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Coaching for Emotional Intelligence: Dot Proux on Women’s Empowerment

Welcome to the first installment of Coaching for Emotional Intelligence, in which we will interview Faculty members and Meta-Coaches from the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification.


Our first guest, Dot Proux, is an ICF-credentialed, Coactive-certified professional coach and leadership development facilitator, with 30 years of experience in the professional services industry. She is a certified public accountant, with a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) certification from the Human Resource Certification Institute, and a Certified Master Facilitator (CMF) designation through the International Institute for Facilitation (INIFAC). Dot is also a member of the International Coach Federation. She is a Meta-Coach for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, which is currently accepting applications.


What led you to begin coaching? 

I was inspired by the impact that coaching had on me while I was a partner at Ernst & Young. Without the planned time to pause and the skillful questions and intuition of my coach, my life would have taken a different direction. That direction would have been one that was much more influenced by the hectic pace and demands of everyone around me, rather than on my clear understanding of where I was meant to go and what I was meant to do.


What are your thoughts on Emotional Intelligence?

I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to a myriad of leadership, professional, and personal development frameworks; EI is the one that resonates most and has the broadest application across all dimensions of my life, and the lives of my clients. EI gives a framework to think about and words to discuss the importance of knowing yourself and the impact you have on others. And that’s what we all need to understand in order to live fulfilling lives as individuals, while minimizing the damage we do to others’ lives and the world around us in the process.

You have worked as an executive sponsor for Ernst & Young’s Professional Women’s Network and coach clients on navigating gender dynamics. Do you have any advice for women professionals, particularly in relation to the #MeToo movement?

I can answer that with a story, unfortunately. A young woman I’m close to recently experienced a #MeToo situation. The harassment came from outside the company she works for, in the form a lewd text from a much older executive who works for one of her employer’s largest clients. While ultimately her employer took action that was supportive of her, the discussions leading up to this decision caused her to doubt whether the emotions and reactions she was experiencing in response to the harassment were valid and justified. I gave her the same advice I’ve given in the past when women have come to me with similar situations, often expressing reluctance to pursue consequences. Know your boundaries. Know your values. Know yourself and what you are willing to tolerate in regard to how you are treated and the respect you are given. And then, act in alignment with what you know and what your values tell you.

It’s not easy, especially in situations where acting in alignment with the values that you hold for yourself has the potential to negatively impact other people. In situations where you feel like you should just tough it out or ignore it because the potential ramifications of speaking up feel overwhelming, I encourage women to think about their daughters, their little sisters, their nieces . . . and what advice they would give if that person came to them asking what to do. Be courageous, and make the decision you can be proud of years down the line, when that younger woman or girl asks you what you did when it happened to you.

What do you see as some of the benefits and challenges of a rapidly diversifying U.S. workforce? How do you approach coaching leaders for these changes?

It sounds worn out, as there is so much written and discussed on it, but clearly the more diverse the perspectives in the war room, the more robust the solution. I won’t wax eloquent on that point, as it is at this point pretty well discussed already.

I can, however, provide an observation on an unexpected benefit that I experienced personally. The firm I worked for was very forward thinking about the need to create inclusive work environments, so as a new partner I was required to participate in coaching, supplemented by an intercultural competency type assessment tool, to accelerate the growth of my inclusive leadership competencies. At the beginning of the coaching process, I was disappointed with where I came out on the assessment, as I pictured myself as pretty enlightened! I invested significant thought into my development plan, which we were encouraged to customize so that it authentically worked for us. As part of my quest to understand people different from myself, I joined our LGBTQ group as an ally, spent time with the firm’s Latino, African American, and AsiaPAC employee resource groups, and eventually became the lead “client thought partner” on inclusive leadership, presenting to clients and collaborating with them on their organizations’ Diversity and Inclusion journeys. I was engaged in the learning, and particularly intrigued by how vastly broad the differences in perspective become when you venture outside your comfort zone full of your normal “go to” people.

Many leaders have been put through diversity workshops or inclusive leadership workshops that teach skills and behaviors aimed at helping them successfully navigate the challenges of workforce diversification. Academically, the reasons why they should lead inclusively make sense to them. Intentionally, most leaders today truly want to lead inclusively. But it’s not as simple as that. The elements that I use in coaching for inclusive leadership include:

Building super-charged Self Awareness, including awareness of inequalities in their emotional commitment to various members of their teams. We explore that with questions that are more about how the leaders FEEL than about what the leaders DO. So instead of asking “Who are you spending time with? Who are you mentoring?” I would ask “Who of your protégés are you most comfortable giving work to in a crisis? To whom do you feel most drawn to encourage? With whom do you have the most transparent conversations? If your emotional commitment had weight, who among your protégés would have the heaviest backpack?” What this type of dialog tends to uncover is that leaders often feel the strongest emotional connection with, and therefore unintentionally put their most valuable attention and focus on, people who are most like themselves.

Once they become aware of these relationship behaviors, I focus on discovering specifics about their unconscious biases and preferences; helping them understand their current orientation to navigating differences that make a difference; and developing a plan to improve their competency in navigating those differences.


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

Do some soul searching to make sure it’s for you. It’s not the same as advising, and not everyone loves it! Talk with other coaches to understand what it is. Be coached to experience the value. Recognize it’s a craft and a profession that requires building specific competencies; you aren’t a skilled coach just because you have past experience mentoring and teaching people in a previous position. And if it feels like a good direction, get certified and credentialed. Building consistency, quality, and credibility into the profession will benefit all of us and our clients.



Interested in working with Dot and becoming a certified coach? 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.