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Coaching vs. Counseling: Advice for New Coaches

TW: This article includes a brief mention of sexual abuse.

As the fields of coaching and counseling continue to grow and evolve, there is increasing overlap and influence between them. Clear objectives, homework assignments, and even Emotional Intelligence assessments have become more common in therapy, while coaching is increasingly open to the importance of unconscious bias and triggers. Yet it remains vital that ethical coaches understand the purview of their work and the line between coaching and counseling.

I recently spoke with Michele Nevarez, Head of the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching and Training Programs, and Nora Infante, a licensed psychologist and senior executive coach, about the distinctions between coaching and counseling as well as their advice for new coaches. As Nora eloquently put it, “This topic as a whole comes from identifying coaches’ need to better understand how these two worlds come together and what keeps them apart.”

How these worlds come together

In addition to increasing overlaps in the goal orientated nature of coaching and counseling and common tools and timeframes, the root of a client’s need for coaching or counseling often overlap. Nora shared: “The reason someone goes to therapy or counseling is because they have a situation in their lives that is painful or not useful that they want to move beyond. The goal is working toward a different experience. Both therapy and coaching begin with the client in a present state that is less than perfect and hopefully advance to a future state that will be improved.”

What keeps them apart

Usually, the gravity of clients’ situations as well as the extent to which their past is explored differ between coaching and counseling. Nora observed: “Coaching clients are generally in less serious situations, while counseling is more likely to come at a moment of crisis. Most coaching engagements begin with someone who is already functioning well but really needs to develop some self-awareness and insights to help them maximize their skills and develop new ones. It’s very behavior focused. Whereas in therapy you will delve more deeply into some of the root causes of triggers than in coaching.”

While coaches identify triggers with their clients and help develop ways to move forward effectively, they don’t spend time exploring the root causes of triggers. Substantive exploration of the past remains the domain of therapy. Coaches may touch on the past, but only in a very focused way⁠—to gain context for the present and to help their clients identify strategies to move forward.

Red flags for coaches

It is important that coaching clients have the “ego strength” to receive constructive criticism and even negative feedback and make use of it. If feedback itself is a trigger for a client, making them overly reactive and emotional, it can be a sign to the coach that coaching may not be the right fit for the client.

Additionally, feeling particularly concerned or protective of a client and/or having a client who continually returns to the same chronic issues can represent red flags. Nora elaborated: “If you find yourself feeling excessively preoccupied or protective of a client, it’s an important sign to you as a coach that you’re in an area of emotional vulnerability for the client that probably requires a deeper level of work than is appropriate for a coach. It is also a red flag if you find yourself having the same thematic conversation over and over again with your client⁠—despite their receiving feedback, having clear coaching goals, and giving homework assignments.”

Common fears

Particularly for new coaches without clinical training, the line between coaching and counseling is often blurry and intimidating. “Anybody who’s an ethical coach should know how to walk that line,” Michele said, “Because if they are so scared of that line that they don’t actually know the difference between coaching and therapy then they won’t even be a good coach. They may overlook the things they should be paying attention to that enable them to get to the heart of a client’s belief structure and mindset that fuel their current behavior and outcomes.”

When new coaches do identify a client who would be better served by therapy, there is often fear around saying so and ending an engagement. “They might be afraid of a client’s reaction, need the business, or don’t want to burn bridges,” Nora explained.

How can new coaches navigate the line between coaching and counseling?

Find a mentor

For new coaches, the insight of a psychologist mentor or a seasoned coach who understands the nuances between coaching and counseling can help tremendously. The guidance of a mentor was extremely beneficial for Michele early in her coaching career: “Having a mentor was vital for me as a new coach because I didn’t want to shut down and stop coaching in the areas that are appropriate and would allow me to do my job well. Nor did I want to traverse a step ethically. Sharing situations anecdotally (as to maintain confidentiality) with a mentor can make a huge difference in making those discernments.”

We discussed a story of an early client with whom this outside advice was crucial: “One of my very first coaching engagements was with someone who unfortunately had experienced sexual abuse. I remember at the time when they shared that with me I was so nervous. So, I went to two of my psychotherapist friends⁠—of course while keeping my client’s confidentiality⁠—and asked for advice. For me, it was super helpful to have a mentor. Someone who is more experienced and understands the nuances. 

“As it turned out, the client had been in years of therapy and had substantially worked through their trauma. So even though it was initially a red flag to me, it ended up not being an issue at all. They already understood the source of past triggers and were able to take a forward focus in their work with me.

“That forward focus is the simplest way I’ve found to describe the line between coaching and counseling to new coaches. If you go back it’s only to gain context that informs the present⁠—but coaches don’t spend time exploring the past. And of course, if the past becomes too intractable or repetitive that’s a critical warning sign.”

Learn to identify common personality disorders

Coaches are likely to encounter clients with personality disorders including narcissism, OCD, histrionic, and borderline,­ even among top-level executives. Nora encouraged coaches without a clinical background to familiarize themselves with personality disorders:

“Knowledge is power. You may not have clinical training, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t gain valuable practical knowledge with basic and ever-continuing education. The chances of a new coach running into something complicated in the person they’re working with are quite significant. I really encourage formal coaching programs to spend meaningful time helping coaches identify when they may be dealing with a personality disorder and helping them to recognize when to seek appropriate collegial consultation for issues that are beyond the scope of routine coaching. Coaches can prepare for those important conversations, which unfortunately might ultimately include extricating themselves from an engagement. It’s important that coaches not be naïve about the complexities of the human mind and behavior. Coaching is rarely going to be easy and straightforward.”

Pair coaching with therapy

While some clients’ situations unfortunately necessitate that the coach end the engagement, many others can benefit from pairing coaching with therapy. Both Michele and Nora shared that they are always prepared to work with therapists in conjunction with a client.

Even clients who have not experienced trauma may benefit from the pairing of coaching and therapy. Nora shared the story of a client for whom this was effective: “A C-suite client who I’ve worked with for a couple years identified early on that her stress resulted from being a ‘people pleaser.’ She believed that she achieved her success just from being easy to get along with. She had a much harder time owning her intelligence. She saw her success as a result of her being a nice person⁠—a bit of imposter syndrome. It turns out that during her whole life she had been the one taking care of everything for everyone and wanting to please all the people all the time⁠—an impossible task. 

Nora continued: “Six months into our engagement this remained an overarching issue. I assigned homework, she understood it well, and was in control of her emotions, but we continued to come up against this bedrock problem. After about nine months, the stress of her need to make everybody happy so over shadowed our work that I recognized the need to refer her to a therapist. And this a good example of where the client continued coaching and started important therapy. In therapy, she was really able to deep dive into the root of her need to please, convert those important insights, and return to the tools that I could use to effectively  support positive change.” In this way, helping a client pair coaching with therapy⁠—or even knowing that a client is already in therapy­⁠—can benefit both client and coach.

Above all, it is crucial that coaches learn to navigate the line between coaching and counseling. The guidance of a mentor, training on identifying personality disorders and ending engagements, and the ability to work in conjunction with a therapist can all make this often-intimidating line far easier to navigate. 

Strengthen your Emotional Intelligence alongside like minded peers with our online courses. You’ll utilize our application-based model to create positive changes throughout your life from anywhere in the world. Click here to learn more and register to begin your learning journey this fall.

Interested in becoming an EI Coach? Click here to learn more about the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification and register to receive updates on our 2020 cohorts.

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Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: Patricia Figueroa on Executive Development in Mexico

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Interested in the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification (EICC)? Patricia Figueroa–a participant in the first cohort–reflects on her background as a psychotherapist, Emotional Intelligence in Mexico, and her experience in the EICC.

Could you begin by sharing some insights into your story? Where are you from? How has your career progressed?

My name is Patricia, I’m Mexican, and after over ten years of experience in private practice as a Psychotherapist, my story in Executive Development begins at SuKarne, a Mexican company with a large presence in the global market for animal protein. Along with two other colleagues, I created a Human Development Program for employees, based on the hypothesis that happier employees perform better.

My desire to specialize more led me to attend training in Leadership Coaching at Harvard. From there I began working with clients, and later made the transition from a private coaching practice to Executive Coaching and Facilitator of Executive Development workshops.

In what ways does your background as a psychotherapist inform your current work as a coach?

The main reason I became a psychotherapist was to help people become a better version of themselves: improve their well-being, quality of life, take better control of their lives. I realized that I could serve those same goals with Emotional Intelligence (EI) coaching.

My career as a psychotherapist has given me the tools and experience to be a better coach. Connecting with people, empathizing at a deep level, guiding them to find their own answers, staying curious, listening well, being comfortable with silences, and trusting the wisdom of the client are essential tools for both psychotherapists and coaches.

Do you find that Emotional Intelligence is typically valued and utilized by organizations in Mexico?

Yes, definitely. In these times when everything is changing rapidly, and with Artificial Intelligence beginning to exceed us exponentially in the cognitive field, Emotional Intelligence skills are a very important differentiator.

For all these reasons, smart and ambitious Mexican businesses are taking a closer look at human performance and motivation. EI is at the core of the successful management of human dynamics—something that for now, remains uniquely human and necessary for organizational success. 

What led you to join the first cohort of the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification?

Working with companies, I came to realize that Emotional Intelligence defined successful leadership and successful companies. The ability to listen, the ability to communicate effectively, and the ability to build relationships­–all those skills were at the core of success, but companies weren’t always hiring for or aware of them.

I came across companies with very smart people who lacked some of these skills. So, from there, I committed myself to learning more about EI because I wanted to be as effective in my coaching as possible.

What I found most interesting about Emotional Intelligence is the biology behind neuroplasticity–the fact that our behavior can be changed. I constructed a real emphasis in my own practice on helping clients develop EI.

Since I was excited about Emotional Intelligence and saw first-hand the effectiveness of EI coaching, I decided to go to the source of EI, and apply for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification.

What aspect(s) of the Coaching Certification have you found most rewarding?

The Twelve Self-Discoveries have been amazing. I cannot fix what I am not aware of. Transformation starts within, and the possibility of helping others transform themselves using a scientific based methodology is really rewarding.

The micro-techniques and journaling have also been very beneficial. The micro-techniques help you integrate the new learning, and writing about in the journal helps you anchor it. Mindfulness exercises or mental training helped me to be more intentional with my approach and, therefore, more efficient and productive.

Is there a particular Self-Discovery that resonates with you?

“You don’t have to believe everything you think.” Learning to silence my internal dialogue has helped me immensely, because it is in those moments of silence and mental stillness that answers arrive.

What EI competencies and/or coaching techniques you’ve cultivated in the Coaching Certification have been most beneficial in your work with business leaders?

In this hasty world where we all agree that time is a scarce resource, teaching people how to invest in time to pause and be intentional with their focus leads to greater productivity.

It has helped my clients in many ways: to focus, reduce procrastination, improve their work performance, reduce work stress and anxiety, develop cohesion and a sense of belonging in their teams, be more adaptable, and of course, better manage their emotions and control their impulses.

What has been your experience as an international member of a largely international cohort?

It’s been incredibly rewarding. Sharing such diverse points of view is extremely enriching and also demonstrates how we all converge in our humanity. We not only learn about our differences, but about our similarities. We are not as different from others as we might believe.

Do you have any advice or wisdom you’d like to share with participants in the second cohort of the EICC?

Enjoy this journey of transformation and learning, where you will be nourished by the experiences and knowledge of your learning partners and facilitators. At the end of the program be ready to find in the mirror a much stronger, more resilient, aware, positive, inspired, and compassionate self.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

There are only a few spots remaining in the second cohort, which will take place just outside of Vienna, Austria this summer. You can learn more and apply here.

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Coaching para la Inteligencia Emocional: Patricia Figueroa Desarrollo Ejecutivo en México

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Estás interesado en la Certificación de Coaching en Inteligencia Emocional (CCIE) de Daniel Goleman? Patricia Figueroa, participante de la primera cohorte, reflexiona sobre su experiencia como psicoterapeuta, la Inteligencia Emocional en México y su experiencia en la CCIE.

¿Podrías comenzar compartiendo algunas ideas sobre tu historia? ¿De dónde eres? ¿Cómo ha progresado tu carrera?

Mi nombre es Patricia, soy mexicana, y después de más de diez años de experiencia en la práctica privada como psicoterapeuta, mi historia en Desarrollo Ejecutivo comienza en SuKarne, una empresa mexicana con una gran presencia en el mercado mundial de proteína animal. Junto con otros dos colegas, creamos un Programa de Desarrollo Humano para empleados, basado en la hipótesis de que los empleados más felices tienen un mejor desempeño.

Mi deseo de especializarme más, me llevó a asistir a un entrenamiento en Coaching de Liderazgo en Harvard. A partir de ahí comencé a trabajar con clientes, y después hice la transición de la consulta privada, al Coaching Ejecutivo y facilitador de talleres de Desarrollo Ejecutivo.

¿De qué manera su experiencia como psicoterapeuta ayuda en su trabajo actual como Coach?

La razón principal por la que me formé como psicoterapeuta fue porque quería ayudar a las personas a ser una mejor versión de sí mismas: mejorar su bienestar, su calidad de vida, tener un mejor control sobre su vida; y al conocer el proceso de entrenamiento de la IE, me di cuenta de que como Coach en Inteligencia Emocional podría servir a estos mismos objetivos.

Mi carrera como psicoterapeuta me ha dado las herramientas y la experiencia para hacer un mejor trabajo de coaching. Conectarse con las personas, empatizar a un nivel profundo, guiarlos para encontrar sus propias respuestas, mantener la curiosidad, escuchar activamente, sentirse cómodo con los silencios y confiar en la sabiduría del cliente, son herramientas esenciales en un proceso de Coaching.

¿Considera que la Inteligencia Emocional es usualmente valorada y utilizada por las organizaciones en México?

Sí, definitivamente creo en la importancia de la Inteligencia Emocional dentro de las empresas. En estos momentos en que todo está cambiando tan rápido, y con la Inteligencia Artificial que nos supera exponencialmente en el campo cognitivo, las habilidades de Inteligencia Emocional son un diferenciador muy importante.

Por todas estas razones, las empresas mexicanas inteligentes y ambiciosas están observando más de cerca el rendimiento y la motivación humana, y consideran que la IE está en el núcleo de la gestión exitosa de la dinámica humana, algo que sabemos, es indispensable para el éxito organizacional.

¿Qué te llevó a unirte a la primera cohorte de la Certificación de Coaching en Inteligencia Emocional de Daniel Goleman?

Trabajando con compañías, me di cuenta que la Inteligencia Emocional definía el liderazgo exitoso y a las compañías exitosas. La capacidad de escuchar, la capacidad de comunicarse de manera efectiva y la capacidad de entablar relaciones: todas esas habilidades medulares para el éxito, sin embargo, las empresas no siempre contrataban a su personal con estas competencias en mente.

Encontré empresas con personas muy inteligentes pero que carecían de algunas de estas habilidades. Entonces, desde allí, me comprometí a aprender más sobre la IE porque quería ser lo más efectiva posible en mi trabajo como coach.

Lo que me pareció más interesante acerca de la Inteligencia Emocional es la biología detrás de la neuroplasticidad, el hecho de cómo nuestro comportamiento puede cambiar. Cimenté un gran énfasis en mi práctica para ayudar a los clientes a desarrollar  IE.

Al estar tan entusiasmada con la Inteligencia Emocional y ver de primera mano la eficacia del coaching en IE, decidí ir a la fuente de la IE y aplicar para la Certificación de Coaching en Inteligencia Emocional de Daniel Goleman.

¿Qué aspectos del programa ha encontrado más gratificantes?”

Los doce auto-descubrimientos han sido increíbles. No puedo arreglar lo que no sé. La transformación comienza en el interior, y la posibilidad de ayudar a otros a transformarse a sí mismos utilizando una metodología basada en ciencia es realmente gratificante.

Las micro-técnicas y las reflexiones en el diario. Las micro-técnicas te ayudan a integrar el nuevo aprendizaje y escribirlo en el diario te ayuda a anclarlo.

Los ejercicios de atención plena o entrenamiento mental me ayudaron a ser más intencional con mi enfoque y, por consiguiente, más eficiente y productiva.

¿Cuál ha sido su mayor descubrimiento de los Doce Auto-Descubrimientos? ¿Hay alguno en particular que resuene con usted?

“No tienes que creer en todo lo que piensas”. Aprender a silenciar el diálogo interno, porque es en esos momentos de silencio y quietud mental donde llegan las respuestas.

¿Qué competencias de la IE y / o técnicas de coaching que ha cultivado en la Certificación de Coaching han sido las más beneficiosas en su trabajo con líderes empresariales?

En este mundo tan apresurado donde estamos de acuerdo en que el tiempo es un recurso escaso, enseñar a las personas cómo invertir en una pausa y ser intencional en su enfoque conduce a una mayor productividad.

Las Competencias de IE han ayudado a mis clientes de muchas maneras: a enfocarse, a reducir la procrastinación, a mejorar su rendimiento en el trabajo, a reducir el estrés y la ansiedad laboral, a desarrollar cohesión y un sentido de pertenencia en sus equipos, a ser más adaptables y, por supuesto, a una mejor gestión de sus emociones y control de impulsos.

¿Cuál ha sido su experiencia como miembro internacional de una cohorte mayoritariamente internacional?

Completamente gratificante. Compartir puntos de vista tan diversos es extremadamente enriquecedor y, al mismo tiempo, corroborar cómo convergemos todos en nuestra humanidad. Aprender no sólo de nuestras diferencias sino también de nuestras similitudes; al final del día, no somos tan diferentes a los demás como creemos.

¿Tiene algún consejo o sabiduría que quiera compartir con los participantes de la segunda cohorte del EICC?

Disfruta de este viaje de transformación y aprendizaje, donde serás nutrido por las experiencias y el conocimiento de tus compañeros de aprendizaje y facilitadores. Al final del programa, prepárese para encontrar en el espejo una persona mucho más fuerte, más resiliente, consciente, positivo, inspirado y compasivo.

Esta entrevista ha sido editada y condensada para mayor claridad. Traducido por Patricia Figueroa.

Solo quedan pocos lugares en la segunda cohorte, que tendrá lugar a las afueras de Viena, Austria, este verano. Puedes aprender más y aplicar aquí.

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Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: Gabriel Stüve on Transformational Growth

Interested in the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification? Gabriel Stüve–a participant in the first cohort–shares his experience, from his decision to join the program, to his advice for the second cohort.

Could you begin by sharing some insights into your story? Where are you from? How has your career progressed?

I was born in Argentina where I studied Industrial Engineering. Driven by a strong desire and curiosity to pursue my career abroad, I moved to France where I obtained a Master’s degree in General Engineering and a specialized Master’s in Supply Chain Management at HEC School of Management in Paris.

Over the years as a management consultant, I observed that successful and sustainable transformation happens when organizations empower people to bring their best by cultivating positive values like trust, kindness, and compassion. I began to engage with Emotional Intelligence to cultivate a more compassionate perception of myself, others, and every situation, which resulted in better outcomes throughout my life.

What led you to join the first cohort of the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification (EICC)?

Many times in my life I found myself triggered and overwhelmed by strong emotions like anxiety and stress, which impacted my overall performance. Moreover, I found myself living most of my life in autopilot, and sought fulfilment in external factors like titles, hierarchy, and money.

But I’ve found that beyond these external factors there is an internal place of ease, awareness, and fulfilment. When I find myself triggered by a strong emotion, I can come back to that internal place of ease with mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence.

I joined the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification to develop the capacity to help myself and other people along this journey of Emotional Intelligence transformation. With EI we can move toward our highest purpose and aspirations, align our values and motivations, and operate at our best.

Moreover, I wanted to expand my network and connect with inspiring individuals who believe that heart and compassion are key factors for the success and well-being of ourselves, organizations, and humanity.

You’ve lead transformation initiatives for organizations in a dozen countries. What is your impression of the interest in and value of Emotional Intelligence around the world?

To succeed their transformation journeys, deliver results, and sustain them over time, organizations need people’s engagement and commitment. Emotional Intelligence is inspiring leaders to upgrade their leadership style, their structures, and their approaches to transformation.

Around the world, today’s employees expect more than a salary. They look for meaningful opportunities, fulfilment, and well-being. They want to do purposeful work, contribute to a higher good, and fulfill the needs of society, customers, communities, and beyond.

What makes the difference within successful organizations are the leaders who care about their teams, and inspire them. Leaders who cultivate a conscious and genuine interest in helping people develop and achieve their own goals have a greater chance of obtaining positive outcomes than those who not have that genuine intention.

What aspect(s) of the program have you found most rewarding?

For me the most rewarding part of the program has been the self-discovery path and the connection with personal purpose throughout the methodology. While most coaching approaches work toward a desired organizational goal, the EICC approach first explores who we really are and what we really want.

When we begin an Emotional Intelligence journey we may not know what we really want, and what we can achieve. As we raise our level of Self-Awareness, shift out of auto-pilot, and learn to recover quickly from emotional triggers and obstacles, we begin to connect with our true nature. That aspect of ourselves is aware and fulfilled by simply being and existing. It enables us to become more compassionate and connect with a larger purpose. In short, we connect with our shared humanity.  

Has anything about your experience surprised you?

What surprised me the most was becoming aware of how our mindset, attitudes, and self-limiting beliefs impact results in our daily lives. In other words, our outcomes, our well-being, and the quality of our relationships depend on how we perceive and react to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us.

There is a quote from Carl Jung: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” To achieve meaningful and lasting change, we need to understand and address the root causes of why we think and act the way we do. We need a lot of practice and effort to replace old habits and behaviors with new ones. But effort pays, and there will come a day when new habits become effortless.

In my Emotional Intelligence transformation journey, I decided to cultivate a new perception based on understanding and compassion for myself, for others, and for every situation. This has resulted in new behaviors that positively contribute to my goals and relationships.

How do you intend to use your EI Coaching Certification?

I would like to help individuals and organizations implement a more compassionate vision of leadership, and help them connect with a purpose that will generate passion, engagement, and higher levels of performance and fulfilment. The EICC is an amazing opportunity to expand our network of Emotional Intelligence change agents that will have a positive impact on organizations, society, and beyond!

Do you have any advice or wisdom you’d like to share with participants in the second cohort of the EICC?

The EICC program is an amazing opportunity to get inspired by a wonderful group of participants and coaches who will guide you all along this beautiful learning journey, and to join the network of Emotional Intelligence agents of positive transformation.

My advice is to put all your heart into a daily intention and commitment to acquire the Emotional and Social Intelligence competencies. In this way, you will achieve meaningful and lasting change, both as individuals and as future Daniel Goleman EI Coaches!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth. And if you’d prefer to get coached in Emotional Intelligence, you can learn more here.

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Hesitant to Get Coached? The Benefits Might Surprise You

Joy Fulton is the Chief Operating Officer at Clearsense, a technology company based in Jacksonville, Florida. She has extensive experience within healthcare. As she rose through the ranks, Joy sought the guidance of a coach to effectively communicate as a woman in the male-dominated Health Information Technology (HIT) industry.

While Joy was initially skeptical about the benefits of coaching, she and Kelly Mannel, a participant in the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, fostered a collaborative coaching relationship that has had a tremendously positive impact on Joy, both personally and professionally. Read on to learn more about her experience as a coaching client.

What were your expectations and goals when you first began working with a coach?

I’m going to be very honest; I didn’t have high hopes. Having been involved in leadership development throughout my career, I experienced many didactic programs. I was told, “read this book,” “fill out these worksheets,” or “do x, y, and z,” but it never resonated with me.

As a result, when I was approached about getting a coach, I was very transparent in my hesitation. While I appreciated the opportunity, my experience as a basketball player throughout my life taught me that coaching needs to happen in the moment for me to connect with it. Having an extra homework packet to do isn’t going to effectively help me grow.

I wanted a coach who understood the fast-paced environment in which I work and someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone who could help me prepare for important meetings or do a dry-run before a large presentation.

My employer was open to that feedback; that’s how I came into contact with Kelly. We went to lunch before the organization contracted her and we instantly hit it off. I shared with her what I wanted in a coach and those were the same qualities on which she has built her practice.

Kelly understood the mindset I wanted to develop–which requires tuning in to people on the frontlines while also thinking in terms of big picture strategy. And she understood my need for real-time feedback. That initial meeting made me very excited about the opportunity for personal and professional growth and enhanced my belief in myself.

Were you already aware of Emotional Intelligence and its role in leadership? How did EI assessments and a focus on competency development enhance or shift that understanding?

I was aware of it, but coaching brought the practical applications of Emotional Intelligence to my attention, both personally and professionally. As a career-oriented single mom and the caretaker for my parents, I mistakenly believed I had to separate personal from professional. Through coaching, I began to realize that we’re all the same at work and in our personal lives. The Emotional Intelligence skills I was learning were a foundational self-discovery to navigating all these aspects of my life.  

Assessing my EI gave me an opportunity to pause and reflect on the roles of Self-Awareness and Emotional Balance in my communications and reactions to others.  Kelly’s coaching style was strengths-based. She helped me see my growing edges as opportunities.

In what ways has being coached impacted your career?

I have to say, I draw on it every day. Particularly in my current role as COO, I use so many of the tools I learned to coach my own staff. It’s been a foundational opportunity for growth in my career as well as for personal growth.

Could you share some of the benefits of Emotional Intelligence coaching beyond your professional life?

Yes, so at the time I met Kelly, I was about six months post-divorce. The goal was to establish an effective co-parenting relationship for myself, my ex-husband, and our son. Coaching helped me utilize Emotional Intelligence to become a more effective communicator. I took those skill sets and applied them to my personal situation, to better navigate those uncharted waters.

Coaching taught me the value of mindfully pausing, so I could see the situation for what it was and not get swept up in negative commentary often associated with a life event such as divorce. I could remind myself we had a shared love for our son. Focusing on the fact we both wanted what was best for our son enabled me to have greater empathy, even in the midst of the rough patches. I learned I can control, or at least begin to modulate, the mindset I bring to situations. Honing a more positive mindset is a core benefit of EI coaching.

Did anything about your coaching experience surprise you?

I enjoyed it; that was a surprise. I went into it thinking, “Oh Lord, I don’t have time for this,” but I looked forward to it. To this day I keep an active relationship with Kelly; I consider her a good friend of mine. I know if I ever need to run an idea by her I can just call and we’ll have a productive conversation.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Recommended Resources:

Get Coached!

Want get coached in Emotional Intelligence? For a limited time, we’re offering a personalized EI development package. You’ll receive year-long access to our online EI training courses, a range of EI assessments, one-on-one coaching sessions, and more. You can learn how it works and register here.

Become a Coach!

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

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Emotional Intelligence in Action: Team Transformation Begins

Do you despair when you read about the importance of Emotional Intelligence because you know you and your team lack it and you can’t see how to improve it?

You are not alone.

A leader who engaged me to transform her performance and that of her team told me that when she finished reading Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, she cried.

“As the importance of Emotional Intelligence dawned on me, so did the humbling realization that I didn’t have much of it. Worse yet, I had no idea how to improve. Positive outlook and inspirational leadership felt out of reach for me. I felt despair–destined to keep experiencing the stressful consequences of negative thinking, reactive communication, and working long hours to try and compensate for my poor collaboration and leadership skills.”

Today, this leader and her team have transformed.

They have gone from not wanting to go to work, not seeing eye-to-eye, disappointed in their performance, and embarrassed about being perceived by others as a dysfunctional team to feeling happy to go to work, collaborating harmoniously, and achieving better business outcomes. This transformation has been so profound others have noticed. Previously skeptical managers from neighboring teams are now seeking out Mindfulness training and Emotional Intelligence coaching to help their teams too.

In this and forthcoming articles in my series, “Emotional Intelligence in Action,” I’m going to take you on a journey in which I share the approaches that worked. In this article, I recount an activity from the initial training day that instigated immediate and inspiring increases in emotionally intelligent behaviors and that created the foundation for high levels of engagement in coaching and training over the next six months. By adopting (or adapting) the approaches I share, you can become an agent for positive change wherever you are, in whatever setting, right now.

An initial step to building Emotional Intelligence

I started by introducing the team to Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence framework. I did this playfully by having the team rate themselves from 1-10 for how capable they felt in each competency. I read aloud polarized and entertaining examples for the behavioral indicators of low and high skills in each of the twelve competencies (e.g., “If you have no idea what motivates your staff and no interest or idea in how to find out, then you currently have low competency in Coach & Mentor). During a 10-second pause between competencies, the team rated their capacity from 1 (low) to 10 (high) on a worksheet and then scored their current baseline level of Emotional Intelligence (out of 120).

Limitations of this approach

While the self-assessment approach has limitations and is not meant to replace the complete picture offered by a 360-style assessment, it can help teams become motivated to improve, build self-efficacy, and support collaboration. It is an approach that can be readily adopted by any consultant or leader.

Strengths of this approach

To articulate the value of this exercise, I highlight the literature that inspired it and the positive impact it made, below:

Connecting with the personal meaning of information fuels motivation.

Using relatable behavioral descriptors in the self-assessment of each competency helped individuals to connect with the personal relevance of Emotional Intelligence. Research tells us that when activities have personal meaning, we’re more motivated to get engaged. Making the descriptions of the competencies easily understandable and relatable drove high-level engagement on the first day and generated appetite to learn more in coming months.

Creating a fun environment diffuses tension and optimizes learning.

Making this activity fun was intentional and beneficial. This team entered the room stressed out, highly sensitive to negative feedback, and wary of the session. Emotions influence dopamine and impact the neural networks responsible for learning. Beginning playfully created a relaxed atmosphere that optimized the learning environment and visibly established great rapport for the upcoming coaching journey.

Setting up early opportunities for success builds self-efficacy.

Self-Awareness is the foundation of Emotional Intelligence. By highlighting how a simple 10-minute activity had already positively impacted their Self-Awareness (and therefore their Emotional Intelligence) the team experienced self-efficacy in developing Emotional Intelligence. This early win served as a source of inspiration for more positive change.

Emotional Intelligence literacy supports communication & collaboration.

The exercise established entry-level Emotional Intelligence literacy, enabling the team to communicate about the intrapersonal and interpersonal processes influencing their work. Having a framework to discuss struggles and aspirations opened up courageous communication and creative problem solving amongst the team.

Group-level awareness of our common humanity creates Empathy.

When everyone raised their hands to signal they had identified both strengths and areas for improvement across the suite of competencies, it changed the mood in the room. Many team members commented on what a relief it was to see how everyone, not just them, recognized that they have “things to work on.” Through this simple step, a greater sense of connectivity, comradery, and Empathy emerged. It was beautiful to witness, and it signaled the beginning of the individual and group-level transformation that was to continue.

Transformation takes places progressively, one step at a time.

There is much more that we did on that initial day and over the following months to progressively transform this team’s culture from toxicity to empowered productivity. I will share more with you in the next article to further equip and inspire you with simple yet powerful ideas to boost your own Emotional Intelligence and performance as well as that of your team.

Emotional Intelligence makes a difference in people’s lives.

The leader who cried after first reading about Emotional Intelligence emailed me after the training day to say it was the best training she had experienced. When I asked her why she said: “Because I left the day feeling empowered that I could change and that the team could change too. I started to think positively about our possibilities for the first time in a long time, and that is of great value to me.”

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

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Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: Belinda Chiu on Global Awareness

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Recommended Reading:

 

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.