Even Stanford is Advocating “Touchy-Feely”

Jann FreedLeading Leave a Comment

This is a follow-up post to my post titled “Why Workplaces Would Improve if Men had More Friends”  If you missed it, you can read it here. It appears even Stanford would agree with my message.  

One of the main themes that emerged in my book Leading with Wisdom:  Sage Advice from 100 Experts is “the soft stuff is the hard stuff.”  Or as one of my sages said, “The fluff is the stuff.”

The Wall Street Journal had an article titled “Stanford Pushes Executives to Get Touchy Feely.”  This article caught my attention for a few reasons.  One, it was a good follow up to my last post about men needing more friends.  Second, my son graduated from Stanford GSB a year ago and I insisted he take this course before he graduates.  Years ago, I met Dr. David Bradford at the national conference (MOBTC) for professors who teach Organizational Behavior (OB) and leadership-like courses. In fact, David was one of the sages I interviewed for my book.  When I talked with him at the conference a few years ago, he told me how he was one of the primary creators of this “touchy-feely” course and my son had to take it when there.  Since OB was my favorite course to teach, I was really living vicariously through my son as I would have loved to take the course!  While my son doesn’t always listen to me, he did this time and I am grateful for him and for me. (Ha!  He sometimes reads my blog so just in case, thanks for listening and for reading. Love ya).

Leadership is not about position or title.  It is about relationships.  Or as Frances Hesselbein reminds us:  “Leadership is about how to be, not how to do.” Since the most important person to lead is ourself, we can’t learn enough about how to navigate relationships.  This course is emotional intelligence (EQ) on steroids!

Stanford is taking a condensed version of this course on the road to executives.  It is a very popular course and now more people can benefit from the knowledge and experience from the results of this long-standing course. While IQ tends to be fixed, EQ can be improved if we want.  But it takes self-awareness to know what to practice and leadership should be viewed as a practice similar to other skills.  The course is dominated by giving and receiving honest feedback.

How many times do we avoid difficult conversations both personally and professionally?  Knowing how to listen and receive feedback is essential.  Also knowing how to give feedback in ways it will be heard and valued is critical.

How are your “touchy feely” skills?  

How honest are you in your conversations?

How would your life and work improve if you had honest feedback?  

If you gave honest feedback?