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“There’s something distinctive about us humans. We don’t merely want to be happy – we want to be happier.”

The London EQ Summit lived up to its billing as ‘Europe’s Largest Emotional Intelligence Event’. And with speakers from Harvard Business Review editor Amy Bernstein and bestselling author Dan Pink to experts in emotional intelligence, mindfulness, neuroscience and leadership, this was a very hot ticket in coaching circles. 

What drew me to the summit was the initial Mindfulness workshop (many juicy insights for another post). But the second day of speakers really got me thinking about how to integrate mindfulness with emotional intelligence for business success in the 21st Century. My takeaways:

EQ is A Must

Dr. Martyn Newman, EQ Summit organizer and author of Emotional Capitalists,  stressed that the way to attract, retain and develop the very best talent is… building emotional capital in your organization (no matter what sector). Emotional capital gives people the emotional and social skills to form meaningful, trustworthy relationships. I particularly liked his words:

“People will work well together in direct proportion to how much they like each other.
They will like each other in direct proportion to how well they know each other.”

This reminds me of a Richard Branson quote:

“You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people.”

EQ Helps You Understand Deeper Motivation

Next, Dan Pink talked about investing in EQ to motivate staff. He claims motivation mechanisms must move beyond ‘if/then’ reward systems. According to Pink, people crave sovereignty over their lives. They want to know why they are doing something and to make a real contribution. Pink says:

We love telling people how to do stuff, we don’t talk enough about why to do stuff.”

Where to start? Every day, leaders should have two fewer conversations about ‘How’ and two more about ‘Why’. Yes, emphasize the profit motive, but also the purpose motive. He concludes with, “Go with the grain of human nature, not against it!”


Mindfulness Is Essential

Then, Dr Alan Wallace introduced the idea of ‘Conative Intelligence’: the cultivation of wise desires and intentions that lead to your own and others’ wellbeing. He explains that Conative Intelligence (Where are you going?), Attentional Intelligence (Are you paying attention?) and Cognitive Intelligence (ie Mindfulness) add up to Emotional Intelligence. According to Dr Wallace:

There’s something distinctive about us humans. We don’t merely want to be happy – we want to be happier.”

Unfortunately, our pursuit of happiness largely depends on hedonic pleasure and pleasant sensory, mental and neural stimulation. Conative Intelligence instead leads to genuine happiness, from what we bring to the world and how we care for others.

Coaching Develops EQ

It’s been 17 years since Daniel Goleman’s article ‘What Makes A Leader’ appeared in  the Harvard Business Review. We’ve learned so much about emotional intelligence since then. It’s undoubtedly important, so shouldn’t it be engrained in every organization by now? When asked the question, Daniel Pink answers, “It is easier to try to control people, than to get to know them, their values, motivators… This keeps us locked in the status quo.”

We must recognize and understand feelings within ourselves, before we are able to show empathy towards others. In other words, emotional intelligence develops through self-awareness: knowing one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drivers, values, and goals –and their impact on others. We’re each born with certain levels of EQ. We can change it, but long-term improvements require dedication and support.

EQ-Savvy Coaching

An emotionally intelligent coach can help her clients with appropriate feedback mechanisms, such as 360 feedback and EQ assessments, to raise self-awareness of their EQ baseline. Next, the challenging work of improving self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills (with the coach’s support).

We strengthen these abilities through persistence, practice, and feedback from colleagues or coaches. I would say we must strengthen these abilities not just so we can become successful, but also so we can foster same abilities in our children (the next generation) and ensure their success in a kinder, happier world.


  1. RootGYik

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