Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mastering the Art of Coaching

Guest post from Gregg Thompson:

The barriers to entry into the coaching business are very low. In fact, anyone can throw up a sign that declares that they are a career coach, a life coach, a business coach, or just about any other type of coach, even if they are devoid of coaching credentials of any kind. As someone who has been a leadership coach for 25 years and who leads a global company that provides coach training to thousands of organization managers every year, I find this more than a little unfair.

There is, however, an element of truth in all of the business cards, websites and advertisements asserting that the principal is a coach. And it is this: Anyone can coach anyone. While not everyone can teach chemistry, shoot sub-par golf or play a concerto, we all have the ability to have a conversation in which the other person leaves the conversation feeling more powerful, more inspired and more committed to making the best possible choices about their work, their career and their lives. This is what coaches do; engage in dialogue that helps others learn, develop and perform at higher levels.
So, let’s explore a few questions about coaching.

First, is it an art form? Yes…and no. An art form is generally considered to be any human activity that can be regarded as an expression of creativity, and the best coaches do bring their very best creative talents into the coaching conversation. Here is the hitch. When a portrait is seen as a masterpiece, the person who created it is considered a master painter.  However, when a masterpiece is created in coaching, it is the person being coached who is the artist, not the coach.  The coach’s job is to be the catalyst and the facilitator helping the other person function at the highest possible level.

Second, how do you master coaching? Notwithstanding the point made above, some people are extraordinarily good at coaching. People are drawn to them and often initiate substantial positive change in their work and lives as a result of their connection and conversations. It starts with the coach’s perspective. They see people differently than most. They choose to see people as naturally talented, innately resourceful and able to learn and grow. They also believe that others are fully capable of making their own decisions and solving their own problems. This perspective alone sets the great coach apart from many. Additionally, great coaches act with noble intention. They intentionally subordinate their interests, needs, etc. to direct all the attention and energy toward the person being coached. And lastly, they trust and use their intuition. They recognize that since they no longer are the expert (that’s the job of the person being coached) they need to rely on the synthesis of all their experiences, learning, beliefs and values that comprise this thing we call intuition. These wonderful men and women have the courage to trust their minds to tell them what is true without immediate proof or evidence.    
Practical interpersonal and communication skills such as active listening, giving feedback and asking good questions are all important elements of good coaching.  While doing coaching well is important, mastering the art of coaching requires much more than fine tuning these skills. The person who also commits to being coach-like by seeing the best in others, acting with noble intention and using their intuition in service of others will help those whom they coach create their own masterpiece.
GREGG THOMPSON is the author of THE MASTER COACH:  Leading with Character, Building Connections, and Engaging in Extraordinary Conversations.  He is President of Bluepoint Leadership Development, recognized as one of the finest providers of coach training programs in the world.

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