Lessons from Elite Sport- How being "Outcome Focused" Can Help You Become More Emotionally Intelligent

Daniel Goleman developed the Emotional Intelligence Framework as a way to identify why someone is successful. The idea was that traditional measures of intelligence, like IQ, was not sufficient in predicting success and therefore another model was needed. The emotional quotient (EQ) was created as a way to measure someones ability to interact with others and it included both awareness and regulation; awareness of your self and others and then the ability to regulate yourself and your relationship with others. This creates 4 skill areas that help someone become more "emotionally intelligent."

This is a powerful model in terms of identifying areas of growth, but actually changing behavior is always the most difficult challenge. Other than getting older and having more experience how do you actually accelerate the change? A former rugby player gave me an insight that I think was useful. Before we get there, I will provide some context and history on the way I approach interactions.\

I was an elite rugby coach for over 20 years, coaching the women at Penn State as well as coaching USA women's teams at the Rio Olympics and 2 World Cups. For most of that time I supported myself by being a leadership and organizational development consultant. This gave me the flexibility to have a successful rugby coaching career but it also allowed me to transfer learnings from elite sport to business and then back again. One of the requirements to be a successful coach in elite sport is the focus on processes. In any team sport it is impossible to control if you win because you cannot control the quality of the opposition. Therefore your focus as a coach has to be on the processes your team follows while they play. There is a great book by Bill Walsh called The Score Takes Care of Itself where he talks about how everything that the 49s did was important as a process, including how the assistants answered the phone!

As a coach I focused on the process, but then I began to ask myself how would I know if I was doing a good job. What should the Key Performance Indicators be that were linked to the processes. This is where I began to develop the model of being outcome-focused. As a coach I would set outcomes for a practice, develop activities that would help the players meet that outcome, and then have measures that would identify if that practice was effective. I would review that practice and improve for next time - this became my cycle for continuous improvement.

I brought this approach to being outcome focused to the business side and included it in both my executive coaching practice and the workshops that I deliver. I would ask my coaching clients "what is the outcome?" or "what are you trying to achieve?" and this helped them develop clarity on their next steps. I learned that many people make decisions without having a clear understanding of what they want to accomplish. This approach was particularly useful when considering communication and I created a communication cycle that allowed leaders to manage the interaction with their teams.