How often in conversation with another coach do you find the subject moving to coachees who don’t do what they know they ought to do? It’s happened to me quite often. In a previous post I considered the proposition “What if… coachees were coaches?” and in some ways what I’m going to say today continues on that theme. We all know we’re supposed to believe that coachees have within themselves the answers to their problems, but somehow our keeping hold of that insight gets swamped by ‘interference’…
What do I mean?
Coaching is in many ways more about how a coach deals with his or her own baggage than it is about the coachee. One function of a coach is to hold up that mirror to coachees which helps them perceive themselves in perspective. But what if the coach isn’t really holding up a mirror at all? What if the coach has unwittingly substituted his or her own image?
I’ve written before about how coaching is at bottom based on the fundamental insight that coachees are experts vis-à-vis their own issues – even though they may not yet be fully aware of the fact or able independently to access their ‘wisdom’.
The other day I found myself musing on what this might mean as far as the coaching relationship is concerned. We know that part of the coaching role is to facilitate coachees in accessing their ‘wisdom’. But what riches might coachees themselves be bringing to the table, that we coaches may not yet have acknowledged?
We’ve looked in a previous post at some aspects of what coaching isn’t. Let’s start to look at what it is.
As I see it, John Whitmore had it about right when he said in an interview that coaching is: “a way of seeing people.” * It’s the implications of this short but deceptively simple phrase that I want to consider today.
The core of coaching At the heart of coaching is the belief on the part of the coach, that individuals have within themselves the resources necessary for developing their expertise beyond their current level of competency. Read that sentence again slowly and really think about what it means in practical as well as philosophical terms.
We’re describing a “way of seeing” and a way of interacting between the individuals in coaching relationships, which have at their core infinite respect for the integrity, wisdom and ability of coachees, at least in relation to their own issues and affairs. Without this crucial attitude being in place, no genuine coaching can take place.