When you coach a client at a level that’s deeper than simple goals and performance, you start to delve into issues of their character, values, emotions, and perspective. This is the territory of “who” as opposed to coaching that’s focused more on what and how. There’s a lot of benefit for a client who is willing to turn her attention from what she wants/how she can get it to who she is. But the land of who can also be confounding to coaches: How do we get there? What do we do there? And how do we distinguish coaching from therapy when exploring this territory?
Before we proceed too far, let’s be clear on an important aspect of coaching a client’s who: not every coaching conversation needs to go there. Plenty of great coaching occurs at the what/how level, so we shouldn’t diminish the value of helping a client create awareness and action related to goals and performance. We can frustrate clients when we push too hard or expect too often to explore their who. With that big caveat out of the way, let’s talk who.
If you’re like most coaches, when you first got into coaching you were amazed at how effective (and how counter-intuitive!) the whole discovery methodology really is. Many of us come from a strong background in delivery – I have the truth and I deliver it to those who need it. So the switch to discovery was both refreshing and challenging.
As great as the discovery methodology is, it can be overdone. You can have too much of a good thing, even too much reliance on discovery. In fact, I’ve noticed five specific ways that coaches often overdo the discovery approach. You might think of these as “heresies” in that each goes against the grain of the coach’s commitment to draw out the client’s expertise.
Please, don’t burn me at the stake just yet! Read all five and see how embracing these truths might improve your own coaching effectiveness.
Leaders in the volunteer world are becoming very frustrated because:
- Nobody is stepping up.
- Nobody is pulling their weight.
- Nobody seems to care anymore.
Leaders are ready to quit, or at least, coast. They become less willing to have tough conversations. They become complainers rather than inspirers.
As a coach, I’m here to remind them it’s part of a leader’s job to create an environment where followers can easily take action. Leaders not only need followers, but they need followers who take action. Most of the leaders I coach work in the volunteer world, but even leaders who pay their followers will get more from their followers if they prime the pump.
Design a Jig
A jig isn’t a dance, at least in this case, it is a tool that helps you make reproducible items. My dad made bunk beds for my kids, and I remember him saying, “I know a guy who has a jig for this.” When you have a jig, the measurements are automatic. You don’t have to think about where to drill a hole or hammer in a nail. You don’t have to do any figuring. You just have to do the work.
Will Mancini provided a jig for getting clarity on your God given purpose.
A fatal mistake for a coach is to hear the client’s topic and assume you know how to proceed. The topic needs to be held lightly. It is your first glimpse of a mystery, and you don’t even know what aspect of the mystery you’ve observed.
Many analogies come to mind.
Ninety percent of an iceberg is below the surface. Another name for iceberg is ice mountain. You cannot assume anything about navigating near an iceberg until you’ve mapped what is below the surface. It may be flat and wide, or it may be long and deep. It may have a limb jutting out into the water that will puncture whatever proceeds its way. To navigate the iceberg, you must be prepared to dive into cold deep waters and carefully explore what has never been seen in the light of day.