How to Sell Emotional Intelligence to Leaders | College of Executive Coaching
Coaching Article

How to Sell Emotional Intelligence to Leaders

April 13, 2022
By Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., MCC

Learn more about Emotional Intelligence and Coaching and the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 Certification

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a person's ability to know themselves and understand others, as well as to manage themselves and manage their relationships with others. In the workplace, or one's personal life, this factor can make or break your overall success.

Whether you're an internal coach in an organization, or an independent coach building your coaching practice, you would probably like some tips to effectively sell emotional intelligence assessment and development as an important strategy for success.

How to Sell Emotional Intelligence to Leaders

Sometimes though it is difficult to "close the sale." There could be several reasons for this challenge. First, not all leaders fully appreciate the concept of emotional intelligence and its profound impact on bottom line results. Some leaders are turned off by the phrase "emotional intelligence" and think it is not relevant, that emotions are extraneous to their core focus, which they would say is conducting "business". Furthermore, they may say that emotional intelligence is fluff (see our article on the business case for emotional intelligence). Moreover, some leaders have heard of emotional intelligence but may simply think it is a fad or "a flavor of the month."

Two key steps to involve leaders in emotional intelligence development and follow-up coaching is to first, investigate their underlying needs, and second, be able to speak to them about the practical bottom line usefulness of emotional intelligence refinement.

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The first step in any good coaching or consulting relationship is to investigate the underlying needs of the potential client. Steven Covey called this, "seek first to understand" in his groundbreaking book, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. You need to understand what the client wants to accomplish, what their needs or dreams are, to ensure you are being most helpful to them.

Emotional intelligence development will be used if the client's goals are, for example, related to team building, getting a promotion, avoiding derailment, leading more effectively or being considered more of a peak performer.

Here are some of the areas in which the EQ-i2.0 assessment (my favorite of the validated emotional intelligence assessments) has commonly been used by coaches as part of their executive coaching process:

  • Leadership development
  • Succession planning
  • Self-awareness building
  • High potential development
  • Team effectiveness and team building
  • Management development

Let's say you want to use the EQ-i2.0 as part of a leadership development process in an organization. How would you use it?

Here is how some of my experienced coach colleagues responded to that question:

"I would administer the EQ-i2.0 to all participants in my executive coaching group or 'emerging leader' program."

"I would determine which EQI subscales are more critical than others in their role and create coaching questions or learning sessions that would be helpful to these leaders."

Here is another question I asked several of my experienced coach colleagues, "How do you sell the benefits of the EQ-i2.0 to a leader?"

Answer: "I show them that the emotional intelligence assessment will give us more information about where a person is related to a particular emotional intelligence competency. So, if the leader has determined that 'flexibility" or "impulse control" is essential for success in their role, then we can get validated feedback from the assessment that will help us ask the most appropriate questions in coaching sessions and potentially help them see that focusing on refinements in this area will be valuable for their success."

Of course, as coaches we don't want to rely only on assessment results, we want to clarify that although assessments are one source of information, the coach must also rely on their observations, stakeholder feedback, and potentially other assessments. Ideally, we make sure that information gleaned from an assessment is validated through conversation with the client and other sources of data.

Recently I asked a group of experienced coaches, "what are some of the specific uses of the EQI2.0 assessment, with corresponding executive coaching, that they have pitched to organizations or potential coaching clients". Here are the top answers:

  • "Succession planning for a promotion or a high potential development opportunity — you can use the EI assessment to determine where an employee is currently compared to the most important competencies and skills needed for success in the desired role. Then we use the assessment results to help determine where to focus to increase their chances of success once promoted."
  • "Developing enhanced self-awareness. I utilize the EQ-i2.0 to expand self-awareness for clients, and to have more accurate self-assessment, which will help them focus their coaching goal selection and development in coaching conversations."
  • "Executive coaching and management development. I administer the EQ-i2.0 assessment at the beginning of a coaching or training process in order to help the client choose particular EI areas they feel are important to focus on for their most important organizational goals, then we build that into their coaching development plan."
  • "Team effectiveness — Increasing numbers of organizations are using the EQ-i2.0 with teams in order to help build self-awareness; focus on areas that the group needs to develop based on emotional intelligence factors that they need to refine in order to be more successful in their particular roles."

Whether your potential clients seek confidential executive coaching assistance or a leadership development program for their high potentials, an emotional intelligence assessment is often a valuable addition to your program enabling a deeper conversation on factors that will lead to greater success.

Do you want to become certified in the EQ-i 2.0 assessment to have an additional benefit you can offer your clients?

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