Few would argue that coaching has become an important part of any leader’s repertoire for improving human and organizational performance. Yet, most have given little thought to when, where, and under what circumstances coaching is most effective, let alone trying to define or understand its key components. Let’s try to shed some light on the latter, with an eye for things that can immediately be put into practice and used to move the needle.
1. Build Trust – Coaching is an intensely personal act. It involves data gathering, contracting, providing feedback, occasionally ‘breaking some eggs’, serious listening, problem solving, reinforcement, negotiating, selling, encouraging, and lots more. In most cases, it is akin to re-tuning an automobile engine while the vehicle remains in motion, and being used by the driver to make a living. So there’s risk involved, sometimes considerable risk. As a golf coach once put it to me, “If I’m suggesting to a professional tour player that he needs to weaken his grip or alter his stance, he needs to believe that I know what I’m talking about, and that I have his best interests at heart.” In other words, trust is the central lubricant of effective coaching. You’re not going to get very far or go very fast without it. This is always my very first step with coaching clients. They’ve got to trust my motives as much as my methods, and I need to know that they are truly Committed (capital ‘C’ intentional) to their improvement process. Otherwise, we have a launch failure, as we both have a lot to lose.
2. Use a Defined Method – Whether you opt for a method prescribed by a popular coach like Marshall Goldsmith, the one defined by CMOE, or another, your coaching efforts will, over time, be a lot more successful if you generally follow a defined method that understands human change and growth processes. Do your homework, pick one that works for you, and stick with it.
3. Achieve Momentum – Looking back over a lifetime of working with corporate leaders and high school athletes in coaching relationships, one thing that’s been continually reinforced for me is the notion that the sooner we can obtain some momentum, tiny though it may be, the better. Momentum disrupts the status quo, and it builds confidence, both for the coach and the ‘player’. Ergo, I strive very hard to get quick, early chunks of momentum whenever I can. Try it, I think you will be happy with the result.