Emotional intelligence can be defined as recognising and managing one’s own emotions to create different or better outcomes.
Basic coaching methodology is designed to help a person move forward, to create a change, to ultimately achieve a different outcome from what they are presently achieving. If a person didn’t desire a different outcome they would not have solicited coaching. Improving emotional intelligence and the practice of coaching thus share a common objective – the creation of better outcomes.
One of the foundations of coaching as a personal development tool is the assumption and assimilation of self responsibility. To get out of the role of victim and to guarantee success, I must first empower myself by recognising that my thoughts, emotions, decisions and behaviour have impacted on situations and created circumstances that have led me to where I am now; in coaching we could say that the ‘now’ is what we want to change.
This directly connects to the first domain of Emotional Intelligence -self awareness. I need to be aware of the emotions I have been experiencing, that have led me to make certain decisions which have then caused me to behave in a certain way that has led me to where I am now, (emotionally or physically).
Do I need to control certain emotions particularly in my interactions with others? Here we connect with the self management competencies of emotional intelligence.
As the coaching intervention evolves and we move to the ‘Options’ stage of the GROW model, the premise of self responsibilty obliges me to make my own choices on the actions that will lead to my objective. This often involves securing additional resources usually in the form of support from others; relationship management thus comes to the fore.
Many coaching assignments in the complexity of the world in the 21st century involve intangible goals of the type; ‘I wish to improve the relationship with my boss’, or ‘I wish to improve my listening skills’. These types of goals inevitably involve working on specific EI competencies and in the coaching process require much reflection, analysis and feedback from others.
A tool the coach can use in real time with the coachee and which requires a high level of self awareness on the part of the coach, is the ‘what I am experiencing’ tool. This is very useful if the coachee’s objective is related to a communication style that causes rejection in the other person. This tool, to be utilized only at the appropriate moment, and with the permission of the coachee, is basically a reflection back to him/her of what emotion the coachee is evoking in the coach.
In another scenario, highly emotionally intelligent coaches are aware of emotions that might be evoked in them by the coachees’s conversation, but are able to set their own emotions aside thus resisting judgement which allows them to continue asking powerful, objective questions that are the essence of effective coaching.
Without a doubt, emotional intelligence plays a major role in the coaching partnership, after all, to coach, we must ‘love’ people and be attuned to them. That attunement is about the emotional connection which begins with rapport – essential for a productive coaching relationship, and continues with understanding, empathy and support as the coaching partnership evolves.