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

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.    

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
:  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.