Emotional Intelligence in Advertising and Coaching: A Conversation with Kathleen Mojica

Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

Kathleen Mojica is an advertising copywriter by training and experience. She used to be a creative director for a team of award-winning advertising extraordinaires in the Philippines. Since 2009, Kathleen has been facilitating workshops on creativity, personal branding, communication skills, and leadership presence. She has been practicing as a coach since 2016.

I sat down with Kathleen to hear her journey of applying emotional intelligence in advertising and coaching, the significance of emotional intelligence in the creative industry, and what it takes to institute an organizational shift towards an emotional intelligence working culture.

Irene Laochaisri: Emotional intelligence is a theme that runs throughout all the methodologies you practice as a coach. What does that look like?

Kathleen Mojica: When you’re coaching, it’s important for you to listen. Listening is a part of being emotional intelligent. To empathize, you must be present with the client you are coaching. The most important pillar [of emotional intelligence] is self-awareness, because without it the other four [pillars] fall apart if you are not aware of the impact you have on people. The coaching methodologies I practice from gestalt to nonviolent communicationis where all these pieces come together.

IL: What role did emotional intelligence play in the advertising industry, where you worked previously?

KM: Back [in the early 2000s] emotional intelligence was not something people talked about. I wish that when I was in advertising I was sent to programs like the ones I attended to become a facilitator and coach. But even though I wasn’t familiar with the term emotional intelligence back then, I believe that I was practicing it with my team. I was calling it compassion, the importance of listening, and being fair. But I wouldn’t have described it as emotional intelligence.

IL: What value do you think the structured understanding you have now of emotional intelligence would have added to your work in advertising had you possessed these tools back then?

KM: I would have been more intentional about developing my team’s skills in leadership, copywriting, creativity, as well as just being human beings and future managers. My responsibility then was to make sure that they were performing well as creatives and winning awards. All of these emotional things happened on the side. It wasn’t intentional.

IL: How do you think you would have managed your team differently?

KM: Now, I see leaders as facilitators. Back then, I saw myself as a leader but not a facilitator. I tended to compete with my team. I should have stepped back more for them to shine. I always gave credit where credit was due, but I was still competing.

IL: That’s the role of the facilitator, isn’t it? To create an enabling space that allows people to shine and to make the experience as much about the participants — in this case, your team — as possible.

KM: Yes. I would have been more empathetic had I known about this then. Even the word empathy is not one that I became familiar with until about 15 years ago [after I left the advertising industry].

IL: There seems to a trend of emotional intelligence ever since Goleman’s book came out, even though the concept itself was not new by any means. But simply because Goleman labelled and popularized emotional intelligence, people now have the language to describe something they already know about and practice. Or not.

KM: Exactly.

An emotionally intelligent company would create a very safe space where people are not afraid [to express themselves], are engaged, and feel valued.

IL: What would you tell a manager or organizational leader who doesn’t value emotional intelligence to convince them of its importance?

KM: I would ask them questions that would create awareness. It’s better if they discover things themselves. I need to understand where they are. Sometimes they just don’t see things that you see because they can’t be as objective. It’s also possible that what’s getting in their way is something personal, something in their family, they just don’t realize it.

IL: What can an emotionally intelligent organization do that organizations with less emotional intelligence cannot?

KM: They will be able to maximize the talents of their people. An emotionally intelligent company would create a very safe space where people are not afraid [to express themselves], are engaged, and feel valued. If you have great people in your organization but the space you create for them is unsafe, they will not be able to speak their minds and you will not be able to maximise their talents. When employees are listened to and know that they are valued, they are able to be creative.

IL: That’s important.

KM: When an organization is run on fear, everything people say is what the boss wants to hear. An organization where nobody talks about what is not working is an unhealthy one. People leave organizations like that. The people who stay are the ones who are there just for the money. Emotionally intelligent organizations are fertile organizations where creativity is allowed to flower and grow. When creativity is allowed to grow, companies will also grow.

Irene Laochaisri is a co-founder at InsightPact. She is a design, entrepreneurship, and development practitioner with roots in Bangkok, Berlin and Boston. Her work has taken across the world, from designing and launching a mobile education lab in Coahoma County, Mississippi to organizing and facilitating a design and community development summit in rural Sisaket, Thailand.

Next Steps

This article is the second piece in InsightPact’s “Emotional Intelligence of All Kinds” series on Medium, where we interview people from various backgrounds and industries about the topic of emotional intelligence: how it is defined, what it looks like in different cultures, and why it is important. You can find the first piece here.

At InsightPact, we work to cultivate emotional intelligence in teams and organizations through project partnerships and public workshops. If this article resonated with you, email us at hello@insightpact.com to learn more about how you can cultivate emotional intelligence in your team, organization, or community.

Irene Laochaisri