Recently I started working with the head coach of a college basketball team. He is quite well respected and better yet, he is one of the truly good and nice coaches. He has been a coach for over 25 years and has been quite successful. Last year, he had a great team which for all practical purposes, underperformed. The issue was neither the athletic ability of the players nor his coaching. The issue was, according to him, that for some reason they got nervous and could not get over the hurdle of high expectations for both the individual players and the team. Thus, his call to me.
I asked him, “What is the difference between one of your players shooting free throws during practice versus shooting them during the end of a game? The ball size has not changed, the distance to the basket has not changed, the athlete did not become smaller or less skilled … What was different is the proverbial “pressure.” But what is pressure? Is pressure not a high degree of emotions? If so, then doesn’t it follow that a higher degree of EQ would allow the athlete under pressure to work through the pressure better? Of course!
So my argument is that athletes, who are typically over-coached on physical and technical competencies of the sport they are in, are also grossly under-coached in the area of EQ. This is primarily because the coaches are themselves athletes who learned the “old” way where “emotions” have little place in practice time, game time, and outside-the-game time. But more and more, coaches are realizing that the playing field is leveling – the difference between great athletes and the average ones is getting smaller and smaller. And the difference is to get athletes to perform at their best – especially when stress levels in game-time situation go up. This is EQ.
Now, substitute the term “athlete” above with “corporate leader” – does the same rationale not apply?