Flexibility, Resilience and the Senior Executive Service

In my last post I shared the strong connection between  EQ (Emotional Intelligence) and the core competencies we expect in our Senior Executive Service (the ECQs). In this post I’ll take a closer look at how we can take an EQ approach to developing a couple of those ECQs– Flexibility, Resilience and Conflict Management.

Flexibility – How am I doing?

It’s important to understand how any given behavior or competency is defined within a particular system or culture and, therefore, what success looks like in that context. Within the federal government, flexibility is defined as: “being open to change and new information; and rapidly adapting to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles”.

The EQ-i model of Emotional Intelligence defines Flexibility very much the same way:
“Your ability and tendency to adjust your emotions, thoughts and behaviors to changing situations and conditions – to take in new data and change your mind or adapt your approach”.

With an understanding of the desired behavior or competency, it’s important to assess how you’re doing. The EQ-i 2.0 or the EQ 360, in the context of an effective coaching and development process, become great tools to illuminate the degree of flexibility you bring to any given professional role. Do you have too little, too much or is this a well-developed skill?


Too Little Flexibility?

Someone that has low flexibility would:

  • Demonstrate rigid thinking
  • Remain set in their ways and opinions
  • Lack curiosity
  • Resist change
  • Be slow to start new projects or efforts

If we are working with an executive that self-evaluates or receives this kind of feedback, we would talk about the cost of showing up like this. If the executive is motivated in this area, we would talk about becoming more flexible (and achieving better professional and personal results) by taking actions similar to these:

  • Identifying an issue where your opinion is fixed and considering at least two other positions or points of view.
  • Reflecting on what you would feel like if you were to change your mind on an important decision or even delay making a decision. Would it be fear, irritation, anxiety or stress?
  • Tapping into a colleague, friend or work group and discussing the impact of changing your mind and how it is viewed.
  • Identifying situations where your organization or group might benefit from you being curious, open-minded and able to change your mind.

Too Much Flexibility?

Many only consider the possibility of having too little of something, but at OKA we also consider the possibility of bringing too much of a specific behavior to a particular situation. Overdoing any given behavior, even a desired one, can also become a career liability.

An executive might indicate or receive feedback that he or she is:

  • Unwilling or unable to stick to a plan or commitment
  • Easily bored with routine and predictability
  • Prone to more starts than finishes

For the person overdoing Flexibility, we wouldn’t look at “dialing back” this behavior—or coaching them to be less flexible.  We would, however, work to balance this overuse. For example, we might encourage someone to work on Self-Actualization (goal setting) or Empathy (sensitivity to others).

  • Focusing on Self-Actualization would help because a goal-focused approach can often override someone’s overactive drive to change course without good reason.
  • Empathy would also help someone see the impact of frequent changes on those around him or her– and keep others’ feelings in mind.

Similar to the approach for too little Flexibility, we would look for specific actions to help boost or focus on Self-Actualization, Empathy, or another balancing behavior.

Emotional Intelligence, Conflict and Resilience

Emotional Intelligence is also a great way to develop the Resilience and Conflict Management ECQs. Hile Rutledge shared our EQ approach to these commonly requested topics in these earlier posts.

Resilience an EQ

Conflict Management and EQ

Ready to bring Emotional Intelligence to your SES Development Programs?

OKA can help across the range of needs. We can:

  • Certify your internal team to use the EQ-i and EQ360
  • Design and Deliver custom development programs from your executives
  • Lead EQ360 programs supporting Executive Development Plans and 360 Assessment requirements
  • Provide curriculum design consulting
  • Provide advanced workshops for those already certified in the EQ-i

I would be excited to talk more about your needs and how we might help. I am available at asanders@oka-online.com

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