I’d like to take a moment to comment on three themes that are very common in the work that happens in my office: authenticity, emotional intelligence and leadership. Over time I will address each of these separately, however today I want to comment on how they together create the ingredients of successful professional performance. Taken from Gillian Zoe Segal’s book “Getting There: A Book of Mentors”, Berkshire CEO and legendary investor Warren Buffet explains an essential life lesson learned from one of his mentors, Tom Murphy.
Tom Murphy was the former CEO of media company Capital Cities/ABC Inc. Considering Murphy’s role in a fierce and demanding industry, Buffet remembers that he was extremely poised and even tempered under fire. “He didn’t have to shout or scream or anything like that. He did everything in a very relaxed manner” recalls Buffet. Murphy imparted to Buffet some “indispensable” advice: “Warren, you can always tell someone to go to hell tomorrow”. According to Buffet it was “one of the best pieces of advice I have every received”.
As Buffet wrote: “It’s such an easy way of putting it, you haven’t missed the opportunity. Just forget about it for a day. If you feel the same way tomorrow, tell them then — but don’t spout off in a moment of anger!”
The advice from Murphy aligns with lessons about knowing oneself, emotional intelligence (EI) and leadership. Individuals with high EI are able to perceive and manage their own emotions, while maintaining a keen awareness of the social cues of others. These skills together help us understand how to “discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior”, as described by Emotional Intelligence researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer.
Becoming a more emotionally intelligent individual is a practiced skill. Techniques such as medication, mindfulness and controlled breathing will help. Working on anticipating and planning in advance on how to respond to difficult and reoccurring emotions is also effective.
It can also be useful to strategically plan when is the best time to have those tough conversations. These are all ways one can remain true to themselves, emotionally aware and strong leaders.