So Who Coaches The Coaches?
So who coaches the coaches? Well the coaches of course. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom or business knowledge and so we need our own coaches to help us make it to the next level. This may seem strange, particularly when you consider that our job very often involves coaching others.
The captains of industry are just like us. They may have responsibility for budgets in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, but many of them reach out to coaches outside of their business so that they may get a different perspective and consequently make better decisions. This is extremely useful and perhaps prevents the dangers of groupthink creeping into their boardrooms.
Very often, we will find during consulting or coaching assignment that we learn a great deal from the people we interact with. As facilitators and project managers we are also learning. But this type of learning is not enough to help us to lift our game in our own businesses and to grow our practices substantially and profitably. For this we need a competent coach, who can draw out our best ideas and help us to explore possibilities that are subliminal at best, and perhaps unarticulated even to ourselves.
Good coaching models tend not to be formulaic or inflexible. It takes all of the active listening and mirroring skills of the coach to unearth where we are on our journey, and where our ultimate destination is. We present a canvas to them and they help us to fill in the details that are missing. There may be an element of encouraging, cajoling and even the odd kick in the pants to move us from where we are, onto the path that is right for us. The solution comes from within us and not from the coach per se.
So where is the starting point for commencing or receiving a coaching session that can deliver? The following is a useful model I sometimes use for describing the coaching process and for demonstrating the components that can be built into it.
Discovering The Elusive Next Level of Success
Every coaching assignment starts with looking for the elusive next level of success. This is where many clients have blockages, which they need to overcome before they can realize their full potential. They are so close to their own situation that they may be unable to see what is limiting them or totally sabotaging their efforts to break through.
An external coach can often see through the cluttered thinking and show where habitual limitations may be tripping the client up. An external skills analysis can unearth hidden skills that can be transformative for the client’s business and for the client personally. This can be augmented by uncovering more effective ways of speaking and behaving that will serve the client.
Articulating Primary Objectives of The Coaching Sessions
Once the discovery process has been completed, there is clarity around the core objectives of the client. Now it is time to agree specific deliverables that the client needs at a business level, and perhaps at a personal level as well. This prevents confusion at later stages of the coaching process and it provides terms of reference to which the coach and the client may refer as the assignment proceeds
Choosing The Right Approach For The Client
Everyone is different and we all react differently to different stimuli. It is often necessary to challenge the client and his thinking, but the way in which you choose to do this will be dependent on the client’s personality, belief system, and personal style. Some client’s need to be gently coaxed and others may need honest and blunt language to move the needle for them.
The approach will tend to evolve as you get to know the client better. Maintaining respect and impartiality is key. You are not there to judge the client nor to supply all of the answers. Rather, you are there to facilitate the client discovering the answers for themselves.
Using The Correct Tools and Techniques
Although the coach may have several structured programs to choose from, as well as a wealth of experience in using tools and techniques that work for the client’s benefit, it may be necessary to deploy psychometric tools that quickly capture important personality and behavioral norms exhibited by the client. These may include tools like the Enneagram, Strengths Finder from Gallup, or Myers and Briggs personality tests, just to mention a few.
Delivering The Correct Modules In The Right Order and At The Right Time
Not only do you need to pick the right tools and techniques for the job, you must also deploy the correct modules for the client at the right time and in the right order. Coaching is a process and you may sew confusion if you deal with matters in what appears to be out of sequence from the client’s perspective.
Coming to understand this model may be helpful in planning your coaching sessions with your own clients. Even with all of this knowledge, however, does not mean that you do not require a coach or a mentor yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out and grab the support you need to help you take your business and yourself to the next level of success. I know that’s what I do.