Why Coaching works?
Rahul (name changed) is a young leader in a Fortune 500 company. I have known him for over 10 years, and he comes across as a sharp, committed and ambitious professional. He reached out to me to seek support on a workplace issue that was bothering him.
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What is Transformational Coaching?
He mentioned that he is quite direct in his communication at work and he articulates his perspective clearly.
He has been observing that his colleagues around him seem to be miffed with him when he is direct, and this was impacting his relationship with his peers.
He reached out to his manager who said he should moderate how and what he shares in meetings. He told Rahul to be cautious before meetings and think before speaking. He also requested Rahul to evaluate himself after every meeting.
Being the earnest person he is, Rahul tried this for some months, and it worked. However, he slipped back to his earlier self in one meeting and this, once again, led to significant stress with his peers.
The Coaching Journey
We thus started on our journey on coaching with this backdrop.
The goal he set for the coaching sessions was to improve his communication skills.
During our exploration, Rahul was able to discern that his communication would be more direct with only a certain set of colleagues.
Further reflection by Rahul revealed he would be anxious in meetings with these colleagues because they would not place the facts on the table about business issues, transparently.
Rahul in these situations felt he had a responsibility towards the organization by calling out the reality in no uncertain terms. He believed this would help them make the right decisions.
Essentially, Rahul did not trust these individuals, leading to his being more direct in his communication in their presence. This awareness was an aha moment for Rahul.
He was now clear that his goal would be on building trust with specific individuals and went about defining a clear action plan with timelines. He worked on these plans with a sense of commitment and that worked.
Coaching is not Mentoring
Coaching, as we have just seen, is about helping expand the awareness of clients (coachee) on the specific challenges they are facing, helping them identify blocks to reaching the goal and partnering with them in creating a plan for achieving these goals.
Coaching is all about ‘asking’ powerful questions to build awareness of the client. Coaching is not about ‘telling’ the client what needs to be done.
Mentoring is about sharing best practices & knowledge with the mentee on the specific goals identified by the mentee. Mentoring includes ‘telling’ or ‘advising’ the mentee on the way to achieve their goals.
Process of Coaching
When clients reach out to a coach, it is to seek support in some area of their life where they are feeling stuck or where they need support to simply move to the next level of action.
The very act of reaching out to a coach shows the intent of clients to make transformational changes in their life. These areas could be across the entire spectrum of one’s life like reducing weight, women wishing to get back to work after a break, ability to manage time, becoming a better leader, doing away with the fear of failure et al
Coaching involves exploring the beliefs, experiences & values of the client. Through the process of exploration using deep listening & powerful questions, the coach is able to hold the mirror to the client.
This is where the magic happens when the client becomes aware of all that was holding them back from taking actions; actions that would truly transform their lives.
In coaching, the client is the one who has all the answers. It is the client who defines the plan and sets timelines for achieving them and it is the clients who are responsible for the actions.
Sometimes, clients request their coach to partner with them while implementing the actions.
At this point, the coach nudges the client when required but the client still is the one who will have to take decisive action.
Coaching is not a linear process. Often times, clients are unable to take the actions they defined. The exploration then continues, and the process repeats itself.
Coaching is a beautiful journey if we trust and surrender to the process. It is so fulfilling to work with clients in creating awareness and partnering with them on their journey to what they wish to achieve.
I must leave all of you with the definition of coaching from the International Coach Federation: “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Wishing you a transformational experience with coaching!
Associate Certified Coach
International Coach Federation
You could reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org