Over two decades after Daniel Goleman first published Emotional Intelligence people continue to be keenly interested in the concept. I saw evidence this week as my company sponsored a SHRM-Atlanta event. We posted a flip chart with the question “What do you think new managers need to learn most?” Event attendees placed colored dots next to their choice on a list of abilities.

How did the voting go? Developing and coaching others came in first with 14 dots.

Self awareness came in second with 12.


Personally, I have to argue for self awareness. Really, I think it trumps everything else. Self awareness, defined by Merriam-Webster as “knowledge of your own personality or character”, is a critical aspect of emotional intelligence.You have to know yourself well, your strengths and your failings, and minimize your blind spots as much as possible to communicate most effectively. Because everything depends upon quality communication. So your success in developing and coaching others will be predicated upon your level of self awareness.

You see, a leader who doesn’t listen to others will have trouble getting others to truly listen. A supervisor who withholds information, or plays favorites for mysterious reasons, will not engender trust. An executive who is moody and unpredictable will cause people to protect themselves at all cost. A manager who lacks the courage to hold people accountable fosters a climate that frustrates motivated achievers.

Can these types of leaders improve? Yes, as long as they are coachable. Are they willing to hear feedback? Can they concur with criticism? Can they see the damage, real or potential, their behavior causes? Are they willing to take steps to change? Real change takes time. Are they willing to commit to sustained practice and accountability?

If the leader is reasonably willing to do these things, then consider these three powerful steps:

Step One: Self Assessment

Complete a valid assessment that reveals both strengths and potential derailment tendencies. This can be incredibly eye opening.

Step Two: 360 Feedback

Obtain 360 feedback using a reliable instrument to get meaningful, anonymous feedback from superiors, peers, and direct reports. This can also be eye opening, and potentially ego bruising. Growth doesn’t come easily.

Step Three: Coaching

With a coach, review the personal assessment and the 360 feedback to identify major themes. Target just a couple of places where adjustments will yield the greatest impact. Identify steps to practice new behaviors. Keep up the practice. Keep meeting with the coach. Then in six months to a year, do the 360 again. Compare original scores to the new scores. I bet you’ll see progress.

This can be deeply rewarding for someone who puts forth real effort. And the people who work with the leader will always, always, appreciate the genuine, humble effort of a superior who wants to improve.

It’s because emotional intelligence is foundational to growth that we begin our manager development cohort, called Launch!, with an assessment to increase self awareness. Our first session is about understanding your own management style. Then we move into understanding others and how to manage them effectively.

Do you know managers in Atlanta who would benefit from development? We are introducing Launch! an innovative manager development cohort on October 4th. Register now for the Early Bird special. Registration closes on Sept 30. Click here to learn more: Launch!




Introducing Launch!

An innovative manager development cohort