Show me a professional coach who is successful, and I’ll show you a coach who has high emotional intelligence (EQ). Emotional intelligence, or the ability to perceive, access, and regulate emotions, encompasses five key components: self-awareness, self-regulation/self-management, internal motivation, empathy, and social skills.
Last week, we talked about self-awareness. This week, let’s take a closer look at self-regulation/self-management — what it is and why it matters for coaches.
Daniel Goleman, in his article, What Makes a Leader, defines self-regulation this way: “Self-regulation, which is like an ongoing inner conversation, is the component of emotional intelligence that frees us from being prisoners of our feelings.” Simply put, it is the ability to control our impulses and moods.
Imagine a professional coach working with a client who consistently fails to follow through on assignments. The coach, in his growing frustration and anger, asks with an edge to his voice, “What happened this time?” Unable to manage his frustration, he mentally checks out for the remainder of the session.
But if the coach self-regulates well, he would gently but firmly confront the client on his repeated failures to follow through. He would choose his words carefully and try to get to the root of the problem, perhaps asking, “What’s really going on here?” His judgment-free tone and probing inquiry would invite the client to look below the surface and encourage self-disclosure.
Competencies of Self-Regulation
Why is self-regulation so important for coaches? First, it fosters trust between the coach and client, which is foundational for a fruitful coaching relationship. It also builds credibility with clients and colleagues.
Coaches who self-regulate well, generally exhibit core competencies:
- Emotional self-control: Controlling negative and positive emotions, as well as impulsive emotions and actions. You choose to delay immediate gratification for the greater good.
- Integrity: Your words, actions, and choices align with your core values. Clients can trust you because you’re consistent and stable.
- Initiative: You know when action is required, and you don’t hesitate to take it. You take responsibility for the success of your business, and you do what it takes to take it where it needs to be. You follow through on your commitments to your colleagues and clients.
- Flexibility: You know how to dance in the moment. You can adapt to shifting circumstances and work with different people from diverse backgrounds and situations.
- Achievement: You set standards for yourself and your business and you meet them. You are motivated and accomplish what you set out to do.
Self-Regulation and Managing Stress
A key component of self-regulation is managing stress well.
Because let’s be honest, stress is an inherent component of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. As business owners, coaches must learn how to manage their own businesses, create and manage systems that keep their business running smoothly, and cash flow.
If you’re feeling stressed, you need to learn to address it in ways that are healthy. Some helpful tools to manage stress include:
- Praying, Bible study, meditating on God’s Word
- Engaging in regular spiritual practices like retreat, silence and solitude, and journaling
- Participating in a regular exercise program. If you don’t have one already, consider walking, Pilates, jogging, or sports
- Sleeping 7 or 8 hours a night
- Eating well
- Cultivating gratitude
- Creating a life outside of work
- Growing your support network and maintaining strong social ties
Self-regulation, or self-management, is key to managing your business, your clients, and the inevitable ebbs and flows inherent in running a successful coaching business. In fact, some believe it to be one of the most critical factors of your success.
How can you cultivate self-regulation in your life? What support or help do you need to grow in this area?