Emotional Intelligence, Leadership Development and Self Awareness


Emotional Intelligence, Leadership Development and Self Awareness

By Dr. Nancy Zentis

A True Leader is humble enough to admit their shortfalls and courageous enough to face them.”

Many Executive Coaches use emotional intelligence assessments to help senior leaders gain self awareness of how others perceive them and how to identify development opportunities.

“Emotional Intelligence  (also referred to as Emotional Quotient, or “EQ”) is a 360 degree feedback assessment used to identify senior leader determinant of success.  As noted below, research has shown that there is a relationship between a leader’s success and his/her EI.”

  • “90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20% of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence.” Travis Bradberry in Forbes (Daniel Goleman’s co-author)
  • “The impact of coaching is directly related to the bottom line. Pepsi found that executives with high EQ generated 10% more productivity, had 87% less turnover, brought $3.75 MM more value to the company, and increased ROI by 1000%. L’Oréal found that salespeople with a high EQ sold $2.5 MM more than others. And when Sheraton decided to incorporate an EQ initiative, their market share grew by 24%.” Anne Loehr in Huffington Post

So how does the Emotional Intelligence Model help coaching clients gain a greater self-awareness and provide insight to increase their emotional intelligence interpersonal competence?

First the coach debriefs the EI assessment with their client and provides feedback on how they were rated by their peers, direct reports, and other leaders.  Then together, they identify what activities can be taken to increase their competence.

To understand how to coach clients using EI, let’s first review the 5 pillars of Emotional Intelligence interpersonal competence and social competence.

  • The first pillar is self–awareness – which includes understanding one’s own strengths and weaknesses, and how the actions impact others.
  • The second pillar is self-regulation – how one expresses emotion with restraint and control.
  • The third pillar is motivation – the level of self-motivation one demonstrates, resilience and optimism, driven by inner ambition.
  • The fourth pillar is empathy – compassion and understanding of human nature, connects with others on an emotional level, provides great service and responds genuinely to other’s concerns.
  • The fifth pillar is people skills – the ability to build rapport and trust quickly with others, avoids power struggles and talking about others negatively, enjoys other people and has the respect of others.

The EI 5 pillars will give the coach a framework to begin to think about how to help leaders self-evaluate and where they should focus their attention to increase their emotional intelligence.

Every client’s EI scores will be different.  To begin the coaching process, help them gain insight and self-awareness of how others perceive their actions and behaviors.  Self Awareness is an area a great number of leaders need to improve upon. Many senior leaders have not had time to reflect on their own self-awareness and may be unaware of their impact on others.

Here are several tools recommended for coaches to help their clients increase their Self Awareness:

  • Stop and think – Executives need to remember that their emotions and actions may have an enormous impact on others in the organization. When they feel their emotions rise, they can use a technique called Stop/Reflect – recognize the emotion, and stop to think about the feeling before reacting. You can always choose your reaction.
  • The following assessment tools also help to provide insight into how others perceive them
    • 360 Feedback – Assessments provide feedback from multi-raters.
    • DISC and Myers Briggs, Values, and Social Styles Assessments– help give insight into how their preferences differ from others and how others perceive them.
  • Describe a recent interaction that did not go well – Ask the client to share their recent interactions with others – ask them to describe what happened, what they said or did, how others responded verbally and nonverbally, and what were the reactions from the group, and finally have the client describe how they handled the situation. The coach observes their response and behaviors used to determine their level of emotional intelligence and to help them gain a greater understanding of their self-awareness and self-management.
  • Conduct a reverse role play – Have the client discuss a current situation they are having with another person; then offer to do a role play, have them play the person they are having difficulty with and you play their part. Summarize by asking: How does this person feel when interacting with you and what would they like you to do differently?
  • Understand your triggers – Composure is an area some leaders find challenging. A leader who blows his stack is both scary and demotivating. Understand your triggers. Count to ten.
  • Mental and Physical Wellness – Interpersonal interactions are affected by how you feel—your well-being. Are you tired and short-tempered or well rested and relaxed?  Are you experiencing a lot of stress, many challenges at one time, or feeling overworked?  If so, slow down, take care of your health.  Mental and physical wellness affects all areas of your life: play, work, health, finances, spirituality, relationships, sleep, food, exercise, and especially, your personal and work relationships.

Both your degree of emotional intelligence and self -perception are affected by these components: self-awareness, composure, and wellness. Help the client to evaluate their own self awareness and perception of by using one of the techniques mentioned above.

  • Our next article will deal with the second pillar of EI – Self-Regulation – how one expresses emotion with restraint and control. You will learn how to coach your clients to recognize how to implement some self-regulation techniques.



Dr. Nancy Zentis is the Chief Strategist and CEO of Institute of OD, offering online OD Certification programs.  As an OD Consultant for more than 30 years, she has worked with Senior Leaders and she has many years expertise using 360 feedback assessments for leadership development including Emotional Intelligence.  She is a contributing author on developing Executive Coaching and skills, and she leads the Executive Coaching Certification Program.   She can be reached at info@instituteod.com.  For more information about our certification programs and professional development courses, visit our website www.instituteod.com.  Please join our linked group: The Executive Coaching Network.


The Executive Coaching Certification Program (ECCP) is offered online over 8 months, 3 hours per month to maximize your development as an Executive Coach.  This program helps coaches advance their career and build their reputation as an effective coach. Each session is delivered through Go-to-training.  Our expert faculty provides interactive discussions, examples, tools, guidelines, and resources to enrich your learning.  For more information, visit our website:  www:instituteod.com


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