Compassion, Curiosity & Awareness
Larry Senn, 83 year old triathlete and Founder of Senn Delaney, talks with Stout about how self-awareness, empathy and curiosity are keys to leveling up Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
Dr. Larry Senn is the founder of Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles and author of The Mood Elevator. He has been referred to in business journals as the Father of Corporate Culture, based on his field research: the first systematic study ever conducted on the concept of corporate culture. His studies were published as his doctoral dissertation in 1970. This led him to an early personal vision of finding a way to enhance the lives of people, the effectiveness of teams, and the spirit and performance of organizations. That vision became Senn Delaney, the first firm dedicated to shaping the culture of organizations.
Do you consider yourself to be self-aware?
I believe self-awareness is one of the greatest gifts I have or have been given. I believe self-awareness is the gateway or prerequisite of successful relationships and leadership. That awareness allows you to better self-correct and to be situationally appropriate. Self-awareness lets you know when you’re at your best and when you’re off your game. It also is the portal to learning, growing, and having a growth mindset. I can be confident that I’m self-aware when I’m at the top of my Mood Elevator when I’m feeling things like gratitude and understanding. I also know that I’m not self-aware, my thinking is unreliable, and I shouldn’t act on my thoughts when my mood drops to levels like judgmental, irritation or impatience.
Self-awareness lets you know when you’re at your best and when you’re off your game.
What traits do you possess that are helpful in understanding other people? And, how have you used to leverage or accomplish a goal?
I’m very curious about people and why they behave the way they do and why they are the way they are. And that curiosity helps me understand people as well as situations. I have empathy and compassion for others which helps me see the world as others see it not just the way I see it. From the neurolinguistic standpoint, I consider myself to be kinesthetic which is being able to feel or sense where others are and be able to predict how what I’m doing or saying will affect or impact other people. The way I leverage those is I’ve been able to build companies and teams as well as to influence and sell others on ideas and services.
How do you define EQ and how do you use it in your life- relationships- work/home?
EQ is an awareness of my own state of mind and at the same time, an awareness of how what I do or say will impact others. In the moment that allows me to tell whether what I’m doing or saying to others is working, I can see if they agree with me or not. It also helps me be situationally appropriate which helps me in my career as well as in my marriage and in raising a family.
Stout Bonus: Using The Mood Elevator To Improve EQ
Larry’s personal purpose is to help people live life at their best mentally, emotionally, physically, and purposefully. That purpose led him to create The Mood Elevator, a dashboard to help you develop a better awareness of your emotions, and enable you to take action to spend more time at the top of the chart and do the least amount of damage when you’re at the bottom.
We all ride the Mood Elevator up and down every day. How well we do it impacts our relationship, our personal effectiveness, our career, and our experience of life. Senn calls curiosity the “built-in brake on the human Mood Elevator” because by reacting to a situation with a curious, information gathering mindset instead of a judgemental, locked down one could stop many trips to the bottom.
Watch Stout for our upcoming in-depth coverage of Larry Senn’s SXSW 2019 “83 Year Old Triathlete Talks Corporate Culture” talk and get insight into how self awareness and a growth mindset can shape lasting positive change.
Check out all our Stout Leaders Speak articles for more innovative insights into success from local trailblazers to global thought leaders.
Photos courtesy of Senn Delaney.