I get just as much out of coaching others as they probably might be getting from me. That’s why I enjoy doing it so much. It’s completely beneficial to both parties. It’s co-active. Often times, we’re discovering things versus really problem solving something they’re trying to push through. I believe it’s about finding things out together.
One of the most important things to keep in mind as you start co-active coaching is to really make it feel collaborative. The worst coaching experiences I’ve been a part of are the ones where it seems like a party of one. That party is doing nothing but telling because they think they’re the subject matter expert. The best coaching moments are the ones where I really felt like both parties were completely dialed into the process together.
I need someone to be honest with me as my coach. You’re not helping anyone by not being honest with them. My best coaches in my life through sports in school as an example where the ones that really helped me understand I wasn’t doing enough. The best coaches (bosses) I’ve had in my work life where the ones that didn’t sugarcoat or water down their feedback. It was real, raw, and exactly what I needed to hear not always what I wanted to hear. One of the first and best ground rules to set as you co-actively coach is the honesty ground rule. Being nice isn’t going to help. Now, you can’t be a jerk either.
“Powerful coaching is not about being a powerful coach.”
– Laura Whitworth
Being a great listener has to be a very close first and second spot. Listening deeply allows for you to read between the lines. Listening to respond is not helping the one being coached. Don’t base advice on your experiences with life. It’s not about you, it’s about the person you’re listening to. Meet them where they are at, not where you want them to be. Listening empathetically is a skill as well as a cornerstone to the best coaches in the world that I’ve read about.
Your gut. The third best thing you can hone, is intuition. It’s intuition that draws your attention to what the crux of the coached needs the most help with. You only get there by intently listening. Talk about the hunch you have with the coached. You’ll find you can’t probe enough. The more you do, the stronger your intuition will be, and the sooner you can start to guide. Notice I said guide, not direct or give advice or tell. Guide. Insights are key and the foundation for a transfer of ownership that you need them to pick up and own.
Stay curious. Pretend you don’t have the answer yet you think you do. Often I’m finding myself asking simply, “what else” of the person in front of me. The simpler the questions the more effective the conversation will become. Some great ones besides “what else” to think about asking I believe I’ve found are:
What does your ideal situation look like?
What do you expect to get out of this work or challenge?
What do you think you can do next?
What do you think you can learn from this struggle?
Discover values together. At the end of the day it’s really about a fulfilled life or work. It’s very difficult achieve, which is why they need a coach. Again, going back to the start, this finding of fulfillment is both for the coached as much as it is for the coach themselves. I find my values in helping others find their most optimal selves. Fulfillment as well as our values are deeply intertwined. Almost to the point you cannot have one with out feeling the other. When you feel it at the same time as the coach at the same time as the one being coached you know you’re on the right path.
The best coaching I’ve experienced whether being coached or actually doing the coaching have been completely collaborative ones, ones in which both get fulfillment and values met, there was a transfer of ownership made, and the coached are empowered to begin a next step.
I hope you can become curious enough to find yourself as a coach for someone. It’s one of the most intrinsically rewarding things you can do in your life. Make others better.