Spanning almost 40 years, my career in the world of business and IT encompassed many management and leadership roles, and a specialization in the field of project and program management – as a practitioner and a consultant.

My experience taught me that effective leadership and management is the critical success factor which determines an organisation’s success or failure. My coaching studies and subsequent research were focused on developing a keen understanding of the skills, competencies and attributes required to be an effective leader or manager. As noted earlier, I learned that the key differentiator between effective leaders and others is their level of emotional intelligence (EQ or Emotional Quotient).

Why is that? No leader or manager can deliver an organisation’s objectives without people who are supportive and committed to the same objectives, and it is via effective relationship management – a main indicator of EQ, and now in the hybrid workplace more important than ever – that the required performance is obtained.

The good news is that unlike IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which is more or less static, EQ can be developed and improved. I have found that coaching is an excellent process through which to increase EQ, and have observed a noticeable improvement in every one of my clients in this area regardless of the specific coaching goals they set out to achieve.

The coaching services I provide are therefore geared generally towards enhancing leadership and management effectiveness, and specifically towards enabling my clients to become more effective in their respective roles.

This is achieved primarily by enhancing my client’s soft skills, by raising self-awareness and the ability to self-regulate, by increasing social awareness and empathy (understanding others), and thereby enhancing the relationship management competency. It is also achieved by identifying my client’s specific areas for development and actively working towards improvement in each area, for examples prioritisation, delegation, self-organisation and time management, communication, work-life balance, and stress management, to name just a few.

According to Daniel Goleman, who wrote “Emotional Intelligence” (1995) – the best-selling social science book of all time, it is described as follows:

    • Knowing what you are feeling and being able to handle those feelings without having them swamp you;
    • Being able to motivate yourself to get jobs done, be creative and perform at your peak; and
    • Sensing what others are feeling, and handling relationships effectively.

The core EQ competencies defined by Goleman are:

    • Self-awareness: knowing one’s internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions;
    • Emotional management or self-regulation: the ability to manage one’s own internal states, impulses and controls; it involves self-monitoring, which allows the individual to adjust his behaviour according to external, situational factors;
    • Self-motivation: involves the control of emotional tendencies that facilitate reaching one’s goals;
    • Social awareness or empathy, an awareness of other people’s feelings; and
    • Social skills or relationship management: adeptness at handling interpersonal relationships.

Particularly relevant is the fact that IQ is static, whereas EQ can be enhanced.


Impact of Covid-19 on the workplace

It seems that the hybrid workplace is here to stay, and that in order to foster organizational success in this new working environment leaders and managers need to be equipped to adapt in order to be effective. A greater focus on empathy and individual well-being, on fostering a culture of trust, transparency and openness, and on building resiliency are all required. Human leaders who are authentic, empathetic, adaptive and courageous are required, and a primary way of developing and/or enhancing these attributes and competencies is via coaching.


According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), “The world’s response to COVID-19 has resulted in the most rapid transformation of the workplace. Working from home has become the new normal, and we’ve gone from digitizing the relationship between firm and customer to digitizing the relationship between employer and employee.” (5 Ways COVID has Changed Workforce Management, June 2020)

With regard to leadership, the publication identifies the need to change leadership and management competencies. “In tandem with honing digital skills and an improved infrastructure, it is necessary that corporate culture and leadership skills focus on empathy as transformation and disruptions become the new normal.”

It further states that a culture of trust, transparency and openness is required. “This period has required us all to be supportive of one another, as we all face uncertainty. Control has to some extent given way to trust. People are learning how to do work disparately and with far less oversight: they are learning ‘on the job’ what works and what doesn’t work at home, and holding virtual meetings that might have happened before but never to such an extent. We are more consistently in touch with each other, and this has become a time of connection”.

The publication suggests that a greater focus on individual well-being is required, noting that there has been a significant increase in people suffering from anxiety and depression in the post-COVID world. Greater employee support, and in particular building resilience is a key priority. “Resilience considerations will rebalance a company’s priorities and become just as important to strategic thinking as cost and efficiency.”

Gartner’s report “Future of Work Trends Post Covid-19” (June 2022) predicts the following:

  • Hybrid work becomes mainstream: create a new, human-centric model for the hybrid environment by designing work around employee-driven flexibility, culture connectedness and human leadership.
  • Employee well-being is a key metric: deliver on well-being as part of your employee value proposition to attract and retain talent.
  • Turnover will increase:  employee turnover will continue to increase because the emotional costs of leaving the organization are lower when hybrid and because there’s more choice in employers when location is no longer a factor. To combat this sustained turnover, connect hybrid employees to the organization’s culture and invest in talent processes to expand employee networks. 
  • Managers’ roles are changing: with fewer opportunities for spontaneous in-person interactions in the workplace, managers need to be more intentional in establishing and developing relationships with their team members. The manager-employee relationship is critical in shaping the employee experience and connection to the organization. Managers need to be provided with the proper tools to become human leaders and manage employees’ career perceptions, well-being and connection to organizational culture. 

In Gartner for HR’s publication “Evolve Culture & Leadership for the Hybrid Workplace” (2022), it is suggested that one key area in which organizations need to evolve their approach is equipping leaders: effective hybrid leaders are human leaders who are authentic, empathetic and adaptive to individual employees. The approach recommended to overcoming leader doubt, fear and uncertainty is to build courage and eliminate fear through coaching and training.

The importance of Leadership EQ now more than ever

Even prior to the Covid pandemic, the common conclusion which emerged from research undertaken roughly in the last two decades indicates that the key differentiator between effective, transformational leaders and the rest is emotional intelligence.

As per the World Economic Forum’s and Gartner’s publications referred to above, now more than ever enhancement of management and leadership EQ competencies is required in order to navigate through the changed business landscape effectively.


Pre-Covid research outcomes show that:

  • Key leadership skills and perspectives are related to aspects of emotional intelligence, and the absence of emotional intelligence was related to career derailment. A study by the Centre for Creative Leadership (2003) found that higher levels of emotional intelligence are associated with better performance in participative management, putting people at ease, building and mending relationships, and confronting problem employees.
  • UCLA research indicates that only 7% of leadership success is attributable to intellect; 93% of success comes from trust, integrity, authenticity, honesty, creativity, presence, and resilience (cited in Cooper and Sawaf, 1996); and
  • An analysis of more than 300 top executives from 15 global companies showed that 6 emotional competencies distinguished the stars from the average: Influence, Team Leadership, Organisational Awareness, Self-confidence, Achievement Drive, and Leadership (Spencer, L.M. Jr., 1997).

The following selected research reports and articles further support the current prevailing view that leadership EQ is more important now than ever before.

WEF Future of Jobs Report 2020

  • Skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years. The top skills which employers see as rising in prominence in the lead up to 2025 include emotional intelligence including self-management competencies such as resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, and leadership and social influence.
  • Despite the current economic downturn, the large majority of employers recognize the value of human capital investment. An average of 66% of employers surveyed expect to get a return on investment in upskilling and reskilling within one year.


European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (July 2021)

  • Autonomy and responsibility

Remote work has brought about increased autonomy for employees, and this may remain a permanent feature of the labour market post-COVID-19. While in the long run increased remote work has the potential to improve productivity and a range of other economic and social indicators (e.g. wellbeing, gender, regional equality, housing, emissions), its overall impact carries risks, particularly in terms of innovation and employee satisfaction. Many workers report ‘hidden overtime’ brought about by blurred lines between their work and personal lives. To limit this, workers must be adept at self-management. They should be able to draw boundaries, maximise their productivity within working hours, and take responsibility where relevant, whilst also taking their allocated breaks and personal time off in order to avoid burnout.

  • Emotional intelligence and empathy

The COVID-19 crisis has had an enormous impact on those who have lived through it. As a result, many people may be experiencing increased stress related to high workloads, financial strains, problems with their own health or that of a loved one, bereavement, and lack of childcare, among many other things. As a result, individuals that are able to show concern for other’s experiences, whilst also balancing responsibility for the quality of their work, are more valuable than ever.


Anna Gordon, The Coaching Pod

  • EQ and Leadership

High EQ is an indicator of great communications skills, well-honed interpersonal skills, a mentoring and, sometimes coaching ethos, and resilience. Emotionally intelligent people are always curious and seek progress, not perfection in themselves and in others, and have the ability to handle ambiguity and failure in a positive way with a growth mindset. We have all known ineffective or toxic leaders and one of the core things they all lack is strong EQ. Leaders need to be present, offer transparency, empathy, accountability, and model resilience.

This pandemic has caused unprecedented crises for all business sectors and in this Covid-19 Economy, how you show up as a leader and are able to communicate with remote teams, providing psychological safety, empathy and focused leadership is key to your effectiveness. In times of ambiguity, you need to be present, make agile decisions, communicate clearly and consistently what needs to happen, and be comfortable pivoting when things go wrong. You also need to be able to show compassion for your Team’s needs, and understanding for the fact that their world has changed too in many different and unforeseen ways.

Emotionally intelligent leadership means being confident, and vulnerable. This may seem paradoxical but it isn’t really. One of the hardest things leaders, especially new ones, have to transition, is the mindset of doer to leader. In order to leverage the value and talents of their team, they must delegate when necessary and trust people, with some guidance, to step up to the challenge. This allows leaders to focus on essential strategic priorities whilst developing and nurturing their team’s talents. Emotionally Intelligent leaders also practice self-care and self-leadership. You cannot pour from an empty cup; before you can manage and lead anyone else, you need to be able to manage and lead yourself.

How does the coaching relationship enhance leadership effectiveness?

In terms of characteristics, soft competencies and abilities, it is my experience that there is little difference between the requirements of a leader and a manager. Therefore exploring what constitutes effective leadership in general is equally applicable and relevant to any type of management, be it general management or something specific like project management.

It is a given that the leader/manager must have the necessary hard skills required of the role, which is usually context-specific (for examples financial management, marketing management, IT management, project management, and so on). These skills are usually obtained via appropriate education, training and experience.

The key differentiator between ineffectual and effective leaders or managers is EQ (or soft skills) as has been shown by much research. My own experience leads me to believe that the ‘art’ of leadership/management is largely dependent on the intra- and inter-personal skills of the ‘artist’, namely the leader/manager. Given that leadership and management is mostly about managing relationships with stakeholders, clients and staff, this is hardly surprising.

Attending EQ training courses and any other educational or instructional vehicles aimed at raising self-awareness and enhancing relationship management competencies will no doubt contribute towards raising leadership/management effectiveness. However, the efficacy of such training is demonstrated by behavioral changes: given that we human beings are all naturally resistant to change, it is not easy to bring about changes to our ‘natural’ behavior without help of some kind. Many organizations have found that if a support mechanism is not put in place post-training, much of the investment in such training is wasted.

In my experience, the most effective way in which to improve individual leadership/management effectiveness is via a coaching relationship with a suitably qualified and experienced professional.

Coaching is a professional, collaborative and outcomes-driven method of learning that seeks to develop an individual and raise self-awareness so that he or she might achieve specific goals and perform at a more effective level (COMENSA 2006).


Please contact me for an introductory meeting to explore how my coaching can enhance your or your organization’s leadership effectiveness.