As a leader, your personal behavior and emotions can directly impact business results.
If you’re a leader ready to commit to executive coaching, chances are both your behavior and emotions are on point. There’s always room for improvement, though.
One of the most common natural traits of influential leaders is an innate emotional intelligence giving an executive coach a strong platform to build from.
Is it possible to teach emotional intelligence, though?
Before we look at this question, a quick snapshot of what, exactly, emotional intelligence consists of…
Emotional Intelligence: The Basics
According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is the ability to first identify then manage your emotions and also the emotions of others.
Daniel Goleman’s seminal text Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ outlines 5 key pillars of EI.
In this book, Goleman touches on Hay Group studies that show up to 85% of exceptional performance in C-suite leaders is due to emotional and social intelligence rather than raw cognitive ability.
Here are the 5 areas Goleman identifies as key metrics for success in the executive sphere…
- Empathy: Recognizing how people feel is crucial if you’re hoping to lead and manage them. With strong empathy, you’ll also better understand the dynamic underpinning relationships, specifically the balance of power. This awareness is useful at all levels of an executive role
- Motivation: Clearly, you need to be self-motivated, driven and able to show both initiative and optimism when you’re faced with the challenges of an executive’s day-to-day
- Self-Awareness: Being able to both recognize and understand your own emotions will go a long way when you’re trying to build upon them. Self-awareness generally translates into enhanced realism and self-confidence
- Self-Regulation: Remaining in control of your emotions when faced with challenging situations and demanding personalities is another benchmark of heightened emotional intelligence
- Social Skills: An ability to communicate confidently and successfully involves picking up on verbal and non-verbal cues. With emotional intelligence at the required level, you’ll be able to accept and act upon feedback. You’ll also have the ability to persuade and manipulate others using nothing but words
How, then, can executive coaching improve upon these foundational areas of emotional intelligence?
A coach will encourage you to become more empathetic by making a conscious effort to look at the other person’s point of view. You can run through some exercises where you look back at a situation with full focus on the feelings experienced by the other person rather than yourself. If you fired someone, how did it make them feel and why? Perhaps you passed someone over for a promotion. Again, take the time to understand how it made them feel.
While it’s not easy to teach motivation, you can certainly make a concerted effort to confront challenges more optimistically. Your coach can help you with this. Along with your coach, set goals continuously and hold yourself accountable to them. Rather than blindly fixating on an outcome, double down on the why. After all, if you don’t have a genuine reason for doing something, the chances of success are slimmer than if you’re clear on why you’re committed to that goal.
Drilling down on your strengths and weaknesses is a simple but classic approach your coach can guide you through to improve self-awareness. Be honest about how you manage your emotions. Do you respond poorly to conflict or confrontation? How does this manifest in your behaviors and actions? An effective executive will enable you to turn those weaknesses into strengths with better management of your emotions.
Linked to this is the way in which you self-regulate. Your coach can help you determine how quickly you react to negative emotions since these are usually the most damaging to react instinctively against. You can learn to stave off major decisions until you’ve ridden out a peak of high emotions. If you find yourself complaining or experiencing negative emotions, your coach can push you into planning decisive action instead, show you how you can improve the situation rather than unproductively moaning.
Your social skills, specifically communication, can be sharpened in many ways through executive coaching. You can learn to listen more fully rather than simply waiting for your next opportunity to speak or formulating your answer without giving weight to what the other person is saying. You can practice conflict management and learn a great deal about feedback from an executive coach. Act on the feedback they give you as a direct method of improving your social skills during your sessions.
So, these are some very simple methods in which a coach can help you to hone your emotional intelligence but how does incisive executive coaching actually teach emotional intelligence?
Real Coaching Teaches a Behavior Not a Skill Set
Throughout the 70s and 80s, Sir John Whitmore and Tim Gallwey pioneered a style of transformational performance coaching combining the tenets of sports coaching with the core components of transpersonal psychology.
In Whitmore’s Coaching For Performance, he describes true coaching as “the practice of emotional intelligence”. He goes on to add that it’s a “behavior not a skill set”.
So, if your coach is worth his salt, he’ll be embodying the core concepts of emotional intelligence himself. He’ll also be guiding you to develop better behaviors that will translate to influencing others and working confidently with them at all levels.
Pivotal to improving your emotional intelligence is awareness. It is, indeed, the bedrock of emotional intelligence so we’ll glimpse at how a coach can coax out your potential to optimize performance beginning with awareness…
The Triple-Pronged Power of Awareness
Your executive coach can help you to fine-tune and uprate your emotional intelligence in these 3 broad areas of awareness:
- Being Self-Aware: You need to understand why you do what you do. By better self-management in the face of internal obstacles, and improving the way you self-manage reactions, emotions, and judgments, your overall performance at work will spike. These are all areas an executive coach can work through with you
- Being Aware of Others: To manage relationships successfully, it helps if you can clearly and rapidly identify strengths and weaknesses in others. By better understanding their motivations and desires, you can inspire them more readily. You coach can teach you to listen more carefully and to develop these skills to great effect
- Being Aware of the Organization: By learning to keep individual and team goals fully aligned with organizational goals, you’ll have a team and company in harmony and increased performance along with more enjoyment in the workplace. This is something you might be subconsciously aware of but not implement all the time. An executive coach can pinpoint any weaknesses in this area and help you to focus more fully on aligning these goals
How Can You Learn Emotional Intelligence?
Luckily, this is an easy enough question to answer succinctly…
Implementing the solution is where the hard work lies, but that’s something for your coach to work through with you.
Emotional intelligence is not a hard skill. This means traditional methods of didactic instruction would be an exercise in futility. You would be trying to learn something that can’t be learned using that approach and doomed to failure.
Instead, your coach will employ techniques based on real issues rather than role-play with extensive training and practice using experiential facilitation. In plain English, you’ll be central to the learning process with your coach facilitating.
So, executive coaching can absolutely help you develop superior emotional intelligence, and you shouldn’t underestimate the way that can improve your performance in the workplace.
If you’d like to arrange to speak about executive coaching, make an appointment right here.