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Home » Blog » Leveraging EI in Leadership Coaching

The main idea about emotional intelligence is how you leverage it, you leverage it by first understanding it in a fundamental way, which can be described as the idea that it’s an interaction between the rational thinking part of your brain and the part of your brain that controls emotions. And here’s the interesting fact, in a simple sense. All the information we gather through our senses, comes into our brain, right here at the top of our spine is electrical signals. 

And here’s the well, the well-kept secret. It’s not a secret at all. But those electrical signals pass through in terms of neuro pathways passing through the part of the brain that guesses what controls emotions? Do you see a problem potentially? Yeah, because you’re not aware of it. Once emotions get into the game, if you will, as a factor. And I’m talking largely about negative emotions about fear based emotions, not about joy and elation, although they can be distracting. 

In conversation with Dennis Doran in the latest Coaching Matters, Dennis expresses the use of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership Coaching. He describes how two-thirds of us are controlled by our emotions, how we are feeling as we experience the stimulus of our environment, what we see, what we hear, what we taste, what we say, all those kinds of things. Here is a short version of the conversation with Dennis.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

How would you define emotional intelligence, from your perspective? 

It describes the interaction between the thinking part of your brain where rational decisions are made and the part of your brain that controls emotions. It is your experience, your environment, day to day, your senses gather information. And that information comes into your brain, literally at the top of your spine, and goes through a portion of your brain that controls emotions. And so that notion of understanding that what emotional intelligence provides us the ability to know is how our rational and emotions are being interacted with each other- the friction, the constant friction. 

So you know, imagine that is an example that you’ve got a pen, and you got a bowl of jello, and you’ve got a bowl of water. And you want to just stick that pen, right through each of those two materials. It’s going to go through the water pretty fast. It’s going to take a little more effort, and maybe in some cases, a lot of effort to push that pen through that bowl of jello. Imagine that this part of your brain, right back here, it’s called the limbic system. Imagine that it’s, you know, fluid. And you’ve got to take those electrical signals and send them through that. If you’re upset if you’re worried if you’re feeling anxiety if you’re distracted in any way, if you’re angry, you know that that simple passage of the electrical signals through that part of your brain to the part of your brain that controls your decision making your rational thinking becomes that much more difficult in It slows it down. It certainly affects it. And in fact, if it’s a tremendous amount of feeling or emotion, and makes it impossible for you to think rationally, that’s again my pedestrian way of describing what emotional intelligence is. Difference between men and women. 

The part of the brain that controls emotion

Some people behave or act without showing emotions or restrict their emotions or not express much-considering emotions are a sign of weakness, and they give it a name as emotional intelligence. Is that how it is supposed to be? 

This really is a person’s lack of understanding. And, I would hazard a guess, that there are generated as generational implications. My generation is, you know, much less about feelings. Again, it just, you know, and you can see it in my lack of sensitivity over just gender mentions, but in the construction industry, you know, it still dominates in the construction industry that does what I say, or your God. And again, so the idea of the only thing that’s emotional intelligence about that statement is that it’s not emotionally intelligent. You know, the greatest group of the things that affect us in terms of emotion are fear-based. And again, so again, we think about that the people that we deal with this person you’ve described here is a person who, who relishes in the fact that they have, you know, they have an implicit level of position power, they have the ability to punish or reward. And so they don’t really care about how you’re feeling that’s not important to them at all. They just care about what you do when you’re told to do something, how you respond to them. So again, doesn’t describe a person that, that I would be looking to be as one of the important leaders in our workplace to model after.

 Gaurav: I believe that emotions are a sign of weakness, I will not be very comfortable expressing my authentic self. And that very moment, as Dennis was talking about, then I am operating from a space of fear. And just imagine what’s happening, you are oppressing your expression, which happens to be one of the basic desires of a human soul. And you’re allowing fear to take over you. So that means you are tapping and further giving further to one of the beasts that you have, which is an unfulfilled, deficiency need. Now in that case, how could you express yourself? And why would you call that emotional intelligence? It’s definitely a sign of controlling your emotions because you have an assumption that emotions are a sign of weakness. 

Emotional Intelligence for Leaders

Leaders at top positions are vulnerable and don’t often share their emotions. Sometimes, it is due to the upbringing in the culture, that men don’t cry. How do we make sure? How do we make them comfortable to describe their true self?

 Dennis: Look at the trends in our workplace, setting aside the disruption that we’ve experienced the last 20 months, the younger generations, both the male members and the female members are comfortable talking about things that they value, they’re comfortable talking about being of service, they’re comfortable talking about feelings. And vulnerability, again, people with a certain level of wisdom recognize that that vulnerability is actually a great quality for a leader to possess. Again, it’s fundamental to the whole notion of the value, but 360. Again, that’s a very risky proposition, to for a leader, person in a high-level organization, to agree to subject themselves to a 360 assessment, they may not want to, they may not want to face the results, even though the results again, would provide them very useful information to help to develop themselves to make themselves a better leader. 

And again, only coming from the standpoint that until we take our last breath, every person can get better. And one of the ways of getting better is to recognize that leaders, particularly male leaders, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. Vulnerability is a sign of a willingness for that leader to take risks in leading people. And the risk is someone will say something in a 360 and a verbatim response when they and they read it. And it just floors them. It scares them. It says I didn’t really think people thought that or didn’t want to think that people thought that. So again, gathering information from folks in a respectful constructive format is an incredibly powerful way to work through and dispel this notion that that feelings and emotions are a sign of weakness. It’s very much the opposite of that for the younger generations and needs to be become more the opposite of that for everyone, as we continue to blend generations in the workforce.

Use of Emotional Intelligence 

Can you elaborate on how to use emotional intelligence in situations where core values are getting threatened?

The first place that you have to look at in a practical way is at yourself to come to an understanding as to why it feels threatening, what is it about the dissonance between you and another person around values, and depending on what the relationship is all about if it’s someone that is in the workplace, and you have this feeling between yourself and another that, again, that my values and this other person’s values don’t align, the only choice that you have, in order to try to deal with that in a positive way is to address it. And if it is a person who is in a subordinate position, just thinking organizationally, then you in that in that management position, you need to initiate a constructive interaction. We don’t have to dive all the way into the deep end and deal with dissonance and values, it could be simply a style of communication, which again, relates to their behavioral style, or their personality. And many times, these escalate into being something bigger than they need to be. Because the person in the coach role or the superior roles in an individual or they could be equal in an organizational structure, one or the other is not willing to say, there’s a way that we can maybe get some information mutually that will help us work through this. So that we can have, you know, our communication are working together as the kind of the general term so we can work better together. The problem is that my generation is more has more of a tendency to view that as a problem, not simply view that as a common element in my relationship with this other human being.

Isn’t this conversation just pulling us off our seats. Well, We know, so we have something else for you, If you want to attend the next coaching Matters where Satyanarayan Kumar will take us on a coaching ride with a live coaching demo, then sign up using this link.

About the Speaker

Dennis has been a contractor, consultant, strategic trainer & facilitator, development coach, and public speaker in the construction sector for over 30 years, giving a multi-faceted viewpoint to people and organizations. Dennis inspires audiences to consider the basic strategic necessity of soft skills or people skills in creating relationships and making a big profit as a corporation through his distinctive entertaining and energetic manner of presentation. He recently published a book called “Soft as Steel.” The focus of this book is on soft skills.

“It is my calling to help people in the construction sector become more successful by speaking, teaching, encouraging, and inspiring them about the importance of soft skills in our industry. Everyone in our industry has the ability to develop every element of their personality. This book will assist them in comprehending this reality and, more significantly, in formulating a plan of action,” says Dennis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Emotional Intelligence?

It describes the connection between the cognitive half of your brain, which makes rational judgments, and the emotional control section of your brain. Your senses gather information based on your experience, your surroundings, and your day-to-day activities. Emotional intelligence gives us the ability to understand how our cognitive and emotional selves interact—the friction, the ongoing friction.

What is the part of the brain that controls emotions?

The information enters your brain through a region of your brain that governs emotions, literally at the top of your spine. And so, realising that emotional intelligence gives us the ability to grasp how our intellectual and emotional selves interact—the friction, the ongoing friction—is important.

Are emotions are a sign of weakness?

If one believes that emotions are a sign of weakness, they will be hesitant to express their true self. Then they will operate from a space of fear. Vulnerability indicates a leader’s willingness to accept risks in leading others. And there’s a chance that when they read it, someone will say something in a 360 and a verbatim answer.

Is Emotional intelligence for leaders important?

You are suppressing your expressiveness, which is one of a human soul’s most basic impulses. And you’re letting fear rule your life. So that indicates you’re tapping into and feeding one of your animals, which is an unmet deficient need. So it is really important for leaders to inculcate Emotional intelligence. 

Do coach’s superior position express their emotions?

Because the coach or superior positions in an individual, or they could be equal in an organisational structure, neither is prepared to offer, “There’s a way we can maybe acquire some knowledge mutually that would help us work through this.” Coaches need to express their emotions in a manner that will help them benefit their coachee.