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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
sido su experiencia como miembro internacional de una cohorte mayoritariamente
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
Proficiency in Emotional
Intelligence (EI) is the single greatest differentiator in leadership today.
We’re all leaders in our own lives. Even if you aren’t familiar with the
specifics of EI, you have undoubtedly experienced the difference between
interacting with someone who is consistently aware of their emotions and how
they impact others and someone who is not.
Yet it is difficult to
develop our Emotional Intelligence in a lasting way. Often, we understand
Emotional Intelligence on an intellectual level, but have trouble implementing
it in our lives. We remain stuck in the habits we’ve already developed.
Practice paired with objective
feedback makes all the difference in our ability to effectively strengthen our
EI. That’s why Daniel Goleman believes that “having an EI coach gives you the
best path to upgrading your EI skill set.”
You’ll begin your journey with a series of Emotional Intelligence assessments. These include the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI)–a robust 360 assessment–as well as assessments that gauge what motivates you and how well you sustain your energy.
When you first meet with
your coach–typically via video call–they’ll debrief your results on each of
these assessments. This is an opportunity to gauge your current Emotional Intelligence,
as well as your purpose and values. By focusing on your overall well-being and
the alignment of your values with your daily life, a coach can help you clarify
For many clients, the
debrief is the beginning of a transformational experience. Archana Shetty, Founder
of Nextgenleadership, said: “The debrief experience was an eye opener in many
ways. The debrief session helped me understand my default patterns, strengths,
and my natural tendencies. I have taken many assessments for development in the
past, but this experience was different because spotted patterns I’d
habituated, yet didn’t notice.”
The online courses that go
along with your coaching feature three key components designed to help you form
more emotionally intelligent habits.
Learn: Practical explanations and examples of EI in the form of short articles and videos (about 5 minutes).
Apply: Immediate applications (about 15 minutes) of what you learned in the day’s lesson that provide you with a suite of tools to apply to your daily life, both at work and at home.
Reflect: Building Self-Awareness is the cornerstone of our model. Following each application, you’ll write a few sentences to reflect on how it went and any insights that arose (5-10 minutes). Your coach will respond to these reflections and note points to bring up in your coaching calls.
If you choose a 12-week
coaching engagement, you’ll go through the Foundational Skills online courses,
which focus on Self-Awareness and Self-Management. If you opt for 24-weeks of
coaching, you’ll experience these Foundational Skills as well as the
Relationship Skills, which explore Social Awareness and Relationship Management.
You’ll also receive year-long access to the courses, so you can return to the
exercises even after your coaching engagement has ended.
Executive Coach Alison
Zecha was initially skeptical of the online courses: “However, I committed to
making the most of the process and staying on track. Big payoff! I’m very
pleased with and excited about my results and have been applying the learning
personally and with my clients from the first week.”
Journaling creates an archive of your thinking and mindset. This allows you and your coach to spot counterproductive habits and develop practical strategies to overcome any blocks to your success.
As you journal, your coach
will offer real-time feedback to help you uncover the often-hidden chain of
cause and effect. If you continually experience resistance to new ideas or
changes, for example, your coach will help you spot and work through the
various levels of resistance and help you to replace ineffective habits with
ones that serve you well.
Taking the time to incorporate journaling into our lives can have great payoffs. Dr. James Chua, an IBM Consultant, reflects on his journaling, this “very basic and simple exercise will clear the cobwebs from the mind. Writing makes our thinking more exact. It builds mental clarity and strength of mind. Daily simple actions form into habits that can benefit us for life. Journaling is one of these habits. It helps one to reflect, unwind, sharpen our thinking and learn from one’s experiences.”
Alongside the online courses and journaling, you’ll speak with your coach–typically via video call–every other week. Your coach will share their observations from your reflections and journals, including any patterns or blind spots they notice, and will keep you connected to your purpose and values.
As you go through the
online courses, your coach provides a feedback-loop to help you continually
progress. This keeps you from getting stuck, and helps you experiment with new
ways of showing up. A strong working alliance with your coach creates a highly personalized
experience, amplifying your progress beyond what you could achieve through online
Reta Coburn, a Leadership
Coach, found getting coached herself transformative: “I had not been coached
before and I found that my coach was a great support in helping me reach
further inside myself, creating the space to non-judgmentally explore
challenging issues. My coaching experiences are like a beautiful lighthouse
coming into view when navigating choppy waters.”
Above all, developing your Emotional Intelligence in a lasting way requires time, effort, and practice. If you get coached through the 12 weeks of Foundational Skills, you will receive the designation of EI Specialist. And if you complete all 24 weeks of both the Foundational and additional Relationship Skills with coaching, you’ll become an EI Ambassador. These designations have accompanying badges that you can display on your resume, in your email signature, and across social media. You can meet our coaches here and register here.
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.
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!
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.
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?
Have people share with the larger group what the experience was like for them–both as the listener and speaker.
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.
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!
Seth, the regional manager of an insurance agency, had a reputation for enforcing the rigid guidelines sent down from upper management, while doing the bare minimum himself. When one of his newest employees, Jason, failed to record customer information in accordance with guidelines, Seth arranged a meeting to set him straight. After talking Jason’s ear off about the importance of playing by the book, Seth handed him a few examples of correct customer reports and told him to study up or find work somewhere else.
Jason, who had never received detailed training on the customer reports, became instantly and thoroughly discouraged. While he still made an effort to get by, he felt increasingly apathetic about his job. He was not alone: Other members of the team felt the same disengagement. They avoided Seth and kept their heads down, trying to do their work without having to deal with him. No surprise that Seth’s reputation for intractability also prevented people from sharing their ideas with him. Result: sales plummeted.
Last I heard, Seth had been replaced by a new regional manager, tasked with revitalizing a floundering business. It’s no surprise – Seth was not just difficult to work with, but an ineffective leader as well. Looked at through the emotional intelligence lens, what Seth lacked was empathic concern.
Empathic concern is one of three types of empathy. The first type, cognitive empathy, lets us understand others’ perspectives. The second, emotional empathy, allows us to experience others’ emotions in our own body, giving us an immediate sense of what they feel. And the third, empathic concern, moves us to action. We care about other people’s well-being and feel motivated to help them. This is where empathy extends into compassion.
Consider results from a study of how empathic concern matters when we give negative feedback. Researchers found that leaders who gave negative feedback with empathetic concern got better responses from their employees, who also rated them as more effective. And this caused higher-ups to view these leaders as more promotable.
People respond more positively to criticism and are more likely to take feedback to heart when they feel their leader cares about their well-being and wants them to improve. Empathic concern makes feedback more effective, kickstarting positive change in employees and rippling throughout organizations.
Instead of grilling a new hire like Jason over an understandable mistake, Seth could have empathized with Jason’s need to learn how to perform his new job, and maybe also nodded to the tediousness of the task. Most important, he could have expressed his desire for Jason to succeed and offered to give him further guidance if needed. But by resorting to scripted lectures and unwarranted threats, Seth prevented a new employee from becoming engaged and motivated to do his best.
A leader’s emotional intelligence (or lack thereof) can make or break an employee’s performance for an organization. The benefits (or toll) can be seen in indicators like employee engagement, creativity, and turnover. EI – being intelligent about emotions – includes ways to manage our own emotions and help shape emotions in others. This includes the ability to give feedback effectively, to inspire and motivate, and to consider employees’ feelings when making decisions.
So, a lack of empathy in a manager or executive creates dissonance. Leaders who don’t consider their employees’ perspectives when delivering feedback foster a tense environment in which trust and collaboration cannot flourish.
EI training can help leaders get better at the range of people skills they need, such as recognizing their employees’ emotional reactions and communicating their understanding and concern. By attuning ourselves to others’ emotions, performance feedback becomes an opportunity to create positive change and cultivate engagement. And when employees experience this positive resonance, leaders – and their organization – can gain a range of value-added benefits.
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 and 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!
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.”
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.