First a quote: “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” – John Wooden
I have often asked myself the question; “Am I a good coach?”
In one way or another, I have been coaching other human beings for almost 40 years in many capacities, both personal and professional, including; manager, leader, parent, husband, youth soccer/basketball, business leader, church leader, neighbor, sibling, friend, and even as a professional business coach for hire.
I have also had the privilege of being mentored by some of the best coaches in the industry and, I have had the honor of leading/teaching workshops utilizing some of the world’s best coaching models for more than 30 years. I am also fortunate to have had more opportunities to coach, and to be coached, then most. Still, with all that experience, I have pondered the question, “Am I a good coach?”
After almost every coaching session, I find myself wishing I had taken a slightly different approach, asked a better question, spoke less, spoke more, or perhaps used a better metaphor. I can say with confidence, I have never completed a “perfect” coaching session where I didn’t have something I could have done differently or better. But gosh, what great learning opportunities!
There are two things I know about these frequent reflections; 1) They have done wonders in my never-ending search for continuous growth and improvement as a coach, and; 2) There is no such thing as a perfect coaching session. There is almost always an opportunity for change, learning, growth, and improvement.
If you have pondered similar thoughts about your abilities as a coach, I have found the following four questions can serve as a sort of “litmus test” to help you assess your level of success following a coaching session or series:
- Did you get a desired change in behavior? Isn’t that why we coach others; to help someone get better results, or experience greater levels of success? Have you helped the coachee learn, grow, change, or get better in some way? If the student hasn’t learned, then the teacher hasn’t taught. The same thing is true in coaching. Effective coaching should yield a change in behavior that then leads to better results, for them, for their team, and/or for their organization.
- Is your relationship with the coachee better or worse? At a minimum, an effective coaching discussion should do no damage to the existing relationship. In the best-case scenario, it should yield an increased level of understanding and appreciation between you and the coachee. If you get a change in behavior but your relationship is damaged in the process, I predict the behavior change will either be negative, short-lived, or both. Relationships matter!
- Does the coachee feel better and/or more confident about themselves? I have come to believe that effective coaching should yield more confident coachees. There is a strong correlation between a person’s level of confidence and their performance. Confident people are more successful and are more comfortable taking risks than less confident people. Did your process build confidence or weaken their confidence?
- Does your coachee exhibit more, or less, hope in their successful future? One of my favorite expressions is: “If people don’t have hope, or faith, in their future, they give up power in their present.” Does your coachee believe in their ability to change, grow and learn? What have you done, or said, to exhibit your belief in them? In what ways did you exhibit your faith in them?
If you can answer these four questions favorably, I submit you were successful in your coaching approach, process and discussion. If you addressed those four questions, then everything else you might have said or done differently is nothing more than an opportunity for refinement, growth and continuous improvement. Give yourself a break and perhaps even a pat on the back. Well done!
Coaching others can be the most rewarding part of any leader’s career. It has been for me.
Who will you coach this week? Who will someday be grateful for your willingness to help them grow?
Bonus quotes below.
How will you live, or lead, differently or better this coming week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “Make sure that team members know they are working with you, not for you.” – John Wooden
- “The interesting thing about coaching is that you have to trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled.” – Ric Charlesworth, Hockey
- “Most people get excited about games, but I’ve got to be excited about practice, because that’s my classroom.” – Pat Summitt, Basketball
- “It’s what you learn, after you know it all, that counts.” – John Wooden, Basketball
- “All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself.” – Bill McCartney, American Football
- “It is not what the coach knows; it is what his players have learned.” – Anonymous
- “People thrive on positive reinforcement. They can take only a certain amount of criticism and you may lose them altogether if you criticize them in a personal way… you can make a point without being personal. Don’t insult or belittle your people. Instead of getting more out of them you will get less.” – Bill Walsh, American Football
- “Coaching is about helping clients unlock the treasure-chest of their lives – worth bearing in mind then that diamonds are made from coal under pressure and it’s the grit in the oyster which creates the pearls.” – Sarah Durrant