According to an article from Georgetown University, “leadership coaching is needed today more than ever as a critical tool for organizational change.” Increasingly, in today’s challenging public and private sector environment, almost all leaders indicate that they not only want coaching but need it. (LaBier, 2013) The question is why.
An article in Psychology Today may point to the answers. It was proposed that because of increased global competitiveness, challenging cultural dynamics, the downward trajectories in the economic environment, increased organizational turmoil and the astronomically higher levels of stress, the success rate and longevity of today’s top executives is now vastly different than that their counterparts a generation ago. In other words, top leaders can now expect less managerial success and shorter careers than their predecessors.
In the past two decades, 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have lasted less than 3 years in their positions. Top executive failure rates are as high as 75% and are rarely less than 30%. Chief executives are now lasting 7.6 years on a global average which is down from 9.5 years in 1995. And, according to the Harvard Business Review, two out of five new CEOs fail in their first 18 months on the job. It appears that the major reason for the failure has nothing to do with competence, or knowledge, or experience, but rather with hubris and ego and a leadership style which may be out of touch with the changing leadership environment in modern times.
According to Dr. Marcus Mottley in an article entitled: “Why Today’s Leaders Need Emotional Intelligence Coaching”: “The bottom line is that leaders of small and large, public or private sector organizations need help. And the kind of help they need is not in the technical arena where they are mostly competent and highly experienced. The help they need is in the area popularly called ‘soft skills’ which involves topical areas such as: interpersonal, communication and relational skills, influencing and motivational skills, awareness of and managing their own emotions, and, dealing effectively with the emotions of others, etc.“
What is the relationship between Coaching and Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI)?
Most coaching interventions try to enhance some aspect of EQ, usually under the name of social, interpersonal, or soft skills training. The rationale for this is that “whereas IQ is very hard to change, EQ can increase with deliberate practice and training.” (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013) And, according to some researchers and business leaders “emotional intelligence is one of the more under-rated business skills that need to be given more attention.” (Chen, 2013)
Daniel Goleman, a thought leader on the subject of emotional intelligence, refers to EQ as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships.” Motivation, awareness of and managing our feelings (emotions), developing effective interpersonal relationships, the ability to effectively express ourselves and enhancing our empathy for others are all domains within the context of emotional intelligence.
“Breakthroughs in brain research also show how leaders’ moods and actions have enormous impact on those they lead. A leader’s emotions can either energize or deflate an entire organization. Strong leaders make people feel good in bad times by helping them deal with negative emotions and by nourishing their positive ones so they can do what they have to do.
(Emotional Intelligence, Goleman)
A leader’s mood has the ability to inspire, arouse passion and enthusiasm and to keep people motivated and committed. Leaders who possess high levels of EI are adept at inducing desirable responses in others and are able to capture the “discretionary energy” of employees, which can impact the organization’s performance as measured by revenues and profits.
“Emotional leadership is the spark that ignites a company’s performance, creating a bonfire of success or a landscape of ashes.” (Primal Leadership, Goleman). Research has shown that a critical mass of EI capabilities has significant benefits to the bottom line by as much as 28%.
There is no question, then, that there is a link between a company’s success and the emotional intelligence of it leaders. (Grossman, 2005)
In another study reported in the “Business Case for Emotional Intelligence”, researchers looked at which of three competencies best predict leadership performance. While intellectual competence indicated a 9.2% predictability of leadership performance, and managerial skills and knowledge showed a 10.4% predictability score, emotional intelligence indicated a 13% score of predictability of leadership performance.
An article in the online blog Six Seconds summarizes the importance of emotional intelligence to leaders in this way: “Leadership is a ‘people business’ and emotional intelligence is the missing link. EI helps leaders know themselves and use their own strengths — and work with and through people effectively.” It continues that “Higher EI Leaders are more likely to make better decisions, engage and influence more effectively, and create the right mood for the job.” And Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric posits “No doubt, emotional intelligence (EI) is more rare than book smarts… but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.” (Wall Street Journal, the Four E’s, January 23, 2004).