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Geetu Bharwaney, Founding Director of EiWorld Limited, Author of Emotional Resilience: What It Takes to Be Agile, Adaptable and Always At Your Best, and an Executive Coach, Team Coach, Mentor & Consultant

#029: Team Emotional Intelligence: The Essential Role of Team Emotion in High Performance 

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and leading organizational coach Geetu Bharwaney—a thought leader in the areas of Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Resilience and Team Emotional Intelligence—for this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.  Geetu is the Founding Director of Ei World Limited, the Author of “Emotional Resilience: Know What It Takes to Be Agile, Adaptable and Always at Your Best,” and an executive coach, team coach, mentor and consultant.  She has more than 25 years of experience helping organizations develop high performance.  Ei World Limited is a company based in the UK at the forefront of innovative development programs based on Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Resilience. Geetu and her team support talent management, team coaching and leadership development of individuals and teams in the world’s most prestigious companies across 37 countries.  She has been using the Team Emotional Intelligence Survey since 2012 and equips other team coaches in its effective use.

In this thought-provoking episode of the podcast, Geetu shares her insights on a number of themes including: team emotions and team emotional intelligence; the role of emotion in high performance teams; 4 common challenges that arise in teams that reveal underlying emotional dynamics; Geetu’s 5 element approach to coaching teams using a team emotional intelligence framework; The Team Emotional Intelligence Survey; her recently published book on “Emotional Resilience: Know What It Takes to Be Agile, Adaptable and Always at Your Best;” and differentiating emotional resilience from emotional intelligence.  Geetu also shares a number of compelling stories, insights and lessons learned from her practice coaching teams.

This is a rich episode brimming over with value and lessons learned that both new as well as experienced team coaches will want to listen to multiple times!



Contact Geetu:


  1. G. Bharwaney (2015) Emotional Resilience: Know What It Takes to Be Agile, Adaptable and Always at Your Best
  2. The Team Emotional Intelligence Survey (Note: 30% discount for TCZ Podcast listeners – enter promo code: tzone2015)



Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coach: Geetu Bharwaney

  • Background
    • Founding Director of EI World Limited
    • Author of “Emotional Resilience: Know What It Takes to Be Agile, Adaptable and Always at Your Best”
    • Executive coach, team coach, mentor and consultant with more than 25 years’ experience of helping organisations develop high performance.
    • Geetu Bharwaney is an authority on the topics of emotional intelligence and emotional resilience.
    • Ei World, a company based in the UK at the forefront of innovative development programmes based on Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Resilience. Geetu and her team support talent management, team coaching and leadership development of individuals and teams in the world’s most prestigious companies across 37 countries.
    • Geetu has been using the Team Emotional Intelligence Survey since 2012 and equips other team coaches in its effective use. She has also recently published the book “Emotional Resilience: Know What It Takes to Be Agile, Adaptable and Always at Your Best” (Printed book – Pearson Education, 2015; Audiobook – Ei World).
  • Geetu’s Journey to Coaching Teams
    • Large family, 88 first cousins. Families as teams; mirrors for the challenges faced in teams
    • Cross-cultural aspect of her journey: as a team coach if we can operate across national, corporate, sectoral cultural dynamics we can be more effective
    • Born in Liberia in West Africa; then moved to England
    • First job after university was working in a bank; Boss communicated with her via email – years before email was publicly available; an internal email system
    • Then went on to do trauma counseling – got trained; dealt with site closures when businesses had to do major restructuring and got to see what happens when that is well managed or not; a lot of emotion gets stuffed down
    • Then into learning and development; culture and transformation work; usually the business case was always logical but what often got pushed to the side was giving people a change to dialogue about the change
    • Was a Virgin Group where a group of consultants came in to work on the merger of two businesses; first time 7 years into her career where she saw a company invest in people talking together; through group coaching and group sessions with a work team being impacted by a change would meet with a senior manager and talk through the impacts of the change. This was in the 1990’s and head of its time
    • Over the last 16 years – the role of emotion in high performance; executive coaching but most helping the entire senior leadership team talk about what is happening within the team and then take some practical actions to move the business forward while also taking care of the team
    • Journey as a coach has shifted: teams as a collection of individuals where she tried to effect each individuals effectiveness with the team however the changes weren’t always sustainable à coaching the team as a whole

Part 2 – Four Areas Where Teams Get Stuck, 5 Element Approach to Team Coaching, Team Emotional Intelligence Survey, Emotional Resilience

  • Four Common Areas Where Teams Get Stuck & Where Geetu Often Intervenes
    • 1) New team leader wanting to make a strong start either with a new team or inheriting a team; where to focus first
    • 2) Transition following mergers or acquisitions; being asked to deliver right away despite different cultures and histories
    • 3) Technical leaders trying to collaborate and work effectively together
    • 4) Teams who are in trouble; conflict, pain or recurring issues
    • Geetu has concluded that underlying each of these teams is often emotion and not having a process or commitment to talk about them; when a team can’t talk about emotions they often get stuck and
    • Some clients try to get the word “emotional” out of the title of the program when hiring Geetu; she responds saying that because emotion is what is missing, it is what needs to stay in; Can’t collude with the client around keeping the elephant in the room
  • Approach to Team Coaching: 5 Element Approach
    • First is it a 3, 6 or 9 month engagement? Depending on length will go through five elements
    • Element #1 – Individual Dialogue: conducts 45 minute interview with each team member; in person; deliberate set of questions about the team; individual can talk about their own experience being in the team; sometimes includes psychometrics as well especially with a senior leader team; likes to distinguish what are natural criticisms that come from personality traits vs. those that are coming from the team; individual dialogue can be with all team members or a snapshot of just a few because often you can get at the team dynamics and the “team voice” through a snapshot
    • Element #2 – Meeting Observation: two team coaches observe the team during a meeting; gives a lot faster understanding of the dynamic of the team.
    • Element #3 – Team Emotional Intelligence Survey: most questions ask the participant to respond about recent experiences on the team; requires 100% completion; the difference in the experience in the team matters more than the rating of the team; the differences in ratings is where the real energy is and where lots of potential exists for coaching;
    • Element #4 – Team Dialogue Sessions: Based on survey and aimed at developing a concrete action plan over the next 6 months; owned and created by the team; when team owns it is when they can begin to
    • Element #5 – Team Coaching: 1 to 3 team members will meet with the coach and go through aspects of the action plan that pertain to them; when it doesn’t involve the team leader is even more powerful; in a VUCA world it is more practical to get sub-teams together to focus on a discrete action item
  • Team Emotional Intelligence Survey
    • Based on work of Druskat and Wolf
    • EI World partners with them to deliver training and survey
    • Research comparing average with outstanding teams:
      • Found 3 fundamentals that create average performance (Clear goals, clear roles, meeting procedures)
      • 9 Norms: what leads to outstanding performance which is typically measured by Social Capital (outcomes of effective teams)
      • 3 individual – about how the team members interact with teach other
      • 4 team – about team as a unit; team self-evaluation, creating emotion resources; creating an affirmative environment, proactive problem-solving
      • 2 external – other teams, stakeholders, systemic context; etc…
    • Brings a sharp focus on where the team needs to focus to create a change in the team
    • Definition of high performing teams: Each person is bringing their best ideas, information and contribution to the team
    • By addressing the emotional dimension, individuals are enabled to bring their best
  • Emotional Resilience
    • Authored a book in July 2015 on Emotional Resilience
    • All about the individual behaviors to support high performance
    • Looked back at the last 25 years of development work with clients and looked for themes; created a framework out of that for people to be effective and high performing
    • 6 inputs, 5 emotion skills and 4 results areas: key dimensions of what people tend to work on to be effective as leaders
    • Emotional resilience: if you really want to have an edge or to stand out; there will be something about how you typically operate and also something about the emotion-based skills you need to be effective in a VUCA world
    • Links up to team effectiveness and performance
    • org website has a bunch of resources on Emotional Resilience
    • Emotional intelligence tends to focus on that you have a level of intelligence and to be effective you need to have more; emotional resilience is about selecting how to operate based on the context and sometimes that means paying less attention to emotion; more about agility and adaptability based on the context
    • Books is accessible to anyone who wants to be more effective; also built in some research for academically-minded readers
    • Definition of Emotional Resilience: “The ability to continually chose the feelings, thoughts and actions that help you achieve results and that help you perform your best at individual, team and organizational levels.

Part 3 – Stories Coaching Teams

  • Success Story: a current project based out of New York and London
    • Team not collaborating; team operating individual within silos
    • CEO concerned that discomfort in the team was not being expressed in words; simmering below the surface; couldn’t put finger on cause of that
    • A strong leader; a capable leader building teams; knows what team emotional intelligence is
    • Took the 5 element approach over 9 months
    • Unexpected aspects: an elephant in the room; a person who didn’t want to be in a role but wouldn’t tell anyone about it; this came out in the individual dialogue – Element #1
    • Individual interviews revealed anxiety about talking in the group about the underlying issues; after 3rd interview Geetu noticed that she herself was getting anxious – transference
    • In 25 years never witnessed this type of fear; the power of discomfort combined with few role models of being on a high performing team
    • When Geetu and colleagues met with the team did an exercise where they asked everyone to bring an object that would describe this team operating in a highly functioning way: one person brought an object from their wedding – this caused a breakthrough within first 30 minutes of the session
    • Lessons Learned:
      • 1) Using the objects to explore what being a high performing team would look like.
      • 2) Focusing on the question “What is the value of this team right now operating in a highly effective way?” – was defined in a financial way and created a compelling business case for the team.
      • 3) Leader of the team engaged with the team on an emotional basis on what was important about the team’s dialogue; set tone and climate in the first 15 minutes of a two-day session.
    • Reflections on When Team Coaching Doesn’t Work Out Well
      • When a team doesn’t have a norm of challenging each other; addressing counterproductive behavior
      • When a team doesn’t have a norm for challenging a team leader in a sensitive way
      • When a team hasn’t seen importance for the team to work together and reflect on how it is working; When a team coach hasn’t challenged this and pushed back on this
      • Moving away from retreat model: try to work closer to work of the team; try to plan team interventions as close as possible to the work of the team.
      • Team does development while it is working
      • Team members may be more or less comfortable in their own skin around authenticity; need individuals to work on that to be able to voice their own truth and then need a team that creates context/conditions for people to be authentic
      • Anecdote of a team leader wanting to create a mechanism for team members to speak more authentically and bring their best during team meetings; in the case a sub team working with the leader to address this issue

Part 4 – Parting Advice / Resources / Contacting Geetu

  • Team Emotional Intelligence: GEIpartners.com
  • Eiworld.org: section on emotional intelligence and a section on Team Emotional Intelligence Survey; information about webinar-based certification program (6 hour program spread across two consecutive days)
  • Book on Emotional Resilience available on audible.com and on Amazon, also an App; in the book there is also a URL that contains information from 30 years of experience coaching individuals
  • Parting Advice: team coaching completely increases impact over anything she has done individually; be brave about recognizing that emotion matters to the performance of a team.
  • Contacting Geetu: gbharwaney@eiworld.org

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