Dr. Relly Nadler: Today we are going to interview Stephen Walker. He is a business psychologist and a senior partner at Brentfield Consultancy in the UK, a practice that specializes in designing assessments and development processes for recruitment, management, and leadership development that add modeling to the return on investment.
In his early 20s, Stephen trained as an accountant. He traveled and worked extensively abroad and has experiences war zones and luxury resorts during his travels. He completed his psychology degree and has lectured and psychology and statistics at the University of London. During this time he was actively involved in research and developed his theoretical knowledge by working as a consultant psychologist in various organizations.
His own area of professional practice has focused on methods of developing individuals and organizations by the use of sophisticated statistic modeling designing practical assessments and tests for leadership management and development.
Cathy and I are interested in him with his focus around emotional intelligence, which he has a special interest in and how it’s assessed. He was part of a team that developed the emotional behavior at the workplace, Emotional Systems for Business. You contact him at www.ebwonline.com. This happened in the late 1990s.
His assessment is now widely used in a broad spectrum of consultants and organizations and is available in multiple languages, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I’m really excited to have Stephen Walker. As you and I both do in a lot of our work, we respond to a lot of emails and a lot of requests from people. But when we get something of value that comes across our screen, it’s always gratifying to see that we have brothers and sisters in the field that are doing great things with emotional intelligence.
I was very intrigued by the programs that EBW was offering, their London based program. As you know, I worked for many years with iOpener with Jessica Pryce-Jones. Whenever things come out of the London region, also as a partner at Accenture I was based there for many years, so I get intrigued. I have to say I became Stephen Walker’s stalker.
It became my obsession every day to go on and see what they were sending me. They do a great job of embedding what we need to do to be better, if you will, business professionals in all their webinars and their programs.
The thing that really impressed me about Stephen is when you talk to him and you Skype with him as a behavioral scientist myself, you don’t get the criminal minds type of person, which is what I’m used to working with. You get somebody who is actually a very sweet, kind, intelligent, emotionally engaged human being. That’s always a bonus. The fact that the tool, the EBW Emotional Intelligence Systems for Business, is in multiple languages, is just a plus for us because we work internationally.
I think the fact that he was so quick to pick up the phone and have a chat in a country that’s in a way different time zone than mine, just really impressed me.
I’ve taken the EBW, I’ll have to let Stephen give you his own feedback on my emotional intelligence, I don’t think I’m qualified to do that, but I just want to thank Stephen for being on the show. Stephen, welcome!
Stephen Walker: Thank you very much for having me. It’s a great honor.
Dr. Relly Nadler: Thanks, Stephen. We have series of questions that we want to pick your brain about. I know it’s probably late there, over in London. One of the things that we like to start off with is to ask you to give us a little bit of a background about yourself. Who are some of the people who have most influenced you as a leader?
Stephen Walker: It’s a really interesting but also tricky question because I think I’ve been influenced by so many great leaders out there over the years. Not because I perhaps personally met them, just because I’ve read their biographies.
People like Nelson Mandela; some of the more historical leaders that we might think about. So, from my perspective in the UK, people like Winston Churchill, and some of the people from the states. The Apple entrepreneur whose name as I speak, Steve Jobs. Absolutely fantastic leader, someone who when you look at his biography and what he achieved and also the transformation that he personally had to go through to achieve what he achieved. I think a lot of people tend to concentrate on I guess, the negative aspects of Steve Jobs’ legacy in terms of his leadership style, but what I see is someone who is thrown out of Apple the first time around and came back having learned so much about himself and then built this international company that is renown all over the world.
Those are the kinds of leaders that really impact on me and made me think about what is leadership in the modern world.
Dr. Relly Nadler: Stephen in the bio we have, you started out as an accountant. Tell us how you got into studying emotions in the workplace.
Stephen Walker: Well, I started as an accountant and it really didn’t agree with me too much, so I moved out of the accountancy and basically took some time out for a couple of years and went traveling. I actually spent some time in the states and traveled from East to West and saw your great country which was fantastic. That was in my early 20s.
Then I went back to University and did my first degree which was psychology. It was after I completed my various academic degrees that I was already working as a consultant and we were asked by the third largest business school here in the UK, Wharton University, to come and do a series of workshops on psychometrics and emotional intelligence because Daniel Goleman had published his second book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, which if any of you guys get an opportunity to read it, if you haven’t already, I would highly recommend it. It’s a really useful starting point for understanding how emotional intelligence works in the workplace.
Dr. Relly Nadler: I would agree, and I pass it on to other folks too. Cathy and I have read it, but I think what someone wants to know that his first book in 1995, Emotional Intelligence, was more of an overview but it really zeroed in especially around the business world in 1998 working with emotional intelligence.
Stephen Walker: That’s right. Absolutely. It was really that book that was kind of the catalyst for us to start thinking about. He had some really great ideas but how do we translate that into something that is useful for leaders in terms of assessments and actually then developing people.
One of the design criteria for the EBW was okay, there are some really good EI assessments out there, but then sometimes there’s a feeling of ‘now what?’ I’ve been told my emotional intelligence is this, what do I do with that? For what we wanted to do with the EBW, and this is why I got so interested in emotions in the workplace, was give people a practical application of how to use their emotional intelligence in the workplace. What do they do with the output of their assessment? How do they practically use that? Change the way they behave and therefore change their performance. How will they become more compassionate, higher performing individuals in the workplace?
That was my driver in terms of my need to join the team who were developing the tool.
Dr. Relly Nadler: When you are talking about emotional intelligence, both Cathy and I deal with that obviously, all of the time. One of the challenges with business leaders is telling them why it’s important to know about emotional intelligence. In the beginning, I talked about being evidence-based and stuff, but how do you go about that especially when you have a lot of business leaders and managers who are listeners. What do you tell them about why this important for them to know?
Stephen Walker: Depending on the conversation I have, I use several techniques to sort of grab their attention. The stronger ones I find is getting them to just simply think about a time when they’ve been angry and ask them how long does it take them to calm down when someone makes them angry. I find that really practical idea of wow, that’s how much emotions affect my behavior because I remember last time I was angry my wife or my partner, or Tom in the office, that lasted all morning.
It’s that realization that wow, my emotions really do affect my thoughts and my behavior, and then my performance, and therefore, we fill before we think. That’s the sort of subtext I’m trying to get across to people.
Listen to the complete interview above.