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Why does coaching work?

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I’m a self-confessed quote junky and some months ago, I captured a quote by Amy Jen Su in the Harvard Business Review stating that by asking questions leaders “can move away from command-and-control leadership to a dynamic in which your direct report grows through self-reflection.” (See “The questions good coaches ask“.)

When Mark Barrenechea of OpenText was named Best New CEO of 2015 by Canadian Business, the quote that caught my attention was: ‘When he joined the company in 2012, he didn’t storm in with a plan already set. Instead, he focused on listening, since, in his words, “The employees know the business better than I do.”’ (See “The smart CEO’s most under-valued skill.”)

That’s why coaching works!

It works because through a process of self-reflection, the individual you are coaching has the answers; they ‘know their business better than’ anyone else. There is such power in asking questions and inviting others to discover their own solutions. We all have experienced the sense of accomplishment that comes from moving past an obstacle or challenge with ease.

A coach is your thinking partner who will stay in a place of curiosity and ask those open and sometimes tough questions that make you stop and think, to listen to your answers and challenge your thinking or assumptions from a place of inquiry, not judgement. ‘This is what I just heard, is that what you meant to say? ‘Is that an assumption or a fact?’ ‘If you were in his/her shoes right now, what would you be thinking about this situation? What would you want to happen next?’

Coaching works because a coach is there to be your accountability partner, your cheerleader, your mirror to reflect what you say/don’t say, to help you frame and prepare for some of the heavy lifting and/or difficult conversations you might be faced with….. and all without judgement. Imagine an hour every few weeks to reflect on your professional growth with someone who is committed to:

  • Hold your attention to what matters most for you.
  • Create a safe, supportive environment for you to explore your thoughts, to be vulnerable enough to move beyond where you are.
  • Be fully present and engaged in your conversation and agenda – it truly is all about you!
  • Ask powerful questions for your maximum benefit.
  • To believe in your continued growth even when you don’t believe in yourself.
  • To listen for what you say and what you don’t say; to sometimes hear what is behind what you say.
  • Design actions and activities to move you toward your goal.

One of my clients who was frustrated, angry and somewhat fearful when I first met him, said it well: ‘Thanks Linda…for your insight and experience in helping me over the past couple months. It is much appreciated. Waking up, realizing my potential, and pointing myself in the right direction is going to create nothing but success!’ Can you hear that sense of accomplishment?

Coaching does work because it provides you with a time-out to work on your own leadership.

Call today – you deserve it!

(A PDF version of this article is also available.)