In the seventh installment of Coaching for Emotional Intelligence, Belinda Chiu, a Meta-Coach for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, discusses the role of diplomacy in coaching, global awareness, and more. Previous installments of this series include interviews with mindfulness coach and CEO Michelle Maldonado, educator and executive coach Matthew Taylor, and retired healthcare CEO Kathy Bollinger.
Belinda has 20 years of experience in university admissions; leadership development & training; career and executive coaching; and strategic consulting. She is a mindfulness trainer, certified yoga instructor, and a Search Inside Yourself Certified Teacher. Belinda has worked with clients ranging from the U.S. Department of State, to GlaxoSmithKline, to Maersk, to the University of Denver. Belinda holds a Bachelor’s from Dartmouth College, a Master’s from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, and a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University.
What led you to begin coaching?
Great question! I can’t say I had some of epiphany, but if I really had to think about the roots of what led me here, I suppose it had much to do with my growing up in the “in-between”–cultures, interests, etc. Not belonging anywhere yet belonging everywhere offered a sense of comfort and capacity to see things from multiple perspectives–even if those perspectives weren’t lived experiences. This orientation to the world has helped me to support others to explore and connect from a divergent, yet inclusive space.
As an undergraduate student, I earned an internship at my university’s career center. At the time, it was simply meant to be a great experience about the inner workings of higher education, not a future career. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy helping my classmates be more purposeful with and prepared for their post-grad plans. I remember when my director told me that one day I would be in some sort of profession helping others find alignment in their careers and lives, I dismissed him. Well, Mr. Sturman, you might have been right.
That experience, along with my direct approach (perhaps early debate training?), became useful as peers and friends reached out for advice. What I discovered was not that I was particularly wise (I’m not), but that I had the privilege and honor of their trust. From this place of trust and nonjudgment, I could then ask them direct, oftentimes uncomfortable questions. Coaching isn’t about me; it’s about helping others connect and explore.
In what ways has your background in education and diplomacy informed your current work as a coach?
Diplomacy and education are far simpler as theories. Just listen to each other and arrive at a speedy resolution. Just know the student’s learning style and teach to it. Simple, yes? We can talk all we want about tactics or models, but the second you throw a human being in the mix–with all their quirks and human-ness, it gets messy. Having the capacity to enter into any situation, whether a negotiation or classroom, with greater self-awareness of one’s own triggers and biases, the ability to recognize and manage others’ emotions, and seek commonalities is therefore critical. In diplomacy and education–and in fact, almost anything, I keep two questions in mind: what is the highest intention, and how can we act to be of service?
My work as a coach requires me to bring this perspective to help my clients, who I believe hold the answers. It is my responsibility to help facilitate and serve as a catalyst to help them uncover the deeper hidden answers to more surface-level issues. A diplomatic approach is required to raise tough-to-hear, often uncomfortable questions. For example, if a client has a tough relationship issue with a boss or peer, the skills of mindful diplomacy may help them navigate their conversations for more positive and productive outcomes. I also get to indulge my research side by bringing psychology, educational, and neuroscientific research into practical, user-friendly techniques that they can apply in real life. I assign homework!
What drew you to the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification?
As I study mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence, as well try to incorporate these concepts into my daily life, work, and coaching, it’s impossible not to know of Dr. Goleman’s work. As he serves as an advisor for the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute on Emotional Intelligence leadership, I became even more familiar with how he understands applied research. Going to the “root” source, if you will, for the most up-to-date research that is also done with a critical eye for validity and reliability, as seen in Altered Traits, was appealing to me as a researcher and writer. Importantly, being part of a community to help make broader improvement on how we live and work with peers from whom I could learn and grow seemed like an invaluable part of my own development. Being around others with a purpose and higher intention of how to make the world a kinder, healthier place seemed like a no-brainer (pun intended) to me.
You have a Doctorate of Education in International Educational Development, are a Mindful Leadership Coach for Ignition Coaching LLC, which has an international presence, and also co-founded Zomppa, a global education nonprofit for children. What is the role of global awareness in your work as a coach?
Global awareness impacts my work as a coach on multiple levels. On one level, it’s the personal. I have worked with clients from all different backgrounds, nationalities, and experiences. My own personal background also informs a level of nuance as to different cultural variances in workplace behavior, concerns, and issues relevant to an immigrant or underrepresented individual, or upbringing that impacts current behavior and mindset. On another level, it’s the wider societal and geopolitical forces that impact the approach. It requires that I stay attuned to global forces, local context, and group and individual biases–unconscious or otherwise, as all of this may impact their work so I might serve as a conduit to help them thrive.
Do you have any advice for those leading an increasingly diverse and virtual workforce?
Diversity has become almost an overused and often misused phrase. Fellow Coaching Certification Faculty Michelle Maldonado offers a wonderfully appropriate and more expansive phrase, “Belonging & Unity,” to bring recognition of a broader invitation for everyone to have a seat at the table. Whether we’re geographically dispersed or separated by tribe, there is no scarcity in science that shows that diversity of cognitive and experiential representation boosts creativity, and that diversity alone is insufficient. It is irresponsible to simply say “we have X, Y, Z” without doing the far tougher work to ensure a psychologically safe environment where people from multiple backgrounds can challenge, be challenged, and thrive. With an increasing virtual workforce, the lack of face-to-face and its corresponding critical body language communication can exacerbate any pre-existing biases or blockages.
We know that psychological safety is important. We also know that lip service to diversity or inclusion is insufficient. It is important to raise an individual-, team-, and organization-level of awareness to recognize biases, mental shortcuts, and behaviors informed by unconscious thinking to build such a safe environment. It is also important to provide time and space for in-person meetings, and at the very least, consistent and robust communication. There is much technology to use at our disposal to increase connectivity, but it cannot be at the expense of human-to-human relationship building. These approaches require training to relate to others in a deeper way that builds trust, supports vulnerability, and invites and gives voice to all around the table.
“With an increasing virtual workforce, the lack of face-to-face and its corresponding critical body language can exacerbate any pre-existing biases or blockages.”
What does living an authentic life mean to you? How do you develop authentic leaders?
An authentic life is being aware of one’s North Star and having the wherewithal, skills, and tools to stay true to it. It is having the wisdom of discernment, self-compassion for growth, and courage to act. Authenticity requires a level of self-awareness and willingness to be honest with oneself and others. A little gumption, irreverence, and sense of humor doesn’t hurt.
This is not to say that we live authentic lives without consideration of others around us. It does not give license to excuse poor behavior as “being true to oneself” nor from our role and responsibility to be a positive force in the world. Self- and other-awareness become critical because we do not live in isolation.
There is the saying we have on the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain: one walks alone, but one never walks alone. We can only abide by our own pace and cadence. How fast or quickly or beautifully one walks in comparison to others makes no difference. Yet we cannot walk without consideration for others around us, to not litter and harm the earth along the way, or to bypass a fellow injured pilgrim without stopping to help.
What advice do you have for people who would like to become coaches?
What is your highest intention for doing so? Keeping that in mind can help discern if coaching is the most appropriate way to make the kind of impact you want. Perhaps it is; perhaps it is not. Reflect on your philosophy and approach. Reflect on your own working preferences and styles. Reflect on your own biases and triggers. Do you have find fulfillment and get energized from coaching relationships? Do you have fun?
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience as a coach?
My own mindfulness practice continues to be a work in progress. I try to bring that into my work, although I fully recognize I am a neophyte. One reason I have always loved connecting with people is being inspired and energized by those who seek to intentionally live their authentic selves. The great thing is that there are so many incredible people out there with a shared sense of purpose to help the world be a better place by helping people to thrive, be kind, and serve a greater good.
“Authenticity requires a level of self-awareness and willingness to be honest with oneself and others.”
For further reading, our series of primers focuses on the twelve Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, which include Emotional Self-Awareness, Empathy, and Coach & Mentor.
The primers are written by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis, co-creators of the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model, along with a range of colleagues, thought-leaders, researchers, and leaders with expertise in the various competencies. Explore the full list of primers by topic, or get the complete collection!
*Please note: While the first cohort of the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification is now full, you can click here to sign up for updates on future cohorts.