Leading Change Takes Emotional Intelligence

More and more, leaders responsible for complex business transitions and transformation initiatives seek executive coaching and advisory when I’m partnering with them – to hone their style, their tone, their touch. Leaders with professional competency and high EQ are the best equipped to help organizations handle challenges, according to the Conference Board’s C-Suite Challenge ™ 2021.


High emotional and social intelligence differentiates effective vs extraordinary leaders, especially when change is involved.

These 2023 trends in executive coaching reflect this increasing focus on EQ:

  • Meeting business transformation goals. The scope of coaching includes partnering with executives in making their organizations more adaptable, agile, flexible while remaining lean and efficient All while maintaining positive engagement.
  • Change leadership. Organizations are recognizing the impact of coaching executives to craft a vision and implement effective change management. This is especially evident with enterprise system implementations, M&A, operating model shifts – programs that require mind-set and behavior changes to truly realize the benefits.
  • Innovation. Keeping up with the constant change and disruption required for innovation is a growing focus area for executive coaching. Balancing the fast, fast, fast pace with the inevitable stress on the leader, the team, the organization.
  • “Modern” leadership skills. Organizations want leaders who are strategic and innovative, decisive and cool-headed, inspiring and compassionate. Employees want leaders who are transparent, authentic, caring, and committed to developing them. Executive coaches support cultivating that blend of skills which manifest as executive savvy and leadership presence.

Our partner, Martha Duesterhoft, is a skilled coach and reflected on the downside of being highly competent here. I don’t have a crystal ball, but watching the focus on emotional and social IQ rise, along with the increased agility demanded of leaders, I foresee continued investment in this area of executive coaching and the integration of EQ coaching into organizations’ culture. In turn, this will enable leaders to guide change without sacrificing engagement and sustainable results.

Susan Barnicoat is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at sbarnicoat@people-results.com and follow her on LinkedIn