EQ and Coaching

EQ and Coaching

Traditionally, leadership roles were seen as a position whose underpinning was power and authority. This command-and-control style of leadership communicated leaders did not trust their workers to solve any challenges themselves. Leaders gave orders, and the employees were expected to comply. This model relies on a hierarchical approach to leadership that has reigned throughout the corporate world for years.

Companies have transformed how they pursue and maintain customer relationships and how goods and services are delivered. Global initiatives have become increasingly prevalent. Therefore, leadership styles and techniques must evolve to adapt to the changes of a twenty-first-century corporate environment. With corporations expanding internationally, the need for cross-cultural leaders is increasing. A twenty-first-century leader must possess the traditional skills of a leader, but they also a global leader mindset. This mindset allows them to navigate across the boundaries of the organization.

Characteristics of a Leader with High Emotional Intelligence

At the World Economics’ 2009 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, several leaders acknowledged that emotional intelligence is a key characteristic for future leaders (World Economic Forum, 2009). The ability to connect emotionally is vital for leaders to become effective leaders. It helps leaders create and maintain a competitive advantage (Pinos et al., 2013). This advantage contributes to higher performance, more significant innovation, and effective time and resource management (Pinos et al., 2013).

Goleman (1998) is often quoted on the four key characteristics of a leader with high emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Leaders with these components are inclined to better understand people and their surroundings (Pinos et al., 2013).

Self-awareness is the backbone of emotional intelligence. It is often identified as the first component of emotional intelligence. There are two types of self-awareness: internal and external. Internal self-awareness is the ability to understand their feelings. They can recognize how their emotions affect them and their job performance. External self-awareness is recognizing how their actions and feelings affect others. Not only do emotionally intelligent people acknowledge their emotions, but they also understand why they feel the way they do. They can link actions to feelings (Pinos et al., 2013). Pinos et al. (2013) suggested that emotional intelligence comprises emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence. Once one becomes aware of their emotions and effects, assess the reaction with a confidant. Owning one’s emotions and reactions helps to build a more confident individual.

Today’s leaders must be willing to grow and change. Self-awareness stables a leader to make a more confident and open leader. Global leaders are most effective when they are open-minded to change (Hassanzadeh et al., 2015). If a leader is adaptable to self-reflection and peer feedback, it empowers them not to let ego get in the way. This enables the best idea to rise—even if it is not theirs.

Self-management is supported by the capability of one being self-aware. Leaders who regulate their actions effectively show high levels of self-management. They can control impulsive reactions and seldom last out or make snap decisions. These leaders a held in high esteem since they do not allow their emotions to control them.

Since modern, self-managed leaders can regulate their emotions; they have the propensity to be more results-oriented (Goleman, 1998). This self-regulation aids the team’s trust and integrity in the leader (Goleman, 1998). Results-oriented behaviors drive people to do their best (Ellis, 2013).

 Global leaders require a high level of social awareness. Having the ability to understand both the situation and those around can be difficult. However, it can be challenging for leaders to connect with the people around them without social awareness. Global leaders must be able to adapt to their surroundings to lead in a diverse environment (Pinos et al., 2013).

Lastly, relationship management builds on self-awareness and self-management. Relationship management skills are crucial for building external relationships and maintaining internal ones. It proves fruitful for leaders to anticipate their team’s and customer’s needs. Leaders can build on these intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships to stimulate creativity and orchestrate viable solutions (Pinos et al., 2013). These are all sought-out qualities in a leader, especially a cross-cultural leader.

Characteristics of a Leader as a Coach

The role of the leader has evolved from the command-and-control approach to a model that supports and guides (Ibarra, 2021). Leaders following the command-and-control approach become inundated with questions that require solutions. The leader, as a coach, acknowledges that a leader does not have all the answers and guides employees to find their solutions.

This new approach supports a holistic approach to developing leaders (Ting & Scisco, 2006). Leader coaches approach leadership with intention and purpose. They are positioned to absorb various organizational and individual inputs to make more cognitive decisions. These decisions aid in building better leaders and optimizing organizational structure.

Leaders who practice coaching seek to focus on a leader’s performance and development (Ting & Scisco, 2006). When a leader coach focuses on their performance and development, they position themselves to improve their effectiveness in their current and future positions (Ting & Scisco, 2006). Ibarra and Scoular (2021) suggested that this is accomplished through one of three methods: directive, laissez-faire, non-directive, or situational. Each method has its place; however, the goal is for the leader to become a situational coach. At this point, the leader coach should pose questions to the leader to pull creativity and innovative ideas to solve challenging problems.

As a leader coach, the holistic view may lead to a systemic perspective that repositions a high-performing leader to transition to another area of the organization to develop skills or experiences. This also may require transferring coaching to another leader within the organization. However, this promotes continuous efforts throughout the organization to build leaders (Ibarra & Scoular, 2021). Building organizational capacity takes a cultural shift in the organization.

Commonalities between Emotional Intelligence and Coaching

A coaching leader must be able to listen, question, and withhold judgment (Ibarra & Scoular, 2021). A leader as a coach draws on their self-management and social skills to mentor leaders through challenging situations and problems. Without these skills, a leader may fall back into the archaic ways of leading where they are commanding and controlling.

Organizational politics are essential to leading as a coach. It creates opportunities for informal discussions. This relationship management skill aids in influencing leaders and building connections with other organizational leaders that may prove helpful in the future (Frisch, 2011).


This paper presents the characteristics of leaders as coaches and leaders with high emotional intelligence. Additionally, the commonalities of emotional intelligence and coaching were compared. It is deduced that a leader in the 21st century must be emotionally intelligent and adopt a coaching leader mindset. When leaders are self-aware, can self-manage, build relationships, and are socially aware, they position themselves to work in cross-cultural environments. Additionally, when leaders adopt a coaching mindset, they shift the leadership perspective to build capability throughout the organization, encouraging others to model a leader’s behavior as a coach (Ibarra, 2021).


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