WHAT is COACHING?
International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as a thought- provoking and creative partnership with clients that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Coaching is a relationship where a coach and a client are viewed as equals who work together to achieve the goals of the client (also called the 'coachee'). The process of coaching zooms in on the coachee's areas of weaknesses that affect their well- being and thus results in their eventual speedy and effective learning.
The role of the coach is to align the beliefs and values of his client so as to open the way for new consciousness and practices that would benefit the client. In order to perform their role, a coach has to be equipped with various interpersonal skills, such as powerful questioning, deep listening, somatic intervention, NLP, psycho-cybernetics, gestalt, ontology, cognitive psychology, emotional intelligence, spiritual approach and other relevant skills.
WHEN WOULD A LEADER NEED A COACH?
Accomplishing success in one's life and career is often difficult without external guidance and assistance. Here are some compelling reasons why leaders turn to coaches:
1.Leaders could feel stuck in a situation where they know what they want but find it impossible to attain their goals. Often, they find themselves too busy, distracted or stressed to accomplish anything.
2. They have tried many avenues to solve challenges in their personal or corporate lives but no avail. They ultimately still feel disappointed with their results.
3. Their quality of life is deteriorating as a result of their incessant desire to chase after many financial or career achievements. They may be putting their health and mental well- being at risk because of this.
4. Be it in their office or home space, leaders could feel a sense of resignation when their circumstances do not seem to improve despite their best efforts.
5. Despite having good technical skills and stellar achievements, some leaders lack the intrapersonal and communication skills that could have helped them unlock their full potential.
6. They dream of creating an atmosphere of joy, peace and productive engangement in their home, community and organisation.
7. When new challenges in the business front arises, leaders recognise the need for a fresher, renewed perspective and way of thinking to cope with these challenges.
8. They acknowledge that an organisation needs a leader who carries himself with confidence in order to rebuild and change the climate of the organisation when relationships turn sour and the collective morale is low.
9. In order to solve inner tensions and dysfunctional relationships within their top teams, leaders seek to find ways in improving their alignment and engangement methods to make achieving common goals easier. This would allow them to re- energise their organisation and shift it towards productivity.
10. When there is a crisis in leadership, decision- making processes slow down and morales become low. When this happens, leaders need to reconfigure their strategies to get their organisation back on track.
SKILLS AS A GREAT COACH
A good coach is someone whose authenticity and presence can create a climate of trust and intimacy with their client. Trust is a key factor for a successful working relationship between a coach and his client.
A good coach is also able to demonstrate that he or she is holding a high degree of ethical standard. Confidentiality is at the center of each coaching engagement.
It is important for a coach to give his client's interests his full presence and attention.
When a client speaks of things that are important to him and demonstrates growth in his mindset and sense of self, a good coach should be able to recognise these and facilitate further improvements in their client's developing headspace. A coach should have the ability to ask questions that reveal vital information needed to benefit his working relationship with the client. He should be able to communicate effectively during his coaching sessions and use clear, articulate and direct language when observing and giving feedback that would positively impact his clients.
A coach should be equipped with the ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information that would help his client to gain awareness of his capabilities. This would pave the way towards accomplishing results and unlocking opportunities for further learning during coaching and real work/life situations. Partnering with the client to develop goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attractive, realistic and with target dates) are vital to a client's development. A coach should keep abreast with his client’s plan, learning style and pace and reinforce his own commitment towards his goals.
“Learning is retarded in conditions of high anxiety and low acceptance. For most tasks, people have the intellectual knowledge to perform well; they just have a hard time acting on what they know.”
― Tim Gallwey
HOW A COACH WORKS
There is no straight rule or formula on how a coach works. However there is a conventional wisdom on how a good coach should organise their work with the client.
On a typical engagement for Executive Coaching sponsored by a company, a client is usually offered a minimum of 6 sessions of coaching, for up to 12 or 16 sessions. The number of sessions depend on the case severity and urgency for change.
The first few meetings would focus on coaching agreement, goal setting, trust building and discussions of choice agendas that the client deems pertinent to his learning outcome.
As the client starts to recognise and work on his limiting patterns, the coach will introduce a step by step practice that would enable the client to have a heightened state of awareness. This leads them into a more resourceful state where they could embody empowering moods to hold better conversations with their teams so as to produce their desired results.
A coaching conversation during each session could last between one to two hours. It is important for the client to identify their goals in each session and have meaningful conversations with the coach that would open the door to new possibilities and courses of actions. The end- point of these sessions is to have the client shift their values and beliefs and adopt new practices that strengthen their sense of purpose within their organisation.
Effective coaching engagements are also determined by the client's willingness to embrace a new mindset, delve into unfamiliar territories and expand their self capacity. After the first few sessions, the client would be able to let go of their old patterns and embark on a new journey towards self- evolution and self- betterment.
A highly valued area of coaching is the ability to challenge the pre- existing beliefs of a client that puts them in the backseat of their own potential.
The process of discovering blindspot is a critical success factor of coaching.
Some examples of blindspots are:
1. Unproductive pattern of reactive responses in stressful situation (anger, resentment, hatred, jealousy, withdrawal, passivity, hostility, etc)
2. Self defeating behavior when faced with challenges (loss of confidence, procastination, fear of rejection, fear of losing power, fear of being disliked, etc)
3. Inability to collaborate and work together with different personality styles or adapt to new situations and circumstances. This is often associated with an unhealthy adherence to familiar and safe environments, thus hampering adaptabiltiy to new challenges.
Many more of such blindspots can be found during coaching conversations through powerful questioning by an astute coach.
“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."
--- Vince Lombardi
hOW TO SELECT A GOOD COACh
Knowing how to select a good coach is crucial for your success in reaping the most benefits from a coaching engagement.
Firstly, it is important to recognise the type of coaching that is suited for your needs. A retired businessman or pensioner can claim to be a coach, but a good coach does not necessarily have to have an extensive operational experience in an industry. Being a good coach is different from being a good advisor or consultant.
Most good coaches have the ability to see a situation that a client faces with a fresh perspective. They are curious about why their clients think and behave the way they do and demonstrate genuine interest in making their clients successful by growing their inner strengths. Simply giving advice or sharing past experiences does not guarantee a satisfactory coaching process.
As coaching becomes more popular, many big players in the training or consulting industries are joining the field. They would often claim that their expertise could be applied to coaching. However, this could be misleading. A well-known brand in training or consultancy is not necessarily equipped for executive coaching. In many cases, a capable coach may not originate from an established institution or franchise that specialises in training or consulting. Great coaches have their own signature practice and often only accept limited clients per year. They often work with a select few high level, C-1 individual or very senior position executives. To put it simply, if you want to learn from the best, you would look for someone with a tried- and- tested methodology and a proven positive track record.
Doing background checks on a coach is important in finding someone who wants to help you succeed in your area of interest. A good coach should also have good rapport with their partners and previous clients. Take your time in searching for a coach that is right for you and not only a coach that is popular. Ultimately, you want to find a good fit who could empathize with your drive and passion to become better as well as someone who is invested in nurturing you into the best version of yourself.
“The essence of coaching is growing the whole person to grow the whole leader. This means facilitating leaders to connect to their core values and core talents to their organization, to their customer, and to their lives"
--- Kevin Cashman
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