The importance of non-directiveness in coaching – and 2 good reasons to build awareness

Remember that in a previous post I outlined the 5 basic coaching skills we really need to become effective coaches? We’ve already taken a look at the first four: contracting, use of some kind of structuring mechanism (with the GROW Model as an example), listening, and questioning. At long last we’ve arrived at the fifth basic coaching skill: non-directiveness.Cartoon man with blue arrow

In this post I’ll be taking a look at non-directiveness, as well as its place on what Myles Downey has called the ‘Spectrum of Coaching Skills’, before giving  2  good reasons for making sure we put effort into building awareness of when our interactions are non-directive and when they’re not.

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5 good reasons to become a reflective coach

Much is said in coaching circles about the need to be a ‘reflective coach’. Most experienced coaches would have us believe that they already are ‘reflective coaches’. But what does being a ‘reflective coach’ really mean, and why should we bother thinking about it, let alone work towards embodying it?

two headsIn this post, I’ll be looking briefly at what the word ‘reflective’ means in the context of coaching, how we can put together a template to use in our reflections, and  5  good reasons we should all put our efforts into becoming truly reflective coaches.

To me, this isn’t just another ‘flavour-of-the-month’ phrase to be batted around. Along with deep, transformative listening, it’s at the very core of what coaching is about. Listening is the coach homing in on the coachee – and reflective practice is the coach homing in on her or his own internal dialogue.

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What if… terrible coaching sessions weren’t really that terrible?

Have you ever left a coaching session groaning, “Can things really get any worse? Is my coaching really so dire? I’m an idiot!”? Whilst this can be a common reaction amongst coaches in training, don’t be fooled into thinking it doesn’t happen to more seasoned coaches from time to time too.

Man holding unhappy red squarePossibly the reaction is accurate. The coaching session was that dire, and you really are an idiot. I’d hazard a guess, though, that if you’re a qualified experienced coach (or even a newbie in most cases), the more likely story is that something’s been triggered in you which has retrospectively coloured your memory of the experience of the whole session. It’s part of a reflective coach’s duty to try to get to the bottom of such things rather than brush them under a convenient carpet to be tripped over at a later date.

Here I’m going to touch on the kinds of circumstances that might cause such an extreme reaction in a coach, and suggest  3  simple processes we can build into our planning which can help put the experience into perspective. These  3  processes are things we should be incorporating into our thinking anyway, but here we’re looking at them as being helpful when we really need to find a different perspective.

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Sorting out priorities with the Urgency-Importance Matrix

Here we all are after the festive break with lots of good intentions for getting things done in this bright New Year. Coaches have good intentions, and so do their coachees. Yet how often do those good intentions fall by the wayside?

Woman surrounded by arrowsThere can be a whole host of reasons for good intentions going out of focus pretty quickly. Here I’m going to look at circumstances where the impulse to do something is genuinely there, but it gets drowned out by everything else that may be going on in our lives. We lose our sense of priorities.

You know I’m not one for pulling out a coaching tool for no reason, especially if it’s complicated. So the fact that this post is about the Urgency-Importance Matrix should give you a clue that I think it’s not only really useful, but also really easy to use.

Let’s look at what the Urgency-Importance Matrix is, then check out two specific work-based coaching scenarios where I’ve found it priceless.

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Book Thoughts – The Financial Times Guide to Business Coaching by Anne Scoular

Although the title of The Financial Times Guide to Business Coaching (published 2011) seems to imply this book’s remit is purely related to coaching in the world of business, to my mind it’s a rare gem which gives a comprehensive yet entertaining whistle-stop tour round all things coaching for anyone seriously interested in the subject. Cartoon cogs with handThat’s not to suggest it’s shallow, for shallow it certainly isn’t. It’s to say that if any coach reads this volume carefully, she or he will have more than a thorough introduction to many practical coaching-related subjects, as well as the pleasure of being entertained along the way.

At just over 230 pages, this is not a big read. However, given the amount of ground it covers and the amount of attention many of its sections warrant, it’s not an inconsiderable read either. What sugars the pill is Anne’s authorial voice – one of wit, candour and mischievousness. This is a refreshing combination, and one I think we could do with more of.

Topics covered include:

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