Author Archives: David Stein

Emotional and Social Intelligence Matter for Today’s Hybrid Workforce. Do You Know Why?

Now that workforce is likely some combination of remote and hybrid, with online meetings the norm and in-person lunches a hit-or-miss affair. In fact, only 9% of offices anticipate being fully on-site for the future, versus 60% in 2020, while the number of hybrid workplaces has grown from 32% to 59%.1

What are EQ, IQ, and social intelligence?

All people have some level of EQ, IQ, and social intelligence. You probably know that people with higher IQ tend to demonstrate ability with topics such as spatial reasoning and mathematics.

But “people often confuse EQ and social intelligence,” says Ina Purvanova, Ph.D, professor of leadership and management and department chair at Drake University’s College of Business and Public Administration. “Think of EQ as knowing yourself—being in touch with your values, emotions, and reactions, and being able to control them. Social intelligence is being able to read others, which helps you build relationships.”

‘Leadership on steroids’

So why the focus on EQ and social intelligence while managing a workforce? Well, the pandemic of course.”We’ve always known good leadership is important, but in this shift to virtual and hybrid, it’s now leadership on steroids: You have to be an even greater leader in this new work culture,” she says. “Effective leadership is about bringing people together and making them feel like they are working together and contributing to a common cause, and that can be more difficult in hybrid or remote. It requires much more purposefulness and intentionality.”

The role of social and emotional intelligence in managing a hybrid or remote workforce

  • Ask for intentionality from employees, too. It’s appropriate to call out ways team members can contribute more fully to the team, says Purvanova. That may be about simple to-dos such as turning on cameras or showing up on anchor days. “Set those common sense of standards and expectations,” she says.
  • Recognize informal leadership. As you establish stronger connections, you may notice traits in team members that can help them rise to challenges. “There’s this idea of informal leadership that helps people respond to needs, wants, and values as you work together on projects,” Purvanova says. Can those leaders be given opportunities, such as spearheading a project, that help them develop their social and emotional intelligence even more?
  • Help the newbies. For new employees or employees with less work experience, it can be difficult to acclimate—and to read everyone’s social and emotional cues as well as learn the workplace’s culture—if no one is there to show them the ropes. “Do what you can as a leader to foster that connection,” Purvanova says. That may mean an anchor day once or twice a week, new hire “buddies” to navigate jobs and projects, and face time with key team members, suggests Hunold-Van Gundy.

How you lead and foster your own social and emotional intelligence may change from year to year; after all, the new hybrid work culture is just that—new. “Connecting only comes through ongoing, intentional connection and conversations,” Hunold-Van Gundy says. “And that takes time, something leaders and owners never have enough of. But prioritizing the relationships with employees and teams so they’re set up to do their best work brings the highest level of engagement and performance.”

Arrogant leadership versus humble leadership?

If humility is so important, why are so many leaders today, especially our most famous leaders, so arrogant? Or, to flip the question around: In the face of so much evidence that humble leaders do, in fact, outperform arrogant leaders, why is it so hard for leaders at every level to check their egos at the office door?

For one thing, too many leaders think they can’t be humble and ambitious at the same time. One of the great benefits of becoming CEO of a company, head of a business unit, or leader of a team, the prevailing logic goes, is that you’re finally in charge of making things happen and delivering results.Edgar Schein, professor emeritus at MIT Sloan School of Management, and an expert on leadership and culture, once asked a group of his students what it means to be promoted to the rank of manager. “They said without hesitation, ‘It means I can now tell others what to do.’” Those are the roots of the know-it-all style of leadership.“Deep down, many of us believe that if you are not winning, you are losing,” Schein warns. The “tacit assumption” among executives “is that life is fundamentally and always a competition” — between companies, but also between individuals within companies. That’s not exactly a mindset that recognizes the virtues of humility.

In reality, of course, humility and ambition need not be at odds. Indeed, humility in the service of ambition is the most effective and sustainable mindset for leaders who aspire to do big things in a world filled with huge unknowns. We “notice that by far the lion’s share of world-changing luminaries are humble people,” they wrote. “They focus on the work, not themselves. They seek success — they are ambitious — but they are humbled when it arrives…They feel lucky, not all-powerful.”There’s another big reason why it’s so hard for leaders to be humble, and it’s related to the first. Humility can feel soft at a time when problems are hard; it can make leaders appear vulnerable when people are looking for answers and reassurances.

We live in a world where ego gets attention but modesty gets results. Where arrogance makes headlines but humility makes a difference. Which means that all of us, as leaders or aspiring leaders, face questions of our own: Are we confident enough to stay humble? Are we strong enough to admit we don’t have all the answers? Here’s hoping we reach the right answers.

Have We Lost the Art of Critical Thinking ?

A good friend of mine has recently been posting a series of articles about the art of critical thinking and based on the current social and political climate I started to consider whether in world of business this important skill has been forgotten or overlooked? For the sake of brevity let’s assume that many individuals have lost this ability I will share a few attributes over the next blog posts to get you thinking about the elements you need to start thinking critically again. “The sole purpose and objective of critical thinking is to get at the truth no matter how unpleasant or unexpected it might turn out to be.”

Perception (the five senses) must always be tested against the available evidence to validate or dismiss the truth claim behind the appearance. This is the first step in critical thinking.

Reasoning is the well-spring of critical thinking. It is the the process of thinking the thing through, logically and precisely, beginning with it’s animating assumptions, while drawing well-founded inferences and conclusions.

Trite as it may sound critical thinking is aimed at real-world problems with real-world tools of reasoned analysis to reach sound, concrete and productive outcomes.

I will continue this discussion in an upcoming blog.


Inclusive leaders understand their identities, privileges, and biases, and recognize how they have shaped how they view the world and the people around them. They employ that understanding to take a staunch stance against even the subtlest forms of prejudice and discrimination. They model the way for others to stand up to discrimination and inequity through their words and actions. Inclusive leaders are committed to the work of allyship. They align themselves in solidarity with marginalized groups and use their resources and social capital to help speed their impact.

But leadership is uncomfortable by nature. If you aren’t pushing yourself to do more and encouraging others around you to do the same, then chances are you aren’t doing enough. One of the most important qualities of an inclusive leader is resilience—persisting in the face of risk. The true measure of leadership is not how an individual performs during the good times, but rather the strength, fortitude, and courage they display during times of crisis and uncertainty.

Creating workplaces that are more equitable and inclusive is needed now more than ever. We have a unique opportunity to construct a different, better future. I believe that we each have the capacity to effect change, especially if we are leaders and have been sitting on the sidelines. Every single one of us is needed—not just to register our good intentions on paper or social media, but to actually do the work necessary for real change. We each have spheres of influence, and we leave much on the table every day when we don’t see our role in driving change.

It’s also important to remember that change takes time. Leaders love shortcuts and quick fixes, but change doesn’t always work like that. If you’re actively working to drive change, you have to be patient. I think a lot about failing forward, the agility and flexibility of getting feedback, adjusting, and trying again. What’s most important is to keep trying, to keep moving forward. Inclusive leadership isn’t a goal or a destination; it’s the embracing of a journey, where skills are built, day by day, experience by experience.

What do employees want most from their work life in 2022?

  • The growth of remote working is causing many employees to rethink how they approach their work day.
  • Workers are looking to their employer to prioritize wellbeing and purpose.
  • Flexible working conditions, work-life balance and skills development are also seen as increasingly important.

“People power is on the up”.

This is one of the key messages of a new survey of labour-market dynamics, which looks at why many of today’s employees are re-evaluating their approach to work.

The study by employment services provider Manpower Group, “The Great Realization,” found that workplace happiness is coming to the fore, with employees expecting more from employers than good pay and traditional benefits.

Pandemic-induced life changes have prompted a work-life balance reset for many, leading to global media reports of a “great resignation”. Switching from office life to remote working and other changes have caused many to question the how, when and where of their workday expectations.

Such trends are not new but newly urgent, says the report.

Wellbeing and shared culture

Swapping the 9-5 office routine for a desk at home has changed employee expectations, with individual choice now the preserve of the many rather than the few, the Manpower study notes.

Many individuals are looking to employers to prioritize flexibility and skills development, including workers having the freedom to decide their start and finish times, to enjoy increased vacation days and fully flexible work options.

Wellbeing and purpose are also important priorities, with almost half of workers prepared to move to a new organization to improve their wellbeing.

The changing work landscape means employers need to rethink their duty of care to include mental wellness. Staff are increasingly looking for support to prevent burnout, build resilience and increase mental fitness – such as mental health non-working days.

An increased sense of shared values and culture is taking shape, with a heightened focus on building trust and cohesion within teams, especially where employees interact remotely. Three quarters of employees surveyed by Manpower want to feel motivated and passionate about the work they do.

With both talent shortages and hiring difficulties reaching a 15-year high, companies that invest in their employee experience will be well placed to retain existing staff and attract newcomers.

Employees, consumers and other stakeholders are choosing to engage with companies that prioritize people, communities and champion social challenges and the environment. And in the age of instant communications through social media, the actions of companies and other organizations matter more than ever.

In its 2021 white paper “The Future of the Corporation” the World Economic Forum highlights the need for businesses to understand the impact of remote working on workplace culture: “The remote environment has acted as a great leveller and reduced hierarchies, making it easier for those with a weaker voice to engage, as well as allowing senior managers to realize they can reach staff far junior to them without intermediary levels of management”.

7 leadership lessons from an unexpected CEO


Some people grow up dreaming of becoming a CEO, but my journey to the corner office was quite different.

In 1974, my wife Nien-Ling Wayman founded a technology company in California. By 1987, she’d realized the need for electronic document repositories with instant search capabilities and launched Laserfiche—the first DOS-based document imaging system in the world.

Back then, the world of enterprise software wasn’t my forte. I had been working as a researcher for the U.S. State Department and then as an analyst in municipal government development. While I did eventually take a position as vice president of sales and marketing at Laserfiche, Nien-Ling was at the helm and determined to grow the company. I enjoyed this role and knew that the technology was truly revolutionary. Nien-Ling, however, remained the driving force behind Laserfiche’s growth for two decades, and I was—and remain—incredibly proud of her legacy.

Then, in early 2013, Nien-Ling was diagnosed with cancer. While she fought incredibly hard, she and I knew we had to begin transitioning day-to-day management of the company. Despite all efforts, Nien-Ling passed away in late 2014. To this day, it is an indescribable loss. She was my partner in life, an inspiration, and an exceptional person.

Suddenly, I was the CEO. I began thinking about the ways Nien-Ling led the company and tried to emulate them. Now, five years later, I continue to think of her and her leadership style every day. She continues to provide invaluable lessons for any leader.


Nien-Ling always believed that money should be made from customers, not investors. She often said that “money is a byproduct of a job well done” to remind us that money is not our main goal. Our primary objective is to create a product that people love to use.


Many people assume that you need a very specific type of background and skill set for jobs in tech, and that’s simply untrue. One of Nien-Ling’s talents was to recognize people’s strengths first, and then build a job for them that would leverage those aspects of their character. I still do that today. If I meet a programmer who studied in an unrelated field but demonstrates accomplishment, then I’ll give that person just as much consideration as I would anyone else.


Nien-Ling was a physicist by training and a programmer by experience. Everything she did had to be precise—it’s particularly important in programming since one extra character can cause a program to crash. She helped people to be more than they could be on their own, like the professors she idolized. But don’t forget that precision isn’t perfection, and aiming for the latter can be disastrous. Nothing burns out an employee like insistence on perfection. Research shows that making mistakes helps us to learn. Tossing people to the curb just because of a mistake breeds fear within an organization and fosters a risk-averse culture. Thomas Edison even famously said, “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” We have to remember that perfection is an ideal, not a reality, and by insisting employees try and maintain an impossible standard, you will self-sabotage your company.


Company culture is what gets everyone moving in the same direction with common values and goals, both short- and long-term. Nien-Ling believed that multiple people working on a project in cooperation was better, and if that cooperation extends throughout the company, it’s powerful. Laserfiche offers company-sponsored activities to employees like yoga, book club, sailing, and more. The goal is to foster positive relationships that will be reflected at work. We’ve also offered free lunch since day one because it provides us all with quality time to get to know one another and share ideas. We’ve found that employees from different departments often have lunch together; it gives them a unique opportunity to get to know people that they wouldn’t normally cross paths with and discuss ideas, challenges, and solutions. If you set a positive culture in place from the beginning, it will endure.


A lot of people think the technology industry solely relies on numbers, science—clear, black and white objectives and solutions. But Nien-Ling always felt that software development is a creative endeavor. People who code need time to think about how their code will be used. Things can always be improved, so I love it when I see or hear about an out-of-the-box idea from one of our employees. In fact, one of our employee-led initiatives recently resulted in the installation of mob programming stations around the office, allowing both technical and nontechnical teams to collaborate on projects.


That’s right, I said it. If people do meaningful work, they can spend their eight-hour workday being incredibly productive. But then they need to go home and do other things. Since we’re based in Southern California, that can mean playing beach volleyball, or going surfing—something else that allows employees to recharge. Sure, people can work three days straight, but they can’t do that forever, and they can’t do it as effectively as they could if they had time to recharge. Nien-Ling believed that to build a truly productive organization, eight hours comprise a workday. Do that consistently and it allows you to build a powerful company. You don’t need to exploit your workers to do that.


Nien-Ling developed a powerful culture that endures. In my mind, she started something that is unstoppable, and we are executing on her vision. I know she would be proud to see what we have done with the company.

Using Conflict Resolution Skills: Trying to Forgive and Move Forward

In a chapter in The Negotiator’s Fieldbook (American Bar Association, 2006), Ellen Waldman and Frederic Luskin write that forgiveness isn’t an essential component of negotiation; you may be able to get to the finish line despite resenting or disliking your counterpart intensely. But when you’re suffering from a grievance, you could get trapped in a cycle of anger, self-pity, and resentment that puts you at risk for further conflict as well as emotional and physical stress.

Because simply remembering a hurtful experience triggers a biochemical stress response, moving beyond blame can help you better regulate your emotions and even lower your blood pressure, researchers have found. The health benefits offered by forgiveness can have a transformative impact on conflict, write Waldman and Luskin.

In one of its studies, the Stanford Forgiveness Project brought together people on both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland who had suffered personal losses, including the deaths of loved ones, for a week of forgiveness training. When assessed six months later, the participants’ rating of the intensity of their hurt had declined significantly.

Overall, conflict resolution training has been found to encourage people to experience greater empathy toward their offenders and to change their story of victimization to one of overcoming adversity.

In the context of negotiations, the forgiveness inspired by a sincere, well-timed apology can potentially improve the odds of settlement and repair relationships.

That’s not to say that forgiveness is always achievable or even desirable. In particular, the greater the trauma people have suffered, the less open they will be to reconciliation. Studies of judicial initiatives in Rwanda and post-apartheid South Africa suggest that victims must feel a sense of economic and psychological stability before they can summon the strength to forgive those who have harmed them.

But if the prospect of moving on psychologically from a grievance appeals to you, how can you increase your own capacity to forgive? Your willingness to forgive someone who has hurt you may depend on your beliefs about human nature, according to the results of a 2010 experiment by Michael P. Haselhuhn of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Maurice E. Schweitzer and Alison M. Wood of the University of Pennsylvania.

The researchers had participants square off against an opponent who repeatedly violated their trust in a computerized negotiation before apologizing. Participants who believed that moral character can change over time were more likely to trust their counterparts following the apology than were participants who believed that moral character is fixed.

The results suggest that you can increase your capacity for forgiveness by allowing for the possibility that a counterpart who expresses a seemingly heartfelt apology is capable of personal growth.

What Benefits Employees are Asking for in 2022 and Beyond

No. 1: Flexible, hybrid work arrangements

It’s considered the No. 1 benefit employers can provide outside of salary and standard benefits.

“Hybrid work is here to stay,” said Jennifer Schoenig, VP, Guardian, in the webinar, The Future of Benefits. “We’ve become accustomed to new behaviors and lifestyles. Work and life have intermingled more than they did before. Now it’s the norm for most of us.”

Schoenig, who works from home, was able to coach softball for the first time. Working in the office with the time demands and commuting never allowed it previously.

But not everyone wants to be at home 100% of the time. Some people miss being with their colleagues. Others, who live alone or have children, want to get out of the house for a while. And each side has its benefits.

No. 2: Improvement of emotional & mental health program

Why the constant focus on mental health?

Well, let’s face it. The last few years haven’t been easy. Add to that, one in five adults experience mental health issues every year, and 55% of adults with mental health disorders go untreated.

It’s been that way for years. It’s just that the pandemic put a bigger spotlight on the issues and got more people talking about it which has reduced the negative stigma.

And while many employers do offer mental health resources, the problem is they’re underutilized. So how do you improve employee utilization of mental or emotional health resources?

No. 3: Implement a holistic employee leave strategy

The pandemic has caused 75% of employers to change their unpaid leave policies. And this trend will continue through 2022, according to a Guardian study.

This may not be surprising when you think about the fact COVID-19 prompted brand new or separate COVID-19-related policies. It was a must. And now 80% of employers said that senior leadership’s awareness of the “importance of leave management” has increased significantly due to COVID-19 and the number of employees that had to take leave to care for a family member or their own illness.

“COVID-19 definitely shifted the mindset of leave management and gave employers the opportunity to really hit a reset button on leave policies,” said Garlande Patz, Sr. Absence Management Practice Leader, Guardian. “So, we’re seeing the pandemic put that spotlight on the importance of supporting the emotional well-being of employees and realizing that many employers didn’t have policies or process in place that really permitted employees to take paid time off to care for a family member.”

From a policy perspective there’s been a huge growth in the number of companies that are offering paid family care benefits. In part it’s due to COVID-19, but it’s also due to the introduction of numerous paid state leave regs many of which do include coverage for family care. And employers want to ensure that their company policies are keeping up with those state benefits as well.

From a process standpoint COVID-19 has also highlighted some gaps, the biggest one being the lack of education that employees have regarding their company’s leave benefits. When it comes to leave, employees really want to know what benefits are available to them, where to go to read about their benefits, and then how to claim the benefits when they need them.

Top 5 Critical Thinking Skills Important for Business

Strength in business critical thinking skills is required for the strong decision-making and problem solving skills that move a company forward. Success depends on people able to learn their jobs quickly and to perform successfully in situations requiring problem solving.

Business professionals must be able to act with autonomy.  They must be able to make sound decisions, solve problems, communicate clearly, be collaborative, flexible and multi-task.

Implementing corporate goals require a leadership team who can identify critical elements, evaluate options, anticipate risks, prioritize goal achievement.

The best way to reduce the risks of poor decision-making and problem-solving is to hire people with strong  business critical thinking skills .

Business Professionals must display 5 critical thinking skills:

1.  Problem analysis:

The ability to analyze problem situations and identify the significance of key/critical data elements. A strongly skilled problem solver uses analysis and interpretation skills to determine the issues that must be addressed and to understand the complexities of the problem.

2.  Evaluating alternatives:

The ability to evaluate options accurately and establish priorities. A successful business professional can differentiate the quality of different possible choices and explain the reasons for their decisions.

3.  Precise contexts:

The deductive reasoning skills necessary to anticipate outcomes and see logical consequences. Effective business professionals need to be able to see applications and implications of executive directives, company policies and regulations

4.  Ambiguous contexts:

Problem solving in contexts of risk, ambiguity and uncertainty. Strength in inductive and inferential reasoning lead problem solvers to determine the solution that has the strongest likelihood of success, given information at hand.

5.  Quantitative contexts:

The ability to reason well in contexts involving numerical data. Business problem solvers must demonstrate the ability to interpret and evaluate vital information presented in a variety of numerical formats in order to reach an optimal problem solution.

3 Shifts in Perception that Will Diminish Anxiety for Entrepreneurs

As a high performer set on goal achievement, you have probably programmed your subconscious mind to believe that your perceptions are aligned with the optimal way to perform at your highest level. But if your perceptions are stimulating anxiety, that is not the case. When anxiety overwhelms you, it limits your ability to create and connect with confidence and clarity, which is essential to an entrepreneur’s long term success.

Diminish anxiety, and you can operate from a state of flow that grants you confidence and clarity. If you choose to shift your perceptions in the following three areas and align them with your flow state, you will do just that.

1. Your perception of time

The vision of massive impact you hold in your heart will undoubtedly stimulate pressure in your mind. Because of this, time becomes more precious as almost every minute of your waking day is analyzed from a lens of performance, productivity and profit. But a curious perception of time starts to unfold in your mind when you live this way: You think you don’t have time, but you act like it’s never going to end.

This perception that “you don’t have time” triggers impatience, and impatience is a symptom of anxiety. Impatience will cause you to make mistakes in your business operations, like overlooking details and skipping steps in processes that could be vital to your success. At the same time, since you act like your time is never going to end, you put aside the things that are most important to upholding a healthy work-life balance, like your mental and physical health, upholding meaningful connections with friends and family or a well-deserved vacation.

This perception of time will have you believe that quick fixes to manage anxiety are the best way to operate, surrendering to the subconscious belief that you will always have to deal with it, rather than prioritizing the time to find the source of it. Don’t get me wrong, I utilize breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation as tools to reduce temporary anxiety. But when you come into the awareness of the source of your anxiety, you can more accurately align these tools for optimal use.

In order to achieve the patience needed to unlock your optimal work-life balance and business performance, you must shift your perspective of time.

You have time, but it will inevitably end.

2. Your perception of the desired outcome

When you overvalue your desired outcome and perceive it to be attached to your emotional well-being and self-worth, you are setting yourself up for a state of fear and anxiety that will trigger self-sabotaging patterns.

Prior to coming to this awareness in my own thought process, I experienced self-sabotage repeatedly and with great intensity. I know the feeling of gut-wrenching pain when you realize that you’ve created the same result as before, falling short of your desired outcome while following the same pattern of behavior.

Self-sabotage is very tricky to catch while it’s happening. It is rooted in your subconscious mind, which is arguably more powerful than your conscious mind, and responsible for analyzing and registering your repetitive thought and behavior patterns as a part of who you are.

The problem is, your subconscious mind does not distinguish whether your patterns are serving you or limiting you. But to your advantage, your conscious mind has the power to control your thoughts, emotions and behavior. 

When you set high expectations to accomplish a lofty goal that you never have before, there is a dynamic between your conscious and subconscious mind you will need for success. You must simultaneously be conscious of letting go of past thought and behavior patterns that may ultimately sabotage your success. But when you are overly attached to the desired outcome, you will struggle to be grounded in the present moment enough to be aware of this dynamic for success.

Instead, shift your perception to work without emotional attachment to your desired outcome. 

This perception will grant you the mental space needed to be in the present moment, shifting your focus to optimally perform the daily actions and habits needed to achieve your desired outcome.

3. Your perception of anxiety itself

Entrepreneurs, and society for that matter, commonly give anxiety a bad rap. It’s usually perceived as a burden that cripples you from showing up in your most authentic self and hindering your desired daily performance. The main cause of anxiety is, in very simple terminology, stimulated by the unknown.

If you perceive your anxiety to be a burden and nuisance to your daily life, you will be resistant to discovering the real source of it, and instead look for quick fixes to manage it.

From my own experience of self-discovery and guiding many others do the same, I have found this problem to be deeper than just the sources of your anxiety that can be situational and circumstantial. It is the void of knowledge that must be filled.

Once you can clearly define the characteristics of your authentic self (which can be created by becoming aware of your conscious intentions) and align them into daily habits, you will begin to act more authentically. Over time and with consistency, your subconscious mind will start to register your new aligned habits as the new normal.

Once you have achieved this, your perception of anxiety will shift from a burden to signal that you are out of alignment. The feeling of anxiety will empower you to look inward to review the alignment of your thoughts and behaviors, to become open to alternate truths and to seek the lessons in all of your experiences.

You have the power to align your authentic, conscious intentions with your desired outcome and manifest it into reality at any and all times. Your perceptions are what block you from seeing this truth. If you have the courage to shift your perceptions and align them with new habits, you can take control of your anxiety and thrive as an entrepreneur.