A coach can only be effective if someone wants to be coached. Frankly, that’s not entirely true. Some coaches live with the myth that someone always listens when they speak. Well, that’s also not quite true.
A coach constantly gauges how much input to give versus listening or asking questions to develop high performance. Professional sports players listen best when they are committed to producing an outcome beyond what they know how to do. It is the very same in the business world.
Can You Benefit by Working With an Executive Coach?
When someone approaches me with interest in my coaching services, there are questions about what makes me a qualified coach. I’ve been doing this work for many years quite successfully, so it doesn’t take long to answer their questions.
After some casual exchange, my natural curiosity wants to know who you are, but more prescribed questioning is needed. I am not there to judge, analyze, or otherwise render an opinion. All this dialog focuses on designing a learning pathway.
Edward DeBono said it well in his book, Parallel Thinking, “Digging for gold is not the same as designing and building a house. Analysis and judgment are not enough when there is a need to design a way forward.”
Getting Started is Easy
We establish a coaching contract because we must have this written to clearly describe the expected performance and the frequency and duration of the sessions. This is an important step to take because it spells out expectations and the timing milestones.
The first step is to figure out where you are and why. Then we look at where you want to be and what you want to accomplish. There is typically a “gap” between these two that allows insight into the behaviors that got you where you are.
To say that by looking into your past we can predict your future, is partially correct. If you don’t change how you make decisions, your future will be similar to your past. A good coach is a stimulus to make behavioral and attitude changes.
My type of coaching approach alters your future.
Humans are a creature of habits that ultimately make up how we think, eat, talk, and above all, how we make conscious and unconscious decisions. Creating new habits isn’t always easy. I’ve seen people make functional changes almost instantly in their lives. Being told you have cancer can become life altering immediately. I’m more so talking about experiencing positive realizations that propel you forward in your life—essentially taking control of your life.
Pointed Questions to Discover Your Pathway
What desired outcomes must be achieved between now and our next session to move you towards your objectives? This is an important question and one that can sometimes be tough to answer, especially if I keep asking it until the answers are specific. More often than not, just asking the question opens up ideas and possibilities.
What specific activities will you need to perform to accomplish your objectives? I’ve noticed that people often create a list of things to do. Too many times, these actions are tasks more than specific activities.
Why do you think these actions will achieve the outcome you’ve stated? How and when will it be accomplished, and who else must be included in this plan? These questions and, more importantly, the answers are super important in measuring success.
Wishful Thinking About Your Performance or True Change?
During the next conversation, we explore what happened between calls. At this stage, helping us both know the rationale behind the words becomes important to understand. I’ve often had clients say they do things or take actions but don’t know why; it’s just what I do they say. Other times their rationale doesn’t match up to the objectives. Getting behind the “why” you do what you do helps to make better decisions in the future. I firmly believe you can design your future.
Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear and has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”
During these calls, the realities start to reveal themselves. The time milestones between the coaching contacts allow the individual to perform based on what they say they will do. We are beginning to uncover fact or fiction at this point. I like to say that the entire situation is now “unfolding,” and together, we design the next steps in your pathway.
Internally I am asking myself, what other resources do they need? Is my coaching what they really need? Is the original plan designed to move forward on track, or does it need adjusting? Can they take hearing the truth, or do they just want to hear false kindness?
I think Coach Landry said it really well. Sometimes, a coach’s role isn’t to be the friend who only tells you how great you are. Holding up the mirror of truth and then listening closely normally reveals if the coach needs to ask more questions or is it time to give input. Once the light goes on, and the ears are open, that’s when sweeping changes occur. I love the journey and exploration.