First, let me say that many coaches focus on setting goals and achieving them. I think this is a good start. However, this assumes that the reason people don’t achieve their goals is that they lack the will to do so and need a cheerleader to hold them accountable. In truth, there is much more to coaching than simply clarifying goals, analyzing actions and monitoring results.
Since I have expertise in emotional intelligence (I have been teaching courses in this around the world for 10 years, including being the first to teach it in Russia and Kenya. I have also taught many coaches how to integrate emotional intelligence into their coaching) and the focus of my doctoral work is in neuropsychology, I have found that the mind does not comply when asked to no matter how important is your goal or affirmation. Sometimes it is more important to help my clients figure out why they aren’t doing something than on the specifics of what to do.
For example, one of my clients was a senior vice president of a major retail chain here in the U.S. She asked me to help her with prioritizing her tasks. My response was, “You have created a very successful career. In addition to being a VP, you are a an attorney. I don’t buy that you don’t know how to prioritize. What I want to know is what is either stopping you from doing this or diverting your focus.” We then talked about how she was losing her motivation for her job, but didn’t know what was next for her in her career. So the next step was to start working on a plan for her future, which she then committed to have these conversations with her husband. In the end, she developed a five year plan which helped her to recommit to her current job. Prioritizing was no longer an issue.
Now this might sound as if I am stepping on the toes of therapy. Yet this type of coaching still deals with the present and what it will take to move forward. If this were therapy, we might explore further what her fears were about the future and if this was a consistent pattern that needed to be explored. In coaching, we never assume that something is wrong. We assume that the clients are missing some information they need to make the right choices. And we know that the client has this information already and just needs a “thinking partner” to access it. The coach partners with them to discover these answers by asking good questions, reflecting on what is going on, offering possibilities to consider and to encourage and support the client as they victoriously face difficult truths and old fears about the future.
Coaching is more a partnership than an “expert” role. Since therapists are diagnosticians, they are considered expert healers. Mentors and consultants are expert practitioners. Coaches are expert at listening, clarifying, being curious, questioning, challenging, and supporting, which is more about relationship than authority.
In short, I call my style of coaching “awareness-based” as opposed to “solution-based” coaching.
One more element of coaching is necessary for this mix…a profound appreciation and respect for the client. We need to stand for the highest potential of our clients, even when they are in doubt. Most of my coaching is corporate and executive coaching, though all coaching is holistic at the foundation. Companies can benefit exponentially when they give their employees the gift of coaching.