How Developing Emotional Intelligence Can Improve Your Coaching. (Part 1)
“Do you control your mind or does your mind control you?”
That is a normally the starting question I pose to the coaches I work with and it usually opens up some interesting and insightful debates. When developing Emotional Intelligence the key concept is to realise that everything we do involves the experiential triangle of thoughts, emotions and actions.
Whatever the situation, we are always thinking, feeling and doing.
Try this little experiment…
Find a quiet place.
Relax, take a few deep breaths and close your eyes.
I want you to now think of something that really irritates you, winds you up, gets your goat. Try to visualise a situation involving this. Add the smells and sounds and any other sense you can to make this as realistic as possible.
Now pay attention to your feelings. How are you now feeling? Where in your body are your feelings most intense? What are your thoughts?
I want you to now put this agitated state to one side and I want you to think of something that excites you, makes you feel happy enthused, motivates you. Again, try to get a picture of this happening and make it more realistic by adding any sense you can access.
Pay attention again to your feelings. What are your thoughts and feelings now? Where in your body are they most intense? How do they differ from the feelings you experienced in the agitated state?
Does either state bring out the best in you as a coach?
Which state would your performers prefer to see you in?
In a recent seminar around Emotional Intelligence I showed 60 people video clips of two sport coaches displaying differing coaching styles. In the first clip the football coach was berating his players at half time for an inept first half performance.
The coach was so irate that he threatened to sack two of the players on the spot and challenged another couple of players to a fight if things didn’t improve.
The coach was definitely in the agitated state.
The second clip showed a gymnastics coach watching one of his performers during a competition and displaying completely opposite behaviours to the football coach; supportive, enthusiastic, non-judgemental. More akin to the happy, enthused state.
When I asked the audience which style of coaching they would prefer to experience, 15 opted for the football coach’s direct style, 22 for the more supportive style displayed by the gymnastics coach and the rest for a style of coaching that combined both approaches.
This asks the question that as coaches do we need to alter our coaching styles to meet the differing needs of performers? My own opinion is yes and this awareness and adaptation is what I term as Behavioural Agility. Key to this is understanding and developing our own EI and understanding and developing the EI of the people we coach.
Emotional Intelligence is about being smart with your emotions. It’s about tuning into yourself and others and then using this valuable information to better manage yourself and your relationships with others.
Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ“ sets out four main elements to EI.
The ability to read your own emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
Controlling your own emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness
The ability to sense, understand and react to others’ emotions while comprehending social networks.
- Relationship management
The ability to inspire, influence and develop others while managing conflict.
What are your thoughts? Is EI an important skill and tool for the coach?
Dave is a Performance Coach and works with individuals and teams, in sport and business, developing Emotional Intelligence to improve performance.
He is currently working with coaches within Premiership Football, Rugby League and Hockey. He is an Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University working within the Sports Coaching Department lecturing on various aspects of Sports Coaching.