“People learn best in a large context of genuine praise.”
Even coaches need to take it easy sometimes….
Why do I say this? Because here in the UK we’ve had the most wonderfully warm and sunny weekend, full of blue skies with the occasional fluffy white cloud, the heat-drenched scent of roses, and not a little ice-cream (at least as far as I’m concerned)! Those of you who haven’t had the dubious pleasure of a wet British summer will probably not understand the full significance of being able to enjoy what for us is a perfect June weekend – but I hope you’ll be able to join me in feeling relaxed and happy to be alive…
Remember we looked at benefits and potential drawbacks to coaches having insight into coachee context? Well, now we’re going to go one step further by checking out an actual coachee context to gain some practical understanding of how ‘background issues’ might influence the experience of coachees working within it…
I’m an internal coach in one of the largest Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK. So let’s briefly explore some wider ‘background issues’ currently affecting UK universities to gain deeper insight into a ‘context’. We’ll then be able to suggest ways these issues might affect employee experience in the sector, as well as understand how insight into them might help coaches in their professional work.
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.
Remember in my very first post I said I’d write another one about the interesting conundrum of being both a coach and a historian? Well, here it is!
I said then that, although the combination is unusual, as far as I’m concerned ‘coach’ and ‘historian’ are actually two sides of the same coin. It’s that ‘relatedness’ that I’d like to tease out here. In the process I’ll be comparing and contrasting both ‘callings’ in a way which (in my view at least) puts into relief two sets of key commonalities that lie at the core of what it means to be a coach and what it means to be a historian.