Leveraging Upon Multiple Intelligences in Coaching

Sep 28, 2023

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Albert Einstein

Coaching through Multiple intelligences is about understanding, identifying, and believing in the unique talents of clients generatively, and empowering them to achieve their potential through their unique capabilities. Howard Gardner’s seminal work on this spawned multiple other valuable theories and models, such as Emotional Intelligence, Strength Finder, and others.

Gardner proposed that human intelligence goes beyond a single, monolithic entity and that it encompasses eight distinct intelligences, each representing a unique way in which individuals perceive, understand, and interact with the world. Many of these eight can be further classified into multiple other intelligences. It’s a tragedy that Harvard University where Gardner taught reverted to IQ as the basis of admission after briefly discarding it.

What are Gardner’s 8 multiple intelligence types?

Linguistic Intelligence

Linguistic Intelligence is about the mastery of language and communication. People with this intelligence excel in writing of all types such as prose, poetry or articles, teaching, and any form of communication. Communication is the key factor to successful performance in any field. Integrated with some of the other intelligences described here, this can be a triggering strength in one’s journey. Coaching can help the client to identify this strength to help them progress in whatever career they have chosen. Coaching is empathetic communication, and linguistic intelligence can be a medium with which clients can embark on self-discovery.


Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence is the aptitude for problem-solving and logical reasoning. Jacque Binet IQ tests mostly measure this intelligence, sometimes with Spatial intelligence that follows. At one time, this was a highly coveted skill in any workspace requiring analytical decision-making skills. It still is to some extent, but mostly in individual work. Working with teams in collaboration requires additional inter and intra-personal intelligence. A good coach can help in integrating these. If one looks at Coaching as a journey into the unknown, logical-mathematical intelligence helps clients connect the pieces to evoke awareness.


Spatial Intelligence

Spatial Intelligence is proficiency in visualizing and manipulating spatial information. Designers, architects, illustrators, and artists are blessed with this intelligence. People with this intelligence can be creative in their expression in visuals. If one looks at Coaching as a canvas for the client to be painted on, spatial intelligence can help clients paint their unique visions.


Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence

Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence is the skill of using the body for expression and achievement. Athletes, dancers, yoga teachers, and circus performers excel in this intelligence. Creating body awareness including breathing can be a powerful part of sensory awareness exploration in coaching. If one views Coaching as a stage, bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence can help the client choreograph their journey.


Musical Intelligence

Musical Intelligence is the sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, and melody. Neuroscience tells us that this skill is related to mathematics, especially geometry, and can be helpful in pattern recognition. Music by itself is a healing intelligence, as is Body intelligence. These help manage stress well. If Coaching is a symphony, musical intelligence can provide clients with the notes to harmonize their lives.


Interpersonal Intelligence

Interpersonal Intelligence or Social Intelligence is the capacity to understand and interact effectively with others. This is the second half of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence model. People with this skill are amazing networkers, conflict resolvers, and leaders. They can be successful in anything they do, as this is an essential skill in work and life relationships and leadership. If Coaching is a partnership, interpersonal intelligence is the key to building meaningful connections and fostering collaboration.


Intrapersonal Intelligence

Intrapersonal Intelligence is about Self-awareness and understanding one’s own emotions and managing them. This is the first half of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence model. Without this skill, no human being can achieve their potential. This helps one to discover who one is, find out the meaningful purpose and passion of one’s life, and journey towards it. Spiritual seeking is the highest level of this intelligence. If Coaching is a mirror, intrapersonal intelligence helps clients see themselves more clearly.


Naturalistic Intelligence

Naturalistic Intelligence is the connection and understanding of the natural world. We are finally discovering that our survival, along with other species and the planet, depends on this intelligence. This intelligence is the opposite end of the ignorance of evil selfish greed leading to dystopia. Greta Thunberg is a great example of this rare intelligence. If Coaching is a forest, naturalistic intelligence helps clients find their path within it and hug the trees.

Coaches can leverage these intelligences to guide clients as individuals and teams on a path of self-discovery, empowerment, and personal growth. Gardner’s framework serves as a compass, helping both coaches and clients navigate the multi-intelligent terrain of human potential.

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

Picture Credit: Slidemodel

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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