In the fourth installment of Coaching for Emotional Intelligence, Wagner Denuzzo, a Meta-Coach for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification discusses adaptability, global leadership, and more. Previous installments of this series include interviews with Meta-Coaches Dot Proux and Kully Jaswal and Faculty member Michelle Maldonado.
As Vice-President of the Leadership Talent Transformation team at IBM, Wagner engenders a growth-mindset culture and has reinvented IBM’s leadership. Prior to this role, Wagner led IBM’s Leadership and Management Development global portfolio with a focus on the IBM signature leader experience, from aspiring managers to executive leaders. Wagner has been a Leadership/Organizational Development Consultant, Executive Coach, and HR strategist for over 20 years. Prior to joining IBM, Wagner had an Executive Coaching practice in NYC serving Fortune 500 clients nationwide.
Let’s start with a tough one, what do you see as some of the greatest challenges facing business leaders today?
Leaders are struggling to adapt to continuous change. I was at the Aspen Institute last year with many leaders from the best business schools in the world and it was clear to me that our educational system is also struggling to keep up with the demands of a new world. Experienced leaders are realizing that what worked in the past is no longer a viable option to lead the multigenerational, agile, and non-hierarchical organizations of today and tomorrow. Leaders who successfully navigate ambiguity and uncertainty are usually emotionally intelligent individuals who have been aware of their behaviors and had the courage to work on their emotional health. Business schools are not there yet…and as we enter the next phase of the super-competitive, super-human, and super-intense business era, we must prepare our leaders to share power, become more aware of their impact on others, and most importantly, maintain a healthy, sustainable high-performance while nurturing meaningful personal relationships in their lives.
What led you to begin coaching?
I was an Employee Assistance Program counselor when a group of us decided to introduce coaching as a service to our client companies in the late 90’s. It was obvious to us that many employees seeking our services could benefit from coaching, especially leaders who were struggling in their roles in management. It was exciting to begin the coaching practice as a team with my colleagues.
How does your background as a psychotherapist and social worker inform your work as a coach?
It takes courage for someone to begin a personal development journey. I believe my experience as a clinical social worker prepared me to treat others with empathy and respect for the vulnerability that’s intrinsic in the process of personal growth. I also find it helpful to have the tools to identify the best modality to help someone who might be requesting coaching services, when in fact they might benefit from mental health services. And lastly, I find extremely important to set and maintain healthy boundaries with my clients, and honestly, I don’t know if I would be good at it if I had not had clinical training to help me with this critical element of our coaching relationships.
“Experienced leaders are realizing that what worked in the past is no longer a viable option to lead the multigenerational, agile, and non-hierarchical organizations of today and tomorrow.”
What are your thoughts on Emotional Intelligence?
I often think about the saying: “One teaches what one needs to learn,” and that was true for me when I began my education on EI 20 years ago. I find it somewhat impossible to think about happiness and healthy relationships without referring to the elements of Emotional and Social Intelligence. I think that Daniel Goleman was brilliant in his ability to translate complex psychological constructs into meaningful and understandable concepts of our emotional lives. For me, EI provides guidance on how we can learn to enhance our experiences and achieve a sense of well-being as individuals and as members of society.
What drew you to become a Meta-Coach for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification?
When I heard about the EI certification program created by Dan Goleman and Michele Nevarez, I was immediately drawn to it. I have been using Dan’s work in my work with clients and teams for so many years, and the opportunity to be part of a like-minded community of practitioners in the inaugural cohort of the program was just an experience I could not miss! I know I will enjoy helping participants grow their skills and bring their potential to fruition, and that’s the greatest reward for me in my career. I have been working in corporate environments for 10 years now, and this program will help me reconnect with a higher purpose in my professional life. And of course, it will be a lot of fun to be with amazing people in the program.
“EI provides guidance on how we can learn to enhance our experiences and achieve a sense of well-being as individuals and as members of society.”
What is your approach to coaching leaders managing an increasingly global and technological workforce?
This is what I have been doing for many years now…and from the beginning, I have applied a social work principle: Start where the client is. It never fails! In many instances, global organizations have a business culture that supersedes geographical cultural norms. That provides a positive force in these organizations which have established values and beliefs that can guide their workforce. But of course, we need to focus on cultural intelligence with global leaders and help them become adept at communicating through multiple digital platforms.
It seems that the globalization of the business world has diminished the differences among groups of workers from different countries. I have an optimistic view of the positive impact of globalization and technology in our lives. Coaching global leaders requires a lot of sensitivity to their own fears of inadequacy and vulnerability that permeate global contexts.
I use a simple approach to help them overcome these fears that I call the “curiosity” approach. I often tell leaders that demonstrating curiosity about new cultures, new norms, new technologies, and new ways of relating and working is a way to connect with others and a proven strategy for building trust and fostering collaboration.
What does inclusive leadership mean to you? How do you cultivate measurably inclusive practices in a corporate environment?
Inclusion is one of those topics that is often discussed, but rarely observed in real organizational life. I am proud of being part of an organization that truly believes in inclusive leadership and has been a leader in creating a diverse workforce. I personally hope that one day we will not need to use this terminology any longer as inclusion becomes business as usual in corporate environments. Inclusive Leadership is the practice of leading with “soft eyes,” which I translate as leading with an ability to focus while observing your surroundings and being attentive to the value of differences that permeate our relationships. Inclusive leadership is the art of valuing others with a non-judgmental orientation.
It is difficult to measure inclusive practices, but it is evident when consistently adopted by corporate leaders. The composition of a team can tell you a lot about inclusive leadership. Creating an environment where all individuals feel valued and listened to is another characteristic of inclusive leadership. I believe the most useful tool for measuring inclusive leadership is an engagement survey that asks about leadership practices. Engagement results are reflective of these practices.
Do you have any advice for people who would like to become coaches?
Besides going through coaching themselves, I would say that it is critical for aspiring coaches to know how to set boundaries with respect and empathy. And to achieve that, you must practice mindfulness so you are aware of your own biases, potential issues, and prepare yourself to be the best coach you can be.
“Coaching global leaders requires a lot of sensitivity to their own fears of inadequacy and vulnerability that permeate global contexts.”
Interested in being coached by Wagner and becoming a certified coach yourself? Apply now for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. This in-depth program, akin to a professional degree, draws upon a range of evidence-based concepts and practices, including the Emotional & Social Intelligence framework. Coaches will gain meaningful new insights to impact their personal and professional lives through online learning, one-on-one guidance from a Meta-Coach, a coaching practicum, and more.