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What is emotional intelligence coaching?

What is emotional intelligence coaching

In the field of artificial intelligence, there’s a saying: “Hard things are easy; easy things are hard.” It’s called Moravec’s Paradox. This paradox isn’t limited to AI; it’s a perfect metaphor for emotional intelligence as well.

The “hard skills” of business—finance, data analysis, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and strategic thinking—are the easy part. They can be taught, measured, and mastered with enough time and effort.

But the “soft skills” of business—leadership, sales, communication, flexibility, persuasion, collaboration, negotiation, and deeply human skills like empathy and resilience—those are the hardest skills. They’re the ones that are truly people-related. They’re challenging to train for, and costly to get wrong.

So, how do you help your clients master these crucial, yet elusive skills? The answer lies in emotional intelligence coaching. In this article, we’re going to dive deep into what emotional intelligence coaching is and how you can use it to help your clients transform their lives in ways they never thought possible. Let’s get started.

Emotional intelligence definition

First, let’s look at what emotional intelligence really means.

Emotional intelligence, or EI, is the ability to recognise, understand, manage, and effectively use emotions—both in yourself and in others. This concept, brought to the forefront by psychologists like Daniel Goleman, isn’t just a trendy buzzword; it’s the bedrock of personal and professional success.

How emotional intelligence relates to coaching

But emotional intelligence coaching isn’t just about managing emotions—it’s about developing the skills that lead to extraordinary success. This kind of coaching hones critical abilities like self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

By working on these areas, individuals don’t just improve—they transform. They become better leaders, more effective communicators, and incredibly resilient.

Pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it?

Benefits of emotional intelligence coaching

Emotional intelligence coaching has serious benefits:

  • Improved leadership and management abilities: Leaders with high EI don’t just manage—they inspire. They make better decisions and create teams that thrive.
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration: EI coaching transforms communication and fosters an environment where teamwork flourishes and collaboration is seamless.
  • Better stress management and resilience: Understanding and managing emotions means handling stress with grace and bouncing back from setbacks stronger than ever.
  • Increased self-confidence: By uncovering their true strengths and addressing their weaknesses, individuals experience a surge in confidence and self-belief.
  • Strengthened personal and professional relationships: With heightened empathy and social skills, relationships—both personal and professional—become deeper, more meaningful, and incredibly productive.

Key aspects of emotional intelligence coaching

Self-awareness

Self-awareness is about digging deep and truly understanding your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values. When you recognise how your emotions shape your thoughts and behaviour, you become more present and fully engaged in the coaching process.

I once coached a senior executive who was preparing for a high-level negotiation, and I asked her, “Are you scared, or do you just think you should be scared?”

She looked a little confused and then a little surprised. She smiled as she slowly responded, “I just think I should be scared…”

That’s because most people aren’t as scared as they think they are. Once you understand fear, you can help your clients understand that fear is often a sign that you are heading in the right direction, or that your fears are often just the voices of your ancestors trying to keep you safe, or even that fear is sometimes a sign that you’re not dreaming big enough!

Having self awareness and understanding of emotion can help your clients achieve their goals.

Self-regulation

Self-regulation is all about managing your emotions, especially when the going gets tough. It’s about staying in control, maintaining your composure, and being adaptable in the face of changing circumstances.

The physicist and brilliant thinker Richard Feynman once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.” This wisdom holds true for everyone—from billionaires to undergraduates, from startup founders to seasoned entrepreneurs.

Self-regulation is also the key to avoiding self-deception and maintaining a clear, honest view of who you are and what you’re capable of.

I once worked with a client who was a high-powered executive. He was brilliant, but he had a tendency to lose his cool in high-pressure situations. His lack of self-regulation was affecting his performance and his team’s morale.

During our sessions, we focused on developing his self-regulation skills. We explored techniques for managing his stress and maintaining his composure. One particularly stressful day, he found himself on the brink of a meltdown.

But this time, instead of reacting, he paused. He remembered our discussions, took a deep breath, and chose a different response. He stayed calm and addressed the situation with clarity and control.

This shift didn’t just improve his performance; it transformed his entire approach to leadership. He became more flexible and adaptable, able to navigate challenges with grace. His team noticed the change, and it had a ripple effect on the entire organisation.

Motivation

Motivation in the context of emotional intelligence coaching is about harnessing your emotions to pursue goals with energy and persistence. It’s about fostering a growth mindset and maintaining a positive outlook, even when faced with setbacks.

A remarkable client of mine had an impressive track record as an executive, building extraordinary businesses for others. When she transitioned into coaching, she faced significant setbacks. Despite her experience, she struggled to see her true value and found herself stuck.

During our coaching sessions, we focused on her intrinsic motivation and cultivating a growth mindset. I helped her realise that with over two decades of experience, she wasn’t just a ‘new’ coach. Clients weren’t paying for a novice; they were investing in her 20+ years of expertise and talent.

One day, she decided to test this newfound perspective. She returned to a client who was paying $30,000 for her coaching services. She helped this client dream bigger than ever before and put a new $100,000 offering on the table. The client immediately said yes.

That moment was transformative. She secured her first $100K client, not by changing what she offered, but by changing her mindset and recognising her true worth.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s a skill that’s crucial for building strong relationships and managing interpersonal interactions effectively.

Success brings with it traps and temptations—the Isolation Trap, the Busyness Trap, the Emptiness Trap, and the Comfort Trap. As you climb higher, it becomes all too easy to surround yourself with people who admire you and think like you.

Let me tell you about a client who faced this exact challenge. He was incredibly successful, surrounded by people who constantly agreed with him. At first, it felt like validation, but over time, it led to poor decision-making and stagnation.

We focused our coaching on developing his empathy. I encouraged him to genuinely connect with his team, to listen deeply, and to understand their viewpoints. This wasn’t easy—it required him to step out of his comfort zone and face some hard truths.

But as he practised empathy, something amazing happened. He started to make better decisions. He became more grounded and connected. His relationships improved, and so did his leadership.

Empathy helped him avoid the traps of success and stay connected to what truly mattered. It wasn’t just about understanding others—it was about creating a space where different perspectives could thrive, leading to richer, more innovative outcomes.

Social skills

Developing effective communication skills, conflict resolution strategies, and the ability to work well in teams are all critical components of ever-growing social skills. This is about improving interpersonal effectiveness and building strong networks.

About four years ago, a client walked into my session and said, “I don’t know what to be coached on today…” Those words are music to my ears, especially when working with top performers. It means we have a blank canvas.

This client was an Air Force veteran with a background in aerospace. As we chatted, with no agenda and no pressing problem to solve, I started to mess with her thinking. I listened deeply, asked provocative questions, and challenged her to see beyond her current perspective.

During our conversation, something shifted. A question I asked sparked a new idea. That spark led her to co-found an exponential technology company. Fast forward to today, that company has earned a billion-dollar valuation.

This transformation wasn’t just about a single insight. It was about developing her social skills—how she communicated her vision, resolved conflicts within her team, and built a network of supporters and collaborators. These skills were instrumental in turning an idea into a groundbreaking success.

How to apply EI principles to your coaching business

Emotional intelligence coaching is a deeply personal journey that’s delivered through one-on-one sessions, immersive group workshops, or dynamic online programs. This journey often begins with assessments to identify growth areas, followed by setting meaningful goals, personalised feedback, and practical exercises.

To weave EI principles into your coaching business, here’s what I recommend:

  • Asking insightful questions: The magic often starts with a question. Use open-ended questions to spark self-discovery and insight. These moments of introspection are where real transformation begins.
  • Creating an honest feedback loop: Constructive feedback is an art. Be honest and specific, yet compassionate. Promote growth and development by creating a safe space for clients to receive and act on feedback.
  • Setting realistic goals: Help clients set realistic, achievable goals. Focus on the journey, developing actionable plans that inspire and are attainable. Celebrate small victories to build momentum and confidence.

 

Imagine a client stepping into a session, weighed down by unspoken challenges and untapped potential. Through insightful questions, honest feedback, and realistic goal-setting, you can help them peel back the layers, reveal their true capabilities, and guide them towards extraordinary outcomes.

This is the essence of emotional intelligence coaching—it’s powerful, transformative, and profoundly human.

Improve your coaching skills with the Elite Coaching Scorecard

It’s astounding what you can accomplish with heightened self-awareness, better self-regulation, increased motivation, deeper empathy, and enhanced social skills. These are the qualities that not only transform individuals but also elevate coaching practices to new heights.

Emotional intelligence is the key to unlocking your potential and achieving remarkable success in every area of your life.

Take the Elite Coaching Scorecard to discover your unique coaching profile based on the 4Cs Framework: Confidence, Coaching Skills, Client Skills, and Cash Creation Skills. This gives insight into how you can elevate your coaching practice.

 

 

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  1. Rich Litvin’s 1:1 Coaching Playbook: Learn my top 10 proven tools for coaching elite clients in this self-paced training. 
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  4. Join my newest program, “Million Dollar Team.” Learn how to build and empower your team of top performers. Or learn how to coach clients who are leaders and entrepreneurs that need a proven framework to guide them as they scale their team. 

 

 

 

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