“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn, rather than teaching them.” Sir John Whitmore
What is Coaching?
Coaching facilitates thinking and helps you draw on your own resources and skills to find the answers for yourself. And so it grows your capability, your capacity and your possible futures. It is goal oriented – focussed on developing new thinking, new understanding and achieving growth. It considers all human aspects including behavioural, performance, self-awareness, emotional acuity, developmental opportunities. And it can be transformational – moving you beyond step change into a whole new world of possibilities.
Coaches work with coachees/clients to increase self-awareness and awareness of others – crucial abilities for leaders. As each of us grows our understanding we allow ourselves a new freedom to think differently. When we think differently we can choose different behaviours. When we behave differently we will get different results – results which at our present levels of thinking we can only begin to imagine…
What happens during a coaching engagement? A coach works with their coachees/clients by starting from wherever they are up to. And by stepping with them into an exploration of what it is they wish to change, or navigate, or learn to live with. Coaching is non-judgemental. Coaching is completely confidential. These factors provide coachees/clients with a space to freely explore thoughts, dreams, feelings and options.
Coaching provides a safe space – often rare in the working environment. Coaching begins then with an effective alliance. It begins with a session which explores whether coach and coachee/client are well suited – asking ‘can we work together?’ First meetings establish something of the coachee/client’s preferred learning style, generates a level of trust which is comfortable, and establishes some parameters. Coaches offer stretch – which is an invitation to step outside customary comfort zones. Once the coaching agreement or contract is in place coach and coachee will set up a goal setting session and/or contract for the specific outcomes of the coaching series. Sessions will always be tailored to the needs of the coachee/client.
How do you get the best out of coaching?
As a coachee/client: Be prepared to: invent goals which inspire you; be accountable for your actions; be willing to reflect; be ready for each successive session – with an idea of what you specifically require at that time; consider how you want to feel and not just what you want to think or do; be open to new thoughts and behaviours; offer feedback to your coach about what is working and what is not working so well; bring the high level story of what is going on for you; notice and reflect on what you are learning; capture your insights as you go.
As a coach: Work with whatever your coachee/client brings; establish permission to question directly what you are noticing, to provide feedback, summaries, clarification, appropriate challenge; listen well; sit comfortably with silence; speak succinctly, specifically and with generosity; offer acknowledgement, encouragement and useful humour. Use everything you know (including effective structures, systems and tools) to be in service of your client at every moment of the coaching engagement.
“The greatest gift we can offer each other is the framework in which to think for ourselves.” Nancy Kline in her book: More Time to Think