Whether you’re an external coach or a coaching leader within an organization, you wear multiple hats and play multiple roles to move your client/team forward.
In Part 1, I wrote about the Coach being The Partner and The Reflector. In this part, I would discuss the Coach playing the roles of the The Challenger and The Cheerleader.
There is a tension between what the client wants and where he is currently. The tension is greater if the gap between his desired future and his current reality is huge.
The coach stands in that gap.
The client comes with his existing “stories” and excuses why things are the way they are. The coach do not easily buy into those stories. After all, it is those stories that caused the client to be stuck.
The client has to leave the comfort of his existing state to move to where he wants to be. That entails the process of leaving his existing beliefs, mindsets and deep-seated habitual patterns of thinking and behaviors in exchange for new ones.
Before that, the client needs to have the awareness for the change. It is at this point, the coach plays the role of the Challenger to provoke the client to see how his existing beliefs, stories and worldview do not serve him anymore. Otherwise, the client would have reached where he wants to be without the coach’s intervention and support.
Real change involves both destruction and creation. As the Challenger, the coach skilfully guide the client to the powerful realization of how his existing beliefs that may have served him well in the past are now limiting him and hold no ground in the new reality of his desired future.
The coach supports the client in the process of letting go (destruction) his old stories and beliefs and re-write new ones (creation).
Of course, in all cases, clear agreements, permission and trust need to be firmly established (see part 1) before the client may be open to be challenged.
Here are just a few example coaching questions that may be used in challenging:
- How are your current beliefs/worldview/habits serving you?
- How are they no longer serving you?
- What evidences are there to show that they are no longer true/useful?
- What new possibilities could arise without them?
- Who are you without them?
- What are the new beliefs/worldview/habits you can adopt that could serve you moving forward?
Many managers tend to catch their employees when they do something wrong with the good intention of correcting them. There is a better and more empowering way.
In “The One Minute Manager”, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson wrote that effective managers help people to reach their full potential by catching them doing something right.
Basically, people who feel good about themselves will produce good results, and they will repeat them.
As the Cheerleader, the coach’s role is to nurture optimism – helping the client to take credit for his success or simply for doing something well, and feel good about it.
As his cheerleader coach, you endorse the client’s positive actions and progress. Make it a habit of letting your client know that you are impressed by the positive elements of his performance.
I’m not saying that you ignore his mistakes and blunders and not learn anything from them. You see, what is focused on will usually grow. So if the outcome is to develop positive improvements, then the focus should be on what is being done well.
During the coaching conversation with your client, consider:
- Expressing what impressed you about him during the session.
- Describing his positive efforts/behaviors/actions and praising him.
- Helping him see how his efforts have contributed to his achievements, however big or small.
- Describing your reasons for optimism for further progress towards his goals.
- Helping him to maintain/grow his enthusiasm to repeat (or do more) what he is already doing well.
This may not come naturally for most leaders and even some coaches. We have to consciously and continually improve our role as the Cheerleader. Whatever we say or do, let it be genuine. Insincere and fake compliments will do more harm than good.
Some clients are more self-critical and are not comfortable to accept praises and positive comments. You can make use of their sense of responsibility by nudging them toward a better balance – by being open to taking credit for their successes as much as taking the blame for their failures.
Sometimes, the positive results by the client may be accidental. Instead of ignoring or dismissing them, use the opportunity to cultivate positive curiosity.
You may ask something like this: “Wow! How did you do that?” The client may gain useful insights as you help them explore through the ways he unconsciously produced something good. Accidental improvements can be learned and developed further.
As you review their progress in subsequent sessions, make it a habit to always ask your clients “What’s better?” or “What positive changes have taken place?”
“What’s better?” helps to point the clients in the direction of optimism and positive affirmation. The things that get affirmed will naturally be repeated. And they will feel good repeating them.
Everyone could use the encouraging support of a cheerleader on their side as they journey through their work and life.
So, there you have it. I have written about the Coach being The Partner, The Reflector, The Challenger and The Cheerleader. There are a few more roles that a coach can play, which I will write in the future. And I am sure you can also think of a few.
What other roles do you think the coach could play? Let me know your thoughts in the “Comment” section below.