‘Have you ever thought about seeking out support from a coach?’
‘Why not?’ I said!
This is a snapshot of a conversation that I recently had with a friend when she told me that she felt unhappy and unfulfilled at work but didn’t know where to turn to for help. To me, seeking a coach was the obvious solution to her problem. However the more I spoke to her the more I recognised that she, like many others, didn’t really know what coaching was, or how it could help her. It was this conversation that inspired me to write this article, where I aim to:
- Dispel the myths about what coaching is and isn’t
- Explain the qualities of a great coach
- Share the benefits of coaching, and
- Help you establish whether coaching is right for you or your team.
What is coaching?
Coaching is a structured process, where your coach gives you the time, space and support to help you reflect on yourself (your skills, performance, values, behaviours), identify and work towards your goals and to make positive shifts in your thinking and beliefs. It is about insightful questioning, listening, no-judgment, support, challenge, empowering and guiding.
Coaching is not about, giving solutions, making assumptions, dictating, counselling, training, judging or giving advise.
Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance. -Sir John Whitmore
Coaching helps you achieve excellence in your professional and personal life. It differs from councelling, mentoring or training because it focuses on the future and has a greater emphasis on helping you think for yourself and to identify your own solutions.
For this reason, coaching is proven to be the most effective method of creating a positive shift in behaviours, with a memory recall of 65%, as opposed to 10% with training and mentoring (Sir John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance 2009).
What makes a great coach?
As a qualified Executive & Leadership coach, and having experienced great and poor coaching myself, I believe that the key behaviours and qualities of an excellent coach are:
- Build rapport & listen – A great coach will demonstrate a sincere interest in you and desire to help. They will ask questions to get to know you and what you want to achieve. They get on your map of the world to see things through your eyes rather than their own. Their listening skills are impeccable.
- Inspire and motivate – A great coach will be able to inspire motivation in you to learn and develop. The chemistry between coach and coachee is key to facilitate learning, therefore a great coach will check the chemistry at the start of process to ensure that the can help you.
- Stay on your agenda – Your self-development and growth will be their priority. They will provide empathy, support and challenge whilst helping you move forward to a more positive place. They will comfortably give feedback and hold up the metaphorical ‘mirror’ to help you achieve your goal.
- Clearly communicate and contract – A great coach will confirm upfront what outcomes you want to achieve and talk through their approach to help you achieve them. They will also ‘check in’ during the process to if things have changed and how they can best help you. They will communicate clearly and summarise actions agreed.
- Develop their toolkit – They will have a vast toolkit of coaching tools and questions, be flexible in their approach and use the best ones to suit you and the situation. They will have a credible coaching qualification with a reputable provider and will be committed to their own continued professional development.
- Focus and accountability – A great coach will keep a broad vision of the context of the coaching whilst keeping you focused on the end goal, noticing important details and holding you accountable for your actions.
- Hold the space – They will be comfortable with silence after a question and ‘hold the space’ for you in a safe supportive way, encouraging you to think for yourself and find the right solution for you.
The benefits of coaching
My experience of coaching hasn’t just been about what I have achieved as a result of coaching, but more about how I feel inside – more confident, more resilience, more fulfilled and happier. Whilst the benefits of coaching are far reaching and can vary for different people, based on my research and client feedback the main benefits are:
- Clearer vision and direction
- Increased confidence & impact
- Improved productivity & performance
- Improved relationships and communication
- Increased resilience
- Improved mental and physical wellbeing
- Clearer thinking
- Greater problem-solving capability
- Enhanced performance
- Increased employee engagement & retention
At a minimum coaching can give you increased understanding of yourself and help you think more clearly and perform better at work and in your business. At best, it can be transformational and life changing!
Is coaching right for everyone?
To get the full benefits of coaching I believe that the following conditions apply:
1. Timing – Coaching it is very powerful when you want yourself, or your team, to move forward from a current state to a more desirable future state. Coaching is very effective in the following circumstances:
For individuals – they:
- Feel stuck and don’t know what they need to do to move forward
- Don’t feel fulfilled but can’t put their finger on what will make them feel happier
- Want to change a habit or behaviour that isn’t useful
- Want to increase their impact in an important meeting, interview or presentation
- Want more confidence in themselves and clarity in their direction of travel
For businesses – you want to:
- Minimise staffing issues – attrition, absenteeism or performance issues
- Improve leadership and management capability
- Increase the number of women developing into senior roles
- Improve team working and inter-team relationships
- Enhance the culture and reputation of a department or company
- Develop behavioural skills such as strategic thinking, creativity, communication skills
In an organisational context, for an employee to fully buy-in to coaching it is important that it is positioned as a positive investment in their development. Sell them benefits and tell them what is in it for them.
2. Chemistry – The chemistry between you and your coach is key for it to be effective.
You need to feel comfortable in their company, trust them, and feel like you can be open and honest.
Your coach should offer a complimentary chemistry session to give you the opportunity to get to know them, ask questions and ‘check’ the chemistry before you start the coaching programme.
3. Attitude – For coaching to be the optimum solution, it’s important that you have the right mindset for self-development i.e:
- Are you ready to be challenged and work hard to achieve the goal that you want?
- Do you want to be empowered and supported to find the solutions that are right for you?
- Are you willing to be open – to be open minded about the coaching process and to open up to your coach about your inner thoughts and feelings?
- Are you ready to move forward in your life and take control of your future?
If you answer ‘yes’ then you will hugely benefit from coaching.
In an organisational context, an effective coach, where there is a chemistry fit, will be able to motivate the employee to develop and grow.
My hope is that this article has given you an insight into coaching, and increased understanding of how and when it might benefit you and your employees.
If you think that you or your team might benefit from coaching and development, and would like a free consultation then please contact me on 07554883026 or firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up via the form below. I would love to help you.
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