Is Coaching for You? by Neil Phillips

Neil PhillipsCoaching is an action oriented process of implementing ideas toward a specific goal. It uses your strengths to drive you forward. The roots of coaching are probably most directly followed back to the 1980’s when business consulting arrived on the scene in the form of management and financial consulting. In most of its early years, it was the last-ditch effort before firing an employee and was often used as a way to say “we tried” before delivery of the pink slip. By 2007, the reverse had become true.

Coaching is the method by which successful people become even more successful.

Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, is a great illustration of this shift. With the increased use of the term “coaching,” only the rare leader can completely refuse to consider its application personally or with its sales team. The problem is that “coaching” describes such a wide range of activities that it is difficult to decide if it is appropriate. NULL In addition, most leaders look at coaching as a way to fix things rather than as a way to make the good into great. Because of that mindset, most immediately dismiss coaching as a personal option because they don’t want to appear “in need of repair.” Before any sound decision about “should I engage a coach?” occurs, a well thought out definition of the term needs to be fixed in your mind. One of the easiest ways to do so is to compare and contrast the term with its synonyms. While from a statutory standpoint, coaching is a form of consulting; from most other perspectives it is not. Coaching is not:

  • TRAINING. Training has a fixed goal to educate the client on a particular subject. It is very defined and ends when the client understands the subject matter. Coaching helps design the process to help the client educate themselves.
  • MANAGEMENT CONSULTING. Management consulting focuses on providing solutions while coaching asks questions and evokes answers from the client’s own wisdom bank.
  • THERAPY. Therapy heals or repairs something from the past while coaching is pro-active motion for the now and forward into the future.
  • COUNSELING. Counseling tries to ameliorate deficits while coaching emphasizes strengths and achievements.
  • MENTORING. Mentoring is usually career focused; creating future behaviors based on the wisdom and expertise of someone else, while coaching supports the experiences and current wisdom of the client in all aspects (personal and professional) only making adjustments as necessary.

Coaching has sometimes been described as the “highest form of adult learning.”

Coaching requires you to take specific action. Coaching is an action oriented process of implementing ideas toward a specific goal. It uses your strengths to drive you forward. If you aren’t ready to do something different, then coaching is not for you. The statement, “I want to be coached,” is saying that you want three things to occur. For the engagement to be a true coaching one, these three things must be present. Awareness in the Middle of It All: Step outside your immediate actions to observe. You have to be willing and cognizant of what you are experiencing when you are in the middle of things. Push the edges of your awareness. Engage in Dialogue: You will need to be willing to be asked hard questions and you must have the courage and honesty to then find your answers. This is by far the most difficult of the three. Self-deception is a lot easier than courageous honesty. If you hire a coach, they should push you through this step. If you are not ready to hire a coach but are concerned about your own ability, then find a peer who will work with you. Whichever method you choose, you have to have an open and completely honest dialogue or your actions and results will not be what you truly want. Be Accountable: Be willing to get results. The buck ends with us. We create and attract or repel our own success. We must be willing to make decisions and keep commitments. We need to have the confidence to listen to and heed our own best counsel. When we are accountable, we embrace powerful thinking and eliminate powerless thinking. In short, coaching draws out answers and holds you responsible to:

  • take new action
  • continue along the path over time
  • learning what’s working
  • learning what’s not working
  • holding you accountable to what you know
  • holding you accountable to grow

Imagine a leaf floating along in a stream. Now imagine that the leaf is your life as you engage in your daily activities. You can choose to drift, choose to settle, or choose to go where your talent and spirit will let you. When you are ready to make the latter choice, coaching is the avenue for you. You are ready for coaching if you are looking to:

  • Enhance your ability to get results
  • Shape your environment by overcoming challenges and minimizing your blind spots
  • Clarify and focus your goals
  • Shift from reactive to proactive mode in your communications
  • Get better at accomplishing tasks by cooperating with others
  • Increase your influence in your company
  • Improve the work flow of your team
  • Set priorities for productive time and focus management

 

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