How Coaches Can Increase Emotional Intelligence

October 06, 2020

Hayley Hesseln, PhD, CEC and co-founder EI Advantage, tells us about how she works with emotional intelligence and through coaching. She has a commerce degree and a doctorate degree and has worked as a university professor since 1996 in the US and Canada.

Her passion is developing individuals and helping people help themselves.

Coaching is a well-defined practice whereby a trained individual will engage deeply with a client or coachee to support them in overcoming barriers, rising to challenges, and achieving goals. 

When I learned to be an executive coach, I learned the importance of “coaching the client” and not the “problem.” In fact, I was told that “it’s all about ‘getting below the waterline.’” I didn’t realize what that meant until I started to explore emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence

To help my clients get past their problems and to delve deeper into the reasons for their actions, I became certified to use the EQi 2.0/EQ360 set of tools.

More generally, I learned how to work with emotional intelligence (EI). The concept was developed in the 1980s starting with the seminal work of Reuven Bar-On, a psychologist who found there to be a strong link between emotional functioning and success. Daniel Goleman later popularized the concept and it is now widely used to explore the relationship between skills such stress tolerance, problems solving, impulse control and personal and professional success.

Understanding how we function emotionally has given me the ability to go directly “below the waterline” in a way that’s efficient and deeply effective for my clients.

So What?

As a coach I was trained to enlighten and empower my clients through pointed questioning that helps them to identify the source of their problems, and to guide them to strategies to solve such problems. In all cases I now find it is about helping my clients identify their emotions and their behaviours, and how those behaviours result in outcomes, both good and bad.

For example, I am working with a client that cannot see things realistically. She continually fails to meet deadlines because she overpromises results and thinks she can get more done than she can.

While pure coaching has trained me not to advise her what to do, my knowledge of emotional intelligence has been instrumental in helping her to identify her weakness related to reality testing. Furthermore, through my research, I’ve been able to point her toward exercises that can help her strengthen her ability to see things for what they are and not what she wants them to be.

Coaches Guide to Emotional Enhancement

The good news is that the emotional skill in my example above, and many others, can be learned.Coaching around emotional intelligence is key for getting below the waterline, for understanding the essence of your client. And while you certainly won’t solve your client’s problems for them, you can help them to help themselves enhance their strengths and bolster their weaknesses.

My research into EI led me to develop Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success, which explains why emotional intelligence is important. The volume outlines 45 exercises that have been proven to promote emotional skills.

I hope you find this guide useful as a tool in your coaching practice to help your clients go below the waterline, and to more quickly adopt strategies that can put them on the path to positive growth.

Order your copy of Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success today!