Coaching: Methodical or Mysterious?

“Now that I’ve been coached for a while, I get it; but I remember feeling uncertain what I was getting into, that coaching was mysterious even.”

Eek! When a client says this, as the owner of a coaching company, I take notice. Lack of clarity is rarely good for business!

Let’s demystify what goes on in coaching. Pull up a chair. For this time only, I’m inviting you behind a one-way mirror to watch some coaching sessions in progress…

Scene One

This CEO and I are looking at his Leadership Circle 360 results for the first time.  As he sees how he’s been striving for perfection his whole life, I can see the faintest hint of emotion in his eyes.  He says he’s sad. He knew he had exacting standards for himself but he didn’t realize his team could see it too. He says he feels humbled too because his team sees him as a such a strong leader. In this session, we don’t rush away from the emotion. It’s important. We do promise to dig deeper into his commitment to perfection and help him find specific practices to put less energy into “being perfect” so he can free himself to focus on what matters most.

Scene Two

This operations director shows up frustrated, that despite her feeling she does everything within her power to keep her team happy, their last team session was a blame-fest. She felt personally attacked. In the heat of the moment, she defended her policies and processes. Right after the meeting, she completed several tasks (that were previously assigned to team members) to ease their load. When she’s able to look at herself and her team more objectively, she realizes she habitually avoids conflict and steps into hero mode. With some prompting, she decides she will host a team meeting to ask curious questions about what is causing conflict. We’re both excited to hear what she will learn.  She’s nervous too. She and her team have been sweeping some subtle conflict under the rug for a while now.

Scene Three

This business owner shows up feeling out of control. He’s managing operations, overseeing sales, and is the primary parent at home. The first three years of company ownership were thrilling. Now he feels overwhelmed daily. We slow things down dramatically and get up on the metaphorical balcony to take perspective. By the end of the session, he reports feeling calm and hopeful.  He commits to working with a head hunter, as step one, to find a strong sales manager. He feels confident that with someone leading sales, he can get back to managing operations and expanding service offerings. He’s excited to spend more time with his kids.

Every scenario is an opportunity for increasing self-awareness, learning and skill development, planning and committing to action (or sometimes sitting still!). Clients are always in the driver’s seat making choices that make sense for them and their business.

Of course, in both the structure and emergent space of coaching, there are some “aha” moments that can happen along the way. They are personal and unpredictable.  For that magic, you’ll simply have to get coached yourself.

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