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Room for Growth: Overcoming Our Fixed Mental Habits

Underlying beliefs play an important role in how we learn and grow. When you believe you can grow, you understand that effort will improve your performance and lead to increased happiness and well-being. Stanford researcher, Carol Dweck, coined the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” to describe underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.  

 

  • With a Fixed Mindset, you believe whatever talents or capabilities you have, including intelligence or creativity, are static, “you’re either born with it or you’re not.” You believe striving to improve will only get you so far–and there is an inherent inability to excel in something you aren’t “gifted” in. This fixed mindset also holds true for your belief about what others can or cannot achieve.
  • With a Growth Mindset, you believe your capabilities are a baseline and improvement can occur with intentional effort, persistence, and practice. You understand abilities can be developed.

 

Dweck’s research identifies how the beliefs you adopt about your ability to change and grow deeply impact how you live your life. The truth is we all vacillate between the two extremes of fixed and growth mindset, depending on our mood, our confidence, and the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Maureen’s Story

Take the story of Maureen, a manager in a tech company, who routinely felt sidelined in meetings despite her subject matter expertise. She struggled to move her projects forward because she was quiet, and her colleagues tended to talk over her. Maureen knew she was smart. She graduated at the top of her class from an Ivy league school and loved her field of work (no problem with a growth mindset, here). However, she believed her shyness was a personal deficit. She thought being a persuasive communicator was just not in her wheelhouse and never would be. Consequently, she resigned herself to remaining in the shadows of more extroverted peers.

Here, Maureen’s self-limiting beliefs (SLBs), a type of fixed mindset, were demotivating her from trying to improve. They were thoughts that became mental habits, leading her down a behavioral path that kept her from realizing her goals and potential.

Calling Out Self-Limiting Beliefs

There are times when our beliefs about ourselves get in our way. Often, SLBs are unconsciously-held beliefs. Increasing our Self-Awareness can enable us to recognize SLBs. But even then, sometimes we don’t see that which is closest to us. This is where working with a coach can be beneficial. A good coach can help us spot our SLBs before we spot them on our own. We can also actively retrain our brains to think with a growth, rather than fixed mindset. 

Cultivate a Growth Mindset, Try This:

Over the next month, notice when you have negative or self-critical thoughts about yourself. Pay attention to what triggers self-critical thoughts and how you feel when you experience these thoughts. Then, replace the self-limiting belief with a growth mindset response. Download our Growth Mindset Tracking Tool to help you along the way.

 

Everyone falls into SLBs sometimes. We just need to notice when our brains are stuck and remind ourselves that our brains are built to grow, change, and learn. What can you say instead?

  1. The power of yet: Add yet at the end of your fixed mindset statements.
    Example: “I can’t do this.” → “I can’t do this YET!”
  2.  Say stop: When your SLB voice is getting out of hand, tell yourself to stop and clear your mind before continuing.
  3. Start using the word you instead of I. Example: “I got this.” → “YOU got this!”

 

The most important thing to remember when it comes to mindsets is this: the thoughts and beliefs we hold have the potential to empower or defeat us. Our narratives are a significant part of our lives we CAN control. Growth mindset is the belief that skills can be nurtured through learning and effort. By reframing our self-limiting thoughts as they occur, we can train our brains for positive growth and open ourselves up new opportunities.  

Recommended Reading:

 

 

Want to learn about the competencies that comprise Emotional Intelligence? Our series of primers focuses on the twelve Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, which include Emotional Self-Awareness, Adaptability, and Empathy.

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!

 

 

 

 

For more in-depth reading on leadership and EI, What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters presents Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking, highly sought-after articles from the Harvard Business Review and other business journals in one volume. It features more than half a dozen articles, including “Reawakening Your Passion for Work.”

 

 

 

 

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The Power of Vulnerability in Leadership

Sarah is a young, talented leader who rose quickly to an executive role. As a part of her professional development, she went through a 360 assessment and worked with a coach. In her feedback, she was surprised to discover that her colleagues and direct reports perceived her as distant and aloof. They struggled to connect with her, and consequently didn’t trust her. This feedback was shocking and upsetting for Sarah. She resisted it as “just not true.”

However, within her coaching relationship, Sarah uncovered a mindset which didn’t serve her well, and had, until now, been a blind spot. The mindset: being more authentic and vulnerable is bad. It developed long ago in response to a string of childhood tragedies, including her Dad’s death when she was in second grade and her Mom’s breast cancer diagnosis around the same time. Since Sarah’s mom was consumed by her husband’s death and facing her own mortality, she was not emotionally available to Sarah and her siblings. Being the oldest, Sarah became the surrogate parent to her siblings. And as she believed she needed to hold it together for the family, she never shared the depth of her grief and loss with anyone. This set her on a course to become the stoic, high achieving leader she is today. Sadly though, by walling off a part of herself, she struggled to build trusting relationships and was reluctant to let others into her world. Indeed, this mindset and its impact surfaced when she was forced to consider how her self-perception vastly differed from how others perceived her.  

While she believed being objective, unemotional, and aloof made her appear as a more competent leader, just the opposite was true. Her unwillingness to be real and connect with others held her back from becoming the relatable, engaging leader others would be inspired to work with and for. And unsurprisingly, the teams she led all struggled with interpersonal trust.

Sarah’s story illustrates a commonly held mindset not discussed enough in leadership circles (and in life)–that we should avoid being vulnerable. Like Sarah, many of us think we need to maintain the veneer of “having it all together.” If you share this mindset, consider these two points.

First, a willingness to open up about our humanity and imperfections with colleagues, direct reports, and even our bosses, humanizes us and attracts respect. And this learnable skill often correlates with exceptional teamwork and results. If jumping into this seems way too daunting, consider sharing with a trusted colleague first. Pushing through the initial anxiety of having the first few conversations pays off for most. By letting others in on both your imperfections and your discomfort with sharing them, you will experience a decompressing effect whereby you feel lighter and more confident.  

Second, by sharing your real self with someone, you can connect more easily with others. Brené Brown, noted researcher in social connection, has increased understanding of the role of vulnerability in relationship-building. Vulnerability doesn’t mean being weak. The best leaders have learned it indicates the courage to be your real self. It means replacing “professional aloofness and an air of having it all together” with the ability to experience ambiguity and model Emotional Self-Awareness. Opportunities for vulnerability present themselves to leaders all the time. For example, admitting you don’t know the answer to a question, asking for help, and offering stories of times you made mistakes. Openness builds trust and deepens relationships, which makes for great performance, both individually and organizationally. Research shows that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.

After Sarah recognized her fear of vulnerability, and acted to challenge this mindset, her progress and motivation to become a better leader exploded. As she discovered first-hand, there’s power in expressing our struggles and accepting that we all have blind spots. Sarah’s new behavior was contagious. She observed her colleagues on the executive team starting to openly acknowledge others’ good ideas and perspectives in meetings rather than staying entrenched in their original positions. Sarah had, in fact, started her own movement!

Try this:

Teams need to connect and collaborate to become high-performing and successful. However, when your team includes a diverse mix of cultures and generations, achieving this level of cohesion can be challenging.

How can you bring people together? Try this exercise to help your team build deeper relationships.  

  1. At your next team meeting, ask everyone to find one partner and answer the following three questions in just 60 seconds each.
    • Where did you grow up?
    • How many kids are in your family and where do you fall in the order?
    • What current challenge are you facing?
  2. Have people share with the larger group what the experience was like for them–both as the listener and speaker.
  3. If you want to take it a step further, you can exemplify openness and vulnerability by sharing your responses to the questions with the entire team.  

The takeaway: Openness builds trust and deepens relationships, which makes for great performance, both individually and organizationally. Research shows that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.

Recommended Resources:

 

 

Want to cultivate your Emotional Intelligence? Reserve your spot for the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence. During twelve, two-week online experiences, you’ll explore the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence through facilitated, group learning. You’ll discover the science behind each competency, why they matter, and how to apply them to positively differentiate yourself.

For a taste of the Foundational Skills, join our two-week Emotional Balance experience. In this portion of the Foundational Skills of EI, you’ll build your resilience, self-awareness, and focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further reading, our series of primers focuses on the twelve Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, which include Emotional Self-Awareness, Adaptability, and Empathy.

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!

 

 

 

 

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Brain’s Blind Spots

When we hear the words “Diversity & Inclusion,” some of us cringe or roll our eyes, not because we don’t care, but because we feel uncomfortable, guilty, or feel we don’t need any training in it because “we’re not racist.” Yet every day, we read a news story where someone’s hidden biases trigger a potentially harmful action, from calling 911 on a congresswoman visiting her constituents to using racial slurs on political opponents. “Diversity & Inclusion” is necessary but insufficient; as Coaching Certification Faculty member Michelle Maldonado notes, we need to move from “Diversity & Inclusion” to “Belonging & Unity.”

One first step we can take is to recognize our lack of awareness of what influences our decisions, actions, and perceptions of other people. According to Leonard Mlodinow, scientists estimate that 95% of what happens in our brains is beyond our conscious awareness. In other words, we’re only 5% aware of why we think and act and feel the way we do. The majority of what dominates our mental activity is unconscious.

Our world is filled with differences. We are naturally drawn towards what is familiar and deemed “safe,” like family members who, for the most part, look and smell like us, and we move away from what is unfamiliar. Our brains use heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to help us navigate a complex world. We unconsciously build beliefs about different groups of people outside of “our tribe,” based on various socially constructed or identity markers, to help us organize our social world.

Similarity bias is our preference for others who are similar to us. Our brain’s natural inclination to categorize our world starts at a young age. David Kelly found that babies as young as three months show a preference for those with a similar race to them. The chances are that these babies are not “racist,” but unconsciously, they realize that their main caregivers are their sources of comfort, food, safety, and diaper changes. More often than not, these caregivers are related and therefore, “look” like them. Such biases may persistent in adulthood unconsciously in how we act. University of Michigan researcher Jesse Chandler found that people were 260% more likely to donate to hurricane relief efforts if the hurricane’s name began with the same letter as their first initial.

Our brains are also subject to implicit egotism, the notion that we think more favorably about others like ourselves. We are more likely to respond to a stranger’s email if they share our name, and we’re more likely to help someone out if they went to the same university. The opposite occurs unconsciously as well. Have you ever met someone new that you irrationally didn’t like or felt animosity towards them simply because they share a name with a childhood bully? That’s our unconscious brain at work.

Our hidden biases also are influenced by visual bias. Our optic nerves attach to our retinas in a way that means we have actual blind spots, and so our brains fill in the visual gap we can’t see. Similarly, when it comes to how we view and evaluate other people, if we have missing data about another person, we tend to take the little bit we know about the social categorization of that person and fill in the rest of the information. For example, if you meet someone of Nepalese descent for the first time, and the only bit of information you have about Nepal is that it is a Buddhist nation, you might assume that they are Buddhist and hesitate to include them in your Passover Seder.

Even though we think we evaluate others based on their individual qualities in rational and deliberate ways, our brain’s automatic processing is influenced by cultural and social messages around stereotypes and the “Other.” Groupthink can lead to “Othering,” whereby we discourage individual disagreements or thoughts for the sake of wanting to belong to the “in-group.” Daniel Goleman offers important insights into how groupthink may manifest in the workplace and what to do about it. While we have seen historical incidences of how groupthink can cause irreparable harm, from the Holocaust to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, “Othering” in the workplace can lead to lower performance, well-being, and engagement. UCLA psychologist Naomi Eisenberger found that the area of our brain associated with physical pain is also associated with feeling left out. When we overlook the administrative assistant during lunchtime as we sit with our cubemates daily to eat, we may be impacting their feeling of belonging, even though our intentions are not to exclude.

It is therefore important that we consider how to build psychological safety into our environments, whereby people feel safe to express their true and whole selves without judgment or reprisal. When we do, people feel confident to express opinions, have disagreements, and show up. In fact, Google researched hundreds of its own teams to find out why some thrived and others wilted and discovered that psychological safety was the number one factor. In short, if we want high-performing teams that bring diversity of perspective and a sense of inclusion and belonging, we must build trust, raise our awareness, and reach out to others.

By using our brain’s natural structural functions, we can hack our minds to bring greater curiosity of the “Other,” Self-Awareness of our own unconscious thinking, and Empathy to find similarities with others who may appear different than us. Emotional Balance can help us raise our awareness and ability to move from unconscious to conscious. As Daniel Goleman notes, “when it comes to diversity, you’re seeing people who have a range of backgrounds, of understandings, and of abilities. And the more diverse team is going to be the one with the largest array of talents, and so it will be the one with the potential best performance.”

Recommended Resources:

 

 

For further reading, our series of primers focuses on the twelve Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies, which include Emotional Self-Awareness, Emotional Balance, and Empathy.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to cultivate your Emotional Intelligence? Reserve your spot for the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence. During twelve, two-week online experiences, you’ll explore the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence through facilitated, group learning. You’ll discover the science behind each competency, why they matter, and how to apply them to positively differentiate yourself.

For a taste of the Foundational Skills, join our two-week Emotional Balance experience. In this portion of the Foundational Skills of EI, you’ll build your resilience, self-awareness, and focus.

 

 

 

 

 

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Discover the Importance of Self-Empathy

The Empathy competency enables us to interpret unspoken emotions and to understand a range of perspectives. With empathic concern, our understanding of others extends to caring deeply for them. But it is also important that we practice Empathy towards ourselves.

When we experience empathic concern or feel compassion toward others, we become the first to benefit. Empathizing with another person activates our brain’s salience network, enabling us to experience our compassion first-hand. In this way, compassion is beneficial for others as well as for our own well-being. It creates inner happiness independent of receiving compassion ourselves.

We can also practice Self-Empathy by treating ourselves with kindness. Many of us have been conditioned to be highly critical of our mistakes. We may be far tougher on ourselves than on our friends and coworkers.

Strengths in Emotional Self-Awareness can enhance our understanding of how we treat ourselves. We recommend you take a moment to reflect on these statements and also ask someone who knows you well whether they think these statements are true for you.

 

  • When I make a mistake, I tend to be very critical of myself.

 

  • When I look back, I tend to remember the mistakes I have made rather than the successes I have had.

 

  • I can be really heartless toward myself when I feel down or am struggling.

 

  • When it comes to achieving my goals, I can be really tough on myself.

 

  • I am driven to achieve my goals and set very high standards for myself and those around me.

 

If you found yourself agreeing with most of these statements, and the significant people in your life also agreed, you are not alone. Many of us were raised to believe that being brutally self-critical was necessary in order to achieve the highest standards. Indeed, you may still believe that if you aren’t hard on yourself you will become lazy, aimless, or complacent.

In some instances, practicing Self-Empathy can make it easier to expand our circle of caring and to extend compassion toward others. But if you identify as extremely self-critical, it can be helpful to begin with compassion for others. Caring for others makes it easier to love and forgive ourselves.

When we take responsibility for forgiving and caring for ourselves, the compassion we extend to others also becomes more genuine. Self-Empathy enhances our confidence and inner strength and opens us up to connection and shared purpose. This enables us to inspire others with our vision and articulate common goals.

Self-Empathy can also make it easier to forgive people in our lives. When we replace self-criticism with self-understanding and accept that as humans we will inevitably make mistakes, it becomes easier to extend this understanding to others.

Practicing empathic concern doesn’t mean that we allow others to walk all over us. Rather, we can act strongly when necessary and remain open to helping everyone, including ourselves. By combining Empathy for ourselves with Empathy for others, we can find our inner strength and make meaningful connections with people from all walks of life.

Recommended Resources:

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Want to cultivate your Self-Empathy? Reserve your spot for the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence. During twelve, two-week online experiences, you’ll explore the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence through facilitated, group learning. You’ll discover the science behind each competency, why they matter, and how to apply them to positively differentiate yourself.

For a taste of the Foundational Skills, join our two-week Emotional Balance experience. In this portion of the Foundational Skills of EI, you’ll build your resilience, self-awareness, and focus.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Can You Train for Emotional Intelligence? {New Research}

Emotional Intelligence (EI) has become increasingly valuable in the workforce, from executive leadership to entry-level hires. The model of Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies is derived from an evidence-based framework. Yet quality research on training and coaching for Emotional Intelligence – part of our current undertaking at Key Step Media ­– has only recently burgeoned.

A new study in Human Resource Management Review assessed the effect of training for Emotional Intelligence through a meta-analysis of 58 studies. A meta-analysis combines the results of multiple scientific studies into a comprehensive statistical analysis. This yields more robust results than is possible from the measure of any single study.

The 58 studies analyzed in “Can emotional intelligence be trained?” had to include an Emotional Intelligence training program with adult participants, a measure of EI pre- and post-training, and sufficient statistical data. Participants included graduate and undergraduate students, business managers, nurses, police officers, teachers, and retail staff.

Researchers found that training has a positive impact on Emotional Intelligence scores. They also “noted a trend in the studies reviewed that suggested training is more effective when lectures are avoided, and coaching, practice, and feedback are included.” Holistic and personalized training, which accounts for a participant’s unique goals and motivations, enhances the effectiveness of EI training. It is also important that EI training bridge the knowing-doing gap. Programs that primarily use lectures and passive learning are less likely to improve EI. Experiential learning, including practice exercises and real-time feedback from a coach, enables lasting and effective development of Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence can also transform outcomes in coaching engagements. A recent study in the Journal of Experiential Psychotherapy found that Emotional Intelligence is beneficial for executive and life coaching. Researchers identified key elements of an effective coaching relationship and sought to enhance that relationship – for both coach and coachee – with Emotional Intelligence concepts and practices.

­Researchers surveyed 1138 coaches and coachees from 88 different countries. Among the coaches, they compared the responses of emerging and professional coaches based on hours of professional training. They found that several of the most powerful coaching methods include asking highly personalized and goal-oriented questions, active listening, and a focus on cultivating mindfulness and Self-Awareness.

Both coaches and coachees agreed that Emotional Intelligence concepts and practices – including EI assessments – enrich coaching engagements by fostering personal insight, connection, and clear purpose.

Researchers concluded that incorporating EI into training and practice for professional coaches often enhances the coaching experience for both coach and coachee. Emotional Intelligence offers a clear framework for developing a range of skills, including Self-Awareness and Relationship Management competencies, and yields sustainable change rooted in purpose.

Organizations interested in implementing EI training programs can now find high-quality evidence for the positive impact of these programs. Increased job performance, employee health, and diminished stress all make training for Emotional Intelligence a solid investment.

Recommended Resources:

 

Ready to develop your Emotional Intelligence? Reserve your spot for the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence. During twelve, two-week online experiences, you’ll explore the Foundational Skills of Emotional Intelligence through facilitated, group learning. You’ll discover the science behind each competency, why they matter, and how to apply them to positively differentiate yourself.

For a taste of the Foundational Skills, join our two-week Emotional Balance experience. In this portion of the Foundational Skills of EI, you’ll build your resilience, self-awareness, and focus.

 

 

 

The Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification is accepting applications on a rolling basis, with only a few seats remaining. 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.

 

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Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: Matthew Taylor on Transforming Education

In the sixth installment of Coaching for Emotional Intelligence, Matthew Taylor, a Faculty member and Meta-Coach for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, discusses the potential of coaching to improve safety in schools, the ability to switch between coaching, teaching, and consulting, and more. Previous installments of this series include interviews with Meta-Coaches Dot Proux, Kully Jaswal, Wagner Denuzzo, and Kathy Bollinger as well as Faculty member Michelle Maldonado. 

 

Matt has been developing school leaders for 13 years and teaching and leading in the K-12 education sector for 25. Matt currently designs and facilitates Achievement First’s adaptive leadership coaching and professional development model grounded in Emotional Intelligent Leadership theory. This work includes coach training for regional superintendents and senior leaders, direct coaching of senior leaders and principals, and adaptive professional development sessions for cohorts across the leadership pipeline. He received his executive coaching training from the Teleos Leadership Institute.

 

 

What led you to begin coaching?

“Coaching” was part of what I thought I did as a school principal. What made sense to me was that, at a basic emotional level, I was teaching adults just like I had taught my middle school students before becoming a school leader. It wasn’t until I received my coaching training at the Teleos Leadership Institute that I realized most of what I was doing as a principal was direct teaching of instructional skills. I did some consulting with my assistant principals, but I did very little actual coaching.

I was running a principal development program focused on change leadership when I got my training. It opened my eyes to an entirely different level of development that I could engage my leaders in. Their internal obstacles that had previously seemed like fixed traits to me suddenly seemed movable. I shifted my focus from teaching skills to building self-awareness and managing triggers, emotions, and beliefs that were leading to self-limiting behaviors. Suddenly I was helping people to not only grow in their biggest leadership obstacles, but also their biggest obstacles as human beings. It felt like the most important work that I had ever done.

My training in an EI-based coaching methodology shifted my leadership development philosophy and changed the trajectory of my 25-year career as an educator. Five years later, I am on a new path to spread this EI leadership development approach across the charter school sector and beyond.

 

 

In what ways has your background as an elementary and middle school teacher informed your current work in leadership development?

I have taught grades 2-8 in just about every kind of learning community in our country, from inner city neighborhood schools to private, international, magnet, and charter schools. I have taught English, math, social studies, science, Spanish, and dual language immersion, and I have taught just about every kind of learner there is. There is a good deal you learn in graduate school about how to teach content, but very little they teach you (in my experience) that prepares you for the human side of the craft. Great teachers tend to figure this side out on their own, using their innate emotional intelligence. What they figure out, in a nutshell, is how to create the emotional conditions for learning. They know that if they want their students to take the emotional and intellectual risks to learn—to make themselves vulnerable to struggling in a group—they have to build a container of shared trust and a relationship that creates a foundation of safety.

Great leaders must do the same things for their teams as teachers do for their students. They must be attuned to emotional needs and meet those needs to create the safety their teams need to take the risks inherent in striving for excellence. Helping leaders learn how to create these conditions is, I believe, the end goal of leadership coaching.

 

 

In light of the March for Our Lives, do you envision any ways in which coaching of school leaders could improve student safety and mental health in American schools?

A part of my vision for this work—my dream, really—is that principals learn how to develop their teachers through coaching, and that teachers will then incorporate emotional intelligence, focus, and coaching-quality relationships into their work with students. I deeply believe this will have a profound impact on student safety and mental health, as well as academic results.

In many of our schools right now young people are on their own, really, when it comes to figuring out who they are and where they fit into the world. They are more isolated from true communities and mentors than ever, and they are finding meaning, without guidance, on the Internet. Deep personal connection is at the heart of coaching. Its core purpose is to build self-awareness so people can access new growth paths and deepen their identities. Imagine the impact of this kind of relationship and self-exploration on troubled adolescents. Imagine also how emotionally attuned an adult would be to that adolescent. If every teacher incorporated some level of this type of relationship with every student, schools would be much safer places to be in many ways. I think we would solve many of our larger social problems this way.

Schools would also become much more effective facilitators of transformational growth. After years of teaching, I deeply believe that students fail not because of their lack of intellectual capacity, but because we as educators haven’t created the conditions they need to reach their potential. One of those conditions is the opportunity to build identity as learners and as members of a caring community. So much of what I do in coaching leaders is building a leader’s competencies to create these conditions in their schools. When school leaders deliberately coach teachers in these competencies, I believe we will see transformative growth from our most challenged, most disengaged students.

 

You’ve written for Key Step Media about the differences between coaching, teaching, and consulting. How did you develop the ability to effectively switch between these varied approaches?

Being able to switch back and forth between coaching, teaching, and consulting was a real struggle for me. I come from an education organization with a robust curricular and instructional development model. What we call coaching is really teaching. As a school leader, I became good at developing teachers and instructional leaders through observation and feedback and a gradual release model of 1-1 teaching. And that is really important! Our students significantly out-perform their counterparts in the same districts because of this teaching. However, that skillset did not serve me well when developing people-focused leadership competencies. You can’t teach people self-awareness or self-management. I gradually realized this, and I needed some coaching myself to shift some assumptions and values of my own to get there.

There are some things I look for now to help me determine which approach to take. Early on in a conversation with a leader about their growth areas I ask myself these questions:

  • Does this sound like a will or a skill issue?
  • How long has this person been struggling with this “skill?”
  • What role do emotions (especially fear) play in this challenge for the leader?

Once I am confident that we’re dealing with a challenge that calls for coaching, I have a couple of ways that I remind myself that I can’t do the work for my leaders. When I feel the impulse to tell—which is really the impulse to teach—I take a breath and turn my thoughts into a curious question.

 

 

You have a multi-faceted role in the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, for which you are a Faculty member, a Meta-Coach, and a member of the content development team. Could you speak to your involvement and aspirations for the program, as well as what you think this program uniquely has to offer? 

Yes! I have been working with the KSM team for almost a year. Selfishly, it has been an incredible professional growth experience for me to work with this team on content development. Now that I have met the Meta-Coaching team, I know that my own learning with KSM has just started. The collective wisdom and expertise of this group is off the charts.

I really love the way this program marries the EI dimensions into a holistic approach to supporting transformative learning and long-term behavioral change. This methodology is, I think, one of the things that makes this program unique. I also know that the residencies will be best-in-class, given the talent of the Meta-Coaching team and the deliberate way we intend to create the learning space for the felt practice of the coaching. However, I am particularly excited about our program’s digital learning platform. To be honest, I am not always a proponent of digital learning, and have not until now embraced the idea that it had a place in training coaches. Now that I have both experienced the Everwise Platform and started building learning pathways, I am a believer. The Everwise component will turn the spaces between residencies and coaching meetings into impactful self-guided learning opportunities. I’m finding there is something really powerful about getting a manageable “daily dosage” of learning, micro-practice, and reflection. Further, Everwise creates a community where learners can opt into ongoing conversation with their cohort—another opportunity to keep the momentum going. This self-guided learning may be the most unique thing about our program.

 

Could you share a difficult experience you had with a client and how you handled it?

The most difficult experiences that I have had with clients all come back to the same challenge: their unwillingness to do the “below the surface” work with me.

The greatest gift of coaching is that people learn about the assumptions, values, fears, motives, and traits below the surface of their awareness that either get in their way or are the source of their power. To get there, though, they need to make themselves vulnerable with their coach, and allow the coach to guide them in reflecting on parts of themselves that may feel scary; the parts of themselves connected with intense emotion.  People who keep their guard up can’t do the work.

I have tried three things when this happens. First, I back up and double down on the relationship. This starts with having honest conversations about trust and what we need from each other. It also includes conversations where we share our personal selves and build common ground. If the resistance persists over time, I step away from the work and lean into high-candor conversations about what I am experiencing, and connect it to the lack of progress I am seeing in the coaching. This conversation tends to raise self-awareness in itself for clients, and can lead us in new productive directions.

When these two approaches haven’t worked over time, then I go to my final strategy:  terminating the relationship. This starts with a version of the high-candor conversation I just mentioned, but continues with the proposal to end our coaching. Part of the message is that it may just be a personal chemistry thing, and I might not be the right person. Once this conversation led to a breakthrough for a client. The other times it has led to an ending. That has never been easy for me. I question my ability when this happens. But, at the end of the day, the time is wasted for the client if they aren’t willing to do the work with me.

 

What advice do you have for people who would like to become coaches?

If you want to be a good coach, you must first experience coaching. If you have not experienced the transformative growth that comes from real coaching, you will not be able to make it happen for others.

 

 

 

 

Interested in working with Matt 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.