistently. But the more aware we are of ourselves, the more consistent we are with everyone.

Our BONUS resource for this series is the Emotional Intelligence Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Chris Goede: Welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. My name is Chris Goede and I am excited to be co-hosting today with Mark Cole. Today we are starting a series called “Emotional Intelligence”. If you’d like to download the notes, please visit: Now, let’s dive into today’s lesson, “Emotional Intelligence” by Dr. John C. Maxwell.

John Maxwell: Today I’d like to talk you on the subject, Emotional Intelligence. This is a book you maybe have read, Emotional Intelligence? It’s a good book, and when I teach sometimes, I put a book out in front of you to say, “If you haven’t read it, you really need to read it.” And, I would highly recommend this book. In Emotional Intelligence, Daniel talks about the components, the really, the important components of a leader that give them what he calls, “Emotional Intelligence”. And, in a moment, we are going to talk about it. Before we get to that, I just wanted to say, when I talked about the subject, “What Makes a Leader”, leaders come in different sizes, shapes, personalities, I mean, leaders are really different. But what I want you to understand is even though that leaders are different, when it comes to the emotional intelligence of leaders there are five qualities that we are going to study today that they have. And, that I would say that 80% of them have these qualities in their life. What makes emotional intelligence so important is that a lot of times our leadership is leading volunteers. I’ve always said that if you’re paying somebody to follow you, that’s not being a leader. I mean, hello! I mean, how good of a leader you have to have you say, “You know what? If you don’t follow me, I’m going to fire you.” I mean, hello! Okay. They get in line. But when you’re leading volunteers—in fact, when I’m in the corporate world and they’re saying, “How do I pick my top leaders in my company?” I always say, “Put them in community volunteer projects and see how well they lead when people don’t have to follow.” Now, here’s the bottom line of this lesson, to lead volunteers, you have to have a high degree of emotional intelligence. That’s a fact.

So, research about emotional intelligence confirms—I’m in your notes now— number one, leaders with emotional intelligence outperform those without it, because they are much better relationally. Emotional intelligence allows you to get in touch with yourself and it allows you to get in touch with others. That’s what sets you apart.

Number two, emotional intelligence can be learned and can be developed. That’s why I’m doing the lesson. I’m doing the lesson because everything I’m going to share with you now, can be learned, can be developed. So, let’s rock and roll.

Five components of emotional intelligence at work:

One is Self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your moods, your emotions, your drives, as well, as their effect on others. In other words, all of those things that we have, how do they affect others? Hallmarks of self-awareness: self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, self-depreciating humor. One of the things that I love about people that are aware of themselves, really, and are very grounded in their self-image is when you listen to them talk and they’re very self-depreciated in their humor. They have no problem laughing at themselves, they have no problem making fun of themselves. It goes back to the statement I always tell people, “You might laugh at yourself because everyone else is.” You know what I’m saying? So, you know, don’t take yourself too serious because you’re the only one that does. And, people that are self-aware, they have that, kind of, self-depreciating sense of humor.

Second component of emotional intelligence is self-regulation. That’s the ability to control or re-direct disruptive impulses in moods. The propensity to suspend judgement; to think before actions. This is getting now into self-regulation, self-discipline. The hallmarks of self-regulation: trustworthiness and integrity. They’re comfortable with ambiguity, and there’s an openness to change with people of self-regulation.

The third component of emotional intelligence is motivation. A passion of work for reasons that go beyond money, or status, or propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. Hallmarks of people that are highly motivated: strong drive to achieve, optimism, even in the face of failure. Boy, that is very true! People that are highly motivated, optimistic, even in the face of failure, and organizational commitment. They are really committed to making whatever they are working on, their job, their organization do well.

The next component of emotional intelligence is empathy. The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. It’s the skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions; and this is an expertise in building and retaining talent. When you are empathetic you have a high odds of being able to build and retain the talent around you because people can really connect with those that are empathetic. Also, it is great for cross-cultural sensitivity. Today, because our world has gotten flat, as Freeman says, and because everybody is so close to us. This is a huge gift when it’s cross-cultural.

The fifth emotional component to intelligence is social skills. Just the ability to socially be able to network, find rapport with people, common ground. Hallmarks of people’s social skills is they’re affective in leading change because they relate well with people. They are persuasive, their expertise in building and leading teams. Social skill people can do that very, very, well. Now, what I want to do is I want to take those five social skills and take, perhaps, a few minutes with each and break it down for you, and relate it to leadership, and hopefully add value to you so that you can apply it to your life. Now what I would suggest, is you’re taking this lesson here, I would encourage you to kind of evaluate yourself, okay? I mean, it’s not for anyone else but you. But, ask yourself, “How do I do it in this emotional intelligent in one of these five components?”

Let’s look at self-awareness first of all. I have a degree in counseling; I’ve done a lot of it. I would say the first lesson I learned in counseling people is that people do not realistically see themselves. That’s an absolute fact. Most of us do not have the ability to see ourselves. Especially, as others see us. Now, what’s interesting is, we can quickly see others, isn’t that true?

I mean, we can look at somebody and say, “My goodness, why did they do that?” But then, all of our disfunction and all of the stuff that we have in our life, we are very blind to ourselves. That’s just all of us. Each of us is really five people. In your notes:

1. You are who you are.
2. You are who you think you are.
3. You are who your family thinks you are.
4. You are who your friends think you are.
5. You are who your acquaintances think you are.

Say right with me in the notes: the less we know about ourselves—this is very true, gang—the less we know about ourselves, the more we will roleplay. When you think of authentic people, they’re authentic because they are very self-aware of who they are. If we are not self-aware, we will begin to roleplay our life. Let’s go on—the better we know ourselves, the more we will be the same with everyone in every situation. In other words, we will be very comfortable in our skin. Now, what does self-awareness mean to a leader? I mean, how do we apply this to leaders? How do I know that I’m self-aware and what kind of behavior should I have in my self-awareness?

Number one, consistency. When I speak of consistency, I’ve talked about consistency in moods, values, and principles that allow leaders to be effective. It helps them to delegate decision making. So, ask yourself as a leader, “How am I? Am I consistent in my moods? Am I consistent in my values? Do people know my values? Am I consistent in my principles so that people around me know how I’m going to respond?” Let me just illustrate it this way, 95% of all the decisions that are made by my group, my organization, are not made by me. My people know me so well. They just know me very well. I don’t have to make very many of the decisions, they know how I would respond about every situation because I operate my life on certain values, I operate my life on definite principles of leadership, and they know that, and I’m very consistent in my moods. They are never going to wonder, “Is he up? Or, is he down?” “Can I approach him? “Do I need to wait for another day?” “Do I need to wait for another place? Another time?” Consistency.

Second characteristic or behavior of self-awareness is openness and transparency. As a leader, one of the areas that I have found that is very challenging—openness and transparency—is when you do performance reviews with people. When you do performance reviews with people it’s difficult because people, again, lack of self-awareness. So, a lot of times it confrontational, and it’s not always fun.

The third behavior is the willingness to address weaknesses. The willingness to address the weaknesses in my life or in your life without becoming defensive is huge in self-awareness. The more we know ourselves, the more will allow other people to talk about the areas that we fail in, and that we are weak in. And, self-aware leaders—I put this in your notes—bring people around them that compliment for their weaknesses. In other words, if I’m aware of my shortcomings—which I am very aware of my shortcomings. The only people more aware of my shortcomings in me are my inner circle. They are really aware of my shortcomings. One of my favorite stories is one time when I was writing in one of my books, it was in Leadership Gold, and I was talking about knowing your weaknesses, and I called my assistant Linda, and I said, “Linda, I’m writing all of my weaknesses and why don’t you, you know, over the next couple of weeks just jot down some of my weaknesses down and give them to me and I’ll make sure I get them into my chapter here.” Linda said, “Well John, you don’t need to wait that long. I can give them to you now if you want me to.” I said, “What do you mean you’ll give them to me now?” She said, “Well, you know, I’ve worked with you for 20 years. Get a piece of paper, take notes. I’ll give them to you right now.” I said, “Oh, that’s a little quick, isn’t it? Don’t you really want to think about this?” “No, no, I don’t need to think about it.” She was very aware of my weaknesses. What I love is leaders who, kind of, somehow try to snow people. You know what I’m saying? Go back to your people and let them know that you know your weaknesses. It will make them feel good that you know. You know what I’m saying? “Oh, thank god, he knows. We don’t have to tell him!” You know what I’m saying? “He understands. He knows.” We just had a very important meeting yesterday. I had my inner circle down, and we had about a five-hour meeting, kind of a strategic meeting on a project. What was phenomenal is in that five-hour meeting I bet you I didn’t talk over ten minutes in the five-hour meeting. They asked the questions; they have my back. They know what I’m good at; they know what I’m not good at. They know the questions they need to ask because they know that I won’t ask them. Perhaps, it’s because it’s weaknesses in my life. I just thought, “How nice it is to be in a group of people who loves me unconditionally, who knows all of my weaknesses, and are saying, ‘John, we got your back. We are going to make sure we get this covered for you. We are going to make sure that we do the right thing on this project. The decisions got to be made and we’re going to help you.’” And I thought, “Man, I couldn’t do it without them.”

One more quick behavior in this entire area of self-awareness and that is, number four, understanding your values and what is important to you. That’s the core of self-awareness. It’s the character anchor that holds you and me steady. In your notes: Self-awareness is a result of maturity and feedback, and the willingness to change. When we are mature, we’ll handle feedback well, and when we handle feedback well, guess what happens? Well, change. Because people will come in and say, “Hey, there are some areas in your life that you need to change.” So, self-awareness, emotional component number one of emotional intelligence.

Number two is self-regulation. This is about us, okay? When people ask me the question—and I’m asked this a lot of times in leadership conferences—people raise their hand and say, “John, what is your greatest challenge as a leader? What’s the most difficult leadership challenge you have?” I always tell them, “That’s a very easy one for me to answer. The most difficult challenge I have in leading is leading myself.” My difficult challenge isn’t leading other people. It’s much harder for me to lead myself. I feel like the guy who said, “If I had to kick the person most responsible for my problems, I wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week.” I have a much harder time leading myself than leading someone else and making decisions for right reasons and for right motives. How do we regulate self? Okay, self-regulation is about us leading ourselves before we lead others. I have a paragraph in here on set your standards high, just a quick read here:

“Set your standards high, keep them high. If you’re interested in success, it’s easy to set your standards in terms of other people’s accomplishments. And then let other people measure you by those standards. But the standards you set for yourself are always the most important.” Here’s the key, “They should be higher than the standards anyone else would set for you, because in the end you have to live with yourself, and judge yourself, and feel good about yourself. And the best way to do this is to live up to your highest potential. So set your standards high, keep them high, even when you think that no one else is looking. Someone out there will always notice, even if it’s just you.” Leaders never ask more of their people than they would ever ask of themselves. They never do.

Let me give you a quick picture of a leader that is in trouble. A leader that is in trouble is a person that has everyone else have to set the standards for them because they don’t set their standards high enough. I’ve always said in my life, whether it comes to my speaking, my writing, my relationships, I’m going to set my standard so high that there isn’t anyone else that will have a higher expectation than me that I have of myself.

So, what does self-regulation mean? Quickly, three things:
1. Leading yourself. I think we’ve talked enough about that. It’s in your notes.
2. Creating an environment of trust and fairness
3. It means being accountable for your actions.

“Leading is about the relationship between the leader and the led, and trust is at it’s core. It’s the contract you make with followers by holding yourself to account and following up with strong ethical actions. Your leadership deepens when followers know you’re reliable. A person in whom they can depend.” Here we go, I love this statement: “Accountability is about doing what’s right, even when no one is looking. It continually speaks to your integrity, your ethics. Wherever you’re leading, at home, community, work. Even one example of accountability can set others on the right road.”

Let me tell you a story guys that just blew my mind. I just came off an international trip in July of being in Africa, Europe, and Asia. I go to Asia a lot, and I go to China a lot. I go to China more than any of the other places. China has an appetite for learning and an appetite for leadership like no other group of people in the world, and I love to go there. I love to teach there. The receptivity of those people and their hunger to learn is very moving to me. So, I was teaching them about values in Shanghai about a month ago. We do a values exercise that is phenomenal where we basically, give people about sixty-sum cards with different values on them and we have them choose their values and eliminate the ones that are less important and we just keep them working and pressing them down, and pressing them down, and pressing them down, pressing them down, until we get them to their number one value. It’s an emotional, kind of, gut-wrenching, soul-searching, exercise. So, when we did this project, Mark Cole, who’s with me today guys, he was with me in China, and he was leading the exercises, and I would do the teaching and he would lead the exercises. I said, “Mark, when we do the values exercises, I’m very interested…do a poll, I want to see what the values of the Chinese people were. What is their highest value?” I was totally blown away. If you had stuck a gun in my back and had said, “John, what would be the highest value of these 2,000 people—of these 2,000 leaders in China that you are teaching? What would be their highest value?” I would have never guessed it. But, by far—when I say by far—44% of that crowd, their number one value was accountability.

Accountability. Try to fly that in America. Accountability. The willingness to be subject of people and to be accountable to people and regulate yourself, and discipline yourself. Accountability! I promise you, you throw that out to a crowd in the States, and you wouldn’t have 1% make that their highest value. It won’t even be in the top ten list with most people. But that’s what self-regulation is all about. Being accountable for your actions.

Chris Goede: Well, Mark and I are in the studio today. I’d say, we’re looking forward to unpacking this lesson, but I just got to take a breath because I feel like we are being fed by a hot fire hose right now with content around emotional intelligence. And, this is such an important topic because it goes back to a couple of weeks ago where we were talking about the ability to connect with people.

Mark Cole: Yeah.

Chris Goede: And, at the core of “EQ”, as we call it, that’s really what it’s about. John made a comment and says, “This is what makes a leader. This is the foundation of it.” I want to start at that level. I want to say, you have had the privilege for years of walking along side John and seeing someone be able to connect. Be able to develop his emotional intelligence and/or let it change, let it grow. The guy is always looking for the next opportunity to learn, or grow, or through asking questions. And, he said to us, he said in there that, “If you have it, you’re going to outperform others.”

Mark Cole: Yeah.

Chris Goede: What does that look like? From your seat looking at John, somebody that we think does it better than most. Talk about what that looks like.

Mark Cole: Well, I mean, as this podcast is being recorded, our plate, Chris, John just celebrated his 73rd birthday.

Chris Goede: Wow.

Mark Cole: So, John is 73, I would maintain—I’ve been with him 20 years, was influenced by him 15 years before that. I would maintain that John’s influence, his relevancy, his passion for the future is higher right now than it has ever been. And, I would tell you as the first thought of this lesson, that it all goes back to his emotional intelligence. So, in this lesson, John pulls from the book, Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. You need to read it. It’s powerful. But, over the next two weeks we’re going to talk about five things that John pulled out of that work that I believe, as John is teaching this I would tell everybody, maybe different than any other podcast that I hear, you need to listen, relisten, relisten, relisten, relisten to John’s teaching on this. Because more than anyone else, and maybe anything else, I think John has captured emotional intelligence. So, you go up and you say, “Okay, lift ourselves up above companies that we’ve started, influences, President’s invitations that we are responding to on a monthly basis, and just what is this thing? This emotional intelligence. Now, I’ll tell you this, Chris, you know this, I want people that’s listening to the podcast, John has reinvented himself over, and over, and over again. In fact, starting this podcast, I’ll remember, we’re now at six million downloads, Chris. Six million.

Chris Goede: That is awesome!

Mark Cole: I can remember the conversation where I told John, “John, we need to do a podcast.” And he went, “Why would we do a podcast? I don’t listen to that.” I can remember the conversation that Norwood Davis, our CFO, had with John that he needed to get on Twitter, and he now has over three million followers on Twitter. And John would go, “That doesn’t make sense to me.” But when something doesn’t make sense to him, John has the ability to remove all of his generational lack of understanding and say, “If this helps me add value to people, I will reinvent myself to do this. John says there’s two areas he’s never reinvented himself. One is his expression of leadership and the other is an expression that he has in his faith. Those two things—outside of those two things—John says he’s changed everything. Trust me, I would agree, maybe even in the last year he’s changed everything.

Chris Goede: I believe that. I believe that.

Mark Cole: It’s a constant change! But here’s the point that I don’t want us to miss. At the top of this lesson—and we are going to spend two weeks on this—it comes from an ability that John has of his self-awareness. It comes to a commitment to his values, and we’re going to talk about that a little bit later, it comes to the ability that John recognizes in his moods, in his emotions, and in his drivers that he stay comfortable in his own skin. So, I would just challenge you that we need to spend time learning from John right here. Making ourselves available to what John, not only has taught us in this lesson—back from Daniel Goleman—but also, what John is living as it relates to this lesson. Because John has created a craft out of emotional intelligence.

Chris Goede: Yeah, it reminds me of a podcast that we did recently where John talked about you have to live out what you’re talking about from a credibility standpoint, and we’re sitting here and he’s giving us the five overviews—specifically on this week, we’re talking about the two to your point. It’s probably going to take me a couple times to go through this and really even just understand.

Mark Cole: Yeah.

Chris Goede: But he’s living that out. The first ones—let’s dig in! The first one of these components that he pulls out for us is this self-awareness issue. Right? Let me just say this, I think that the longer you lead, the more comfortable you become leading, the more unaware you become of yourself.

Mark Cole: Yup! Right!

Chris Goede: You get complacent, and you just, kind of, forget about what’s going on and the weight behind you. Even if there’s bodies back there, because of your leadership style. And, so I think leaders at all levels—this is so key right here—John talked about a couple of things, the openness, the consistency; but one of the ones I want you to speak on for just a minute is his ability to just speak to his weaknesses, and to be able to do that in a way that connects him to people. And, now I see you doing it. I see you living that out in front of our team, and our leadership team. It’s just like, “Hey guys, like let me tell you what I did yesterday!” Right? Just, talk a little bit about that and the power of that from a leadership seat.

Mark Cole: Well, let me use something silly because as silly or as simple as this is, this applies in every level. Even the most important things to us. John is clumsy. Now, I wish John was right here by me right now because not only would he agree, he would probably have already spilt his water all over him.

Chris Goede: I’ve seen that. I’ve seen that!

Mark Cole: It use to be a joke! Everybody wants to sit close to John as long as we’re not eating or drinking. And then there’s nobody anywhere near John because they don’t want to have to up-up their clothes cleaning bill because John is going to spill water. It’s just on who, and at what point in dinner?

Chris Goede: And when he does it, it’s funny. It doesn’t even phase him!

Mark Cole: Oh, no!

Chris Goede: The whole table is in a mess and he’s just like, “It happens all the time.”

Mark Cole: Or, he’s teaching! I mean—so, now we don’t put glass on his table when he teaches. It’s just plastic. My point is, it’s really simple, but John never let’s that affect or distract him from who he is. He’s very aware of it. But he’s not going to spend time with that. You
know, it used to crack me up when I started working with John many, many years ago. People would say, “Hey, what’s it like being around John every day?” I would start laughing and I’d go, “Every day? I haven’t seen him in seven months!” John—for as long as, I’ve been here for 20 years—John has made a decision that the best use of his time is not to lead the day to day operations of the company. He always says he can’t do it very well or, “Put people around me, Mark can do it.” No, he can do it. And, he can do it quite well. He’s just made a decision that is not the best use of his time. He said, in his lesson today, he said, “Hey, people don’t realize this, but 95% of the decisions that are made in business are made by others.” And, he’s wrong. It’s actually 98%.

Chris Goede: It’s higher than what he said.

Mark Cole: It’s higher than what he said, I’m just kidding. But the point is, John has made a decision in his ability to be very self-aware that his best use of time should be put on his strengths. Now, let me say one more thing about John, he credits his family with a lot of this, and did in the very beginning, talked about gifted he is. But I never have to wonder if John is going to come in and come into a conversation mad, frustrated, disruptive. He just doesn’t do it. I have been in a millions of dollar decision with him that was complex, people were accusing him of stuff that was not true, and I was updating him as he was walking up the steps to speak to 4,000 people, and when that spotlight came on, and that mic came on, it got in his mouth, you would have never had known we were just dealing with what could have costed millions of dollars and forever a reputation. Here’s why: he’s self-aware and he doesn’t allow the inconsistency of others to affect what he knows is a key attribute of his leadership, and that is consistency.

Chris Goede: That is so good. And, I know that he’s even, kind of, shared that with you and as you grow in your leadership he talks about, that’s the price! Right? You’re going to have all this other stuff going on, and I think what you hit on right is so key in leadership today, and I think it’s not talked about enough, is the word consistency.

Mark Cole: Yeah.

Chris Goede: And, in order to do that, you have to be self-aware. You’ve got to understand, you’ve got to be, you know, comfortable in your own skin. One thing before we move on, to point number two, John talks about this exercise that he did with the values cards. Talk a little bit about the power of leaders understanding their team’s values. Their top five values and what that looks like. And then how that allows the leader, and/or even the team to increase the level of their IQ, increase their level of EQ with each other by having conversations around their values.

Mark Cole: I’m actually going to flip it back to you. As Vice President of Corporate Leadership Solutions to talk about how we do that with companies.

Chris Goede: Okay.

Mark Cole: I put that on my white board, and you didn’t see it but it’s there. I’m going to come back to you, but I want two things before we go to self-regulation, Chris. The first is the foundation. Know your values, know who you are. Are you changing your values all the time? Does your team not even know what you value?

Chris Goede: Right.

Mark Cole: So many times, we have office values and home values. John was asked several years ago to write a book on business ethics by his publisher; and he came back and said, “I can’t write about business ethics.”

Chris Goede: Good. Yeah.

Mark Cole: He said, “Because there is no such thing as business ethics, there’s only ethics. You either have them, or you don’t. You can’t have ethics at home and then be unethical at work. It doesn’t work.” That inability to be consistent will impact both home and work if you’re not consistent. So, let’s go back to the point that you made, what are your values? Do you know them, leader? Mr. or Mrs. Listener? Do you know your values? But I’m going to go even farther…do you protect your values?

Chris Goede: Yup.

Mark Cole: I’m going to go even farther; do you communicate your values? And let me go one final step, do you lead from those values and expect people to live out those values under your leadership?

Chris Goede: Yeah.

Mark Cole: So many times, us as leaders we sometimes know our values, sometimes we don’t even think about them. We don’t really live in those, and certainly we don’t expect others—not to have our same values, but to respect the values to drive our leadership. So, I do want to say one more thing about John and being consistent, but just talk a minute about how we go in with these corporate leaders, and we work with them on identifying their values through the Five Levels exercise.

Chris Goede: It’s probably the most powerful activity and exercise you can do as a team. I’ve seen it change. I’ve seen the dynamics of the team change right in front of my eyes. You know, when you think about people, and we’re talking about people and we’re all in the people business from an EQ standpoint, we talk about the fact that you really need to know, really, kind of, three buckets: how they’re wired, their learn behaviors, and what they value. This exercise that John has developed is so powerful around what your values are. We take them through an exercise, and then we begin to have conversations like this: “Hey, how can your leader do a better job of leading you around your personal values?” And, do what you said earlier, your values personally and professionally should be the same. They shouldn’t be different. Then, we talk a little bit about how the organization can do a better job of leading you with your values? I’ll kind of wrap up, it’s a long conversation, but I’ll wrap up saying this. A lot of times we’ll ask this question, “How many of you in the room have had a leader ask you to do something that jeopardized one of your values?” No doubt, everybody’s hand goes up in the room. I go, “Okay.” And then as John teaches us, “I implement two pregnancy pauses.” I say, “Hey, how many of you right now that you have influence with to do something that jeopardizes one of their values?” And, it’s just dead silent. Because we don’t know. We don’t know our values. What we’ve got to do, back to self-awareness, we’ve got to understand our values—we’ve got to go first. And then we need to make sure we understand our team’s values.

Mark Cole: Yeah, and so on that point, Chris, the final the thing I wanted to bring under self-awareness is I’ll never forget this, people ask all the time, “What’s the most profound thing you’ve learned from John?” “What’s that most profound experience you’ve had?” What’s the most—because of John’s impact around the world is notoriety, people really want to know that top thing of somebody that is tenured. And, I’ll never forget, we had an exchange event in San Francisco about five years ago—

Chris Goede: —I remember.

Mark Cole: And, Liz Wiseman came and spoke about her book Multipliers; and in that book you’ll remember, and if you haven’t picked that book up and you’re listening to the podcast, you need to go pick the book up. In that, she talks about how we overuse our strengths, and we under utilize our weaknesses, at least in the awareness concept.

Chris Goede: Yeah.

Mark Cole: And it riveted John. So, John pulled his people together and he said, “Okay, what are my—” he talked about doing this with Linda, his executive assistant.

Chris Goede: Right.

Mark Cole: I was in a group he did that with too, and he said, “What are my strengths? And, how did I misuse them? What are the blind spots to my strengths?” And we begin working through that with him, and I’ll never forget the tears that started rolling down his cheeks and he said, “I never knew that it felt like that for someone else when I was living in my strengths. I thought everybody would be excited.” I mean authentic tears just rolling down his cheeks and said, “I had no idea I was doing that to y’all.” It led him to a discipline, and this is where I’m going with this. It led him to a discipline that he does to this day, and I try to do it as well, it’s a question that periodically he asks everybody in his circle of influence, in his inner circle. Here’s the question: “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” Think about that question! This is the guy that has sold thirty million plus books, this is a guy that doesn’t need me! He let’s me be apart and feel needed. He doesn’t need me to influence, and he’s sitting there going, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” I’ll tell you this, Chris, most of my self-awareness these days comes in that answer.

Chris Goede: Totally agree.

Mark Cole: My own self-awareness with how fast I go with the amount of responsibilities I have and is successful sometimes as I feel.

Chris Goede: Sure.

Mark Cole: Doesn’t come from self-reflection, it comes from asking a question of what other people see on being on the other side of me and giving me a great insight to my self-awareness.

Chris Goede: Listeners, right now you’re driving in the car, you’re sitting in your office, you’re working out—whatever you’re doing, that, right there, is pure gold. That is the question that you need to be asking of your team to Mark’s point which will enlighten, if there’s trust there, will it enlighten where you’re at? And, your team will be able to tell you that. That’s really good stuff right there. All right, so, we’re moving to number two. He talks about this self-regulation, and really, I think on there John says, “You know, the most difficult person to lead is yourself.”

Mark Cole: Yeah.

Chris Goede: Man, you can sell yourself in and out of anything. One of the things I love about what John does is that he puts systems, processes around areas that he knows he needs help in or needs to be held accountable. One of the areas I want you to talk about, because I know that you model this as well, is that John has, in order to hold himself accountable, he has people around him that he calls “The Inner Circle”. Talk about the power of that, that you’ve seen lived out in John’s life and then even in your leadership life of having that, and what that looks like, and how it’s expanded.

Mark Cole: Yeah, again, it’s on this content or this concept of self-regulation. I talked about a few episodes ago, Chris, you’ll remember, you were co-hosting with me, I talked about my intensity and communicating from that passion and not realizing that, that was overwhelming. So, how do we self-regulate? How do we make sure that we’re leading ourselves? How do we make sure that we are creating an environment of trust and fairness? How do we make sure that we are accountable to our actions? Especially, when we are the senior leader. And, the best way I know how is with an inner circle, and an outer circle. Now, let me explain a little bit, John’s taught this and I’m not going to teach this right now, but let me just give you top level refresher: An inner circle is a group of women and men that you surround yourself that keeps you grounded with your values and who you were meant to be. Kind of your purpose, and they keep you accountable to staying on point with the human being, the individual, the leader that you were called and designed to be. That’s an inner circle. And, my question to you, me, people listening, do you give them more credibility in holding you to your values than you give to yourself? Not the same amount. Oh no, no, no, no. If they’re an inner circle, they need to have more credibility to hold you to your values.

Chris Goede: That’s right!

Mark Cole: Because, we as leaders, we get into these environments, we get comfortable, we’re made to drive, we’re made to, kind of, fudge a little bit, and push a little beyond. Your inner circle needs to have more authority to hold you to your values than you give to yourself. That’s an inner circle.

Chris Goede: Love that!

Mark Cole: An outer circle is people that were put in your life designed to stretch you beyond your comfort zone. In other words, your outer circle, if they’re really good, they are challenging you to new frontiers, new accomplishments, that you would never do if you didn’t give somebody the ability to kick you in the butt sometimes to get going. So, my question to you is: Do you have an inner circle that’s keeping you grounded? And, do you have an outer circle that’s trying to get you off the ground? And somewhere in that tension, in my opinion, is self-regulation.

Chris Goede: That is awesome! I know it challenges me. I have some people that I would call my inner circle, hadn’t been proactive on that outer circle. And, so I think each one of us listening to that needs to hear that advice. Who are those around? And what’s great about it, and your point of inner circle, that question that we challenged to everybody, that leaving this podcast and this part one of this series that they’re going to go ask, if they have that inner circle, they will get some real answers.

Mark Cole: That’s right.

Chris Goede: And it would be interesting to see the difference between, maybe, those answers and, maybe, the answers of those that are not in your inner circle. And, John likes to teach on gaps—we’re not going to go there now, I’m going to wrap up and throw it to you for any closing thoughts, but I bet there is a gap there that as leaders, we need to analyze and then it’s our responsibility to close that. So, this is just an interesting challenge for you this week in our podcast as we talk about this such an important topic of emotional intelligence. Any closing thoughts for our listeners as we end this part one?

Mark Cole: Yeah, driven leaders, you type A’s out there that resonate with me, you got my heart. You really need to re-listen to John’s teaching. You need to listen to this podcast, and you need to make sure that you tune in next episode. Because, what good is it if you accomplish
everything you produce, everything you set out to, but you leave a wake, a carnage of people behind you. What does it profit? What is the gain of getting where you want to go and arriving alone? What is that gain? And, so this emotional intelligence is something we need to do. You need to keep producing, but so many of us want to produce at the expense of people, rather than in relationship with people. That’s why this lesson is so important, and John Maxwell at 73 is doing it like I’ve never seen before.

Chris Goede: Yeah, what’s your motive? Right? What makes a great leader? That’s well said, Mark. Well, listen, as I wrap up, just a quick reminder, if you want to get the show notes from today, please visit: and click on the “Bonus Resource” button. While you’re there, if you haven’t subscribed, please do so. And, man, if you have someone in your inner circle—maybe even your outer circle—that needs to hear this message, you guys can have conversations. Make sure you connect them with this podcast.
Until next time, make sure you take John’s content, Mark’s comments. Listen, learn then lead.

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