Being an effective coach is a leadership skill – as you coach successfully you help create the future you are leading people towards. However, being an effective coach is more than leadership – it is an important life skill as well.
We all can be more effective at coaching in our communities, in our families, with our children and at work. Truly, when we coach effectively we can make a difference in the lives of other people and our communities as a whole.
There are many ways to become a more effective coach, plenty of skills, knowledge and techniques are available. You shouldn’t expect, nor could I deliver, the tools for your complete coaching success in this brief article. Rather, here are three key elements – principles if you will – that, when applied, will automatically make you a more effective coach.
Since the title mentions the alphabet, you might be expecting me to start with the letter A. Well, a couple years ago I wrote about The ABC’s of Coaching Principles so today I write about letters D, E and F.
D – Discovery
In a very real way coaching is about learning. The person being coached is learning what is working and should be continued, and what could be tweaked and improved. In this way, the best coaches are facilitators of learning. And, the best learning facilitators – and coaches – know that the most powerful learning comes from a place of discovery. When you discover something for yourself it is more real and powerful to you. More specifically, when you discover an idea for improvement – or come to that realization for yourself – you truly own the desire to improve. Plus, you’ll be a more determined and disciplined learner. As a coach you must help people discover the need for improvement and then collaboratively help them determine the solutions and next steps, rather than simply describing or defining them yourself.
The best coaches help people discover their needs and next steps.
E – Expectations
Coaches must help people have a clear and realistic picture of the needed or desired performance expectations. Without clear expectations, how can anyone know what their performance should look like? Often the biggest gap in performance or behavior is a gap in expectations. Additionally, it is important to clarify expectations during the actual coaching process itself; what can the person being coached expect from the coach and vice versa.
The best coaches recognize the importance, value and power of assuring mutually understood and agreed upon expectations.
F – Focus on Them
One of a coach’s most pervasive traps is believing your own press clippings. Perhaps you have had some success in the past with the ideas you are now coaching others on. Perhaps you truly are an expert in that subject matter. Perhaps people have come to you for your coaching help – either in the subject matter or because you are viewed in some other way as a good coach. The best coaches always remember that coaching isn’t about them; it is about the person they are coaching. If you want to be a more effective coach, focus more of your attention on the needs, mindset and current state of the person you are coaching. Listen more, and speak less. Ask more and advise less. Recognize that while you can inspire and inform, any new actions (and their results) belong to the other person.
The best coaches are other focused.
Coaching is a complex task. However, when you rely on, and remember, these core principles, we can transcend mere technique and become significantly more effective.