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Posted 3.13.07

Emotional intelligence research debunks the myth that leaders are born, not made. Since the release of Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence (1995), research, books and articles have provided additional evidence that emotional intelligence competencies such as influence, team leadership, and organizational awareness are strong indicators of exceptional leaders and teams.

How do I improve my emotional intelligence?
The best way to increase emotional intelligence competencies is with the help of a coach. But what is a coach? A "coach helps you discover your dreams, understand your strengths and gaps and your impact on others, and guides you through the steps in your learning plan" (Goleman, Primal Leadership, 2004).

Is a coach different than a mentor? "Often mentors are people higher in the organization who open doors and help with networking" (Boyatzis, Resonant Leadership, 2006). A mentor also sometimes ties development objectives to organization objectives. One of the biggest benefits of a coach is that he or she isn't tied to the organization, your friends, your family or anyone else. A coach is tied only to you and therefore supports what you want.

Because of this unique tie, a coach provides a completely unbiased view. A coach is not impacted by your decisions, your wins or your losses. The perspectives a coach provides and alternatives a coach discusses stem from the singular agenda of supporting you.

A coach also shines a light on your blind spots, or behaviors that are so much a part of yourself that you don't even see them. A recent study reported that upper level executives have inflated views of themselves when it comes to emotional intelligence. A coach can help you see what you can't already see.

One final question to ask is, "Am I coachable?" Coachability is the extent to which we hear and utilize outside input and influence. Some factors indicating coachability are:

  • I do not get defensive when people offer alternatives or disagree
  • I invite and appreciate feedback
  • I think about, process, consider, and occasionally use ideas I get from others
  • I know and can openly discuss my strengths and weaknesses
  • I handle failures well.

Are you ready for a coach?
Coaching is a relatively new profession and just about anyone can call him- or her- self a coach (or executive coach). Consider prospective coaches that have, at the very least, affiliated with a professional peer association -- this is a preliminary indication of a commitment to professionalism:

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