Provide the Right Tools

We’ve talked about four secrets to a successful EQ development program. To review, you have to prepare the ground, participation has to be voluntary so that people are engaged, privacy must be guaranteed, and you have to tackle issues that mean something to your client and the organization. Today let’s talk about the fifth secret:

  1. Provide the right learning tools.

Changing deeply ingrained behavior is tricky business. Just telling someone who isn’t assertive to be more assertive isn’t helpful. What is helpful is having the tools needed to make it happen.

One tool is access to expertise in behavior change, and that’s where you come in. Such expertise is useful in providing leaders with guided practice in EQ skills in the real world, and feedback and support when the going gets rough. Experienced coaches will know how to respond to setbacks, and to ask challenging but motivating questions — and do all of this without creating dependency or discouragement.

Other tools might include information about key EQ skills — what they mean, what impact they have on leadership abilities, and which ones, if they’re lacking, can derail a career. Though intellectual knowledge alone won’t give a person EQ, it’s a good tool in the quest.

Finally, there are structured ways to create EQ-smart strategies for tasks such as leading a high-stakes meeting to get needed results. Goals, logs, and timelines are helpful for charting developmental progress and keeping it on track. There are practical exercises that can be designed for developing specific EQ skills in the workplace, such as those provided in the EQ Leader Program.

Meaningful change is hard. Two additional things can make it easier. One is strong organizational support. If most peers are participating, they tend to support each other. Don’t be shy about mentioning this to your client organizations as you set things up. The other is recognizing that while everyone has developmental opportunities when it comes to EQ, everybody also has strengths. These strengths can be used to help build needed skills. A good coach, in concert with a good assessment instrument, plus effective strategies for practicing new skills, can help participants discover and leverage theirs.

For example, say your client is a talented CEO, especially skilled in the art of relationships. But he has trouble getting his executive team to do what he needs them to do. Assessment shows that his key EQ weakness is assertiveness. His team doesn’t know what he wants them to do, because he isn’t sufficiently clear. Your approach to coaching might utilize exercises, insights, feedback, and support, all focused on helping him build assertiveness in his real world. The fact that people like him will help them respond positively to his initially clumsy efforts. Over time, he has the potential to become quite skilled, getting the responses from his team that he wants.

Next time, we’ll talk about secret number six.

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