What was once looked upon with curious skepticism is now embraced as the way to a more enriched workplace. Executive coaching has boomed as an industry for one reason and one only – CEO’s, managers, small business owners, and leaders discovered that it works.
Executive coaching works so well that approximately 1.5 billion dollars was spent on it just last year. Most of the larger companies across the globe employ coaches for upper management. What makes executive coaching so attractive to CEO’s? What is it that they hope to gain? In one study coaches were asked what was the main subject area for which they coached CEO’s, the answer overwhelmingly was “self-awareness.” Coming in second place were “interpersonal skills, listening skills, and empathy.” However, upon closer analysis of these skills and a portrait of emotional intelligence emerges. An increase in the former, results in an increase in the latter, which is extremely important for the leadership positions of managers and CEOs.
So, just what is emotional intelligence? It is the “the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they're telling you, and realize how your emotions affect people around you. It also involves your perception of others: when you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively.” In other words, your own emotional self-awareness serves as an aid to understanding other people’s emotions; furthermore, you respond with empathy to their needs. You can see why emotional intelligence is so crucial to leadership positions. One of the key traits lacking in upper management executives, according to a Harvard study, is empathy. Executive coaching, then, addresses one of the key elements to successful leadership, and one that is lacking. Let’s examine more in-depth the topic of emotional intelligence and how executive coaching boosts this essential quality and leads to a more productive workplace.
Components and Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
Executive coaches work with you step-by-step, bringing you to a greater self-understanding, enhanced self-management, and increased depth of empathy. Your executive coach guides you to acquire the basic skills associated with emotional intelligence. The following will outline several benefits of emotional intelligence on the workplace environment, some of these components come from psychologist, Daniel Goleman.
As mentioned above, one of the main areas coaches target is self-awareness. There is a good reason for it; self-awareness is the catalyst by which growth occurs. Without that first step of realization, people blindly continue doing things in the same way as usual. Imagine going through life having certain situations, people, or thoughts trigger responsive emotions in you and being largely unaware of them. Maybe you are aware that you had a “bad” day, but why and what went wrong? Discovering the answers to these questions often begins with understanding ourselves. People with high emotional intelligence are very aware of their own emotions. This awareness leads them to regulate their feelings.
Often times, awareness of one’s emotions brings about discipline to control one’s emotions. At the very least, the task of self-regulation is made more attainable. For example, imagine a scenario at work where you have to oversee a new employee and you face feelings of inferiority, but you do not recognize what your feelings are (you are not self-aware). All you know is that you feel uncomfortable, edgy, or uneasy when you deal with the person. Self-awareness is the first step in regulating your emotions and handling the situation with ease and comfort. Individuals with high emotional intelligence possess better self-regulation skills. Self-discipline is not limited to uncomfortable emotions. As your coach moves you along the path of greater self-control, you will notice an increased self-management in your professional life, too. You gain control over every aspect of your professional life and see improvements in time management, organization, and work-life balance.
Empathy is that special something allows people to feel how another individual is feeling. Chances are if someone empathizes with a problem you have, you feel it. Empathy is a powerful tonic that soothes the soul of the receiver. Empathy leads to understanding other people’s emotions and enhanced interactions with business colleagues and subordinates follows. Furthermore, people will easily be led by you and seek your counsel. Great leaders are empathetic. Rene Schuster, former CEO of Telefonica Germany, expresses the relevance of it in this quote: “Empathy is not a soft nurturing value but a hard commercial tool that every business needs as part of their DNA."
#4 Boost in Cognition
When your mind broadens in one area, the tendency is for expansion overflow in other areas, as well. One of the key elements of emotional intelligence is the ability to view situations from other people’s perspective (hence, the empathy); when this occurs, your eyes are opened up to new viewpoints on many situations. In other words, a flexible mindset replaces rigid thinking. By exercising your brain, you boost cognition which will benefit your work in many ways.
Higher levels of motivation kick in as you start to see success. Who doesn’t feel a rush of adrenaline when their goals are getting accomplished? Once again it all begins with self-awareness; when people are self-aware, they discover intrinsic motivation, and with self-regulation, they channel that motivation in the right direction. It’s no wonder motivation is a crucial ingredient to being successful and happy. In the workplace, it is the driving force behind the difficult task, long hours, and seemingly impossible obstacles. Without motivation, you would have no workforce.
#6 Social Skills
Social skills make up the fabric of successful relationships, whether it’s in the workplace or elsewhere. Teams with high emotional intelligence, have an abundance of advanced social skills. They have excellent communication skills, which mean they can lead without coming across dominating; they negotiate effectively so that all parties feel like it was a win-win situation; they work well in teams, combining their leadership and negotiation skills to help accomplish the goal.
#7 Better Leadership Ability
People with high emotional intelligence are better leaders, in part because of empathy. People under your leadership need to know you hear them, understand them, and more importantly, that you care about the situation. Colin Powell once wrote, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
As your executive coach helps boost your emotional intelligence quotient, you see a positive impact on the workplace environment. Securing an executive coach boasts several benefits, but enhancing self-awareness, and hence, increasing emotional intelligence rates at the top.