People First! Ian Llewellyn-Nash, "Leadership & Emotional Wisdom"

Morag and Ian Llewellyn-Nash discuss the Leadership and Emotional Wisdom!

Welcome to SkyeTeam's People First! In this series, we explore the people side of successful business and careers. We all have a story to share, a leadership journey that we are experiencing.

We'll be interviewing authors, business leaders, thought leaders, and people like you to uncover the latest ideas, resources, and tools to help you become more effective at work - and in life. As it turns out, the secret is cultivating winning relationships. Business is personal, and relationships matter!

So, sit back, and grab a coffee as Morag and Ian Llewellyn-Nash discuss the Leadership and Emotional Wisdom!

Chapter Layout:
0:00 - Open
1:03 - Origin Story
4:30 - Pivot Point
10:05 - NLP & EQ
15:30 - EQ Neglect
28:20 - 2020 Rollercoaster
30:10 - Takeaway from 2020
33:42 - Wrap


- Welcome to SkyeTeam's People First with Morag Barrett.

- My guest this week is my friend, and colleague Dr. Ian Llewellyn-Nash. Ian and I met when I was writing, "Cultivate," my first book. And he was the inspiration around the outer ring of the model that focuses on how relationships form, the context, the communication and the culture. So for that Ian, I owe you a debt of gratitude. Ian is an educator, and is passionate on the topics of emotional intelligence, NLP, and DISC. And works within the health sector within the UK, helping nurses and nursing practitioners to gain those skills and knowledge of emotional intelligence. So Ian, welcome to People First.

- Thank you, thank you, glad to be here.

- Well, I'm looking forward to our conversation, but as with every episode, it always starts with the origin story. Because our leadership journeys that bring us to this point today and People First, are usually not the straight line from A to B. So going back to primary school when you were a wee lad, and the teacher asked you what did you want to be when you grew up? What was your answer?

- Right. Well, my very first response to that question in primary school was I wanted to be a motorcycle policeman.

- Ooh! Okay, Why? Go on, tell me more.

- I, I've gone back to that question many, many times, why did I say that? I think there was a certain familiarity with motorbikes in the place where I grew up, which was Northern Ireland. We had a lot of people who used to go across to the Isle of Man through motorbike races. So it was very much a part of my cultural context and upbringing living in Northern Ireland. However, during the time of what is referred to, as the troubles, there was a lot of police activity. So there was a sort of combination of motorbikes, pleasure, police, purpose, in my very, very young, naive type mind. It was very, very quickly pushed to one side when I had to share my childhood ideals with my mother. Because she reminded me of one night we were driving into town and we passed a motorcycle accident.

- Yikes.

- It was very traumatic. So she was very, very insistent in only-

- As mother will be.

- Can be.

- Mm-hm,

- That that was not going to happen. It didn't happen, but I still have the urge to get on a motorbike.

- I have only been on, there are two memorable motorbike stories that I'm going to share with you. One is on the back of a motorbike, this was my first ride. And this is as an adult going up the A1. And lorries thundering past us. So for those from the US listening, they're going, "I don't understand." But imagine an interstate, but narrow, two lane interstate with big trucks going past. I remember screaming and being terrified. And the other iconic experience was on the back of a Harley Davidson in the middle of nowhere, Nevada, Colorado, where I was working with a gold mining client. And one of the participants just took me out just to see the scenery. But there I was, and I remember thinking, little old me riding on the back of a Harley Davidson in Nevada, Colorado, not Nevada, Colorado, Nevada the USA, who would have ever thunk? So those are two. And much like you, I like the idea of a motorbike, but it's all the other idiots on the road that would have me more concerned. So no, so your mother's a wise woman.

- Yes, she was.

- So what was the pivot point? So you didn't get to be the motorcycle policeman. So what was the pivot that brought you here into having a passion, and a deep knowledge and understanding of emotional intelligence?

- I guess it's a little bit hazy to be honest, Morag. But I guess it was when I was working as a nurse. I won't say climbing up the greasy pole. But as I advanced within my nursing career from a bedside nurse to a managerial nurse running the coronary care unit that I worked in. My focus obviously began to shift in terms of bedside nursing to having a responsibility for the nurses that worked with me. And probably initially I was out of my depth. I didn't really comprehend relationships with other people, how to manage people, how to move them in a certain direction. That was something I had to learn very much on the hoof. In hindsight, probably successfully, we achieved a lot. It was quite a dynamic coronary care unit. And we brought in a lot of stuff that was innovative, accelerating patient care in terms of cardiac management. For me, I guess one of the important learning points was recognizing that I had reached a glass ceiling in that context. And that for me, as an individual, I couldn't grow anymore unless I went somewhere else. But also recognizing, particularly in that context, in specialist nursing units, ITU, CCU, A&E environments, unless the person above you, marries, moves-

- Mm-hm, wins the lottery.

- Et cetera, you get stuck.

- Yup.

- And having experienced that myself when I was a junior nurse and not being able to progress, I was very conscious that I was holding people back as well who I knew had the capacity and the capability, and the desire to progress within the unit. So I chose to do 12 months, 12 months I'm going to leave. And I will get them ready. Then I moved into nurse education per se. And particularly took up leadership teaching. And I would very often, as part of that teaching portfolio, say to students in terms of mentoring. For me, I think you need three types of mentoring relationships.

- Okay, what are those?

- One, where you have somebody who is ahead of you, who shows you the way.

- Mm-hm.

- One is a mentoring relationship who shares the journey with you.

- Hm.

- And thirdly, a mentoring relationship where you are mentoring another person, and developing them.

- Okay.

- In the various lectures I was delivering, I would talk about this. And I began to see that one or two people would come back to me. "Ian, you talked about having mentors, and so forth in your life, and helping you develop. Would you be my mentor?" Oh, I wasn't really expecting that. So for me, the passion sort of emerged out of that very organic, context where I followed my heart, as well as my head. And I guess for me, it all mushroomed from there. And that took me into the whole area of emotional intelligence. The rest they say-

- It's history.

- Still history.

- It's history in the making, though. We're on the cutting edge of the history of the making. And it's interesting, 'cause I know that your PhD research was a deep dive into emotional intelligence. And I know you've been quoted as saying that emotional intelligence has the Marmite effect. You either love it or hate it. And NLP goes alongside emotional intelligence. But for those who are listening who may not be familiar with the terms, can you help us understand emotional intelligence, NLP and where are they the same or different?

- Okay. Emotional intelligence, I mean, emotional intelligence has been around for, in terms of in your face awareness, probably for about 40 years, now. We track first recollections back to maybe 1966. Very, very interesting. First time that the phrase was used, it was a German researcher working with women postpartum, who had postpartum depression. And the context, the use of the word emotional intelligence came out of her research where she was giving ladies in this situation LSD to manage their postnatal depression. Interesting, of course, But that's one of it origins. Emotional intelligence, there are a number of definitions, but in its simplest form, it's about how, I, as an individual become aware of my emotions, I become aware of your emotions. and how I can use those emotions to actually make better decisions, cope with life, influences my wellbeing, shapes my relationships with other people. Particularly in a corporate context, managing me, managing you, in order to achieve outcomes. NLP has been connected with emotional intelligence, because it's about that inside development of who we are. NLP goes back to the early days of a couple of guys Bandler and Grinder in Santa Cruz, that their passion was very much, what makes the difference in experts? Why are they experts? Why are they so good at what they do? In the origins of NLP they were particularly interested in Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson. What made them so excellent at what they did? But more important argument, if they could do it could we actually take their skills, and teach someone else to do it? And that was the origin of NLP. If we want to take the letters NLP, it's about how we think. L, it's about language, how we communicate primarily with ourselves. The way we think and the way we talk to ourselves will have a practical application in terms of how we show up in the world, how we are programmed.

- Right.

- Long story short, if the programming isn't helping us to achieve successful outcomes, whatever success means to an individual, then just as you would tweak away at the program for this conversation, then the premise of NLP is we can help change, ameliorate the internal programs, to change the internal dialogue, to change the outcomes. So neurolinguistic programming.

- Yeah.

- Most of the people who are involved in NLP, have a bit of a, oh I hate the term, I don't like it's this. I don't like-

- Don't now.

- Our definitions, it's, you know, how individuals achieve success, by working with their internal programs. I think it's fascinating.

- Well, I like the way you described it there. 'Cause it helped me to understand, obviously, again emotional intelligence starts with me, and what am I feeling and why? And then making an informed choice as to how am I going to use that to your point, to be successful going forward? Whether it's the decision, it's the conversation that you and I are having, whatever. Versus being a victim and reactive to it, and potentially inflaming the situation. Or, you know having a less than successful experience. And it was interesting. I was looking at some of the research and your talks from the Open University where you are teaching these topics. And you cited some other researchers that were saying that within the nursing curriculum, and the healthcare curriculum, emotional intelligence has tended to be overlooked which I find fascinating. Partly because there's that unconscious bias, well, nursing equates to caring, and therefore emotional intelligence. So why do you think it has been such a neglected topic in years gone by? And why is it so important to all of us today?

- Well, start with a good points. Emotional intelligence is now becoming a much more proactive element of new nursing education curriculum. So it is in there. But historically it wasn't in there, because nursing education curriculum were based on very scientific reductionist curriculum. It was about doing, and it's about doing nursing. I always tell the story of one of my study participants who was, while she was a student, she was brilliant. You know, in terms of the practical skills, one of those nurses, if you were sick you would want her, simply because she knew what she was doing. But my research was based on interviews with this group of nurses, followed them over a three-year period, once each year. And I remember the first year talking to her. We got around to the question about friendship with nurses, or relationships with patients in terms of the therapeutic relationship. She astounded me when, she effectively said, "I don't want to be friends with patients, I don't want to be friends with any of my nurse colleagues."

- Mm?

- Exactly, that look was the look on my face.

- I'll send her a copy of "Cultivate." But yes, it's the, I'm sorry. Okay.

- You're a nurse! I repeated the question. I said, "Ah," she said, "Well, I don't live with them, I don't work with them. Why do I need to know about their life?" There's a certain logic in there. Oh wow, but she was very, very good. Caught up with her years two and three. And that whole element really hadn't changed. But one of the things that did emerge, which was one of the main themes from the research was, I termed it, the legacy of the kinsfolk memory. She had been brought up in a family who just did not, they didn't cuddle. If something had happened to her in terms of her own health her mother's response was, "There's a bus, hospital down the road.

- Walk it off.

- Independence, and that type of thing. Which there's a certain value to. But in terms of this caring relationship it just stood out like a sore thumb. It was important for me, in terms of the relationship with the patient, nurses had this emotional connection with their patients. Because they were sharing at times incredibly intimate journeys with their patients. The outcome of my research was essentially if we want to have effective, efficient nurses then we need to have nurses who are emotionally equipped, not simply cognitively, or skills-based efficient. And it's been a journey, and we're getting there. I think given what's happening in the world today... I was thinking about a piece of research that was carried out by a UK company called JCA. They did a significant piece of research. They did a 10 year observation on emotional intelligence, across a number of key sectors, healthcare, IT, accountancy engineers. And they looked at the experience, the folding of emotional intelligence across those sectors between 2000 and 2010. And they came up with a number of significant findings. But the main one during that decade, whilst in general, if you like the group, the sector level of emotional intelligence, essentially went like that. It dipped on three occasions during that decade.

- Okay.

- Those three occasions were related to financial crisis in the markets. Where one might argue that if one is emotionally intelligent, one's looking out for oneself, and for other people. And supporting them, helping them, promoting them, making sure they're okay. But on three occasions in the financial crisis that were hitting UK markets, similarly in the US, the level of emotional intelligence that was expressed dipped, when people became incredibly individualistic.

- Hm.

- I'm looking after myself.

- Yep.

- I went back to that report, because I was thinking about where we are now with COVID. And if we look back, I can only really speak for the UK experience. Since March, one of the things that seems to be emerging everywhere is about this willingness to engage with people in your communities, support people in your community, doing shopping, visiting, et cetera, et cetera. In the UK, we're experiencing what has been referred to as a second wave. And it's interesting that in the second wave, we're not seeing as much of that community spirit as we were in the first wave.

- Hm.

- So it makes me think, it makes me think have we come to a state of emotional exhaustion, where people have given out? But for me the more interesting question is, was the emotional activity imposed, rather than simply emerging from people? Because for me, that has always been the, I don't know... In the UK, we have a phrase, the bunk bear, you know? When we look at the emotional intelligence throughout the decades, it was seized upon by the business world, the HR world. Particularly after Goldman wrote his books in 1995, 1996. And, and they saw it as something to be achieved. And arguably very much in the early days emotional intelligence was a tick box exercise. I made that expression, because for me emotional intelligence, emotional wisdom is something that you are, rather than something that you do. So taking that mindset, and looking at what is happening in this sort of second wave of the pandemic, emotional exhaustion. The activity is depleting arguably, because no one is telling individuals, "This is how you have to go and help people." And people are reverting to norm, arguably a bit like what happened in the financial crisis. We've come to an exhausted state, and we're looking after ourselves again. Which I find interesting. In the context of the corporate world it's, ... For me, the challenge is, how we adjust to a COVID normative world is how we actually make what we do credible in terms of trust, and in terms of care. One of the guys, I like reading over in England, Dr. Martyn Newman.

- Mm-hm.

- He wrote, "Emotional Capitalists." He was at a conference last year, the year before. And he was making a statement, he was talking to leaders, C-suite leadership level. And he came out with a comment, my power phrase, simply "Employees want to know that you care for them. If they know that you care for them, they will produce for you." It's a very simplistic paraphrase. I think in terms of the corporate world at the moment, we're facing up to the challenge of what that actually means. Because when COVID came it was the done thing to help your neighbor, 'cause we're kind. We're a corporate organization, and we have a reputation to manage, because company down the road, they're doing X, Y, and Z. And they're providing hampers and so forth. But I think we're now settling into a second phase where it has to be an organic experience, rather than a forced experience. So it's interesting to watch. And it's interesting to observe, what does the emotionally intelligent organization

- Mm-hm.

- look like in this context? And there is arguably this division between employees who perhaps are experiencing emotional labor. Where they have to pitch up, whether it's over a laptop, or, those who are able to go to work and they're, you know, "Everything's fine, everything's okay."

- They do the mask, yeah.

- Yeah, you know. Executives who are also having to operate at a different level with their own emotional labor. Because for the majority of them, "How do I keep this organization afloat? How do I actually pay salaries? How do I?"

- Mm-hm.

- Particularly when arguably, some of the furloughing, "Do we have to do that?"

- Yeah.

- For me, there are two types of emotional experiences going on on both sides, employee, employer. Which is interesting to observe. Which perhaps takes me back to the outer circle in, "Cultivate." It's about , it's about climate. It's about, more communication with people.

- I mean, there's no doubt that 2020 has been both a leadership and emotional intelligence, emotional wisdom roller coaster ride that none of us particularly asked for, or wished on anyone. And I can remember early in the year, going through the, I described it as an emotional washing machine. You think about the 400 plus potential emotions that allegedly we can all experience, I'm British, so there's sarcasm. That might be it actually, so there you go. But anyway, I felt them all, and sometimes all on the same day. And it felt like all at the same moment, and it was destabilizing. And then to your point, we've settled into a routine that either is good habits or poor habits, like my commute bed to desk, to bed. That's not healthy, so I've had to change that up.

- Yeah.

- We are going to be experiencing in 2021, the predictable surprise of that emotional release, and burden both at the same time, impacting us and our friends, and our families and our communities in different ways. And knowing that it's coming, that we can't avoid it, we all have an emotional threshold.

- Yeah.

- The more we can raise our awareness of what are we feeling, going back to your original comment. Emotional intelligence is what am I feeling and why? And then how am I going to use it? But also the conversations that you talked about there, or touched on for leaders around "How are my teams feeling?" And not just the throwaway, "Oh, I'm fine, Ian." It's the, "No, Morag, how are you really doing?" It's keeping that dialogue open, so that we can be there and get back to the we that I talk about in "Cultivate." But how do we get that sense of community, so that we can navigate this together? I think that's going to be the power of emotional intelligence, the NLP, and what we can bring to this conversation. But as you think about 2020, what do you hope that we all take away from this experience?

- One of the concepts I picked up quite early on in my sort of development of leadership understanding was the notion of futurist thinking. Something I alluded to earlier on. We should have seen the impact of COVID. In the context of my work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, everything was fine, yeah, it's over there. Thursday the whole company changed overnight. We should have seen it coming. So I believe this element of futurist thinking. What's that mean in practice? If I can illustrate this on screen, if this is our life now, personal domestic corporate, this how we live our life now. Now, many of the things that we have talked about, that corporate leaders are talking about, sage leaders, elders, and so forth. There's a different world up here, different level.

- Okay.

- Okay? I think for us the challenge, if this is where we are, the big questions that need to be asked is, well, how do we get up to this level? What changes need to happen? In a corporate context if we continue this level of experience, level of working, level of investment, level of relationships we cannot get up to this newer, better, effective, efficient, balanced experience. I don't think everybody is equipped to think in that way. How do I get from here to here? There are people who are futurist orientated, but not everybody. And I think we will begin to see those individuals emerge, because we can't continue the way we are. We have to make changes. A practical aspiration I have is that wherever in the context of families, the context or work, context of organizations, individuals corporate leaders will begin to gather around them a group of people who are futurist orientated and can make the change. This is where we want to go. Because otherwise we get stuck in the whole notion of thinking new, doing old. That's not going to cut it. We need to think new and do new. But we need to lead people in that direction. So that's my aspiration for 2021.

- Thank you, I appreciate you sharing. And I appreciate your mentorship through the journey of "Cultivate." I'll let you into a secret, we're working on the sequel, "The Ally Mindset." So expect some invitations to provide your valuable input as we get the manuscript honed, and bring that to market next year. But in the meantime, I wish you ongoing success, and importantly health.

- Thank you.

- And thank you for you taking time to share your leadership journey here at People First.

- Thank you. Thank you for asking me. Nice to see you again.

-  Thank you so much for joining Morag today. If you enjoyed the show, please like and subscribe, so you don't miss a thing. If you learned something worth sharing, share it! Cultivate your relationships today when you don't need anything, before you need something. Be sure to follow SkyeTeam and Morag on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you have any ideas about topics we should tackle, interviews, we should do, or if you yourself would like to be on the show, drop us a line at That's S-k-y-e Thanks again for joining us today, and remember, business is personal and relationships matter. We are your allies.

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