Do you consider yourself a coach? There are many definitions of a coach. You have one in your head.
Who's been a coach for you? How did they change you for the better? Or did they? A coach can change behavior through positive constructive actions or the opposite. You could have had a coach who was ineffective in their approach or technique, and yet you still may have learned from them.
Use your own lens as a window into your own approach. Consider, who thinks of you as their coach, and what impact you’re having on them.
Definition of Coaching, from the Global Executive Summary, Blessing White:
Coaching is a focused and intentional effort to help another person figure out the best way to achieve his or her goals, build skill sets or expertise, and produce the results the organization needs.
Of particular importance:
· Focused and intentional: Meaning coaching is a deliberate action, as coaches we know the individual and/or the organizational goals. We should know our purpose and intentions prior to coaching, and we should also tell the individual what our intentions are. This type of transparency establishes trust and builds a common purpose.
· Help the other person: This is essential in coaching, one of our biggest tools as an effective coach is asking questions. Through thoughtful and focused questions, we create awareness, perspective, and give context to why change is needed.
· Goals, skill set, expertise: In coaching, there is something to be gained for the individual that would help them to more effectively achieve their goals or aspirations. This means change, growth, development.
· Organizational results: We coach in the context of organizational needs. As a coach, one advantage we have is to see the bigger picture; a view of the world, customer/client, team, and/or organization in a way that provides an opportunity for growth or alignment.
There are 3 common pitfalls that I see in working with thousands of coaches:
1. No clear purpose/perspective focused on the individual and/or organization. Sometimes we want others to act, work, problem solve, decide and be like us. We have a bias for those like us. When others aren’t, we sometimes believe they are less effective. So, we coach them to be more like us. Which is problematic as an intention or goal. And is contrary to the definition above. Which is about them, their goals and their growth.
2. Telling versus asking. This is HUGE because when we’re a coach, we rely on our experience and knowledge, we believe that we know the right path, and/or can determine the best outcome for others to follow. The mistaken belief that we must solve everyone’s’ problems or to direct them is common and avoidable. And this one is tricky because sometimes we do this in the guise of being supportive, helpful coaches. But ironically we are helping ourselves with this approach (i.e., it saves time, makes us feel good/competent/ capable, much easier to execute) rather than our goal to develop others.
3. Not sharing the “why.” Providing encouragement, direction, a new challenge, or focused feedback requires context. A good coach provides the why behind the desired change.
Of course you are a coach. Who are you a coach to? Make it a goal to be a good coach, a great one. A legendary one. Be intentional. And consider the immortal words of Bobby Knight, “I don’t have to wait until the next morning to regret something that I did that was kinda dumb.”
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