Strengthening Emotional Intelligence During Disruptive Times

In 2018 I became certified in using the EQ-i and the EQ 360 psychometric assessment tools that support a deepened understanding of how emotions influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, maintain relationships, and cope with challenge. As part of the certification, we were encouraged to practice with trusted clients who would be understanding and compassionate in our early attempts to master the tool. As someone who has thousands of hours logged as a facilitator and coach, I assumed this would be easy. Turns out, it was harder than I had anticipated and my early attempts to make meaningful use of the tool was overshadowed by other pressing priorities. One of the gifts of setting intentions is that it gave me the courage to press reset and to identify sport leaders who might be willing to take the survey and help me hone my skills. I’m grateful to Kim Van Bruggen, the CEO of Triathlon Canada and Jackie Buckingham the CEO of Canada Artistic Swimming, for saying yes to my invitation. This blog serves to highlight the importance of investing in one’s emotional intelligence.

During our work together, we discovered how using a tool, like the EQ-i and EQ 360 allows leaders to pause, evaluate and make meaning of an often-undiscovered landscape. The inner realm is territory that clients are less familiar with, many sharing that they hadn’t ever paused to consider their emotions, nor the impact this might have on those closest to them. What we appreciated about the tool was that it gave context and language to areas that are too often left unexpressed. Jackie was deeply appreciative of what the EQ-i Report revealed and shared how knowing this gave her new-found confidence to become more expressive. “I don’t think I really assessed how much my emotions, expressed or unexpressed, impact others. This process allowed me to not only consider what I think is the right thing to do, but to also connect with my heart and ask myself important questions about how I feel, how others might feel, and to factor this into my decisions. As a result, my decision-making has become more effective and I am more satisfied with the result,” shared Jackie. During our debrief, we were able to uncover hidden beliefs and unmet needs which once revealed, left Jackie feeling relieved and excited to practice honing her EQ-i skills. “Who knew there was such rich vocabulary to describe the range of emotions one can experience? Being able to find the right word to communicate what I am feeling has been liberating and so helpful. Instead of tackling all the problems myself, I am opening myself up to others and inviting them into resolving some of the issues that are affecting us. By extending trust, I can sense and see the impact this is having on both my personal and professional relationships.” The Report itself offers a full menu for leaders to take in and digest. It can feel a bit overwhelming at first as there is a lot to take in, but this in part is alleviated once we review it together.

The journey with Kim was similar but we also included a 360 with direct reports, her Board, peers from a sample of P/TSO EDs, and family and friends. Kim was able to compare and contrast how she showed up differently with the various groups she interacted with and identified patterns that informed the leadership areas she wanted to focus on strengthening. “It was fascinating to receive the feedback from the different groups and to be completely candid, it was a vulnerable move for me to invite everyone to share their views. However, by spending time reviewing my profile, and reflecting on the questions Dina asked of me, I could begin to make connections between how I present to different groups and what I might be holding back (or not) and how that impacts others and how they see me as a leader. It’s a humbling experience and one that I believe all leaders ought to participate in as I left this experience feeling enriched and motivated to strengthen some of my EQ-i skills,” shared Kim. During our coaching sessions, we were able to make linkages between the five big emotional intelligence muscles groups and discovered how working on one area, would effectively strengthen other areas as well. If we as leaders see ourselves as a ‘work in progress’ and are open to learning and development as a lifelong principle, then using a tool like the EQ-i or EQ 360 can give you important data that can enrich your own professional and leadership development trajectory. “We had many ‘ah ha’ moments during our debriefings, had a good laugh at some, and I discovered so much more about myself, in particular as a leader, than I knew before. There were also more contemplative moments when I made profound connections to deep seeded values and beliefs that may no longer be serving me. Combined with a daily practice to help me build capacity in responding intentionally, I am feeling more confident and empowered to lead authentically.”

As their integral coach, I felt privileged to watch understanding bloom as I asked powerful questions and made linkages between their current way of being and what they were longing to do differently. I found the use of the EQ-i and EQ 360 a valuable and helpful tool for leaders wanting to better understand self, others, and their environment. As with any tool, coaches need to be mindful to not draw any conclusions or to see the tool as objective truth. Rather, the tool can serve as a beautiful entry point to generate richer conversation, cultivate meaning-making, and spark creativity. For those looking for an guide to accompany them on their inner journey, you can drop me a line at DBL@sportlaw.ca to find out about pricing, coaching programs and more.

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