Emotional intelligence: High on emotion

Some coaches argue that the most appropriate forms of the art in current times are ones that use emotional intelligence. Isn’t that a bit touchy-feely?

Hype and doubt are the enemies of coaching, and never more so than during the current downturn, when organisations have high expectations of a method that could ultimately improve performance and the bottom line, yet simultaneously raise concerns that it could also consume vast amounts of time and money.

One approach that could help to provide structure and targets for coaching is to incorporate the measures and objectives of emotional intelligence (EI).

“EI is the set of emotional and social skills that enable you to cope with everyday demands and pressures,” says EI expert practitioner Geetu Bharwaney, founder and managing director of Ei World, a specialist provider of emotional intelligence programmes, coaching and assessments.

High achievers

She explains that when coaching is focused on EI, it is based on the coachee’s attitudes, which inform both the coaching objectives and approach. She uses this method for high achievers who have been earmarked in talent management programmes, and in leadership development coaching for CEOs, senior managers and technical specialists.

Emotional intelligence is measured via emotional quotient (EQ) and through the emotional quotient inventory known as EQi (see ‘Measuring emotional quotient’ below).

Bharwaney says she always uses EI assessment as a starting point for coaching. “Coaching can be very subjective because it can mistakenly be about what the coachee thinks is the issue, or be based on a perception of that,” she says, “whereas coaching using a well validated and reliable EI assessment tool is a much clearer starting point and measurement of the endpoint, because the coach is able to work with baseline data.”

A clear start and end point

Bharwaney also says the use of EI and EQi starts the coaching off on a positive basis. “This type of coaching is evidence and process-based,” she says. “It means that work with clients has a clear start and end point.”

Others feel the tough economic environment will act as a catalyst for further growth in the application of emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence is about personal and interpersonal effectiveness,” says Georgina Woudstra, co-CEO of Wisdom8 consultancy, “and it has never been more of an issue than now.” She sees EI’s role as an aid to strategic thinking and impulse control.

Woudstra says she has experienced an increase in demand for EI programmes for boards and top teams recently, and has worked with them on their management styles, receptiveness to new ideas and how senior people and their organisations relate to customers.

“EI often comes up because people have spent their time developing their intellect, but neglecting their emotional capacity, which they need to be able to execute ideas at a time when things are changing every five minutes,” she says.

Although EI may be relevant to improving individual performance in stressful times, the crowded marketplace can be hard to decipher.

“There are some cowboys,” says president of the Institute for Applied Emotional Intelligence (IAEI), Tim Sparrow, “but there is no regulatory body.” His tip for buyers is that good EI practitioners will themselves display emotional intelligence: “for example, they do not spend their time running down the competition”, he says.

The IAEI offers certification in EI which has been accredited by Middlesex University and hopes to acquire chartered status. Another reputable body is The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organisations. This organisation for best practice is co-chaired by two of the best known names in EI: Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Ontelligence – why it can matter more than IQ) and Cary Cherniss, an expert in EI workplaces. Members include large corporates which class EI as a competency or use it in recruitment criteria, and practitioners who have published work in the field.

Measuring emotional quotient

Bharwaney starts and ends a coaching relationship with an emotional quotient inventory (EQi). It provides a summary of total EQ, the five major categories of EQ (intrapersonal, interpersonal, stress management, adaptability and general mood) and 15 sub-components. She stresses that coaching should be structured. “I recommend 12 hours of one-to-one coaching in units of two hours over six months.”

At the end of the coaching contract the coachee is re-assessed using the EQi as part of four levels of evaluation (Reaction Learning Behaviour Change and Results), based on Donald Kirkpatrick’s work on evaluating learning.

Bharwaney, who is speaking about Emotional Intelligence at the CIPD Coaching at Work conference on 25 November, says ‘reaction’ involves simply measuring customer satisfaction with the coaching ‘learning’ assesses the level of customer satisfaction with the coaching ‘behaviour change’ is measured through diary analysis and a mini 360-degree feedback, while ‘results’ are measured by tracking direct business results, and also with EQ repeat assessment.

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