Diliana: I was impressed by the fact that you were teaching emotional intelligence to your clients in the UK ten years before Goleman published the book “Emotional Intelligence” and you were quoted several times by Goleman in his second book. What is the profile of the leaders you were teaching so long before the topic became popular in leadership?

Michael: Well in those days, as there was no such thing as ‘Emotional Intelligence’ there was no training, courses or certifications in EI. I was simply helping corporate leaders, supervisors, and managers in companies like Lufthansa and Swissair to understand the difference between ‘responding’ and ‘reacting’ and what to do, using practical, communication mechanics, when you are consumed by your own reactivity and likely to create a negative result. I used a simple yet powerful communication model called the ‘Inform, Invite, Listen Cycle’ which got at the heart and core of Emotional Intelligence before the phrase was a commonly known concept.

Diliana: EI entered the public spotlight a few years ago but very quickly became a high priority across the modern economy. Why is it so?

Michael: Because I think the majority of people instinctively knew that something was missing from the traditional recipe for leadership success in the corporate world. IQ was about having a clever mind that could analyze, strategize and make good decisions and so on. The ‘new’ concept of Emotional Intelligence shone a light on the importance of making people feel good and how that translated into success in business. People knew from their own experience that emotions and feelings and how they are managed them was an essential part of the success equation and Dan Goleman’s work gave permission and justification to apply this ‘new’ yet old as the hills, wisdom.

Diliana: This wisdom would help solve another big problem.  News of challenging and even toxic corporate cultures has become painfully common. Lack of trust is a big issue, and not a “soft stuff” as trust directly impacts the bottom line. So, authenticity is a badly, I’d even say urgently, needed EI competency. We don’t build trust by talking but by behaving in trustworthy ways. Tell us more about authenticity, please.

Michael: People’s authentic behavior and values are compromised and perverted by fear. In the corporate world, as in the world in general, people tend to allow their desire for survival, approval and acceptance to prevent them from being fully honest and truthful for fear of being disliked, marked down or even fired. It takes courage to be sincere and genuine. When someone’s behavior is inauthentic others smell it, sense it and do not trust that person. An authentic leader is someone who inspires trust and encourages teamwork, collaboration, employee engagement, commitment and loyalty by embodying their own values impeccably, visibly and consistently.

Diliana: Skillful is a keyword in the title of your workshop as many people truly want to be authentic but are not sure how. For example, often people do not want to tell lies but at the same time can not or think they can not talk straight, and thus they fall into the trap of counterfeit behaviors like spinning, withholding information or “corporate speak”. Another common case is when someone gets highly emotional but decides not to express emotions for the sake of “good relationship” but ironically only harms the relationship by doing so.

Michael: You’re absolutely right in all you say Dilly. As I said in my response to your previous question, fear can often lead to aberrated and inauthentic behavior. There’s also a common myth that someone who is authentic freely expresses themselves regardless of the circumstances. This can often lead to disaster, especially in the corporate setting! Skillful Authenticity is about employing all the EI competencies such as self-awareness, awareness of others, social intelligence and managing one’s own feelings and emotions in service of responsibly creating win-win results while maintaining one’s authentic and true self. It boils down to knowing what your truth is, being self-aware, honest and sincere with yourself first, and then choosing to communicate in a constructive manner towards others. There are practical steps you can take to develop this skill. We will discuss what these steps are in the workshop. There’s a real skill in telling the truth without hurting or disrespecting others. And this usually leads to everyone winning.

Diliana: The skill for everyone’s winning is the core of leadership. Thank you very much indeed for your contribution to Leadership Accelerator, and I am looking forward to seeing you in Sofia.


Michael Banks will present a keynote in the first part and will facilitate the workshop “Skillful Authenticity” in the second part of Leadership mega accelerator “Emotional Intelligence – Imperative in Business and Leadership” on 01.10.2020.

Links: About the event, Registration form.

Download: Program, Speakers and Facilitators

Visit Michael Banks’ website.