Saturday, October 23, 2004

Myths and Truths of Coaching

Another week has flown by. A lot occurred to me this week as I began to work with a new client. First and foremost was how much I learned in such a short time. Oh my client learned a great deal too and repeatedly shared with me his insights and perspectives as we debated and talked and shared our way through the chaos of the week. I walked in on Monday knowing exactly what it was I wanted to do with him, but not knowing the first thing about the work he did. I walked out at the end of the week actually understanding most of it.

Coaching Truth: A Coach can learn as much as he/she teaches and still be very effective. And in opening myself up to learning, my clients can learn by teaching and realizing just how much knowledge and experience they have. It’s not important to know what work a client does. It’s important to know how to Coach.

Another thing is the perception others have when I’m introduced to the rest of the staff. Very often the first question in others’ minds is “What does my boss need to fix?” or “Why is he/she bringing in a Coach? What’s wrong?” There’s a Coaching Myth for you! Something doesn’t have to be wrong to bring in a Coach.

My clients are awesome people who are great at what they do. They just want to be better. I’m not there to fix anything. I’m there to help them come up with new paradigms…to figure out what’s not working as well as they’d like, turn it around to make it work better…. to change their Personal Operating Systems (POS) and come up with new ones that fit their present life, job, challenge, or vision.

Once in a while a Coach is lucky enough to work with a client who wants to absorb everything like a sponge. Usually we’re approached with an idea of what the client wants to change, improve or learn, however in observing them, rarely are those changes the ones needed. Usually it’s a hidden dynamic that I share with them through observation that creates the AHHA! or lightbulb that goes off and only then do we create a strategy for change. I worked with such a client recently who wanted everything I could dish out to him, to process, debate, take from it what he needed to created positive change by choice. Generally it’s not changing as much as looking at things through new eyes or perspective that makes all the difference in attitude and choices. Feedback from an impartial observer is very powerful. Very often my clients are extraordinary people in many ways yet don’t see themselves as such.

Coaching Myth: The Coach is the one to come up with ideas for change. Not so. The client is the one to create and implement the changes. Not me. Once they discover the glitches or roadblocks, they just soar and figure it out along the way. I just facilitate the process.

Coaching Truth: Many think they have all the answers. They love to spar with a Coach and hear all the ideas to debate them or knock them down. However if they used all that energy to listen openly and be honest with themselves, they could do amazing things to attract exactly what it is they want in their lives. But they’re stuck. They think it’s a sign of weakness to work with a Coach. It’s fine for “everybody else” but they don’t need it. I’d like to hear their response to people like the CEO of Home Depot, Bob Nardelli who believes that “Without a coach, people will NEVER reach their maximum capabilities".

"Between 25 percent and 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies use executive coaches." --Recent survey by The Hay Group, International. I am proud to say many of the department heads of the Canadian Federal Government see the value of Coaching to increase effectiveness and grow new leaders.

As you’re reading this, I would love to hear what your gut reaction would be in working with a Coach. Would it be an immediate “I don’t need one” or would it be “I wonder what it would be like to work with a ‘partner in crime’, someone who would support me no matter what, be non-judgmental and help me get to exactly where I want to be?”

And I’m thinking…who would be interested in contributing to my R & D group in creating new Coaching Concepts and perspectives for you? Your ideas, even through the comments on my blog are listened to and utilized to create new ways of working with people just like you. Question is….are you open to the possibilities?

Life is full of them if you only take a moment to grasp them.

Donna Karlin

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