Many people do not have experience of coaching in a business environment, in most people’s experience coaching is associated with sport. A coach in sport is defined as an ‘instructor or trainer’. They teach, tutor, educate their pupils or team. The last definition of coach in the dictionary (after a single decker bus!) is ‘Give someone professional advice on how to attain their goals’. This is closer to what we mean by coach (especially executive coach) – but I still don’t totally agree.
An executive or business coach typically doesn’t offer information.
Their skills lie in listening and asking questions to help their client work out an answer for themselves. The professional part is not the advice they give but knowing the questions to ask. This often feels counter intuitive – why would you pay money to someone when they think that you already know the answer!
A couple of examples from today…
- A senior executive in a large company who is not sure if there are opportunities for her or whether she needs to look elsewhere. This is not a question I can answer, and neither can she! But what I can do is ask her questions and give her some tools (in this case a mind map type approach) to start to find the answers herself. I will meet with her again in a few weeks after she has mapped out the issues and has a clearer picture of the options. We will then talk through specific parts of the map she has created to start to unravel her thinking.
- A manager who has just joined an organisation and is having issues with one of his staff. The member of staff is not communicating well in meetings or on a one-to-one basis. He is unsure if the problem is him or the staff member. We discussed the way he works and compared it to the way she works. He recognised through talking that actually they work in a similar way – this led him to set a series of actions that meant he changed the way he talked to her. I will meet with him again to see how this worked and what further steps, if any, he needs to take.
In both cases I am sure they would eventually make decisions. However both appreciated the opportunity to talk and to be listened to. By listening and picking up on specific phrases or comments they made I could ask questions which led them to think differently. They could then start to unpick issues themselves.
To find out more more or experience executive coaching for yourself then contact me.