Coaching Emotionally Intelligent Teams

I’m studying Building High-Performing Teams on Coursera. These are my revision notes for week 4.


  • When teams are more aware of team dynamics, there is a better correlation with financial results
  • Self-awareness is a critical part of emotional intelligence

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

  • Emotional intelligence can be improved by coaching and training
  • Those who are more emotionally intelligent are higher performing
  • Improving EI is not easy, as it invovles questioning your assumptions, and getting into better habits
  • EI trains the limbic systems (feelings, impulses, and drives)
  • Many company training involves the neocortex (analytical and technical ability)
  • To be more effective, training should address the limbic system.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

  • Goleman’s dimensions:
    • Intrapersonal (internal) skills:
      • Self-awareness
      • Self-regulation
      • What personally motivates you
    • Interpersonal (external) skills
      • Empathy
      • Social skills
  • Exercise:
    1. Imagine your ideal self
      • Think about what’s missing from your life
      • Think about how your mood affects others
      • Imagine yourself in 5 years time
      • You’re about to write in your journal, answer the following quesions about yourself in 5 years time:
        • What are you doing?
        • Where do you live?
        • Who is there?
        • What does it feel like?
    2. Come to terms with your real self
      • Test of self awareness
      • Ask your team and colleages for feedback
    3. Create an action plan to bridge the gap between real and ideal
      • Collect weekly written anonymous feedback about how your mood affects other people
      • Write in a behaviour journal
      • Attend a class on group dynamics
      • Use a trusted colleage as a behavioural coach
    4. Practice the plan
      • During your commute, think about to a recent difficult interaction. How would your ideal self have handled the situation
    5. Create a community of supporters
      • Change enforcers: a group of trusted advisors who can motivate you to change mental habits.
  • If doing this exercise in a team, remember that the converstatins should be treated as confidential
  • Debrief questions
    • How did the exercise go?
    • Was there anything that resonated with you as you completed this exercise?
    • What there anything that surprised you as you completed this exercise?
    • What strategies will you use to develop new habits in the next 1 week / 1 month / 1 year

Mindfulness Strategies

  • Mindfulness: awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally (what’s on your mind?)
  • Mindfulness practices help foster high performance as a coach
  • Mindfulness techniques:
    • basic breath meditation
    • body awareness
  • NBA coach Phil Jackson:
    • Get all players to synchronize their breath together.
    • Far more effective than simply talking to one another about strategy
    • One lesson equals one mind
    • Pay attention to non-verbal cues on your team
  • Michael Jordan, on mindfulness:
    • developed better self-awareness
    • better leadership skills
    • improved relationships with other teammates
    • help him realise his effect on group dynamics

Google’s Search Inside Yourself

  • One key component for high performing teams: psychological safety
  • Psychological safety is built when you train people in 3 skills:
    • self awareness
    • self management
    • empathy
  • Improving mindfulness techniques:
    1. Attention training
      • use mindfulness techniques to create a calm, clear quality of mind
    2. Self knowledge and self mastery
      • turn attention inwards
      • develop high resolution perception into their own cognitive and emotive processes
      • learn to view own thoughts and feelings from an objective third person perspective
    3. Creating useful mental habits
      • Habit of treating everyone with sincere good will
      • Helps facilitate interpersonal relationships
      • Helps develop empathy
  • Good results!
    • “I have completely changed in the way I react to stressors. I take the time to think through things and empathise with other people’s situations before jumping to conclusions”
  • Neuro self-hacking and organisation hacking
  • Mindful breathing exercise:
    • Improve own attention
    • Help others by guiding them through this exercise
    • Recommend taking 10 minutes
    • Steps:
      1. Sit in an upright position on a chair, cushion or floor
      2. Bring consistent attention to your breath for 2 minutes
        • Fully focus on the breath.
        • You will naturally get distracted, but when you notice that you’re distracted, that is a moment of awareness
        • Gently guide your tension back to the movement of breathing
        • Is the breath deep or shallow? Fast of slow? Smooth or jagged?
    • The more you practice, you will find your abilty to pay attention to the present moment gets stronger over time

Mindful Coaching and Feedback Conversations

  • Active listening: you’re fully paying attention to the person speaking to you
  • Looping: echo back to the person what you think they said, and verify understanding
  • Dipping: check in with yourself to see if you’re really paying attention to the other person
  • In discussing difficult issues, checking in with y ourself and your conversation partner on an emotional level is critical
  • People fear giving or receiving feedback, because of the possibility of receiving critical feedback
  • This leads to procrastination, denial, brooding, jealousy, self sabotage
  • Make it a habit to solicit feedback regularly, instead of waiting for issues to arise
  • 4 step process to adapt a feedback:
    1. Recognise your fear and the maladaptive behaviour that results
      • develop self awareness
    2. Reframe the feedback in a positive light
      • Every strength has a shadow side (e.g. creative versus detail oriented)
    3. Break up the task
    4. Use incentives
      • Keep a daily accomplishments journal
  • Feedforward: focusesd on future improvements rather than past mistakes
    • The person giving feedforward offers help
  • 15 minute feedforward exercise:
    • One on one conversation, switch between giving and receiving feedforward
    • Choose one behaviour thay hope to change that would make a significant positive difference in their lives
    • Describe that behaviour to random participants
    • Giver of feedforward provides 2 suggestions for the future that might help the person asking for feedforward
    • Receiver of feedforward takes notes and listens without interjecting
    • No feedback, only feedforward!
    • Express thanks at the end

Overview of Verisk Analytics

  • Verisk is a leading data analytics provider in insurance, natural resources, financial services, govenment and risk management
  • Specialises in predictive analytics and data driven support solutions
  • Committed to a culture of diversity and inclusion, and professional grow of people
  • Core values of employees:
    1. A committment to excellence and professional growth
    2. Personal integrity
    3. Enthusiasm for challenging work
    4. A desire to contribute capabilities to a successful team
  • Three principles of the Verisk Way:
    1. Serve
    2. Add value
    3. Innovate
  • Company went public in 2009. Has since bought out 11 other companies

Interview with Renee Torchia

  • Renee Torchia:
    • vice president of talent strategy and culture at Verisk Analytics
    • background as an anthropologist and change management consultant
  • Restructure of ISO (subsidiary) to more closely align with their customers
  • Big change initiative, last restructure was 18 years prior
  • Long tenure employees, who had been there from before changed to a for-profit company
  • Moved from siloed org to matrix model
  • Broke apart teams that had been there for a long time (some over 10 years)
  • Previous KPI was 100% excellence
    • very conservative and risk averse
  • More detail on breaking apart long lived teams (“families”)
    • family feel to the culture of their team

Feedforward Forbes

  • Stop Giving Feedback, Instead Give Feedforward
    1. Feedforward Coaching focuses on goals, not standards
    2. Feedforward Coaching includes career guidance
    3. Feedforward Coaching includes various data points, not just one manager’s opinion
    4. Feedforward Coaching takes place throughout the year, not arbitrarily annually

Five Tips on Coaching for Emotional Intelligence

  • Five Tips on Coaching Emotional Intelligence
    1. Continuous improvement of your own emotional intelligence
    2. Personal mastery of vision and values
    3. Strong personal relationships with your direct reports
    4. Frequent spontaneous coaching
    5. Structured conversations when spontaneous coaching doesn’t get the job done

Interview with Chade Meng-Tan

One thought on “Coaching Emotionally Intelligent Teams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s