by Valerie Jennings, Executive Coach

Executive Leadership, EQ and Radical Candor

Congrats! You got a big promotion. The raise, the leadership role, the recognition. But if along with the incredible perks you envisioned, you got a few things you weren’t expecting, you’re not alone. According to one study, 61% of executives felt they weren’t prepared for the challenges they faced when they become a senior leader.

When your usual strategy for success fails you now

Many high-achievers step into leadership roles and get thrown into responsibilities and challenges never experienced before. Working harder and harder has never failed you—until now. It’s lonely—and a lot harder than you thought at the top. Who can you confide in and get counsel from? It’s risky to admit any struggles to the boss when showing any weakness makes you fear it could put your bonus and stock options at risk. They trusted you to have the skills to be successful, you don’t want the decision-
makers to doubt your capabilities and put you on the short-list to be cut the next time a reorganization takes place. You are so passionate about making an impact, you must get this right and fix what’s wrong.

You need alternatives to muscling it through

I coach leaders who are really good but find themselves stuck where they’re at and want to get moving again. Having experienced feeling stuck myself, I know what it’s like to be in the thick of managing so many things I thought my head would explode. Just like you, I’ve had a complex life managing lots of things at once that made me sometimes feel like I was in over my head. Raising kids. Managing a team. A career in a high-growth company. New responsibilities it was just assumed I could tackle because of my history of success. I remember when my dad said to me, “How do you manage?” Those words stuck with me and it later became the inspiration for my company’s name.

I’m an executive coach to high-achievers who might be struggling with new
responsibilities and who want to fix roadblocks to success, become better managers and leaders, and help their teams achieve even more. There are some common themes in executive coaching. One of the most common focus areas is Emotional Intelligence.

Why work on Emotional Intelligence?

The emotional is a part of leadership: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management are critical to a leader’s success. However, in many cases, leaders have deficits in these skills when they go from being an individual contributor to leadership that can be enhanced when working with an executive coach. Some of the biggest challenges leaders face are interpersonal communication and dealing with conflict. I help my clients recognize habits, patterns and triggers and work
through and learn from situations they are dealing with to help get unstuck from old habits.

How can I improve mine?

One of my favorite tools to help clients work on their EQ is Kim Scott’s model: Radical Candor. Kim Scott focuses her work on effective communications between individuals. Her model cleverly demonstrates the best uses of two emotional skills – Empathy, and Assertiveness. Kim gives language and clarity to how leaders and organizations tend to overuse these two skills, or overuse them. Both underuse, and overuse lead to organizational mayhem! When leaders can balance out these two skills, and find strategies to demonstrate both Empathy and Assertiveness, they achieved what Kim Scott calls “Radical Candor.”


If you’d like to find strategies to enhance your EQ, and your organization could benefit from learning how to communicate to others in a straightforward, and yet kind way … I’d love to talk to you more!