Practitioners Perspectives // February 19,2021

The Role of Emotional Intelligence and the Need for Coaching in Leadership Development

Featuring: Ram Gopalan , Executive and Leadership Coach Marshall Goldsmith's Stakeholder Centered Coaching


Ram Gopalan Executive and Leadership Coach Marshall Goldsmith's Stakeholder Centered Coaching

Reflections and Perspectives from the lens of experience and excellence

Visualizing yourself now, what does your “career inflection” reflections teach you now, that others can benefit from?
Ram believes that his perennial search and a longing to do more has always has led him to discover new opportunities and avenues, coupled with his faith in the Divine.
This belief and trust in the enriching power of the Divine adds up to define who you are and what you are meant to do. When the deep desire is powerful the universe responds with a counter that is replete with paths and roads to be taken. Also, it is never about the outcomes but figuring out and perfecting the process.

The decision to go alone was arrived at within matter of minutes, and he took the sharp turn with courage and confidence and was prepared for the worst. However, fortunately life presented itself well and there have been several projects to look back with wonder and pride. Other career moves were a result of typical growth mindset with a credo of – I may not know it all, but I will figure it out and practice it to perfection.
Also, every role is about the context followed by the content. When you have the vision to look at the larger landscape you know where you fit in and then focus on the content of your role and set your eyes on the ecosystem.


“With self-awareness, a sense of detachment and a long-term perspective leaders can master their emotions. The knowledge about oneself endows us with our own trigger points, and the detachment removes us from the immediate and the long term teaches us not to react to the now.”

From your experience of coaching leaders across multiple organizations, how do you think a multigenerational workforce can be a differentiator for organizations?
Nothing can be more advantageous than the coming together of different generations for the organizational outcomes. That said, it is the top leaders who need to make the move for reverse apprenticeship. Once that message gets cascaded to all levels of the organization then a learn from each other culture permeates the organization making a multigenerational workforce learning together a way of corporate life.
Likewise, the millennials can learn from their elder peers on the importance of failures, how to handle them and maintaining emotional stability when faced with setbacks. This would turn out to be a valuable learning for the young digital natives who have unmatched energy and nimbleness.

As a Business Coach, What are your observations on how businesses can leverage the skills of GenZ and millennials?
Frankly, when I walked into the corporate world, I lacked the real-life exposure that the current generation has in a large measure. My intelligence was centred around classrooms and schools.
But that is not the case now, the young workforce entering the corporate corridors has amazing talent, they network easily, extremely comfortable leveraging technology, have firm opinions, and perspectives. And several of them have experimented with start-ups and enter with a great deal of knowhow.
What organizations may want to consider is, listening to them, allowing them to air their views. Asking them pertinent questions, channelising their energy, gently nudging them in the right direction will benefit them and the organization.
Often enough, their agility is interpreted as rashness and in the process ideation and fresh thinking fall out. So, they are bringing a lot to the business boardrooms, but are we moulding it in the right direction with process, tools, programs and initiatives is a question many leaders should ask and make it their agenda.

Given your focus on EQ, What are your suggestions for leaders to master emotional intelligence?
This is a critical dimension in the leadership growth and success. At the end of the day it is a simple case of being aware of our emotions and mastering them. No one can escape emotions, all of us have reactions and responses, but it is about knowing ourselves fully and thoroughly. With self-awareness, a sense of detachment and a long-term perspective leaders can master their emotions.
The knowledge about oneself endows us with our own trigger points, and the detachment removes us from the immediate and the long term teaches us not to react to the now.
When all these come together leaders achieve the resilience and equanimity that suits their stature. This is something that can be achieved with time and practice and conscious commitment to it.

From your Executive Coaching experience, what is your take on how coaches can best help their client organisations calculate ROI for their engagements?
Certainly, it is important to achieve business outcomes through coaching. Assuming that organizations wants to change, and they require their key leaders to transform with the company then they engage with a coach. In this instance, if we as coaches can ascertain the end result the company wants to achieve and then work backwards, then there is a strong alignment to business objectives.
For instance, an organization wants to expand its footprint into APAC, and it has to educate its leaders to go global. So, in this case the coaching engagement has to have a roadmap of what attributes and behaviour will enable their leaders to acquire global acumen to stay in step with the organizational expectations, and then the execution of the coaching exercise will be meaningful.


What are the biggest obstacles you have observed in your coachees, to translate their awareness into actions, habits, and results?
It is the leaders’ inability to overcome three aspects:
Courage: The ability to accept your own flaws, failures, and foibles.
Humility: The ability to ask others for help: to correct these and consciously aspire to excel.
Discipline: The ability to stay on track and fall into a rhythm of constant practice.

These are the obstacles that leaders possess which holds them back from moving forward. Once they know themselves and have the humility to correct and be committed to the same, behavioural changes are within their reach.

Given your experience in the digital landscape, how can legacy organizations latch onto the sweeping digital wave across geographies/industries?
“Should we change?” is a fundamental question they need to ask themselves. As legacy organizations have their own unique strengths, their history and lineage, values and ethics, loyal employee bases and several such. So, what has been working well needs to be considered before Digital Transformation.
However, if Digital is a must in response to the dynamic business climate, it is best to start small it rather than tackling it as one big chunk of digital transformation. Identifying the critical areas that can benefit from a digital makeover and then moving into the larger areas may be a more worthwhile option.

In a world that is rapidly going digital, how can leadership development keep pace?
Largely in the past, leadership development has been episodic. It was a few training programs conducted on and off without much of connecting the dots. Now with the digital explosion everything is available to learn and apply, so leadership development will have to set its sight on sharing knowledge, experiences, coping strategies, asking questions, making course corrections, and leave the skill imparting aspect out of the equation.

Ram Gopalan Ram Gopalan

Executive and Leadership Coach
Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching

Ram has had a chequered career spanning industries, roles, and functions and now that of a Coach transforming people. Inflection points in his career are aplenty, but at each stage it has been about an internal desire meeting the cosmic purpose in shaping his career to be meaningful to him and beneficial to others. Recognised as one of the Most Talented Coaching Leaders in India by CHRO Asia, Ram believes that “true change is always from within”. His coaching is characterized by well-defined, strategic thinking coupled with strong interpersonal skills. He focuses on positive change to empower leaders to reach their goals. Ram’s approach is “perceptive, humble, inquisitive and open”.

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