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Stories that Change the Status Quo

The stories we tell, the words we choose, and the body language that accompanies those words have a tremendous impact on our ability to influence others. When people feel understood and can see themselves within the story you tell, you gain the power to change the status quo.

Influence is the essence of what a leader does. As such, you can utilize influence to gain buy-in for your ideas, to foster change in your organization, and to instill purpose in your work, even if you aren’t in a formal leadership position.

On a neurological level, tone of voice, body movements, gestures, facial expression, and posture all combine to create packages of energy received by the social brain. People with strengths in influence are sensitive to the exchange of this energy and use it to persuade through language.

Storytelling enables us to connect with the social brain. This active engagement fosters trust and resonance with others. After all, a compelling story is far more engaging than facts or information alone. We can use stories as vehicles for information that also speak to our shared emotions and goals.

Telling Your Story

Leaders–whether formal or informal–achieve their effectiveness through the stories they tell. Resonant narratives offer an alternative to the prevailing storyline (“this is just the way things are”) and help us gain buy-in from others to move an idea or project forward.

Marshall Ganz, community organizer and Harvard professor, has identified three layers to an effective public story: “the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now.” The story of self is your personal story. This includes why you have chosen to pursue change–whether you want to make your company more environmentally sustainable, improve the school system in which you teach, or establish patient limits in your hospital.

Why is this change important to you? And how has your story thus far led you to value this change? You might begin by thinking about your parents and your childhood. In what ways has your past led you to where you are today?

The story of us enables others to fit themselves into your vision. What values do you and members of your organization share? What story can you tell that articulates your shared identity? For example, as a nurse petitioning for safe patient limits, you might find the story of us in a common desire to help others, for which you and your coworkers have made sacrifices throughout your careers.

An effective story of us necessitates authentic leadership. With self-awareness and empathy, we can build genuine rapport with those we seek to lead. Without these competencies, the group you want to influence may find it difficult to relate to you or envision themselves within your narrative.

Lastly, the story of now articulates the action you and your group must take. Effective leaders identify actions, not simply problems. What specific action will you call upon your group to take? How does this serve your mission? Why should your group take this action now, instead of postponing it for the future?

You may find it beneficial to tell your story to a friend or record yourself. Start at the beginning (your parents, your childhood), move toward the present, and envision the future you’d like to shape.

Once you’ve gotten your thoughts out, try to distill your answers to three sentences, one for each layer (self, us, and now) of your story. The ultimate goal of this exercise isn’t to write a single narrative, but to have pieces you can adapt and iterate from again and again for different audiences and situations. When we build a narrative in this way, we develop the tools to initiate positive change in our communities and organizations.

This activity is inspired by Marshall Ganz’s worksheet, “Telling Your Public Story.” If you’re interested in developing a politically oriented story, you may find his work particularly beneficial.  

Recommended Resources

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.

We have only a few spots remaining for our personalized EI coaching and training package. You’ll receive year-long access to our online EI training courses, a range of EI assessments, one-on-one coaching sessions, and more. You can learn how it works and register here.

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Hesitant to Get Coached? The Benefits Might Surprise You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In what ways has being coached impacted your career?

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

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

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

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

Did anything about your coaching experience surprise you?

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

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Recommended Resources:

Get Coached!

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

Become a Coach!

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

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Tessa Menatian

Tessa Menatian is a Writer & Editor at Key Step Media. In this role, she collaborates with Daniel Goleman to write and edit articles for LinkedIn and other media sites. She also designs and develops innovative content–including online courses and actionable articles–to help leaders at all levels cultivate their Emotional Intelligence.

Tessa is a graduate of Bard College where she studied Written Arts, worked as an Editorial Assistant for the journal Conjunctions, and led a publication of student work. She lives in Northampton, MA.

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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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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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Take Smarter Risks with Emotional Intelligence

Whether you want to become a more effective leader, advance your career, or achieve goals in other parts of your life, the ability to take smart risks is essential to productive growth. A range of Emotional Intelligence competencies can help achieve goals and bring our ideas to life.

What Does It Mean to Take Smart Risks?

People who take smart risks are highly attuned to their own abilities and limitations. They set goals that are challenging, yet attainable. They communicate their message in a compelling way, which people they want to influence can engage with. While some of their choices may appear highly risky to others, they are confident that the potential benefits will be worth it.

People who take smart risks excel across a range of the twelve Emotional & Social Intelligence Leadership Competencies. Some of the competencies most essential to taking smart risks include Emotional Self-Awareness, Achievement Orientation, Influence, and Inspirational Leadership.

How to Develop Emotional Self-Awareness

As the foundation of the Emotional and Social Intelligence competencies, Emotional Self-Awareness is essential to taking smart risks. People who are emotionally self-aware have an accurate knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as a solid understanding of what they can realistically achieve. Leaders with Emotional Self-Awareness can be present with people in a candid and authentic way, enabling them to speak with conviction about their vision.

Developing Emotional Self-Awareness begins with self-reflection, including recognizing how your emotions impact you and your job performance. It can be helpful to ask for feedback from people with whom you regularly interact. Simple questions, such as asking others what they see as your strengths and weaknesses, can be critical in recognizing a disparity between how you see yourself and how others see you. Ideally, this feedback would be anonymous, so that people feel comfortable being honest. Either way, be prepared to accept feedback with an open mind and the intention to take steps toward improvement where necessary.

If you find it difficult to recognize the areas where you struggle, or if you discover through feedback self-other gaps you aren’t sure how to improve, you may benefit from the guidance of a coach. A coach can help you develop a plan of action for improvement and give you feedback along the way. Coaching for Emotional Intelligence is particularly critical if you struggle with Emotional Self-Awareness, as it lies at the heart of EI.

How to Develop Achievement Orientation

Achievement Orientation is vital to taking smart risks and effectively setting goals. People with strengths in this competency set challenging goals for themselves, yet remain realistic in what they can achieve. As too much of a focus on Achievement Orientation can become toxic, particularly for leaders, it is also important to balance it with other competencies, including Inspirational Leadership, Empathy, and Teamwork.

A meta-analysis of research at Cornell demonstrates that highly successful entrepreneurs possess an elevated drive to achieve. In “Achievement Orientation: An Introduction,” Daniel Goleman writes:

“These entrepreneurs take smart risks. They’re sure the risk is minimal, though to others it may seem like a very high risk and that it is unlikely they’ll reach that goal.”

As with Emotional Self-Awareness, it is important to continually seek and learn from feedback to improve performance in Achievement Orientation. Cultivating a clear picture of positive goals and knowing what you can realistically accomplish are simple steps you can take to begin improving your performance. Working with a coach can also help to explore a vision of your ideal self and develop steps to reach your goals.

How to Develop Influence

As part of an organization, influence is key to bringing your great ideas to life. People with strengths in the Influence competency establish trust through a respect for and sensitivity to office culture (which also incorporates the Organizational Awareness competency). They know how to communicate their message in a way that appeals to others, particularly the key people they want to influence.

If you want to develop influence within an organization, it is important to start small. Begin by sharing your ideas informally, with people that you trust. Pay attention to their concerns and feedback and incorporate them into your vision. It is also critical that you understand what matters to the people you want to influence. By understanding their perspective, you can create a compelling case for your idea that will be beneficial to key people. This will enable you to start an engaging conversation, in which all sides feel invested.

How to Develop Inspirational Leadership

Inspirational Leadership, particularly the ability to articulate a shared vision, is central to taking smart risks. Inspirational leaders understand the vision of their organization inside and out. This enables them to craft ideas that fits seamlessly into the bigger picture. They also use the organization’s mission to create a sense of common purpose, yielding resonant relationships with others that are essential to identifying shared aspirations.

Becoming an inspirational leader is a gradual and ongoing process; as in any relationship, building trust doesn’t happen overnight. Inspiration also requires a degree of vulnerability. Leaders that share some of their apprehensions and fears related to work and leadership cultivate an atmosphere of authenticity, yielding a solid foundation of trust.

You can work to develop Inspirational Leadership on a daily basis by attuning yourself to what people care about. Identify the beliefs and aspirations you share and make an effort to articulate this common purpose. In this way, the ability to inspire can become a critical asset in building commitment and enthusiasm for a new business venture, or developing an idea that perfectly aligns with your organization’s mission. For further reading on Inspirational Leadership, we recommend Ann Flanagan Petry’s article “How Leaders and Coaches Cultivate Purpose at Work.”

Utilizing these Competencies to Take Smarter Risks  

By developing Emotional Intelligence competencies that span the four domains, you will have the skills to transform your ideas and goals into reality. A foundation of Self-Awareness allows us to understand our strengths and weaknesses and solidify our values. Paired with Achievement Orientation, under the Self-Management domain, we can develop ambitious yet attainable goals. The Social Awareness and Relationship Management domains enable us to garner support for these goals. While Organizational Awareness and Influence help us recognize and utilize networking opportunities and key power relationships, Inspirational Leadership ensures that our initial support doesn’t fade.

Recommended Resources:

Interested in helping others strengthen their Emotional Intelligence and achieve their goals? The new Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification is now accepting applications. 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 while elevating their expertise.

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3 Takeaways from Research on Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is a relatively recent profession. The first established accreditation groups for professional coaches were founded in the 1990s. Historically, coaching has often been used remedially, as an organization’s attempt to correct employees’ unwelcome behavior or perceived lack of competencies. Many conventional programs still use this approach, with few positive or lasting results.

Today, more progressive coaching programs focus on career advancement and personal development, and are ideally initiated by a coachee seeking self-improvement. The best and most effective programs support the overall growth and wellbeing of the person, taking into account things like habitual patterns of thoughts, emotional states, and underlying mental models that may keep someone stuck.

As executive coaching is growing in value and evolving in design, high-quality research has the potential to shape the discipline and move it forward. One of the challenges of arriving at such research is the existence of significant enough control groups, clear parameters and measurement tools, accounting for variability of data, and a coaching framework that fully supports the complete range of ways in which personal and professional development efforts can materialize – in real time, in the real world. That is one undertaking currently in progress at Key Step Media.

For now, the following studies offer the most meaningful, evidence-based insights into what we know is effective in executive coaching.

 

  1. Cognitive behavioral interventions for leadership development

Researchers adapted traditional clinical psychological practices into the context of executive coaching in a 2013 study published in Research in Organizational Change and Development. The authors used cognitive behavioral executive coaching (CBEC) in both helping to manage maladaptive thoughts and behaviors and in establishing a formal platform to support executive skill building, performance, and personal leadership agendas.

Findings show that the approach enabled executives to develop behaviors and competencies aligned with their ideal future state, due to the highly-customizable process of the program design. CBCE was particularly effective in improving adaptability in both thoughts and actions and has the potential to inform the future of executive coaching.

 

  1. Personalization based on values is key

A 2016 study in Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, examines the emerging approach to workplace coaching, which increasingly emphasizes “enhancing both the performance and the well-being of individuals and organizations in ways that are sustainable and personally meaningful.”

Simplicity and personalization lie at the heart of this methodology. Clear, practical language and models, rather than complex acronyms and jargon-filled texts, make training methodologies accessible and more likely to create lasting organizational change. Deep personalization, in which the coach seeks to understand the coachee’s personal values and goals in a holistic way, is equally vital. As good coaching is fundamentally a quality conversation based in trust, it follows that authentic, individualized coaching is vital to cultivating genuine organizational change and personal development. From an evidence-based perspective, this kind of personalization has been demonstrated as being highly effective in many peer-reviewed studies with randomized control groups.

 

 

  1. Trust and goal setting are critical to coaching effectiveness

A strong working alliance from the perspective of the coach and coachee predicted coaching effectiveness in a large-scale study of executive coaching conducted in 2016. Coachee self-efficacy, or belief in the benefits of coaching and their own ability to make lasting behavioral changes, was also critical in determining coaching effectiveness.

Coaches who built a foundation of trust with their clients, and established clear tasks and goals, were rated most highly for successful coaching outcomes. Even when the coachee had lower self-efficacy, a strong working alliance and clear goals were found to partially compensate for this disparity.

The ability to develop a foundation of trust with a coachee necessitates that the coach excels in relationship management competencies. Emotional Intelligence is also critical in the coach’s ability to identity appropriate tasks and goals for their client, to be receptive in understanding the coachee’s unique challenges, and to offer clear guidance in alignment with the coachee’s own values.

 

 

More research is needed

Due to a range of factors, including the wide umbrella of coaching and the absence of a standardized measure for successful or effective coaching engagements, there is minimal, peer-reviewed research on executive coaching. Some meta-analyses have established the overall positive effect of coaching on organizational outcomes, while surveys have sought to evaluate coaching effectiveness through factors such as coach training and background. Further efforts to establish universally accepted terms and research criteria for executive coaching have the potential to positively impact this growing field.

 

Are you interested in coaching for Emotional Intelligence? 

 

 

Emotional Intelligence offers an evidence-based framework for executive coaching drawing upon the disciplines of Neuroscience and Cognitive Behavioral Science. The new Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification is now accepting applicants who would like to learn this specific methodology for coaching their clients. This fall, we will also be launching an online program for learning the fundamentals of Emotional Intelligence.

 

 

 

 

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