First a quote: “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” – Augusten Burroughs
Thanks to all who took time to drop me a note regarding last week’s MMM missive entitled “Am I a Good Coach.” I am grateful for every email, note and certainly the words of encouragement; your responses mean a great deal to me! Judging by the emails received; coaching, as a leadership skill, seems to be a subject of interest for many.
In last week’s edition, I offered four questions to ask yourself after completion of a coaching conversation, or process, to help you assess your effectiveness as a coach. In hindsight, it may have been wise to suggest questions for your consideration before you begin a coaching session. Hence, I am submitting this edition, as a “prologue” of sorts, to last week’s MMM.
Following are four questions to consider asking yourself before sitting down to coach another person: (could be a spouse, son or daughter, colleague, employee, neighbor or perhaps a player on a youth basketball team)
- Are my intentions to be helpful… or hurtful? Please do not brush over this question too quickly. If you are angry, hangry, upset or simply frustrated by something your coachee has or hasn’t done, it may be difficult to answer this question objectively. “Of course, my intentions are to be helpful,” you might too quickly respond.It is important to remember, when being coached, coachees are trying to determine if the coach is “for them” or “against them,” they are likely to be hyper-sensitive to not only words used, but also tones, gestures, and emotions. Before coaching, check your heart, know your subconscious intentions; make sure they are indeed helpful! I have learned that hurting people hurt people. The same is true for us as coaches. While timeliness is important, it is rarely wise to coach while angry or hangry.
- Will the help I offer be perceived by the coachee as helpful? I learned this from John McTigue, a friend, boss and perhaps one of the three or four most important mentors in my life. John was a wonderful coach; I miss him greatly. John taught me that unwanted or undesired help is rarely perceived as helpful and will almost always be resented by the recipient. Resentful people will rarely change behavior, or at least for very long. Sometimes, simply asking the person if they’re interested in your ideas is enough. It also helps to begin by stating your intentions are to be helpful.
- Have I thoroughly, and deeply, examined the situation from their perspective? While this may be obvious, we rarely see coaching opportunities in the same way as our coachees because we simply have different perspectives, personalities and what I call “lenses on life.” I love the “6 vs 9” cartoon as it illustrates this concept in a humorous way. Bottom line, we don’t see things the same which leads us to different conclusions about the situation and the actions required for resolution. Don’t assume they will see the situation as you see it. And by the way, there is value in diversity of thought and perspective.
- Have I identified the specific behavior to be changed and can I describe the behavior(s) in descriptive, non-judgmental language? A coach’s goal should be to help the coachee experience greater levels of success and results. The more defensive they become when discussing possible changes, the less likely they are to change their behaviors. Hence, our goal as effective coaches should be to enhance trust, increase understanding and reduce defensiveness. When people feel judged, they tend to become defensive. Describe behavior using non-judgmental language.
If you can answer these four questions favorably, I submit you have a higher probability of having a fruitful and meaningful coaching discussion. Coaching others can be the most rewarding part of any leader’s career. It has been for me; I hope it will be for you as well.
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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- “Constructive Criticism is a scam run by people who want to beat you up. And, they want you to believe they are doing it for your own good.” – Cheri Huber
- “The carrot and stick are pervasive and persuasive motivators. But, if you treat people like donkeys, they’ll perform like donkeys.” – John Whitmore
- “Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.” – Pete Carroll
- “Respecting people is an important part of life, whether it’s the person doing janitorial work or the person about you. It doesn’t matter who you are; I’m going to respect you.” Andy Reid
- “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “A good intention, with a bad approach, often leads to a poor result.” – Thomas A. Edison