What is coaching?
A coach is someone who helps support a learner to achieve a personal goal.
Why do I want to be a coach?
- I want to be a better leader. The best leaders I know don’t give people the answer, they help you come to the answer yourself.
- I want to help people succeed and achieve their goals.
- I want to improve my ability to connect with people. I want to form better relationships with people.
With this ambition in mind, I am training to be a coach through MOE. A charity organisation that aims to help people unleash their full potential. I am making a commitment to chronicle my journey through blog posts.
Disclaimer: I won’t share conversations that happen in a coaching conversation. That is confidential. Finally, I will not share materials without credit.
I imagine myself travelling through the desert. My goal is to reach the sea. Along the way, I might stutter, go backwards, take a huge leap, need someone by my side holding my hand to help me get back up or rest up at an oasis. It’s not always easy to know where or even how to get somewhere. I see coaching as a way to help people along that journey.
Four stages of competence
You don’t become a great coach after one training session. It takes time. It’s a little like driving.
- you panic the first time using a gear stick (unconscious incompetence).
- you know what you don’t know (conscious incompetence).
- you know how to do it, but you have to think your way through it (consciously competence).
- you can drive in your sleep (unconscious competence).
You move between these states when the landscape changes. My aim is to reach unconscious competence.
The most important skill for a coach. There are five levels to listening:
A good listener:
- is attentive and active.
- respects silence.
- clarifies: rephrases, summarises and checks-in.
- reflects: repeats the same words and mirrors body language.
A bad listener:
- has poor eye contact.
- makes it about them.
- are not attentive.
As a coach, you may have experience to share that might help the coachee. It’s important to ask for permission in case the person didn’t want advice. Trust and need for permission determines how you approach a conversation. Saying “can you let me finish” is disguise in permission. That’s not good.
- [low trust, high need for permission] “can I tell you what I think?”
- “can I add something to that?”
- “are you ok with a little feedback”
- “could I make a suggestion?”
- [high trust, low need for permission] “I’ll share something if I may”
“I want to see how far your mind can go before I add mine”. I love this quote. Coaching is not about giving people the answer. It’s about helping them come to their own conclusions.
Questions are your most important tool as a coach. They help people to open up and think about something from a different perspective.
Good questions are:
- gather information.
- not closed.
- not leading.
- How important is this out of 10 to you?
- What do you think the next steps are?
- What could you do?
- When will you do this?
The coach provides the process and the coachees provides the content. When asking questions, remember ‘IOU’ (interested or useful). Does your question help the coachee? Also, note that “why” can come across as judgemental.
The most important framework used in coaching. You will jump between these sections. You can get people motivated by focusing on the goal and reality.
Goal: Where do you want to get to? What do you want to achieve? How would you like it to be?
Reality: Where are you now? What’s happening at the moment? What’s helping you? What’s stopping you? How important is it to you?
Options: What could you do? Is that the right action for you? What’s the first step? What else?
Will: What will you do? How committed are you? Can you recap?
Image by Culture at Work: https://www.coachingcultureatwork.com/the-grow-model/
As part of the course, we need to practice what we learnt with many people. Here’s some initial reflections on my first attempt using the GROW model:
- silences can be uncomfortable but are powerful.
- it’s hard to remember questions.
- it’s amazing to see people come to their own realisations and commit to do something.
- I like talking about options. When you keep asking “what else?”, it can feel like you’ve scrapped the barrel. But persist! You get some amazing insights when you do.
I will continue to practice the GROW model. I also intend to continue writing about my coaching journey. You can read part 2 here.