Coaching for Emotional Intelligence

Business and Executive Coaching should focus on generating value for the client in how they achieve enhanced success, especially across the following critical factors:

  • Business Results
  • Team Relationships
  • Leadership

Although third of the list, Leadership has an impact on the first two, so it is not surprising that Executive Leadership is a topic of many articles, books  and of course theories. The traits of good leadership are often described by theorists like Belbin and tend to describe the ability to be tough minded, take a top level view, have vision and be tenacious.

Daniel Goleman (Ref 1) agreed, but also argued that to be effective a leader needs to have Emotional Intelligence (EI), which he says comprises of five key abilities:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skill

Goleman was clear that such abilities were innate but often needed patience, persistence, practice and feedback in order to hone those skills. The role of the Executive Coach is to help the Executive to simply gain just clarity about what those attributes mean to them and also how to remain persistent, practice and be given feedback.

This is important because the Executive Management role is often wide and challenging. As Mintzberg (Ref 2) explains managers need to work with their teams interpersonally, provide clear information and ensure that their staff, not only have the necessary resources, but that they also make the best use of those resources. This implies high degrees of influence over the staff and being emotionally intelligent seems necessary and consistent with that.  

Farkas demonstrates (Ref 3) that in setting strategy, managing people, implementing controls, encouraging expertise and talent and adapting to change - the rate of which we are constantly told is rampant! - (all of which is the business executive job) are more effectively achieved by the emotionally intelligent. Some would argue it is the healthy way to do so too.

Certainly Heifetz would, especially if the organisation the manager is leading is progressing through some ‘adaptive challenges’ (please assume that means change) involves ensuring that the ‘system’ (please also assume that means all he people working for you) follows a clear and coherent pattern and manages distress and upset. That is what emotional intelligence will help the Executive achieve.

And that is the important point; Goleman makes clear the qualities that help an Executive achieve, but the success is in what they do. Your coach will not only help you build you EI, but to frame and put into effect your action plan too.


  • Goleman, D. (1998) ‘What makes a leader?’ published in ‘Essential Reads for Global Leaders’ HBR, Boston, USA.
  • Mintzberg, H. (1990) ‘The Managers Job: Folklore and Fact’. Harvard Business Review, March-April 1990, HBR, Boston, USA.
  • Farkas, C. et al. 1996, ‘The Ways Chief Executive Officers Lead’ Harvard Business Review, May-June 1996, HBR, Boston, USA.
  • Heifetz, R. eta al. ‘The Work of Leadership.’ Harvard Business Review, January-February 1997, HBR, Boston, USA.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London EC2M & Stevenage SG1
Written by Just Clarity, Keith Abrahams - Life & Executive Stress Consultant
London EC2M & Stevenage SG1

As a life and executive stress management consultant, the most common reasons clients seek help from me are related to stress, anxiety, depression, anger, relationship, and work-related issues. This might be related financial stress, promotional issues or challenging life, business, and career choic...

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