The Power of Coaching
When you hear the word "coach", what comes first into your
mind? Do you picture the 46 Seater Coach packed with tourists
or do you picture a basketball team with person shouting out
instructions? Or maybe the image of a football team with someone
in a tracksuit pacing back and to calling out the names of
the players comes to mind?
Coaching does indeed have its origins in the world of transportation
when servants conveyed a person of worth from place to place
in a Coach! Coaching initially became more familiar as a profession
with the images of the Coach working with a sports team. Before
I move on to look at how Coaching works now I just want to
share with you my favourite definition of Coaching which is
that it is about enabling an individual to move from where
they are now to where they want to be. I especially like that
definition because of it's succinct explanation of Coaching
the links back to the original meaning of the word "Coach."
Coaching is now one of the key concepts in leadership and
management and increasing numbers of people who truly want
to be successful are receiving Coaching.. Why has coaching
become so popular?
Coaching creates a level playing field
As a leadership style, coaching is used when the members
of a group or team are competent and motivated, but do not
have an idea of the long-term goals of an organization. This
involves two different levels of coaching: team and individual.
Team coaching enables team members to work together.
In a group of individuals, not everyone may have the same
level of competence and commitment to a goal. A group may
be a mix of highly competent and moderately competent individuals
with varying degrees of commitment to the team goals. These
differences can become a cause of friction among the members
of the team with resentment about differing levels of contribution
The leader who coaches helps the team members level their
expectations. In addition the coaching leader is able to manage
differing perspectives so that the common goal succeeds over
personal goals and interests. In a large organization, leaders
need to work to align the personal values and goals of the
individuals within the organization with those of the organization
so that long-term or strategic directions can be pursued.
Coaching builds up confidence and competence.
Individual coaching is an example of situational leadership
at work. The leader who coaches works one-on-one with individuals
building up their confidence by affirming good performance
during regular feedbacks. They also increase individual competence
by helping people assess their strengths and weaknesses to
facilitate career planning and professional development.
Depending on the individual's level of competence and commitment,
a leader may exercise more coaching behaviour for the less-experienced
members. Usually, this happens in the case of new team members.
The individual's direct manager gives more defined tasks and
holds regular feedback sessions with the new member of staff.
Over time they will gradually lessen the amount of directive
coaching and move along the coaching continuum towards consultative
coaching as the individual's competence and confidence increase.
Coaching promotes individual and team excellence.
Excellence is a product of habitual good practice. Holding
regular coaching oriented meetings and providing constructive
feedback is incredibly important in helping to establish good
habits. In a coached team individuals will develop the habit
of constantly assessing themselves for their strengths and
areas for improvement that they themselves perceive what knowledge,
skills, and attitudes they need to acquire to attain team
goals. In the process, not only do they find themselves empowered
to examine their behaviours but they attain individual excellence
as well. An excellent analogy or example is the Orchestra:
in which each member plays a different instrument. In order
to achieve harmony of music from the different instruments,
individuals will ensure that they play their part in the piece
to the very best of their ability, aside from practicing as
an Orchestra. Consequently, as well as performing in a team
they improve individually as an instrument player.
Coaching develops high commitment to common goals.
A leader who coaches works to balance the attainment of
immediate targets with long-term goals towards the vision
of the organization. As I mentioned earlier, with the alignment
of personal goals with organizational or team goals, the personal
interests are also kept in balance so that they do not distract
from the team purpose and goals. By constantly communicating
the vision through formal and informal conversations, the
team members are inspired and motivated. Setting short-term
team goals aligned with organizational goals and making an
action plan to attain these goals can help sustain the increased
motivation and commitment to common goals of the members.
Coaching produces valuable leaders.
Leadership by example is important in coaching. A leader
who professes to follow a coaching approach will soon lose
credibility if they do not practice what they preach. This
means that they should be well organized, highly competent
is their field, communicate openly and encourage feedback,
and have a clear idea of the organization's vision-mission-goals.
By working with leaders who coach individuals can acquire
the same good practices and attitudes they see modelled by
their leader/manager. This in turn will enable them to become
coaches themselves. If an individual experiences good coaching,
they are most likely to do the same things when entrusted
with formal leadership roles.
In conclusion as I commented at the outset coaching enables
an individual to move from where they are now to where they
want to be! Those who experience coaching really do see change
in their lives and by applying the skills they observe and
acquire through being coached they make a difference to those
they work with.
Paul Duxbury is an experienced management trainer
and Coach. Do you want to achieve your goals and live the
lifestyle you really want? Read more at www.fulfilling-your-dreams.com
Return to The Mental Game
of Coaching Articles directory.