5 Tricks That Are Real Treats for Leader Development

Last week I had the opportunity to give a webinar to a group of highly talented coaches who are members of the Georgia International Coach Federation. The topic of our discussion was The Secret of Developing Emotional Intelligence. As webinars go, it was a fascinating hour of exploration on what leaders can do TODAY to become more emotionally intelligent. As we went through the topic there was one slide that really caught the attention of the coaches. There were more questions and comments about this one idea than any other we discussed.

Developing the Whole Leader

If you have followed these ramblings for any length of time, you know I am a big believer in the development of the entire person: body, mind, soul, and strength. The entire leader needs to show up every day. If we miss developing any part of our humanity then we become out of balance. If you ever have driven a car with a flat tire you know what it feels like when 3 of the tires are full of air and running fine, but one of them is lifeless and flat. You can’t go as far and you can’t go as fast. The same is true with leader development. If we don’t balance our development, we will struggle in the long-run with effectiveness in our leadership lives.

Developing your body entails paying attention to what you put in it, how you use it, and how you rest it.  Developing your mind involves intellectual stimulation, creativity, and includes things like serious play.

Developing your mind involves intellectual stimulation, creativity, and includes things like serious play.

Developing your strength to me means your attitude. How are you showing up? Do you provide energy and enthusiasm to those you lead or do you “suck the life” out of the room? Strength entails attitude, passion, commitment, perseverance.

Developing your soul. This is what I want to engage you in today. The soul is the essence of who you are. This is often a scary place for some folks because it feels religious and spiritual on one hand, or conceptual and theoretical on the other. I want to acknowledge this fear and say that yes, there is an element of spirituality and theory in this idea of the soul. But it is not one we should run from or ignore, as it is one that for sure can affect our balance as a leader.

The soul is often thought of in terms of the human psyche. The etymology of the word psyche refers to the animating spirit of the individual. Those who are experts in the spiritual disciplines tell us this is the part of our humanity that is eternal and lives forever. If you believe this premise, then paying attention to what makes it up and developing it has real value to all of us, especially those called into leadership.

5 Realms of the Human Psyche

The graphic used in this post represents how I am looking at the human psyche these days. While this graphic is not a complete picture of the soul, I do think it begins to capture major components when it comes to leader development. (i.e. an example of what is not pictured would be a memory. I believe one aspect of the human soul is the capacity to recall history, even though our recollection at times can be dim.) The graphic is best read from the inside out, so that if some type of stimulus happens in our outside world, the first filter that stimulus goes through is your values and beliefs and then the reaction moves out toward a behavior you elicit.


At the very core of the leader are our values and beliefs. Some scholars will take these constructs and call this the leader's worldview. While every leader has a worldview, most of these structures that support the core of who we are, we don’t think much about. Your worldview is how you rationalize and explain everything that exists and that matters to you. A simple tool to understand your values is a values card sort.

Leadership Question: Do your values/beliefs/worldview align with your leadership principles and actions?

Affective Emotion

These emotions are your basic feelings and perceptions that shape your world. The feelings that are elicited by events, the recognition of those feelings, and the experience you have with the emotion are all part of the affective realm. Things like fear, disgust, happiness, surprise are all responses leaders elicit, recognize, and experience. I think the MSCEIT is an excellent development tool for understanding this level of emotion.

Leadership Question: Are you aware of the impact of your affective responses that you are not proud of?


The next realm is that of our preferences or personality. When you get a stimulus from outside, do you prefer to react via the outer realm of people and things or the inner world of ideas and impressions? There is no right or wrong in this domain, only what the individual finds most comfortable for them. Some of the more popular models for describing personality are DISC, MBTI, and a newer tool, the Pearman Personality Integrator.

Leadership Question: Do you know your personality type along with its strengths and inherent weaknesses?

Trait Emotional Intelligence

This level describes a leader's awareness of their emotional ability. While there are several models for describing trait emotional intelligence, my personal favorite is the Bar-On EQi 2.0. The model considers the emotional ability around 5 distinct domains such as self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal relationships, decision making, and stress management.

Leadership Question: Do you know how balanced emotionally you are as a leader?

Skills & Talents & Behaviors

Finally, we reach the outermost layer. It is actually the layer that is seen by the most casual of observers. Unless others know us well, rarely do they know our worldview or our emotional triggers. What they see are the skills and talents we display. Tools such as Strengthfinders, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Inventory, or 360-degree feedback are valuable at helping leaders understand their behaviors and the impacts they can have on others.

As a leader, when you are thinking about developing this innermost part of who you are, I want to encourage you to develop the whole you. For example, you may be an excellent politician with great negotiating skills, but without a value structure to support your skill, we all know too well what we get when this happens. Before we are too hard on the politicians, you may be a minister who is very good at public speaking, but if you do not value people you may end up hurting those you say you care most about.

Leader, don’t leave any one of these domains to chance in your development. I encourage you to consider all of them as you think through what development needs you are planning for the next year. What I see too much of in my executive coaching practice is leaders wanting to focus on skill, rather than doing the deeper but more valuable work.

Best hopes as you traverse your own personal development.