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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Effective questioning in coaching – and the most important questions to ask yourself

In a previous post I outlined the 5 basic coaching skills we really need in order to become effective as coaches. We’ve already taken a look at contracting, use of some kind of structuring mechanism (with the GROW Model as an example), and listening. This time I’m going to discuss questioning, which (coupled with listening) is the way coaching is given direction, and conversations can be taken forward into ‘light-bulb moment’ territory.

questions in yellow baubles

First, we’ll be looking at framing questions during the ongoing interaction with a coachee, before turning to the most important questions we coaches need to ask ourselves.

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The Big Bad MBTI Controversy – what does it mean?

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most widely used personality instruments in the world. It’s taken by over 2 million people each year, and is a staple tool in coaching. Personality assessment is very important because much coaching work circles round discussing and dealing with how the coachee perceives and reacts to ‘the external world’. And that depends largely on the makeup of the individual’s personality.

Geometric headMost of us take it as read that the MBTI is a bona fide instrument that tells us something about personality which is worth learning. Yet, among psychologists in particular, it’s regarded with outright scepticism. There’s been a controversy raging for years, and here I’m going to take a look at the arguments in order to shed light on whether the MBTI is fit for purpose as far as its use in coaching is concerned.

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The importance of listening in coaching – and 5 tips to improve it

Are you good at listening? Now, be honest…

Let me be up front. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I believe listening is one of the 5 basic coaching skills coaches need to master if they want to offer the high level of service their coachees deserve. In fact, I believe it’s the MOST important skill. Why? Because everything that happens in coaching depends on it.

listening head silhouettesThe importance of listening

Think about it. Without listening, it’s well-nigh impossible to explore goals and current reality with coachees, because without attentive listening a coach is unable to base an intervention on actual coachee needs as opposed to the coach’s own predetermined ‘programme’. Relevant questions can’t arise in the moment if there hasn’t been an adequately deep, attentive process of listening from which those questions flow. And no-one can contract in coaching without listening, because listening is at the core of the process of discussion and negotiation upon which contracting depends.

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5 bite-sized insights into Team Coaching

What is Team Coaching? That’s a bigger question than you might think. Team Coaching is becoming increasingly important in this complex, fast-changing world of ours. Whatever kind of coaching we may be involved in, we need to understand what Team Coaching is, as well as what makes it different to what we already do.

Recently I’ve benefited from participating in CPD sessions on the topic, led by three seasoned successful Team Coaches. Whilst this post won’t be the last word on all things Team Coaching, what it will do is bring together five bite-sized insights from what I’ve learnt. Thanks Sandra Booth, Sheila Udall and Prof Peter Hawkins (as well as all the other participants) for sharing your wisdom.

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Structuring coaching sessions with GROW – Part 2: Reality, Options & the Will to move forward

Last time we checked out what the GROW Model is. We also discussed the importance of Goal Setting in helping both coach and coachee look beyond the current situation to establish a clear vision for the coaching intervention, as well as a focus for taking discussions forward.

Following on from that, this time we’ll be looking at the other three components of the GROW Model:GROW

  • checking out the Reality of the coachee’s current context and situation
  • generation of Options
  • ensuring the coachee has the Will to move forward with specific actions

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Structuring coaching sessions with GROW – Part 1: Introduction to the GROW Model & Goal Setting

Last time we looked at the reasons to contract in coaching – one of the five basic skills it’s necessary for any coach to master. This time I’m turning to another skill on that wishlist. The GROW Model – that easy-to-remember, simple, and perennially popular mechanism for structuring coaching sessions.

GROWDon’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that there are no other ways of structuring sessions. There are. Many. Some are simple whilst others are much more complicated. However, I’m highlighting the GROW Model here because of its almost universal acceptance and serviceability. It’s stood the test of time, been pulled around and discussed widely, and become a coaching staple used because of its effectiveness by a whole variety of coaches, including the most experienced.

Why is it important to have some kind of recognisable approach to structuring coaching sessions?

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Why contract in coaching?

In a previous post I discussed the five basic skills any coach needs to master if he or she wants to be effective. I said then I’d be discussing each of these in further posts, so here I’ll be looking into the first skill on that list by checking out the rationale for and characteristics of effective contracting.

man signing contractEffective contracting is crucial to the success of coaching relationships. Why? Well, the origins of any problems that occur as the relationships develop can usually be traced back to the contracting stage.

The term ‘contracting’ can refer to two things:

  1. the ongoing process whereby the coach helps the coachee define, refine and redefine clear outcomes for the coaching sessions;
  2. the negotiations and resulting document setting out the parameters of the relationship between coach, coachee and any other stakeholders with an interest in the coaching intervention.

I’ll be taking a look at both of these under the following headings:

  • Contracting in the coaching process
  • Contracting the coaching relationship

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Effective listening and ‘The 3 P’s of Coaching Agility’

I recently took part in a webinar called High Velocity Listening: Coaching Agility for the C-Suite.* Why? Well, anything that might deepen my insight into the art of listening grabs me, so you won’t be surprised I waited all agog to hear what  Andreas Bernhardt and Jeff Hull  had to say for themselves. I came away with lots to think about. And I’d like to share some of those thoughts with you…

A blog post can’t do full justice to everything that was covered, but here’s an introduction to Andreas and Jeff’s concept of  ‘The 3 P’s of Coaching Agility’, which are:

  • listening presence
  • listening perspectives
  • listening personas

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What if… mindfulness were a coaching tool?

It had been a taxing coaching session. Concentration on listening, feeding back, spotting limiting self-beliefs, challenging… Even, let it be said, dealing with a little voice of frustration whispering in my ear – a voice which faded away soon after it began…

Reflecting afterwards on the session it suddenly struck me. The voice of frustration had faded away so fast. Why? I puzzled over this and a realisation dawned… What if mindfulness were a coaching tool? It certainly looked like it had become so for me. How?

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