There are many fitness professionals within the fitness industry that are experienced, skilled and have an impressive CV, yet fail to support members and clients towards their goals effectively because they fail to pick up on feelings or issues beyond the training environment. This is probably because they are lacking in Emotional Intelligence (EI), the ability to understand your environment, succeed in the here and now and get the best from others.

Often people focus on their intelligence or personality i.e. improving their knowledge by doing very technical based qualifications. EI is what will turn those resources into an effective performance and ultimately results. Research from the USA has highlighted that those with a greater emotional intelligence earn more than those with a lower emotional intelligence!

The qualities traditionally associated with success at work, such as toughness, determination and vision, are “threshold capabilities”, so while they are essential they do not distinguish the exceptionally effective coaches or leaders. EI provides the next layer of effectiveness in getting results for members and clients.

Some of the key components of EI include empathy (understanding other’s feelings to get better results), social skills (friendliness with a purpose to get cooperation and agreement), self awareness (understanding your emotions, strengths and weaknesses so you are truly honest with yourself) and self regulation(managing your feelings and emotions so you act on them in a thoughtful and constructive way).

Empathy is particularly important, as coaches and leaders increasingly need to be able to lead teams, get them to work together and make good use of different views. Equally as health clubs, leisure and sports centres increasingly work across cultures the scope for misunderstandings rises, yet being able being able to tune into others’ unvoiced concerns is invaluable.

The low EI coach or leader may have less awareness of emotions and how these impact behaviour, can be rigid and rely too heavily on technical expertise, focus on tasks rather than relationships and not look after themselves and their teams in challenging times.

The good news is that you can develop your EI! Changing behaviours can improve it, yet over time you are likely to revert to type, therefore to make it stick you need to change your attitude and not just your habits (people tend to behave in ways that match their attitudes).

This can mean taking time to reflect on and understand what really matters to you, reset your values and then align your behaviour to these values. To learn EI you also need feedback. It is important that the feedback comes from someone you can trust to be objective with their comments as often people take feedback personally and can get defensive.

Interestingly many large, global organisations are moving away from providing training on the hard skills and are now focused on the human side i.e. Emotional Intelligence.

The global business psychology consultancy JCA commissioned a study around EI on more than 25,00 people in the workplace and found significant differences between groups.-

Self Employed people scored highest in EI, perhaps because they need strong interpersonal skills and awareness to be successful. Graduates scored lowest, particularly around interpersonal skills and confidence. While EI increases with age and experience (as you would expect) this suggests that there is a need for the education sector to develop EI before graduates and young people enter the workplace. Also of note the financial sector scored lower in EI than many sectors with people being more critical, less flexible and less people orientated, although this has improved over the last decade.

Six Simple Steps to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence:

1. Be Self Aware: This involves realising that your life would improve if you worked to develop your EI.

2. Be Open to Change: This is really listening and accepting that you have areas that you need to develop and realising this will take effort and time.

3. Identify a SIMPLE Change: Often people identify a major issue, like tackling a conflict and then become too demoralised when it is too challenging. So make a simple change, such as creating time to talk to new colleagues can be effective.

4. Practise, Practise, Practise: Committing to a simple change, and practising it every day without fail, is likely to build your belief in your ability to develop and also provide some timely results.

5. Broadcast: Tell trusted friend or colleague that you are going to make changes and check in with them after a few weeks.

6. Find a friend: Find someone you trust to prompt you and do the same for them.

For fitness, sales, leadership or service training, coaching and mentoring for your health and fitness club, leisure centre, call +44 (0) 7815 800 939 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.