Last time in Part 1 we looked at benefits for coaches of having insight into coachee context, along with 5 questions that could help us build up a wider picture of a coachee’s situation. This time we’ll be looking into potential drawbacks to having wider insight.
The 5 questions we asked last time were aimed at information gathering about the organisation. This time we’re looking at the coach him- or herself. Could there be potential shortcomings or blind spots in a coach’s approach to what he or she knows about a coachee’s context? What could be the results? And most importantly, how can we as coaches strategise to avoid these deficiencies, minimising the drawbacks to having wider insight into coachee context whilst maximising the benefits?
Coachees come in all shapes and sizes, weighed down with all kinds of issues. As coaches our aim is to focus non-judgmentally on the particular coachee we’re dealing with at any one time, and that particular coachee’s experience. But to be effective, do we also need a measure of independent insight into the coachee’s context? To be aware of wider influences and potential stresses?
That depends on the type of coaching. It’s possible, particularly in 1:1 life coaching, to work quite successfully with an individual coachee without much reference to wider context. Indeed, some would argue that concentrating solely on the coachee and his or her experience is the coach’s role. However, I’d say in organisational contexts such an approach is insufficient. Somewhere down the line evidence of barriers to change will emerge which might have been foreseen and possibly avoided if the coach had even a little prior knowledge of coachee context.
That’s not to say that having prior insight into coachee context might not have its drawbacks. In this post and the next, my aim is to open up some of the issues to start exploring the pros and cons.
This time let’s pause for a while to remember the incalculable contribution to the development of coaching made by Sir John Whitmore, who died recently…
As one of coaching’s pioneers, Whitmore must have influenced just about every coach on the planet through his seminal book Coaching for Performance, which first appeared in 1992. Encapsulating as it does the spirit of coaching at its best, this work also presents one of the finest explanations around of the ever-popular GROW Model – that practical, uncomplicated approach to coaching which will forever be associated with Whitmore.
It’s only when you’ve started reading Pete Mosley’s The Art of Shouting Quietly. A Guide to Self-Promotion for Introverts and other Quiet Souls that you begin to appreciate fully the point of the book’s subtitle. ‘Self-promotion’ is typically what people with loud voices and larger-than-life personalities are thought to ‘do’. Pete takes us into a different world – the world of the ‘Quiet Soul’.
The Quiet Soul may avoid self-promotion like the plague, and may also appear to be unobtrusive, even unremarkable. Yet such a soul can have much more to offer than meets the eye, with a depth and subtlety which is drowned out in a world that values noise above substance. Recognising this, Pete has quietly challenged many (often in the arts and crafts) to find the inner confidence to believe in the value they can bring to society by pursuing their dreams, and by turning those dreams into successful businesses.
What skills does a coach REALLY need? Which tools are essential?
These are big questions. And many coaches secretly have them at the back of their minds, especially when they’re newly qualified. Have you ever heard that little voice inside saying something like this: “Okay, you’re qualified… But are you good enough? What do you REALLY have to do? What do you REALLY have to know?”
It takes time for a coach to gain confidence, and it takes practice. However, if there’s one myth I’d like to dispel which might help everyone relax, it’s this – the myth that to be a successful coach you need to be well-practised in a whole host of tools, without which you can’t call yourself a ‘proper coach’ at all.