Terminal Value

Emotional Intelligence for Executive Decision Makers with Phil Johnson

Doug Utberg

Business Growth Authority | Technology Strategy & Resourcing | Cost Optimization Expert | Business Process Architect | Financial Strategist | Founder - Terminal Value Podcast

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We have Phil Johnston on the line with us today. And what we are going to be talking about is emotional intelligence for executive decision makers. And the reason why this is kind of important or the reason why this is really important is that at the time of this recording, we are going through the great resignation and or the great reshuffle and that there are a lot of people who are leaving their jobs and there are epic amounts of labor shortages and nobody can really figure out why. And emotional intelligence, I think, is a piece of that puzzle. May not be all of it, but it’s a piece of it. And one of the things we were talking about in the pre interview was how a number of companies, Apple being the most notable, are really shifting its hiring and retention and promotion practices toward the idea of emotional intelligence. Phil, please introduce yourself for a moment.

Yeah. Doug, pleasure to be on your show. I’m an executive coach focusing on the development of emotional intelligence within individuals and organizations. I’ve been doing this for the last 21 years and working with executives and organizations all over the world.

Yeah. Outstanding. Well, because I think the thing that in our pre interview that kind of stood out to me was you were talking about Apple using emotional intelligence for its recruiting and hiring processes. And that kind of speaks to me a little bit because a lot of times what will happen is you will see companies that will screen based on what’s on your resume or that will screen based on some sort of hard skills. But what emotional intelligence is really about to me is your ability to interact with other people and to figure things out. And in most organizations, those are the only two things you really need to be able to be good at, because, of course, all the other skills you can learn, most of the hard skills you can learn if you need to, most of the product information, all that you can learn if you need to. But the things that are really hard to teach are playing nice with others. And then also when you run into something that wasn’t a set of instructions or an ambiguous situation, figuring out a way through it, tell me if there’s something I’m missing, because there usually is.

Well, emotional intelligence is a skill that produces hard, measurable quantifiable results

Unpack that a little more for us.

It’s a critical part of our development that’s missing.

Our educational system didn’t provide it, and our employment system to this point hasn’t provided it and it’s critically important because of the accelerating rate of change

It’s estimated by some scientists that in this century we could experience the equivalent of 20,000 years worth of change. So change is increasing at an exponential rate. And we’ve got a 500 million year old brain that doesn’t like change. So what actually happens is whenever we take an action that moves us outside of our comfort zone, there’s a part of our brain called the amygdala that doesn’t want us to do that. So it secretes a hormone into our bloodstream called cortisol. And that causes the prefrontal cortex to shut off. And we typically go into some type of fight, flight or freeze mode. And when that happens in conflict situations, people die. And when it happens in business or personal situations, relationships die. We burn trust and it leads to drama, chaos and conflict.

So as an analogy, if you think of your amygdala as a very frightened four year old child, the development of our emotional intelligence acts like a big brother or a big sister to quiet the amygdala response down and better enable us to feel the anxiety that changing innovation always creates in us and move through it towards the vision of our desired results as opposed to allowing that anxiety to control us.

I think there’s a lot of very profound things you just said. So I’d like to address a few of them because, for example, one thing that I keep thinking of is that as you said, when you’re going through a lot of change, it’s really easy to look back and say, oh, well, I should have X if only I had Y. It’s very easy to run, to get to fall into that look back fallacy trap. And of course, hindsight is always 2020 and there can be very good reasons why you made decisions. You did. And sometimes people just make bad decisions. I think that’s the thing that’s not something you can let cripple you. But I think if you’re not aware of it, it’s really easy to kind of fall into some of those. I call them psychological traps. Sorry. Earlier this morning, I was reading articles on the twelve Yumi and Archetypes. So I’m getting a little nerdy honest today.

See, the only time we can make a decision, the only time we can take an action that will generate a results is in this moment. The past doesn’t exist and the future will never exist. The future, when it arrives, will be the present moment. So we share this present moment with everybody on the planet and how we behave in this moment will determine our behavior and determine our results. And that’s a direct reflection of our level of emotional intelligence. When we’re being motivated by our fears, we tend to become more resistive, more judgmental, and more attached to outcome. So we tend to retract into our comfort zone, which is the opposite of change, which is the opposite of growth. As we learn to become more emotionally intelligent, as we do the emotional labor required to develop our emotional intelligence, we’re more able to move outside of our comfort zone and move through the anxiety that that creates towards what it is we’re trying to achieve. You see,

most people are actually trapped by their fear, by their ego based fear, and they rationalize it. They tell themselves rational lies to justify staying in their comfort zone. And when that happens, if somebody is unwilling to move out of their comfort zone, the only alternative they have to try and generate better results is to try and control and manipulate everybody else to get them to change.

And unfortunately, that’s the way most of us have been behaving for a very long time. We’ve been relying on position based power to control and manipulate others, as opposed to being willing to do the emotional labor of changing ourselves. So I think, again, they’re just profound statements are being I was going to say it’s like dealing out a deck of cards. The face cards are just flying off the top of the deck here. There’s a couple of things you said that I’d like to explore a little more. Number one is you’re talking about attachment to outcomes, because that right there is descriptive of almost every corporate evaluation hierarchy I’ve ever seen, which is basically that good outcomes get rewarded regardless of whether or not the person who is in charge has anything to do with it. And bad outcomes get punished regardless of whether it was the real responsibility of the person who it was attached to. And so what ends up happening then is you end up having an internal political shuffle for people to try to maneuver themselves to the ships that are already headed in the right direction so they can try to take credit for the movement.

What you’re describing is an example of a toxic environment created by people being motivated by fear.


It’s the opposite of emotional.

Descriptive of every place I’ve ever worked.

Yes. But you know, Doug, you’re absolutely correct. But what you’re describing, if you take a step back, what you’re describing is the scope of the problem, the scope of the challenge that we face on a global basis. We are terrible at embracing change. I mean, the pandemic is just a very small example of how bad we are at change. And we’ve got a tsunami of change coming at us that’s going to make this pandemic look like nothing. We’re dealing with huge challenges. Crispr CAS Nine G in the technology, climate change, artificial intelligence, other pandemics, a myriad of things that are going to require us to change our trajectory as a species and develop our emotional intelligence, to be able to deal with the anxiety that that will create in us.

Yeah. Because there’s an idea that I want to unpack that you just released because one of the things that I’ve kind of noticed, especially from the pandemic, is that before times, right, in the 2019 and before world,

there was sort of this notion that, okay, the objective of life is to accumulate a whole lot of financial resources so that you can have security.

Well, when you’re in a pandemic world and supply chains are constrained and everything’s locked down, money only gets you so much. There ends up being a very near finite limit to what you’re able to buy. And after a disturbingly low threshold, money doesn’t really get you all that much else because you can’t really go anywhere.

There’s a limit to how much you can do. There’s a limit to how much you can buy. There’s a limit to how much you can socially interact. And so you’re kind of stuck dealing with the inside of your own head more or less, regardless of what your position in life is.

Let me know if that resonates or if I’m taking a few too many intuitive leads.

Let me make another profound statement and then kind of explain it. Money has no value. Money is simply a placeholder.

Okay? So you’re going to have to really unpack that, because I’m going to have to. Yes, you’re going to have to unpack that for me a little more.

Not a problem.

Money was actually created as a way of moving wealth around. Money is different from wealth. And I’ll give you an example in a minute. But whether it’s paper or shiny beads, rocks or digital currency, the real value of money is to attract wealth. And your greatest wealth as an individual or an organization is your level of emotional intelligence, your level of consciousness.

So let me give you an example. Let’s say you and I are neighbors and we live in the country and you grow potatoes, and I live across the road, and I make pianos. Before the advent of currency or money. If I wanted some of your potatoes, I had to try and convince you to take one of my pianos. If you didn’t want to do that, I was going to start.

There’s a lot of transactional friction there.

Yeah, there’s a lot of fear. So maybe you didn’t want to take one of my pianos, but Susie down the road did, and she gave me some shiny beads. And I came back and gave those shiny beads to you, and you gave me some potatoes. And voila, an economy is born. So the real purpose of money,

money should never be the focus of anything because it has no value. Money is the result of providing service to others. And the best way to provide service to others is to learn to become less resistive, to lower your walls and become less resistant, less judgmental, and less attached to outcome.

And I’ll show you this in a real world example, the way Apple became a trillion dollar a year company. If you’ve walked into an Apple store, the energy you feel is an example of a more emotionally intelligent environment. It’s much more enabling, it’s much more friendly than the stores around it. So when you go in there, they’re not trying to sell you anything. They’re trying to understand your pain, and they’re trying to be of service. Whether or not you buy anything is secondary to their desire to want to serve you. And maybe if you have a good experience, you go tell your friends and maybe they’ll tell their friends. So if you’re in sales and we’re all in sales.

Yeah. I was going to say there’s a line I read a little while ago that I thought was great. It said there are 100 different ways to make money, and all of them involve selling.

We’re always selling or being sold. And in my career, I’ve generated over a billion and a half dollars. I forget what I was going to say.

All right.

The service you provide, the level of trustability you demonstrate in providing the service is going to create the kind of deep relationships that you want to generate more revenue. You’re actually going to generate by developing your emotional intelligence. You’re actually going to generate far more revenue with much less effort, and you’re going to have a lot more fun doing it. But what you talked about earlier is really we’re at a tipping point as a species on the planet. We need to change our trajectory in order to be able to embrace change or we’re going to be overcome by the accelerating rate of global change.

So the development of our emotional intelligence isn’t a solution to the challenges we face. It’s the only solution to the challenges we face.

Yes. It’s interesting. Well, because one of the things that I think about just for my situation is on April 20 of 2020, I was let go from my corporate job because my boss had moved out new chief information officer came in and he got rid of all the people who were in the old guys inner circle, which is endemic of the kind of toxic behavior that you’re talking about. But ultimately, it is what it is. And I do a lot of internal reflection to say, okay, I’m kind of floating out in the sea of 25 million other people who have just been separated right now trying to figure out what next steps look like. Well, and in a traditional corporate hierarchy, you’re looking at two to five years anywhere you go to prove yourself before you really have a shot to ascend. And of course, this is a part of my personal maturation is going through. Okay. Is the objective to ascend well, what’s the objective to ascend the objective to ascend in a corporate hierarchy so that you can exercise power behind a wall of safety in the form of your salary by a third party entity? And so, as I was really examining that, I was thinking, okay, is this really what I want the remainder of my life to be about. And of course, obviously, I started this podcast. I started a consulting business. So the answer is no. But I think more and more people will be coming to that realization. And or the people who are really successful in executive leadership positions, I think, will need to become more mindful of this, because what we’re experiencing right now, I think, is the ultimate unraveling of, as you said, of the power hierarchy paradigm.

Can I jump in and make a profound statement? Please do I notice from your LinkedIn profile that you have some military officer training.


And actually, I’m on another podcast later today that’s focused on the military. And part of what I’m going to be telling them is what I’m going to tell you now. You don’t want to try and fit in, you want to stand out. You’ve had some excellent training and emotional intelligence in doing the emotional labor of learning to deal with your fear in high stake situations. You’ve learned the value of teamwork and the oxytocin chemically that gets released in our brains when we’re working with people we trust and to trust us. Yeah. You’ve learned how to adapt and change rapidly. These are skills that organizations do not have the type of emotional intelligence training that you’ve received.

So the goal shouldn’t be to try and fit in. The goal should be to stand out and demonstrate your leadership, because that’s really what we all need.” We don’t need more people to conform. We don’t need more people to fit in. We need people to stand out and lead us, inspire us through their example.

Well, further, I would say, because in a lot of cases, when you are attached to the idea of trying to ascend within a power hierarchy, conformity becomes necessary. And so then the question becomes, okay, well,

in order to be an effective leader, you need to maintain independence, but in order to ascend, you need to conform.

And so how do you maintain that balance between those two kind of competing priorities? Because in order to get to a point where you’re in charge and can have an extended impact, if you have conformed so much along the way that you’re another soulless corporate robot. And again, I’m not calling anybody listening to this podcast soulless corporate robots. In fact, the reason you’re listening is because that’s not your objective. But that’s the system you’re fighting against is that people who want to put solar in the game are fighting against that system.

I’ve worked with executives all over the world running multibillion dollar companies with thousands of employees and Harvard MBAs and PhDs. And I can tell you, a lot of the folks at the top are really scratching their head, and they’re looking for leadership from below. What got them to where they are won’t get them to where they need to be in this rapid and accelerating world in which we live. So whether it’s through M and a or whether it’s through buying other smaller companies, they’re looking for help. They’re not looking for conformity because the way we’ve been doing business will not survive.

We need to change our trajectory. We need to change the way we do business. We need to be able to develop deeper relationships and we need people within our organization to lead us, to inspire us, to show us how to do that.

So you don’t want to follow a system that’s crumbling. You want to lead in the development of a new kind of organization that values trustability and emotional intelligence. That’s developing emotional intelligence because that is the greatest source of earning power, either as an individual or as an organization.

I don’t know that it’s possible for me to agree more. Let’s see. So I think we’re actually starting to get close on time. So give us just a couple of last thoughts, last ideas, ideas people can put into motion right away. And then, of course, we’ll make sure that everybody learns where they can subscribe to a newsletter or learn a little more about you.

The best advice I can give anybody and I do give anybody Is to develop their emotional intelligence to begin getting on the path to developing their emotional intelligence. The ROI in making that investment is huge and it keeps getting greater and greater and greater. There are executives I’ve been working with for over twelve years because the ROI keeps getting greater and greater. They can get on my calendar through my LinkedIn profile.


And I would be happy to meet with them and discuss the journey further, but I would say that

the greatest source of earning power is your emotional intelligence. If you want to build a strong career and you want to build a strong organization, that’s the way to do it.

Got it? Okay. So you said your LinkedIn profile, so that would be to do a search for Phil Johnson. Is there a website that you’d like to send people to also?

Not really. There is a website and there’s a lot of information on the website, but the best way to start is to have a conversation with me.

Excellent. Okay. In that case, go to LinkedIn and do a search for Phil Johnson. Phil, it was wonderful to talk to you today.

Thank you, Doug. I appreciate the opportunity to be on your show.

All right, everybody, have a wonderful rest of your day.

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