Top Menu

The Emotionally Intelligent Supervisor

The Characteristics of the

Emotionally Intelligent Supervisor

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a London event where Daniel Goleman was speaking about his book ‘Emotional Intelligence’.  Since then I have had several discussions with coaches and supervisors I have supported, on what characteristics are displayed by emotionally intelligent supervisors (and leaders). From these discussions and a variety of articles the following seem to be emergent.

Some of the top characteristics for effective supervisors in the workplace are:

They are able to:

  • Recognise, express and cope with feelings and emotions of self and others
  • Deal effectively with the demands and pressures of the supervisor’s/leader’s role
  • React proactively by building relationships and leading by example
  • Focus on understanding others before seeking to be understood
  • Pose incisive questions and challenge when deemed necessary
  • Allow self and others time and space for reflective practice
  • Support others to set and achieve goals that benefit both the team and the individual
  • Motivate self and encourage others to greater achievement
  • Maintain a positive mind-set in times of change and in challenging situations
  • To be comfortable in a place of not knowing and encourage emergent knowledge

Daniel Goleman’s book on emotional intelligence states that EI is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting people to “do their jobs more effectively” (Goleman 1995) It is well known that people tend to leave as a result of poor managers and stay where they feel valued and supported.  This is especially true when supervising others in the workplace and supporting them with the Full Spectrum Model to a greater self-awareness and understanding.

If as supervisors we are to supervise those who support others to do their jobs effectively we need to focus on helping them to:

  • Tolerate stress, control impulses and to practice positive self-regard
  • To build social responsibility optimism and happiness
  • Build on strengths and challenge areas for development

After clear guidelines and contracts have been agreed we need to support the supervisee to establish their key strengths and development areas.  At this point a supervision development plan can be introduced and jointly devised based on the EI behaviours outlined above.  The first session can then be based on this evidence and enable the supervisee to learn more about their skills knowledge and operating style. It also enables the supervisor to challenge them in areas where they wish to develop.  It is essential to explain the broad concept of EI supervision to the coach and explain how these behaviours enhance coaching performance. By using the Seven Eyed Model (CSA Workbook) or Circle model (Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace’ Jackie Arnold 2009) or similar will ensure the supervision stays on track.  It is also necessary to do a pre and post intervention evaluation session so that the supervisee is able to see clearly where they have developed.

As leaders in the field of supervision we aim to support others to lead, reflect and grow in times of change and uncertainty. In this way we can all contribute to helping people achieve extraordinary performance and show the passion and motivation that leads to exceptional results.

Jackie Arnold – Executive coach and Coach Supervisor


©Jackie Arnold 2014


Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman (1995)

Coaching for Leaders in the Workplace – Jackie Arnold How to Books (2009)

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership from Leadership Coaching (2010) published by AC

and edited by Jonathan Passmore

Bar-On R (1997a) The Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-I) A test of Emotional intelligence, Multi-Health Systems Inc, Toronto Canada

John Whitmore – Coaching for performance (1992)