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Don't Be A Sloth Mentee #3: The Required Companion to Differentiation

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

In my last post, I introduced the mentee skill of differentiation but I left you hanging when I suggested that differentiation requires yet another skill. Without it, differentiation won’t be constructive. In fact, without it, true differentiation is probably not possible. What you think to be differentiation might be unhealthy detachment or avoidance. If you attempt to differentiate without this additional skill, you will probably end up destroying the mentorship and you also stand the chance of insulting or even severely hurting your mentor. And of course, this doesn’t bode well for you.

So what is the skill? Actually, it is more of a quality than it is just one skill. It is a quality that includes a set of competencies and behaviors.

The Quality of Emotional Intelligence

Let me divulge that while my work is spent as a leadership coach and as a consultant with organizations who wish to build a mentored learning culture, I’m also a certified practitioner with Genos International. Genos is a research firm dedicated to the field of emotional intelligence. This post is influenced by my study and engagement with Genos and the assessments I use with coaching clients.

So what is emotional intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) is a set of skills that help us better perceive, understand, and manage emotions in ourselves and others. Collectively they help us make intelligent responses to emotions both in ourselves and the emotions expressed by others. These competencies are as critical as your intellect (IQ) in determining success in work and life. Everyone, no matter what job function, has interactions with other people. Your capacity to understand your emotions, to be aware of them and how they impact the way you behave and relate to others, will also improve the way you make and communicate your decisions.

Can you see how important this quality is for a mentee to be successful as he/she also learns to differentiate well?

Research emotional intelligence, and you’d find a variety of solid scholarly work, each proposing a certain number of EI skills. Genos worked to consolidate the list of EI skills down to six core EI competencies, each with 7 correlating behaviors. As a coach and consultant, it was a hard decision to choose the organization in which I'd be certified in EI assessments. Ultimately, I decided to go with the Genos model because it is solid in its research, has an unusually high validity score, and most importantly is both practical and memorable for my clients. In other words, my clients have a better chance of employing EI competencies when using the Genos assessments.

So what are the six core EI competencies? Let me give a very brief rundown. If you need more information, watch for my new asynchronous course on EI coming out soon. Or, invite me to lead an in-person or online synchronous training for you and your team. Or, if time is of the essence, we can simply run an assessment for you or your team members. Click here for an example of one of several I can administer.

Genos Emotional Intelligence Core Competencies

1. Self-Awareness: an ability to consciously understand the behavior you demonstrate, your strengths and limitations, and the impact you have on others. You are described as present and aware rather than disconnected from who you are.

2. Awareness of Others: an ability to notice and acknowledge others by ensuring they feel valued and adjusting your leadership style to best fit with others. You are able to be direct in much-needed communication while at the same time remaining empathetic rather than insensitive to others and their feelings.

3. Authenticity: an ability to express yourself openly and effectively by honoring your commitments and encouraging this behavior in others. It involves appropriately expressing specific feelings at work, such as happiness or frustration, providing feedback to colleagues about the way you feel, and expressing emotions at the right time, to the right degree, and to the right people. You are described as genuine whereas others low in this skill are often described as untrustworthy.

4. Emotional Reasoning: an ability to use emotional information (from yourself and others) and combine it with other facts and information when decision-making. You are described as making expansive decisions rather than limited decisions because the decisions are based on facts and technical data only.

5. Self-Management: an ability to manage your mood and emotions as well as your time and behavior by continuously improving yourself. You are described as resilient rather than temperamental or unreliable in the workplace.

6. Inspiring Performance (or positive influence): an ability to facilitate a productive environment through goal setting, problem-solving, feedback, promoting, recognizing, and supporting others’ work. Team members are provided with what they need in order to do their job with satisfaction and effectiveness.

Let me end by looping back to the previous post on the mentee skill of differentiation. It’s a very important skill. If you need to, review that post. As I’ve said, if you can’t be differentiated in a mentoring relationship, you might lose a sense of yourself. That would be no good. But if you aren’t emotionally intelligent as you attempt to differentiate, you’ll practice unhealthy detachment and avoidance. While it might feel like you are finding yourself, you might be losing yourself here too.



I serve as a mentor, acting in a variety of forms, including the form of a professional leadership coach. Please note that I am not a professional therapist. Thus this post is not therapeutic advice. The theme explored in this post can be discussed with a leadership coach. But if it is a significant struggle for you, this theme might be best explored with a professional therapist, an important form of mentoring that's often needed at certain points in our lives. I explain mentoring forms in a workshop I teach. Connect with me if you are interested in this.

In short, a good professional coach knows when to refer clients to professional therapy. I’m thankful for the various types of mentors (including coaches) who have encouraged me toward therapy when needed. It is an important form of mentoring that can help us get unstuck.

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