Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a concept originally developed by John Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990. They defined it as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” With the platform that coaches have and the all-too-common irrational behaviors seen throughout the profession, coaches would be wise to understand their emotional intelligence.

Mayer and Salovey established five main domains of emotional intelligence:
1. Knowing one’s emotions
2. Managing emotions
3. Motivating oneself
4. Recognizing emotions in others
5. Handling relationships

Daniel Goleman expanded on their research in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ and defined EI as “a set of skills, including control of one’s impulses, self-motivation, empathy and social competence in interpersonal relationships.” The EI concept has spread and the idea that EI is a more popular judge of success that IQ is becoming more widely-known.

Emotional Intelligence Image

The field of education is one that has benefitted significantly from the EI research. Tens of thousands of schools have developed programs to enhance the EI of its students. In addition, the research has aided business professions, particularly in the growth of leadership and employee development.

When studying Mayer and Salovey’s five domains, one can establish that domains 1-3 are intrapersonal in nature, and domains 4-5 are interpersonal. I will break these up into two separate blogs and suggest ways that coaches can analyze and develop their emotional intelligence. In this blog I provide six ways that coaches can be emotionally intelligent through intrapersonal communication:

1. Belief in yourself – In order to be successful in any endeavor, one must know that they are capable of performing.
2. Understand why you coach – Hopefully the answer to this question has something to do with helping people. It is alright to have your own personal goals but helping people, especially young people, should be at the core of why you coach.
3. Reflect on your own experiences – We must be able to understand the events that have occurred in our lives and how they shape the way we coach and how we lead, both positively and negatively. Understanding our “story” and coming to grips with the wounds that have shaped us is important. Being able to articulate this “story” for the betterment of our athletes is vital.
4. Understand what your values are – What is important to you in your life, both personally and professionally? Those values that are important to you will be on display for your athletes, for better or worse.
5. Realization that true competition lies within ourselves – Sometimes wins and losses are not in our control. We will inevitably be beaten by someone who is better. To become excellent in any walk of life one must become the best “me” that they can.
6. Seeks models inside and outside of coaching – Whether these are people we know, such as personal mentors, or successful people that we read about through history, business, and coaching, it is imperative that we have others who guide us, just as it is important we guide our athletes.

As Socrates, one of the great coaches ever, once said one must first “know thyself.” This holds true in order to be an emotionally intelligent coach. The second blog in this two-part series will be posted on Thursday this week.

Resources Mentioned in This Blog
Article: “Emotional Intelligence” http://www.unh.edu/emotional_intelligence/EIAssets/EmotionalIntelligenceProper/EI1990%20Emotional%20Intelligence.pdf

Book: Emotional Intelligence http://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Intelligence-Matter-More-Than/dp/055338371X

Question: What personal experiences have you had that need your reflection to better understand why you coach the way you do?


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