Coaching - A Craze or a Value Add?

What is Coaching?  

DSC01787A friend of mine just endured an awful hour of interaction with a coach.  The coach apparently listened for a moment and proceeded to offer a solution to my friend's situation. Have you every noticed that when people give advice (1) it is rarely listened to and (2) it almost always fails.  My friend's coach must be new or worse, someone untrained in coaching and unemployed who decided to surf the trend and hang out a shingle as a coach.  

There are some great coaches out there, my friend did not find one of them.  What is coaching?  Coaching is an intentional and facilitated conversation. It encourages rigor in the way leaders organize thinking, envisioning, planning and expectations. Coaching challenges the limits of competence and learning horizons. 

Good coaches know how to pull out the best from their clients.  Good coaches know how to get their clients to see their situation from another perspective so that they have "aha" moments that generate new approaches.

Understanding coaching is often understanding how it is different from other business or professional interactions.  For example: coaching is not therapy i.e., healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an person or in relationships. Coaching is not training which relies on a linear learning path that coincides with established curriculum. Coaching is not mentoring which typically relies on the wisdom and guidance of expert experience. Coaching is not consulting - a consultant diagnoses problems and prescribes and, sometimes, carry out solutions.

Why Do Leaders Look for Coaching?

Leaders sometimes need to energize confidence. Coaching helps a person concentrate on what's truly important in their business, their relationships and/or their life. Coaching asks the kinds of questions that help define core values and work from them with integrity. Because coaching helps a person interrogate their reality and many see that coaching reduces the chances of  making damaging blunders.

Leaders in new situations or change situations often need to empower relationships to succeed. One result of spending time with a coach is that people learn to engage new listening and communication skills that enhance confidence in and consideration of your relationships and build co-operation with the competencies, skills and insights of others on their team.

Leaders sometimes need to simply check in and reassess accomplishment. Coaching helps clarify, prioritize and manage immediately the most pressing issues.  The questions asked by a coach expose a person's best thinking thereby unleashing creativity and reducing the number of issues subconsciously vying for their attention – less time taken for anxiety means more energy every day.

Why does Coaching Work?

Coaching works because it meets you in the here and now, it enters your situation with insight and consideration. It's collaboration between you, your knowledge, your experience and your coach. Coaching accelerates the process of definition and clarifies what steps will take you to your goal. Coaching is work.

The coaching process often helps people name their own self-imposed obstacles to success. Internal obstacles to leadership action are often more daunting than the external ones. What keeps a person from meeting their goals?  Managing the risk of pain or failure in past experiences often results in risk avoidance that limits possibilities. Coaching helps a person define themselves by their dreams for the future and not their past. Coaching helps people embrace weaknesses as learning points.

Coaching creates a safe and supportive environment to expose hindrances to growth and development. A safe environment provides the impetus needed to push beyond self-doubt and grow and make concrete progress toward that to which  a person aspires.

How Do I Find a Good Coach?

Who do you know that uses a coach? Have you asked for referrals? How have you searched for a coach? What kind of coach do you think would help you? What are their personality traits? What would led you to respect a coach? What would led you to loose respect? Have you spent 15  to 30 minutes talking with a potential coach about what you hope to accomplish?  How did you leave that conversation? Did you wonder how the potential coach got you to think more deeply about your question?  Did you realize something you had not seen or admitted before? May I suggest that if you leave the conversation with advice...that you keep looking?  Of course you may get lucky and happened on an expert who just dropped the key insight you needed for your operation.

What kinds of experiences have you had with coaching?  I am interested in hearing from you so leave a reply.  Thank you.