Key elements of coaching are awareness and responsibility. The Concise Oxford Dictionary deﬁnes awareness as “conscious, not ignorant, having knowledge.” Webster’s Dictionary adds, “Awareness implies having knowledge of something through alertness in observing or in interpreting what one sees, hears, feels, etc.” Awareness can be raised or heightened considerably through focused attention and practice, a common tenet of coaching. Responsibility is crucial to establishing success because commitment rises when a person truly chooses to take responsibility for his or her thoughts and actions. Conversely, individual acceptance is low when someone is ordered to be responsible. Thus, both coach and subject must enter into the relationship with clear expectations of each other’s behavior and roles.
One of the things that apparently differentiate humans from many other animals is our awareness of self. We are able to form an identity for ourselves. However, just as many people have overinflated senses of their self-importance, many don’t really know or like who they are. Becoming more self-aware – one of the core components of coaching – is at the heart of EQ. As Chapman, a coaching psychologist and mindfulness practitioner, says, ‘self-awareness is the bedrock of emotional intelligence’. Mindfulness increases the level of emotional self-awareness, according to one study (Creswell et al 2007). Being able to know and articulate what you’re feeling correlates strongly with being able to manage the effects of negative feelings.
Awareness enables me to gather high quality information about any job of work before, during or after I perform it. I will therefore become aware of the internal interference I experience or the external interference I notice. I will similarly become aware of whether my performance, learning and enjoyment are in balance or whether something is missing.
The way this word sounds gives us the biggest clue as to its value as our second key coaching element. Response ability – the ability to respond. The word responsibility has developed negative connotations in the world of work. What’s your ﬁrst reaction when told your boss wants you to take on responsibility for something? If you’re anything like me it will be to run for cover knowing that your workload is about to increase. Taking on responsibility has become synonymous with being given more work. However, being asked to accept new responsibilities sounds better than being asked to do a load of new work. We know from looking at motivation earlier that taking on new responsibilities is often a motivator and so managers have used this to appeal to our better judgment. In truth taking on more responsibility should mean different work not more work. In a work situation a responsible person is a person who chooses to own a task and see it through. The key words here being chooses to. Once again we can see that forcing or telling people to accept responsibility will only go so far. It may produce an acceptable level of performance but it is unlikely to tap into people’s discretionary effort.
As coaches we encourage our clients to become more aware of how they think, feel and behave if they are working within EI principles, and to take personal responsibility for themselves and their behaviour and attitudes. For the coach, it is also vitally important that we develop our own awareness and responsibility for our coaching practice and professionalism. We need to be able to evaluate our abilities and core competencies, to train and develop where necessary and beneﬁcial, and to take responsibility for our own continuing professional development.
Emotional intelligence coaching : improving performance for leaders, coaches, and the individual, 2009, Stephen Neale, Lisa Spencer-Arnell, and Liz Wilson, page # 204
Coaching at work, 2007, powering your team with awareness, responsibility, and trust, Matt Somers,
Mindful Coaching, 2013, Liz Hall, How mindfulness can transform coaching practice
The manager as coach, 2007, Jerry W. Gilley and Ann Gilley,