There is no denying that being coachable is fundamental to your personal growth and development in whatever field you have chosen to pursue. If you are not willing to stretch the boundaries of what you know and challenge your own deeply held beliefs and assumptions, success may prove somewhat elusive.
This is particularly true in the business world, whether you are a sharp and ambitious grad fresh from an MBA program, an engineer turned entrepreneur, or an experienced executive struggling with flat or stagnant growth. There are always benefits to be gained from considering another perspective or the insight of someone who has already overcome a similar challenge.
This of course requires a willingness to step back, take a hard and honest look at yourself and your situation, and acknowledge where there may be room for improvement. Consider it a purely mercenary and self-serving process – there are mentors and strategic advisors out there somewhere with the answers you need, your mission should be to pick the brains of as many of them as possible to up your game.
To lever their insight, you must be receptive and appreciative of frank and honest feedback. That is, you must be coachable. There is no room here for defensiveness and fragile egos in need of regular stroking. To be truly coachable takes no shortage of emotional intelligence, or EQ, a concept popularized by Daniel Goleman.
IQ, the traditional measure of cognitive intelligence, focuses on one’s intellectual, analytical, logical and rational abilities. EQ, however, looks at an individual’s ability to cope with stress, crises and unpleasant situations. Someone with a high EQ is adept at reading and understanding the nuances of other people. They are good teambuilders, dealmakers and leaders.
Goleman identified the five domains of EQ as:
- Knowing your emotions.
- Managing your own emotions.
- Motivating yourself.
- Recognizing and understanding other people’s emotions.
- Managing relationships, ie., managing the emotions of others.
Someone with a high EQ is therefore a confident and well-rounded individual who can accept constructive feedback and criticism in the spirit in which it is intended. On the other hand, they can provide criticism and feedback in a manner that is empathetic to its intended recipient to ensure a positive experience all around.
But people who have a low EQ, and may therefore be lacking confidence, self-esteem and/or emotional security, will find it that much more difficult to effectively coach or be coached, because they will more easily get their hackles up, feel put down, or be fearful of moving out of their comfort zone. How brilliant they are in a purely cognitive sense doesn’t really matter. Consider the classic stereotype of the socially inept nerd who has achieved great things academically but is still unsuccessful.
The good news is that there is always opportunity for improvement. While IQ peaks and levels off at around 17 years of age, the qualities of a strong EQ can be developed at any age through coaching and practice. It is not an easy process. Nor is it a skill set that can be acquired simply by reading a book or two. It takes consistent focus with a qualified coach to master Goleman’s five domains as outlined above.
The value of cultivating a strong EQ in yourself and your team should not be overlooked. When it comes to hiring new staff, their experience and technical qualifications for the job must be weighed against how they present themselves as a well-rounded, confident and balanced individuals. This is crucial to building a strong team made up of people who can effectively communicate, collaborate and confidently provide you with the frank feedback that will strengthen the entire organization.
If need assistance, KEYSTEP can help.