What is the value of coaching to an individual, team?
Coaching and mentoring form an important part of being a leader, whether this is by providing it for others or by receiving it for your own development.
It provides a platform for self-development and helps to establish trusting relationships.
It encourages openness and an opportunity to support and guide others.
It enables people to think for themselves and embark on a journey to fulfil their own potential and become leaders of the future.
Benefits to the individual
The whole essence and benefit of coaching is to facilitate and expand thinking, and ultimately fulfil potential.
This relies on people thinking for themselves, taking responsibility, making choices and being in control of their own destiny.
Coaching also allows time to selfanalyse and to empower the individual to enable change through clear action plans and goal setting.
It helps give the individual clarity and direction, and ultimately contentment and resourcefulness.
What is Coaching?
‘Coaching’ is a simple word that is, disappointingly, so often misinterpreted.
What has been the cause of this misinterpretation?
Well, often it’s used as a general term to encompass many things including ‘mentoring’ and ‘training’.
So, when you ask Leaders and Managers to describe examples of when they are coaching, they are in fact often describing directing and advising.
So, here are a few definitions to help clarify the difference:
“Coaching is unlocking people's potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” John Whitmore
“Behind every fearless athlete there is a fearless coach who refuses to let them be anything short of their true potential.” Anon
Providing time to think is a priceless gift in the busy and complex lives that most people experience today.
Coaching provides a safe, non-judgemental environment where quality time is spent challenging beliefs, unpicking mind-sets and raising self-awareness.
It is essentially being a ‘thinking partner’ - an opportunity to explore alternative perspectives and navigate challenges and issues.
As a coach, you facilitate thinking and open a person’s mind to new opportunities, new ways to resolve issues and, ultimately, produce better and more fulfilling outcomes.
This can, of course, be applicable to all spheres of life - whether at home, at work, in a chosen sport, or to improve a relationship.
Importantly, the responsibility and ownership lie with the ‘coachee’ throughout.
Everyone has a choice to effect a change in behaviour and if the individual is able to visualise the benefits, they are more likely to do so.
Do you need to be a Coach or Mentor?
This can often cause many to deliberate.
Clearly, coaching is not the only approach and there are situations where a more directive style is more suitable.
However, there is a simple way to determine the most appropriate approach for an individual.
This is centered around a person’s ‘competency’ and ‘will’.
If a person is high in competency and will, they are more than likely to be autonomous and think for themselves.
Coaching is, therefore, the most appropriate support in the situation.
However, for a person new to a role/task, you may have to take a different approach and provide more direction and advice due to the relatively low competency of the individual at that time.
An effective leader is, therefore, one who is able to flex their style depending on the situation and person in front of them.
When you start your coaching relationships (whether informal or formal), it is very important to establish some key ‘ground rules’.
These come in the form of ‘logistics’, ‘roles and needs’ and ‘confidentiality’.
These help to form the trust and set the foundation of the coaching relationship.
This doesn’t have to be a long drawn out conversation but, if not had, can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment.
The GROW Model
This is globally one of the most commonly used coaching models, and for good reason!
It is simple and easy to follow and provides a reliable framework to any coaching conversation.
G - setting the goal for the session.
This is an important step to provide clarity and direction for the individual.
Goals can be long term and short term, but establishing them and keeping them at the fore is key.
R - exploring and uncovering the reality of the situation.
Describing what is going on right now and what has been done or considered so far.
O - exploring options to move forward, brainstorm ideas of what could be done.
W - way forward and will/ commitment.
Agree an action plan and commitment i.e. what will happen.
Process versus content
In the coaching relationship, the coach owns the ‘process’, the coachee owns the ‘content’.
Sometimes, as coaches, we find ourselves being drawn into the content of the conversation.
You will know when you are doing so as you will be talking more and finding yourself judging and trying to influence and advise your coachee!
This is fine if you are mentoring, but if you are coaching, you should take a step back and draw yourself out of the content to avoid becoming the ‘rescuer’!
Of course, your intention comes from a good place, but by rescuing you are not always best serving the individual.
The coach’s role is to control the process (i.e. GROW, timings, logistics, etc) and not influence the content.
Must haves’ as a coach!
- Good questioning skills, predominantly of the ‘open’ kind in order to generate conversation and open up the coachee.
- Active listening - paying attention to understand, using body language and paraphrasing.
- Having empathy, curiosity, building rapport and trust.
- Being ‘present’! Coaching takes practice.
However, regardless of experience, don’t underestimate how valuable your time and presence will always be to another individual.
In simple terms, coaching is providing time to think.