As leaders (from CEOs all the way to team leads) we are expected to coach our people. Yet very few of us actually get any coach training. Perhaps it’s because it seems such common sense and so logical that we feel that everyone should just be able to do it, right? What’s the key to coaching?
But life’s funny this way: the simplest things can be the hardest to do.
I have done a lot of coach training. Here are my stats for those who want to know
465 direct coach training hours
183 Leadership training hours
Plus almost 1500 hours of coaching others which means I’m 60% of the way to being a Master Certified Coach.
(yes, my inner critics are firmly telling me how much of a brag fest this seems. I am ignoring them).
So it’s fair to say I know something about the art and science of coaching.
And I love to get to the essence of subjects: the simple truth that covers all the complexity. That one thing that makes something work.
And that thing for coaching is simple (and yes, it’s hard to do).
It’s about them.
When I was about to do my final exam to be a certified coach, I was freaking out about it.
I had a fantastic idea to prepare by coaching my own coach. Wow, I was so intimidated that I almost became petrified.
This is what was going on in my head: “How dare you think that you can coach this wonderful, amazing woman who has been fundamental support in everything you have done in the last year? This person who is a master coach?”
But we planned in a coaching session anyway where I would coach her, for practice.
I wanted the experience to be amazing for her, I wanted to give her what she has given me. Piling on all these expectations I created such stress for myself that it was almost impossible to speak. I was working really hard, too hard, to have the right question, to do the right thing.
While all this was going on in my head, she was fine. She was a great coachee; open, daring, ready.
My coaching was terrible. I’m not sure that I would even call it coaching. I got so much wrong.
But that practice session with my own coach was the best thing I could have done. I learnt what happens when you let your saboteur rule your life; it paralyses you and makes you miss what is right in front of you.
She gave me some great advice, that I have used in every single coaching session ever since.
She told me:
“It’s not about you or your exam. It’s about the coachee. Coaching is always about the coachee”.
These words helped me to shift my focus from a desire to prove what I know, the skills that I have learnt, into a relaxed state of curiosity about them.
That’s the simple key to being able to coach your team: It’s not about you, it’s about them. So the key to coaching people on your team is to focus all your attention on them.
Who is this person and what do they really want?
What do they believe? Is that belief holding them back?
What do they feel? What are they not allowing themselves to feel?
How do they want to solve this challenge?
When you can remember to do that, you’ll be coaching.
This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership. Want to talk it through with me? Call me and let’s make a Game Plan together.