Why does emotional intelligence matter?

When I tell people, I have a background in organizational psychology, they tell me “Oh so you are not a therapist, you don’t deal with people?” I then consider it my civic duty to remind them that organizations are made of people. It is the people that form an organization, its culture, values, communication pattern, and everything about it.

Emotional intelligence is a hot topic today and many organizations are embracing its importance. I have met a lot of people in the real and online world wanting to ‘increase’ their emotional intelligence. Before I say anything more, I would like to define emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of when you bring out your emotions and realize how your emotions affect others. A person with higher emotional intelligence in the overall score can recognize the feeling and perceptions of others that will help manage their emotions accordingly.

What is fascinating about emotional intelligence is that it can be modified unlike your IQ and don’t worry, increasing your EQ will not lower your IQ. Phew!

As a coach, I have stumbled upon this issue where people are good at their job and they get promoted to Directorial and VP level but fail to perform as effectively as a leader thereafter. This is when they are in the limelight of the CEOs and their employees. A person in this position can become vulnerable if their emotional intelligence is considerably low, even if their IQ is very high. If they have been using the left side of their brain, which is the logical and analytical side their whole life, then it is possible that the emotional intelligence score may be low and they are struggling in their job despite being promoted.

I have seen many articles online on how to increase your emotional intelligence. Whilst these are great resources, and there is nothing wrong per se with the information provided, it is difficult for a person who has none to little knowledge on EQ to act upon this information and be consistent. They will relapse to their old self because of a lack of self-awareness to modify their personality. Needless to say, increasing your composite scales of EQ may not always be a good idea. It all depends on your personality traits, what you do for a living, and numerous other factors that constitute you as a person. If the materials you read online and tests you take are not statistically valid and reliable without anyone to interpret your data, it may lead to confusion and sheer misperception.

Why should we care about our EQ?   

Let’s say Nancy (not real name) has a high IQ but barely waits for her turn to speak, outbursts her feelings and opinions instead of listening for clarity in the conversation. She has an urge to react instead of responding gently to a conflict. What is important for her is that her opinion is put out for people. This shows a lack of self-awareness on how she is behaving in a social setting and a severe blind spot in her self-awareness. People who converse with her may avoid her in meetings and other social settings. Some may praise her tremendously so she avoids conflict with them. Nancy’s lack of self-awareness may lead to her falling for these fake praises. But if we look at this scenario from Nancy’s perspective, she is unaware that she is doing anything wrong and may even wonder at times why people avoid her.

Nancy is not alone. Many white-collared professionals in their workplace setting may not understand how to lead a team or why their team members do not respect their leadership. Many of us have blind spots that we could fine-tune. Nancy’s is an example of low self-awareness. Others may have a low or very high flexibility that has affects their professional and personal life. I have spoken to many clients in the corporate setting who came to me not knowing how to respond to people’s comments or behavior. Waiting too long with issues at the workplace and your lack of enthusiasm to get professional help can lead to making things harder than it is or you just losing everything that you have worked hard for.

People hesitate to get help for various reasons. But not reaching out for help at the right time can have consequences on your leadership, team impact, and overall presence in the workplace. People who have a vision know when to invest in themselves wisely.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|


How to be a good leader?

As a coach, I am asked the question “How to be a good leader?” far too many times. I wish there was a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. The reality is that leadership is not an entity one can grow into overnight. So, what is the best approach to developing leadership skills?

There is an old notion in most people’s minds that a leader is always authoritative, demanding, and imposing with a lot of charisma sprinkling around them. Self-esteem and self-confidence were rated highly in the past as a requirement of a true leader. The truth is that the latest research shows otherwise. The most desirable factor in a leader is humility. A good leader is relatable, approachable, and a good role model.

So, let us examine how humility leads to good leadership.

Humility weakens the inflated view of people about themselves that can diversely affect the judgment or a decision as a leader. Overconfidence and a ‘know it all’ demeanor may not affect the quality of leadership initially but as time passes, the leadership will be questioned. Failure to correct oneself or change the way they think and the inability to listen to others before making a decision are all signs of low humility. A higher level of humility among members can encourage group discussions and create a dynamic work environment, where ego and self-worth do not come in the way of decision-making.

How are humility, confidence, and good leadership related?

A confident leader considers the viewpoints and opinions of others on a project or an issue at the workplace. This kind of confidence requires humility on the part of the leader. A leader whose performance is high is curious and is engaged in what their employees have to say. Latest research show that a leader’s knowledge is not questioned if the leader asks questions while engaging with the employees. But on the other hand, if the leader creates an illusion of knowledge and technical skill, employees question their authenticity.

But how easy is it for employees to express themselves if the leaders ask for their opinion?

This is only possible if the leaders have created an environment of trust and a safe space. The employee will only like the spotlight if they feel valued and what they have to say matters to the leaders. If the attention they receive creates gigantic fear and embarrassment, they would rather remain quiet. A good leader realizes that it is important for the team to feel a sense of belonging and what they contribute to the team matters. The mindset of a good leader is very crucial. High-performance leaders will be happy to learn from their past mistakes and are also good problem solvers. A desire to learn from others and find solutions to problems through this knowledge is only possible if leaders practice humility in their lives.

Some of the leaders who we admire today or have admired in the past are usually high in their humility. They are happy to give their attention to others and learn things that they had no knowledge of. They listen and engage in conversations with an unbiased approach that leads to better decision-making.

If you would like to learn more about your strengths and cultivate your leadership skills or any particular skill that you feel you could improve on, it is best to reach out to a professional and make the best use of their expertise rather than suffer in silence. You have a better chance at success if you reach out for help and make changes rather than do nothing at all.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|



How to deal with self-doubt and criticism?

“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” — Maya Angelou

My posts are usually inspired by the coaching sessions I have with clients or moments in my life that compels me to stop, think, and analyze. Being a career and mindset coach, I have coached corporate employees, business owners, or leaders in their own right who are well educated and fairly successful in their field.

 But a few weeks back, I saw a pattern in my clients that made me halt and pause for a few seconds. Some of the things that my clients told me prompted this post.

 “What if people find out I am educated but have no clue what I am doing?”

 “I have a Ph.D. but really don’t think I have enough knowledge.”

 “I may look like I know stuff, but I really am not that confident.”

 “I am not as educated and I only have years of experience, that makes me feel vulnerable in front of my colleagues.”

 You can probably guess where I am going with this. Yes, it is imposter syndrome. If Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, and the like can feel like a swindler because of their success and the recognition they received because of their success, then so can many of us. Imposter syndrome makes a person feel like a fraud even when they have proven to be high achievers. It worsens if the people around you induce it by questioning your work or knowledge. The moment of vulnerability can trigger more self-doubt and lead to a lack of confidence that can affect the way you behave in a work environment.

 A client of mine, let us call her Rose, a director-level employee with a Master’s degree in a corporate office, would feel petrified when she is questioned about her work or any project she is on, especially if her work is altered by her boss. She would think she is caught red-handed as a fraud. She would assume she is put on the spot because of her lack of knowledge and experience. Rose was relieved to know that this feeling has a name and that many feel the same way.

 The simple truth is we will never have a comprehensive knowledge of any discipline. We, humans, evolve, and learn. We must train our minds to learn and unlearn. It is also true that we are naturally good at some things. For me, it is consulting and coaching. I have always been contacted many times in my life, way before I have been a coach by my friends when they were feeling down or had a dilemma they needed to discuss.

I started my entrepreneurship with immense apprehension, even after my psychology training and coaching certification. It took me a while to realize that coaching comes naturally for me because I had it in me all the time. I undervalued my ‘gift’ initially. I am using minimal energy and effort to do this job because this is easier for me to execute. It goes back to the law of parsimony, also known as Occam’s razor, that states that the simplest form of explanation must be executed as opposed to a complex form.

 Subsequently, in my client Rose’s case, if her boss alters her work, isn’t it best to use the simplest explanation possible which could be that a change was needed to fit the project goals better unless otherwise mentioned by her boss?

 Could we not eliminate all other possibilities such as…

 -Rose has less knowledge

 -Rose lacks experience

 -Rose lacks confidence

 -Rose is a fraud and the list goes on…

 Now, it is important to note that avoiding an issue that is dwelling in our minds is not the best solution to our problems. If Rose still feels like an imposter, it is important that she addresses it. The first step is to admit what it is called and why. The second would be to accept that this happens to the best of us including CEOs and Presidents.

 Next, stop and think about your proficiencies, achievements, and how you have successfully overcome situations like these in the past.

 What strategies did you implement?

 Which of your strengths were used?

 It is a fact that we may come across imposter syndrome in the future but it is important to acknowledge it for what it is – a syndrome. If you wait to be perfect in your knowledge and skills, you may never start. We increase our knowledge, skills, and experience along the way in our journey of personal growth.

 It is completely normal to experience doubts. What is important is to navigate these doubts and train your mind to reflect a positive thought by focusing on your area of expertise. The imposter feeling may linger around or may come and go but it is important to not let it control your life. It is helpful to get help from an expert to help you dig into these feelings and discover where this is coming from.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|

How to Overcome Fear and Lack of confidence

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.” –  Marie Curie

A client once told me that she has wasted her entire life because of a lack of confidence to do anything and now she regrets it. She would like to go back and change her life. Sadly, we, as humans do not possess a time machine to go back in time. Only if we did!

One half of me wants to go back and undo all the mistakes that I made. One half of me wants to embrace all the mistakes and call it my life experience, my memento, and rank myself as the ultimate expert of those mistakes. Owning these mistakes makes me less fearful of them. They give me the confidence to say “Yes, been there, done that”! Yes, I like this latter half of me that has embraced her mistakes. I have decided I won’t run from them anymore. Avoiding has not got me anywhere in life and it will not in the future. So, what can I do?

What we can do is change how we live our lives and create a better future for us. We do not have to live how we have always lived or how we have been told to live by the generations that lived before us. Each of us has various life experiences and what we gather and divulge from it is unique to us. If we did what every other person did, we lose out identity and become a mere copy of someone else. We are all born with unique strengths and assets that we must use to bring value to our own lives and that of others:

Although fear is a very natural entity, fear can arise from a lack of confidence. It is how we conquer this fear that makes us valiant as a person. Avoiding tasks due to fear can affect our lives adversely. If you have been a person avoiding risks due to fear, it is worthwhile taking small steps towards your goal. How we make our goals, and challenges are actuated by the confidence level we possess. Our confidence and self-efficacy are determined by various factors in our lives. If you feel your confidence is low and you practice risk aversion, it is a good idea to look at various factors that may be causing it.

  1. Genes and culture: yes, let us blame our parents! Studies show that our genetic makeup has a lot to do with the chemicals that boost our confidence in the brain. Confidence can be inherited from our parents but that is not to say we cannot change the way we think and feel and learn how to set goals. You may need some intervention but it is possible. Certain cultures also value certain behavior which can affect the confidence of an individual.
  2. Being a minority: Being a minority can affect your confidence, be it your gender, race, or even sexual orientation. Just like women worry about how they will be perceived in an office meeting setting, individuals from other minorities who have been discriminated against through institutional racism or otherwise can affect the level of confidence.
  3. Abuse and bullying: Abuse while growing up from parents or other individuals can make a difference to your confidence level. Childhood bullying can also lead to low confidence. Sometimes children are bullied for their looks, lack of knowledge in certain disciplines, etc.
  4. Mindset: Having certain thoughts in your head about your incompetency and inadequacy can lead to a lower level of confidence. If you feel your mind plays tricks on you and this may be affecting your life, it is imperative that you seek help.
  5. Social Media: As much as I love social media and use it to reach people to make an impact in people’s lives, it is also a huge contributor to low self-confidence. Some can feel a sense of lacking being on social media because of the glorified posts of others. People begin to believe in the glorified ‘perfect lives’ posted on social media by others and become unhappy about their own quailed life.

If you feel you would like to learn more about yourself or improve your personal and professional life, please book an intro session with me. I look forward to helping with your personality development and get you the success you need in your personal and professional life.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. https://hamnasiddique.com/| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|



How to Overcome Fear and Resistance to Change

“Change is never painful. Only the resistance to change is painful.” – The Buddha.

Resistance to change is an issue that we face as humans on an individual level and at an organizational level. Resistance to change can be seen in the form of procrastination, hostility, frustration, and can affect our success in the long run. We, as humans also make a number of excuses for our resistance such as “this is how I have always been” or “I like it that way” or even “my family has always done it this way”. Here are a few reasons why people show resistance to change and how you can navigate your way around resistance to change:

Lack of awareness: If you are unaware of the need for change, and has created a norm or a particular way of doing things, it is likely that you will resist change. Hence, it is important that people are self – aware of their personality and their behavior patterns.

Uncertainty: Uncertainty is a huge cause of resistance to change as people are afraid of the unknown factor in the future. People may hesitate to make a change in their lives if they fear the unknown. Change is only made in lives when we are forced or if continuing to live the same way seems impossible or a threat to us. It is wise to do your research if you fear the unknown and would like to make a change in your life.

Lack of skill and knowledge: Sometimes lack of skill, knowledge and experience can create fear in the minds of individuals who are resistant to change. This is a genuine fear and, in such cases, it is best to get the help of an expert.

Belief system: Some believe the way they do things is the best and right way to do. Even if things are not going right, unless there is an intervention, they may not change what they believe in. Again, only a professional can give an insight into the belief system and manifest a change, if needed.

Routines: We love our routines and would not like anything that disrupts it. It takes a lot of effort to change these routines but with a little motivation and endurance, it is possible.

If you feel you would like to learn more about yourself or be more aware of your feelings to improve your personal and professional life, please book an intro session with me. I look forward to helping with your personality development and get you the success you need in your personal and professional life.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. https://hamnasiddique.com/| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|




How does the leader in us recognize racism through humility?


“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Leadership is a vast topic. The types of leadership skills range from the one identified by Kurt Lewin’s team in 1939 to numerous other patterns of leadership styles discovered by researcher Bernard M. Bass in the 1970s to Hersey and Blanchard’s leadership styles. But an element of leadership that most people overlook is humility. Even to this day, leadership to many wrongly equates to power and charisma. I believe a leader who uses his charisma and dupes his crowd is the most dangerous of all leaders.

So how does humility make one a great leader? We notice time and again the wisest among us are the ones who listen and want to learn more, not the ones who think they already know enough. The idea that the knowledge we possess is little leads to more learning, acquiring knowledge, and decision-making skills. My blog post on Outcome Bias touches on the topic of the consequences of overconfidence and lack of humility.

Modern times have seen a lot of discussion on high self-esteem and positive affirmations. And as much I agree to the idea that self-esteem and positive affirmations are important in our lives, we must also leave some room for healthy humility, that will help keep us grounded to reality. Healthy humility will help create a chamber in our heart to hear and help understand the deprived, the disadvantaged, the have-nots. It will help us recognize at least a fraction of racism. Racism not only stems from institutional and structural dynamics but also interpersonal biases. Growing this human trait of humility leads to a better understanding of structural racism that can be tied to the history of American slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. It is important for the privileged to understand why people behave a certain way, or what role hundreds of years of oppression plays in modern racism. Increasing our humility will also help in understanding certain disparities in health, education, and occupation that create major socio-economic disadvantages in society.

It is unfair and biased for the privileged to only see the repercussion of the deprived because of the aftermath of years and years of domination. Exposure and cultural awareness will help increase humility that will help us understand the behavior and conduct of minorities that are disadvantaged. This will also slow the “quick to judge” attitude towards the oppressed. This may lead to a properly conceptualized reasoning that will include nonracial dimensions of inequality. Merely trying to understand racism and discrimination is just a small start to thoughtful and strategic planning that is needed in society today.

A good leader, from any segment of the society, will take an initiative to slow their pace and recognize aspects of racism that may not be overtly distinct. Humility and being a good listener will help identify these aspects in the society we live in, the community that we associate with, and the organization that we work for.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. https://hamnasiddique.com/| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|


How does Change, Mindset, and Passion Drive Career

“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -Nelson Mandela

How do you find your passion? Passion and mindset are a go-to topic for motivational speakers. You could listen to the most motivational speech of your life and still not get inspired to make a change in your life with the wrong mindset. Like I have said before, your mindset is magic. But how do you gravitate towards the right mindset? You could begin by jotting the things you love to do, something you have always wanted to do but shied away from because you were afraid of failure. Next, just do it. Do what you love the most and what scares you the most. Take baby steps. What is the worst thing that can happen? Once the fire of interest is ignited no one can stop you. If you are ready for your new venture and are still intimidated, then I would say get help. We live in an era where there is an expert for everything. You will be surprised how far a little push by the right person can get you.

For me, finding my passion was a quest that took years. My blog post on “Are you unhappy with your career” will shed some light on the path to my passion. For those of you who have not sought coaching before, I would ask you to answer the following questions:

  • How happy are you to wake up in the morning to dive into your work?
  • Do you resonate with your work at all?
  • Do you happily think about your work and are eager to get back to it when you have an idea?

If you feel your answer is a ‘NO’ to the above questions you may risk a chance of feeling burnout, even physical symptoms from being unhappy at work. Some of us gravitate towards a certain discipline at a very young age and are more focused than others. For example, a child who always loved Math in school may choose to be a Math major in college and subsequently a Mathematician/Scientist. Some of us are rainbow personalities and may have various interests that change over time. Pinning these personalities to one discipline and one job their whole life is a form of torture. Whereas some may be a combination of both – focused at times with one activity and a rainbow personality at other times.

A person with a fixed mindset may be biased towards a person with a growth mindset and may criticize the latter for not being focused in her work and the latter may complain that the former is not creative enough to work with her. The activity and the interest of the person engaged in the activity determined the engagement level and the depth of interest. The truth is both these people can find fulfillment and passion in their careers with a little effort and getting the right mentors to help cultivate their interests. Understanding the value your work has and its impact on people and the society may help create passion and guide you into the right mindset.

Understanding your personality may help in comprehending your passion and interest that can be used to enhance your career. People who have been working in the same industry for a long time are intimidated by the idea of changing careers. You do not have to make an immediate drastic change one fine day. It can be done slowly over the course of a few months or even years. With the right mindset, interest, and passion you will gravitate towards success. Albert Einstein said “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

The most important element that drives my business is passion. I had decided to earn a living following my passion. It seemed like a difficult choice at the time. How do you follow your passion and do so as a career choice and be successful at it? I doubted myself but my passion helped fill the void with a sense of content and happiness.

Being a blogger and a coach, my writing and coaching have created a virtuous circle of happiness for me as the clients I talk to bring joy and inspire me to write my blogs on personality development. My blog posts, in turn, help people approach me for coaching needs. I did not plan this. I started blogging as a way to put my thoughts in one place to honor my love for organizational psychology. I have been pleasantly overwhelmed by the social engagements I have been receiving for my posts, for which I am perpetually grateful.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|




Leaders! The disastrous Cognitive Bias that sank the Titanic


We all remember the opening scene of the movie ‘Titanic’. People are waving their hands to their loved ones, not knowing they will never see some of them alive again. Just watching it today still brings out my raw emotions. The giant had the nickname “unsinkable”. There is a rumor that Capt. Edward John Smith had said, “Even God himself couldn’t sink this ship”. Oh, but the ship did sink. Immediately, it was said that the iceberg caused the ship to sink but what sank the ship? It was believed by many that the ship is too good to sink. Studies indicate that we base the quality of a decision or behavior by its result, ignoring many extenuating factors that could eventually result in the success or failure of the action. The titanic carried 2,200 passengers but lost 1,200 precious souls. Despite the ship having hundreds and thousands of meat and edibles, it carried only 20 lifeboats, ignored 30 different ice warnings.

The belief that there is no chance of a disaster and it is better to risk the lives of these people with just these lifeboats and ignore all other signs and warnings is because of a cognitive quirk known as “outcome bias”. Outcome bias can make us increasingly risky but at the same time, make us rejoice in the outcome of this risk if it was a success. Leaders who take risks on various projects or physicians who make irrational decisions without weighing in the pros and cons of the consequences of their actions are leading themselves into an irrational and unethical state of affairs.

The employees may follow the leader assuming this individual can navigate through unusual and difficult circumstances unlike them and sometimes adhere to ‘groupthink’. The biggest and most famous example of groupthink is when John F. Kennedy, in 1960, decided to proceed with the plan of President Eisenhower to land in Cuba’s southern coast to overthrow Fidel Castro’s communist regime. The spirit of camaraderie led his team to follow his decisions blindly; after all, he was the commander in chief. A leader always hopes for the best outcome for her project. If the leader has been successful in various other projects and has accumulated numerous years of experience, she may underestimate the risks involved in future projects. Overlooking facts, hoping for the best outcome is a catastrophic mistake made by many in the top management. These leaders are praised if the outcome was successful and criticized if the outcome was ineffective.

This is pertinent for government policymakers who implement various initiatives. Needless to say, it is true when it comes to sports too. A player is either criticized or praised for the result but not for the effort and the performance she put in the game. If the Titanic had not sunk or the outcome of the maiden voyage was successful, no one would have mentioned the negligence of the people or the inferior quality of steel used for the Titanic. Whether you are a CEO, project manager, policymaker, or physician, you must factor in the risks involved in a project or a case. Let the successful outcome not lure you into another project without weighing in the risks involved in it. Let us all focus on the process, not the outcome, and free our minds from this skewed irrational haven of hope.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|