From corporate executives to everyday people, enhancing leadership skills is a prevalent demand for certified life coaches. It is important to note that being a successful leader isn’t just about being in a position of power. Especially in the aftermath of a global pandemic that took a toll on many, a crucial component of successful leadership lies in the practice of emotional intelligence. Popularized in the 1990s by Daniel Goleman in his book, “Emotional Intelligence”, it is the ability to identify, understand, evaluate, and regulate emotions.
Effective leaders must be able to create strong and engaging relationships while reacting appropriately to challenges and conflicts that arise along the way. In order to have the power to lead others to achieve a goal, your clients must be able to practice emotional intelligence and understand and connect with themselves and others.
Keep reading to learn about some of the characteristics of emotional intelligence that you can use to build effective leadership skills in your clients.
Motivation Will be a Key Factor When You Become a Certified Life Coach
Strong leaders have high standards and expectations for themselves, and they consciously set, review and achieve their goals. When you become a certified life coach, a primary aspect of your job will be helping clients set goals and work towards them. The motivation for your client to complete these goals comes from understanding not only what the goals are, but why they want to achieve them.
Psychologist Edwin Locke, a pioneer in the concept of the effectiveness of goal setting, conducted studies to prove not only that specific, time-bound goals led to a much higher level of success but that feedback, praise and accountability only enhanced that level of success (Locke, 1968). As a life coach, you could start with collaboratively choosing SMART goals with your client. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Start with small goals, as once your client sees some progress it will be a motivator in itself.
Developing Self-Awareness is Vital to Building Leadership Skills
Self-awareness is directly correlated with stronger leadership skills (Ashely, et al. 2012). It is the ability to remain accountable for one’s own feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. This soft skill is a key learning point within the Human Relations and Basic Communication skills section of our program. As a life coach, you’ll encounter many people who weren’t taught how to objectively understand their feelings or who learned to suppress their feelings throughout their lives. As adults, this can cause them to react emotionally and instantly, without taking the time to analyze and evaluate their feelings.
Suggesting that your client keep a journal is a powerful tool allowing them to identify and reflect on their emotions day-to-day, as well as the patterns and triggers that will become apparent over time. Have your client acknowledge their strengths, while considering what they would have done differently if they could. Working with your client to define these triggers is essential to anticipate areas they could work on. As well, they will be prepared for the next time strong emotions could arise, giving them the opportunity to practice and build their self-awareness.
Self-Regulation Transitions Leaders from Negative Reactions to Positive Responses
Self-regulation is proven to be directly associated with multiple measures of leadership (Sosik, et al. 2002). Effective leaders stay in control of their emotions, responding appropriately rather than reacting impulsively. People who are highly self-aware can manage their emotions in stressful situations and align the way they behave with their values. With this control, they can then become level-headed decision-makers and communicate with intention and clarity.
Teaching your client to use mindfulness in their daily lives will help them transition from reacting to responding. The more they practice being in the moment in situations they are in control of, the more this will reflect in their day-to-day interactions.
Social Skills are a Core Aspect of Being an Effective Leader
Complementary emotional and social skills are essential for effective leadership (Riggio & Reichard 2008). During your life coach certification, you will acquire both types of life skills required to coach others. Communicating well, working as part of a team, collaborating, building bonds, positively influencing and developing others, and being a catalyst of change are all social skills any visionary leader excels at.
Effective communication is a core social and leadership skill and will be an area that you assist many clients with. With your client, you’ll identify the areas that they wish to improve. Examples include focusing on building confidence in speaking in front of others, appropriately using body language and tone of voice, and even how to communicate during conflict or confrontation.
Empathy is One of the Most Important Factors of Being a Strong Leader
Having empathy allows a person to identify another’s feelings and demonstrate understanding with care and concern. In a study of close to 1000 US employees, empathy was rated as one of the most important leadership skills in the workplace (Van Bommel 2021). One of the key findings of the study was that employees with empathetic leaders were more engaged and productive and generally felt part of a more positive work experience (Van Bommel 2021).
Your client’s past can affect their ability to demonstrate empathy. However, empathy is a skill that can be developed. One way you can work on empathy to strengthen leadership skills is to focus on active listening. Teaching your client to pay attention by maintaining eye contact, nodding, not interrupting, and reflecting or asking questions to clarify are all active listening skills that make a person feel heard and establish empathy through emotional intelligence.
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Ashley, Greg C. and Reiter-Palmon, Roni, “Self-Awareness and the Evolution of Leaders: The Need for a Better Measure of Self-Awareness” (2012). Psychology Faculty Publications. 7.https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/psychfacpub/7
Locke, E. A. (1968). Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 3, 57-189.
Riggio, R. E., & Reichard, R. J. (2008). The emotional and social intelligences of effective leadership: An emotional and social skill approach. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23(2), 169–185. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940810850808
Sosik, J. J., Potosky, D., & Jung, D. I. (2002). Adaptive self-regulation: Meeting others’ expectations of leadership and performance. The Journal of Social Psychology, 142(2), 211–232. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224540209603896
Van Bommel, T. (2021). The power of empathy in times of crisis and beyond. Catalyst. https://www.catalyst.org/reports/empathy-work-strategy-crisis/