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Who is your coach?

When I chat with people at all levels of business, I hear recurring themes of people being ‘stuck’ – facing into repetitive and complex problems with no obvious solution path (to them) to get unstuck.

It is no coincidence that top performers in high stress sports use coaches. Even the best in the world rely on a coach to help them be better. Ash Barty uses a mindset coach, Tiger Woods a golf coach, top sporting teams employ a range of coaches to assist developing and maintaining optimal performance. When we exist in a world with so much change and uncertainty, how can the way we ‘have always done it’ be enough to help us perform optimally?

If you want to be better at what you do, ask yourself “Who is my coach”?

Often, rather than taking a positive performance view of coaching, people can start adding negative ‘meaning’ to being coached. For example, that it somehow reflects on the person as being ‘not good enough’ or being in some ‘performance management’ phase, or even that coaching only assists in remedial cases. Why then do the best in their fields (including business) have coaches?

What do you think it means about you when you have a coach?

Interestingly, what it means to me if someone has a coach is that they are showing greater vulnerability, preparedness to learn and change, and being open to external feedback – all things I would value in any leader and employee. It demonstrates a capacity to seek greater performance behaviours and modes of achievement as situations and contexts change.

When an executive sees coaching as something to be resisted or feared (often when people believe having a coach makes them look ‘weak’), people can remain stuck when they don’t have to be.

To understand how coaching should be seen, it is useful to begin with my definition of ‘coaching’:

“An external person using a skilled helper model to overcome current order problems and issues and build a repertoire of new skills and resources applicable across a range of circumstances to become a more valued contributor in their organisational context.”

This implies that the coach:

  • Is external to you, and also to the issues being played out (not directly involved in the situations at stake). This external perspective is critical to seeing past the cultural and unconscious issues implicit in your current context.
  • The coach is skilled, and they understand coaching, psychology, behaviour and performance  – and can transfer ideas and skills to the client.
  • They set realistic expectations and accountabilities for the client.
  • Have experience in contexts and environments that allow understanding of issues and relevance of approaches.
  • Understand the role of coach is to be ‘performance facing’ – enhancing performance (including leadership skills and capability) is critical to the reason for the engagement.
  • It is not “therapy”, although issues discussed may cross over into very personal spaces. The ability to assist clients in that space and to bring it back to the coaching context is a valuable asset.
  • It is not pitched at any particular level – it covers high performers, people who are stuck, remedial cases, general development, insight development and change support at all levels of the organisation. It is pitched at the specific client.
  • It does not define the length of the arrangement – this has to be negotiated. Is it a brief intervention of a longer term engagement? Both offer value in what they can do.
  • It helps the client amplify self awareness, but also develop enhanced self management strategies and skills to enhance your outcomes.

So where are you ‘stuck’?

Where could you perform better?

What would you consider as valuable for you now?

How do reflect on people who have a ‘coach’?

If you want to know more about coaching for yourself, your team, or members of your organisation using such skilled approaches, please get in touch.

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