Coach Interview Series - Ros Cardinal


Welcome everybody and welcome to our coach interview series. 

This is Grant and if you're watching this with us live, then make sure you let us know where you're tuning in from. It is 4:00 PM on a Tuesday here in Sydney.   

Today, we have the privilege of hearing from an amazing Emotional Intelligence practitioner and executive leadership coach from Australia, Ros Cardinal.  

I want to get in and start asking her some questions and hear from her side as you as you're listening to this, even if you're watching this in the recording, please interact; throw in some questions and we will come in and make sure that we answer them.  

So, without any further ado, welcome Ros.  

Ros: Thank you. Real pleasure to be here.  

Grant: So, Ros, I just want to have a short conversation with you and allow you the opportunity to help me serve the members in the group. I want to let them have a glimpse around what you do as an Emotional Intelligence practitioner. You have a long history of working with people and that's what I really want to start with.  

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a coach and practitioner? 

Ros: As a practitioner, I started my working life around 1998. I started off in human resources which was called personnel back then. During those times it was still in the learning and development space.  Through that time — from then until now, I've worked a lot in organisational development. I also worked as an HR Generalist for the first part of my career, but then I realised how much I enjoy helping people grow, develop and become the best versions of themselves. So that led to the L & D path as opposed to some of the other specializations you can do in HR.  

I left my corporate role in 2012 (so it was 10 years ago last month) to start my own business. That was when I really started to get particularly more interested in Emotional Intelligence.  

I did my EI certification with Dr. Susan David in 2012. So, the very first thing I did when I started my business was shoot off to Melbourne. I was lucky enough that she came to Australia that year and do her certification course. So, in terms of EI, it has been something I've always been interested in, but developed it in the last 10 years.  

Grant: Fantastic. Love that. So, it’s great to hear that influential organisations, papers, experts and universities are now saying that emotional intelligence is what all of us need right now.  

And we’ve known this for years.  

So, can you help us to understand why you believe that emotional intelligence is so important right now. 

Ros: I mainly coach and work with leaders and executives and we've all come across them: 

You get a leader who's been incredibly successful because of their strategic brain and cognitive abilities.  They get to a senior level of management (or even CEO level) then they suddenly realise that they are missing something. So, you have people who are brilliant strategists, but just cannot connect with people at all. 

However, if you cannot connect well with people, you will not get that far. It’s like you can be great at what you do, but when the time comes you need people to follow you, you can’t engage people to follow you. This is because you can’t engage people to journey with you, if you cannot engage their hearts and their minds. 

So, I think that the big shift that we're seeing is moving away from valuing technical skills more — which was valued over everything else in the 90s particularly in senior level roles.  

Right now, there is this real recognition that you need to be a people person to get things right.  

So, I coach a lot of senior leaders — engineers, specialist, scientists, and the like — who have gone through their careers solely built on their technical experience.  

They have this realisation that whatever they're doing now, isn't working for them. They feel quite let down by the system and sometimes question: “How did I get here before somebody told me that this was a problem?”  

But soft skills and people skills are now being recognised as valuable skills for a person to be successful.  

Grant: Fantastic. I love that and my experience is exactly the same. From my own corporate career, I can tell you that I didn't even know there was such a thing as emotional intelligence. When I found out what it was, I realised I didn't have any.  

If the people that I was working with knew about emotional intelligence, they would have known back then that I didn't have any either. And one of the things I love about the opportunity to work in this field is that they are learned competencies. They're not things that you're born or not born with.  

So, the premise of emotional intelligence somehow refute old beliefs adages like: “true leaders are born.” 

So, it’s definitely the difference.   

You said earlier that some of the senior level executives you knew, got to a point where they have had enough of not getting the results they wanted. 

I definitely find this to be true.  

I remember, all throughout my career, people would tell me stuff. I remember it went on for about 19 times. Then, when they said it to me the 20th time, I thought: “You know what, there could be some truth in this stuff.”

So, “soft-skills”.  

This term is one of my pet hates. 

Now, I know you use this term because you have to be relevant.  

But the truth is, when you get know what these skills actually are — how important they are — you will realise that they are not the soft ones.  

These are the skills that, if you don’t have them, could derail your career.  

So, thank you for being a part of the team that helps people change for the better.  

By the way, there are people in this group who are emotional intelligence practitioners. There are who are dabbling with it and know what it is. There are others who are considering becoming a coach and becoming an emotional intelligence practitioner. So, there are these varying ranges of understanding.  

In your opinion, what are some of the things that we can help people with emotional intelligence training and coaching? 

Ros: For me, it's where the rubber hits the road. It's all very well to have a high emotional intelligence, and to understand it, you’ve got to do something with that.  

So, for me, some of the most valuable things that I probably would give to coaching clients is the fact that you don't have to be driven by your emotions.  

Your emotions are an input. You don't have to do anything with it. It's a data point. Just like any other data points, it can be part of your decision-making but doesn't have to drive your decision-making.  

So, it moves the conversation around from: “I couldn't help it.  I got angry. I couldn't help getting angry,” to how you responded to it was a choice.  

The emotion is fine. There's nothing wrong with being angry. It's about how you express or don't express it that's important.  

So, it's helping people disconnect their emotion from their actions.  

Some people think that because they are feeling certain emotions, they have to do something. However, that is not the case. Although you can feel certain emotions on a certain moment, you sit with it, give it a few minutes and let them pass by. So, it’s being strategic. 

Like for instance, something went wrong with your computer which got you really frustrated. During that point you have the choice on: 

You can vent out that frustration by throwing your computer out of the window, and bear with consequence of doing so. Or you can choose to acknowledge your feelings, and go: “you know what, I feel frustrated by this computer because it's interfering with my work and it's making me feel incompetent or inefficient,” then you absorb that, and you move on with your day.  

So, I think the most important thing here is helping people understand that emotion doesn't have to equal action.  

Grant: I love that. That is the beauty of learning about the changes of neuroscience over the years. So, if you are a practitioner watching this, I implore you to keep up to date to the changes in neuroscience. Ros and I had a chat before we started, and I have realised that there were stuff I’ve learned years ago which have been debunked. 

I love where you say: “you don't have to do anything with it.”  

I love the work of Lisa Feldman Barrett. In one of her books, she talks about the theory of constructed emotions. She explains that we don’t have a lizard’s brain that’s got five hardwired emotions. We construct our emotions. What I love about it, in connection to what you said, is that it shows us that we are in control.  

Sometimes the word control is misused in the work we do — even by us. Even the word “manage.” I used to say: “Manage your emotions,” like everyone else did. However, I realised that that’s the worst thing to do.  

We're not managing the emotion at all. We're doing exactly what you said, and that is, we are managing our response to the emotion. And there are still people out there teaching people to manage their emotions which to me says: "Suppress and ignore it.” 

However, the question is: Do we really need to stop it? 

No, we don’t.  

So, the term that I like to use now, which has really served me and my clients love it as well, is: Navigate the emotion. Which means that it is going to happen.  

Another thing is around positive and negative emotions. My understanding around that is there is no such thing as positive and negative emotions, but there are positive and negative behaviour that could come out as you navigate an emotion.  

However, there are still people who go around and teach about negative and positive emotions which could mess people up in their understanding of what we do. So, what are your thoughts on that?  

Ros: Absolutely. I agree, there is no such thing as positive and negative emotions. Even fear and anger could save your life. Emotions are actually designed to keep us alive at the end of the day.  

Like for instance connectedness, which is a positive emotion, is about survival because being connected with our tribe is important. Fear, on the other hand, is also about survival because things can kill us in the big wide world. 

So, you’re absolutely right when you said there are no positive and negative emotions. Our emotions are there to tell us something.  

I also love the term: Navigate your emotion. Because, as you have said, it is not about managing emotions nor is it about flat lining them. A lot of people think that emotional management is about flat-lining emotions and suppressing them and it’s absolutely not true. Because it’s about experiencing the emotion in all its fullness. And like I said, it about strategizing and going, “This is really interesting. What am I going to do with this?" 

Grant: Exactly. And that's the whole process of constructed emotion. The brain is a prediction machine and its predictions are based on past emotionally charged experiences, memories in the hippocampus, and all those sorts of things.  

Like for instance, if I am having an early morning walk in the Botanic gardens and I see a black stick across the road, I might perceive it as a red or black belly snake. And if you’re not from Australia, you don’t want it to bite you. Then the perception that I’m going to make of that is going to change my behaviour.  

Love that. 

My next question is:   

What is your favorite Emotional Intelligence competency that you work on with your clients and why?  

Ros: All the competencies are great but the one particular competency that I enjoy teaching my clients is recognising emotions in other people. Examples of this are facial recognition, micro-expressions, and teaching people what expressions actually mean. 

I just recently read a fascinating piece of research which was talking about how we can look at somebody, see the emotions on their face, and mimic it. You see, we have a micro-expression of our own that mimics their expression.  

Here’s a really interesting bit: People who’ve had botox were less able to recognise other people’s emotions because they do not have the ability to micro mimic. So the process of recognising emotion is looking at people and going: “What’s really going on here?” And of course, the ability to gently probe without making the personal feel uncomfortable. 

Let me give you a little example: 

I had a client who I went to see for a routine coaching session. She told me that she this coaching session will be her last coaching session with me as she will be moving jobs and got a job as a CFO in a big company.  

And I asked her, “how are you feeling about that?” She replied that she excited. However, I could not see that on her. Because I could tell that she did not seem calm and there was a mismatch between what she was saying and what was reflecting in her face and body. 

So, I asked again, “How do you actually feel about that?”  

And she told me that no one has ever asked her that. And that truth be told, she is actually really terrified of failing. She feels she has bitten off more than she could she and she really feels sad leaving her team of 15 years and who she loves so much. “I don’t know I'm really anxious about the fact that I'm taking this new job and it's huge. And I don't know if I'm going to be able to cope with it,” she continues. 

So earlier, she told me she was excited about her move, but I was able to discern that she wasn’t because I saw that there was a mismatch with what she was saying and with what she was reflecting in her face and body. And that’s when real compassion and empathy come into it because just simply asking her how she is feeling about that, gave her the opportunity to talk about it.  

And she could have chosen not to, she could have said, “Oh no, it's great. It's a fantastic job.” And I would've just left it, but it's that ability to recognise what's good and to see the unspoken, that is a really valuable thing in creating human connection.  

Grant: I love that. I love how you talked about it being a mismatch there.  

So just to clarify for those who are new, looking at those micro expressions gives us an indication of what we think “might” be going on in the other person.  

So being able to get clarity around that through questioning as opposed to our own emotions, we can be a lot more succinct about what we're going through. So, as I have said before,  

the work that has now been done helps us to understand that there's not just one facial expression for an emotion. By having that thinking, people would misread, and this is where a lot of conflict comes in.  

Because if I look at you with a questioning look, you could think that I'm not happy with something is saying or whatever. But it could be that my screen is not working, and I needed to get closer.  

So just like the spoken word, the facial expressions are a perfect opportunity to go: “Hey, I'm sensing that you might be a little bit frustrated right now. Am I right with that and if so, what am I doing to cause that?”  

So, I think it's really, really important.  

Self-awareness, I agree with you, is vitally important and having that social awareness as well to know what could be going on with others. Fantastic.  

So, my final question is:

Where do you see your emotional intelligence practice a year from now with everything that's going on and with everything that you're doing? 

We obviously don't, need you to tell us everything, particularly what you're going to do, but where do you see your role as an emotional intelligence practitioner fitting in a year from now?  

Ros: That's a great question.  

My view on it is that the recognised need for EI is going to continue to grow.  

I'm certainly finding that the clientele in that space is getting bigger. More people want to know about it. More people want to learn about it. More executives are incorporating it into their development. So, it's one of those things where if you go back 10 years ago when I started my business, I probably did 75 - 80% training programs and the rest of it coaching. And now that’s switched. It’s the other way around: It’s 75% coaching and 25% training.  

So, people are more open and willing to work on the things they are not great at.  

Like we said, soft skills are the bit that's missing for most people because they've had the technical skills from their 30 years of experience. It's that so-called soft skills piece where they've realized there's a gap.  

I think Navigating COVID has made a big difference there too. Because people have realised that when you're not in the office with people and you're not face-to-face, and you can't see them, that connection that you had just by proximity is gone. And they've got to learn how to connect with people and with their teams in different ways and establish those person connections in a way that is just different.

Before it was done just by you just kind of organically just by proximity. Now, it's something that people actually have to work at.  

So, I think there's going to be a big space, particularly with virtual, remote, and hybrid. There is also going to be a big space for the development of EI skills within teams as well as leaders to teams within teams themselves. So, I see the space is just continuing to grow, to be honest.  

Grant: Yes. I totally agree with you.  

On one of those points you made there, I'm finding exactly that now; where every program that I do (by the way, I call them an online program because virtual means it’s not real.) 

But online, all these programs I’m doing all around the world, it’s particularly contextualised towards this remote working, but the principles stay the same.  

When people ask me: How do you find this? 

Well, I say to them: “At the end of the day, the underlying principles of a lack of emotional and social intelligence, haven't changed. So, what we need to train and develop, nothing's changed there. However, how we do it, needs to change a bit because with all that has been happening in the world right now — COVID, the war, and a lot of unrest — we need to specifically talk and teach them about leading a team which I don’t see in the same room anymore. And challenges like anxiety and depression etc. has been more prevalent now than they used to be because of  COVID and the unrest that is happening. So, adjusting to the times is also important.  

I totally understand and agree. 

Well, I love the fact that I get to work alongside people who have been doing this for 10 years or more, and who have a lot of experience in what they're doing. 

I really appreciate you, Ros, for sharing that with us here and being someone who is out there in the trenches as well. 

Both Ros and I work predominantly in the workplace space. I know a lot of you that are here, don’t do that.

I want you to understand that the common denominator here is people. So, people are emotional and social beings. Therefore, no matter what sort of coaching you're doing, there always is a room for development in this area. 

So, Ros, thank you so much.  

I think you're going to hang around in the green room and we can have a chat in a moment. But thank you so much for giving us your time. I look forward to more opportunities to hear about how things are going. I'm going to check in with you a year from now and see exactly how many of those things have happened for you.  

So, thank you so much.  

Ros: Absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.  

Grant: Well, there you go team; another amazing practitioner of emotional intelligence. And I'd love you to smash that like and love button right now to show some love to Ros for what she has done.  

If you're watching this in the replay or even watching this on our website, please, if you have any questions, make sure you get in touch and make sure you ask them in there.  

We're going to continue to do these interviews over the coming weeks.  

So, if you're in our community and you are someone that would like to come and share as well, then send me a message and we'll have a chat about that. 

Thank you so much. Get in the group, ask heaps of questions — whatever level you're at and wherever you're starting.  

By the way, if you are still considering whether or not you could be an emotional intelligence practitioner, the answer is YOU CAN.

My plea is to get involved because we need more emotional intelligence coaches and trainers in the world today.  

Have an amazing day whatever you're doing —it’s morning for some of you, it's afternoon for others, and might even be evening for some mothers.  

Again, thank you so much for giving us the privilege to serve you in this group. 

If you're watching this somewhere and you have not yet joined the Emotional Intelligence Coach Community Facebook group, you can search it and join us.  

If you want to know if Emotional Intelligence Training and Coaching is for you, then please get engaged and asked questions. I want to see more highly successful emotional intelligence practitioners around the world so that we can together do what it is that we need to do.  

So, I love you all heaps and I look forward to seeing you more in the group.

We'll see you again soon.  

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