Hello, my friends.
I’m so glad you’re here. I have a powerful lesson for you if you have any interest in the world of coaching. Whether you’re a coach, a potential client, or an existing client of a coach, you will find this of interest.
What I’m going to talk about is based on comments and questions that often come up in the early days of my coaching sessions with executives, particularly those who have had other coaches in their past. There are many people who are calling themselves coaches who absolutely break one, two, or (in some cases) all three of these rules. In doing so, they really are not coaching. Or if they are coaching, it’s extremely weak coaching.
What are these three rules for great coaching?
1. Listen for truth versus assumptions.
There is no objective truth. Every one of us has our own unique perspective. One of my good friends talks about the beach ball. Two people are holding a beach ball. Each sees different colors. It’s the very same beach ball, but each has a different perspective in seeing different colors. One may see red and green, while the other sees yellow and blue.
Often when a client is talking about an obstacle, a challenge, why they’re stuck, why they’re feeling frustrated, or why they’re feeling ineffective, it is based upon an interpretation of what someone else is doing. Or it may be based on a particular circumstance or an assumption about people, an assumption that is not necessarily true.
An effective coach helps raise the awareness of the client as to another way to interpret it. The coach helps the client see from a different vantage point, providing a more well-rounded perspective. This often helps the client see that they were pigeon holed in a particular area based upon an assumption they had made that really had no basis in truth. They needed to go verify it or ask a question. That is a huge differentiation.
2. Avoid the pulpit.
When you’re telling somebody what to do – when you’re giving a moral or ethical lesson – you are not coaching.
Avoid the pulpit. Let them tell the story. Let them stay in the center of the conversation. Whether you have what you believe is a better idea, a better strategy, or something you did years ago, you can call that being a friend or a mentor, but it is absolutely not coaching.
So, what you do is ask questions.
Anytime you feel yourself drifting into the area where you’re about to tell them what to do, you have to condition yourself to hold that statement, and replace it with a discovering question. This would be something that discovers how they’re feeling, how they are thinking, and what options they have. This, again, is a huge differentiator between great and effective coaching, and run of the mill or really poor coaching.
3. Coach the individual, not the circumstances.
It is very common in weak coaching for a coach to coach the situation and not the individual.
It is really easy, when someone is telling you a story, to get caught up in the circumstances. You can get caught up in the details of the narrative of the situation that they are in. While even great coaches have to listen to that, what you are listening for more than anything else is how the individual is thinking, feeling, and behaving during those circumstances. Your questions are not so much about the circumstances (“How can you get out of that circumstance?”) but, “What assets, values, and principles do you have? What skill sets do you bring to the table?”
It is analogous to the saying, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; teach him to fish, and he eats for life.”
When you are talking about the narrow set of circumstances that have caused the dilemma, the challenge, or the obstacle for the client, and if you just spend all of your time on that, you have helped with that particular set of circumstances. But you haven’t necessarily increased their awareness of themselves.
When you focus on the individual and how they are showing up, thinking, feeling, and acting; they can apply that new knowledge, awareness, and confidence to a wide variety of circumstances and not just the precise circumstances that caused you to have that session in the first place.
If you or someone you know needs this kind of coaching, check out our Ascend on Demand online program. It is focused on helping individuals, not circumstances!