As a part of my MBA program, I dedicated the past five days to the study of Coaching. While I have studied Leadership on my own and in the classroom, this was my first learning experience focused solely on Coaching. (Many thanks to Dr. Deborah Roebuck for her incredibly engaging and insightful teaching.)
The term “coach” is used frequently in sports and organizations but rarely is it correctly practiced. Whether it be with a staff team, volunteer team, or even your child”s soccer team, getting coaching right is of great importance to the long-term development of the people you lead. To fully understand what coaching is, we must first understand what coaching is not…
- Coaching involves a collaborative relationship
- Both the coach and coachee are equal partners
- This relationship requires that trust be earned by the coach
- Coaches generate awareness and responsibility
- With awareness, coachees better understand their circumstances
- With responsibility, coachees take ownership of their circumstances and the actions required for self-improvement
- Coaches listen first and speak later
- Coaching allows the coachee time to reflect on his own circumstances (generating awareness) and develop his own action steps (generating responsibility)
- Buy-in is strongest when the coachee develops ideas himself. When the coach offers observations and suggests action steps, he steals the opportunity for ownership away from the coachee.
- Embrace the silence! (This is a tough one for me but I”m learning…slowly…)
- Coaches ask questions…then they ask more questions…and after that, they usually ask a few questions
- In order to generate awareness and responsibility, a coach must guide the coachee through his own thought process rather than complete the process for him. Ask “What…?”, “When…?”, “Who…?”, and “How…?” to move the thought process forward without thinking for the coachee.
- Notice that “Why…?” is not mentioned above. “Why” questions tend to put people on the defensive.
- Coaches guide the coachee to clear action steps for development. In our class, we utilized the GROW model by John Whitmore. It is a great structure for any coaching conversation…
- Goal: What are you trying to do? (Guide the coachee to a SMART goal)
- Reality: What is actually happening? (Guide the coachee to greater awareness of the circumstances)
- Options: What are the different things you could do? (Guide the coachee through a brainstorm of every possible action step)
- Will: What will you do? How committed are you? (Guide the coachee to select an action step and state his own responsibility for it. Again, make the action step SMART)