CEO and Business Coaching
How Corporate Coaching Helps Eliminate Emotional Roadblocks
Here are my core beliefs about corporate coaching:
- My coachee is capable and creative.
- A coaching relationship requires mutual respect, trust, and honesty.
- Motivation is best when the coach connects with the coachee’s agenda.
- A coach aids a coachee in overcoming obstacles to success.
- Coaches encourage self-direction and excellence.
- Coaches help coachees be accountable and move to action.
- Questions are often more powerful than statements.
Start At The Beginning
An important first step to coaching is to establish a sincere connection and a bond of trust. Both are vital and, once established, allow the coachee to function and explore alternative ideas in a “safe lab atmosphere.” This environment is essential in order for conversations to flourish outside of their typical comfort zone.
In a recent meeting with a long-term client, I realized that, during the time we have worked together, he has made huge strides as a leader, which is apparent by his company’s success. Reflecting on our working relationship helps me appreciate what a stimulating journey my coaching contracts can become.
When this person and I decided to work together, some of our early meetings became quite intense. His expressions of anger and frustration would bubble up and at times occupy almost our entire time together. As we continued, he identified the underlying issues that triggered these emotions. He eventually gained a clearer understanding of these triggers, and his ability to take control of ordinary business improved. As a result, his leadership quotient rose significantly—with his team as well as with his peers. He now functions in a collaborative environment. This is one of the transformative benefits that corporate coaching can provide.
In my coaching practice, I use a method that moves the corporate coaching process beyond difficult emotions and helps put them into perspective. This model, which has proven to be a powerful tool, adheres to five cyclical steps: connecting, gathering, focusing, assessing, and strategizing.
By working through this process with my coachees, we are able to tackle the most complex, even emotional, roadblocks safely. Many entrepreneurs with whom I have worked have overcome challenges that otherwise could have destroyed their business.
Step #1: Connecting
How does a coach connect with their client? At the outset, every client needs to feel safe in a corporate coaching session in order to share progress. My coaching meetings often begin with, “Tell me what’s going on” or “What’s been happening?” It’s important to ask one question at a time, and then listen carefully to the answer.
I have great admiration for coachees who demonstrate a willingness to be open in all communications. It can be a tricky shift for many business professionals in the beginning. A relationship of trust between coachee and coach makes this an effortless shift in demeanor. Easily established by a professional; this level of trust leads to long coaching relationships.
“Connecting” is the opening point of each client engagement. At every meeting, the techniques I employ achieve connection by:
- Establishing goals and objectives and creating an “Outcomes Contract.” My client drives the agenda, not me. We begin with an Outcomes Contract; this is an agreement based on what she or he wishes to achieve (goals) and how the expected performance will be identified (milestones).
- Paying attention to “meta communications,” which are nonverbal cues that enter our conversations (e.g., body language, gestures, and facial expressions). How does a coach respond to the coachee? Beneath the surface, what is he or she saying (or not saying) without words?
- Zeroing in and asking questions about the true issues. Coaches and clients don’t always agree; in fact, the greatest value often emerges when they don’t!
Step #2: Gathering
“Gathering” refers to the process of listening, processing, and identifying relevant information from the client, who may sometimes feel adrift in the complexity of their own dilemmas. For the coachee, it simply means filling the silence, responding to questions, and speaking one’s mind.
After years of corporate coaching, I understand that my client may need time to consider a query; at other times, a difficult situation may be at hand, and time may be needed to put a response into words. I’ve also sat in silence for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, waiting for a coachee’s response.
Step #3: Focusing
Focusing is critical to the process because it is the point where I will dig deeper to uncover any other underlying matter to ensure my client has identified the real issue and is on the right track. It’s not uncommon for a client to make a side-remark about a situation they’re facing. It may have nothing to do with the matter being discussed or necessarily pertain to our dialogue. Nonetheless, it quickly becomes clear that the remark is an element of impediment that is standing in their way. My objectives are based on coaching the dialogue in the pathway to the intended results and is subject to change at any time.
Step #4: Assessing
As a coach, my role is to continually assess the discussion and to provide feedback on what I’m hearing. This assures we remain connected and are on the same page. Essentially I “facilitate” a meeting, and my client’s needs guide the agenda. By asking powerful questions, and listening thoughtfully to the answers, the coach and client can identify a situation and begin to ascertain ways to deal with it. Generally, the topics I cover as a coach are the ones my client wishes to address.
Step #5: Strategizing
“Strategizing” a probable outcome means reviewing in detail the possible actions and selecting the best solution to resolve the problem at hand. I help my clients weigh the pros and cons of their thinking, and work through the blocks for a course of action that brings the best outcome forward. The ability to consider and explore an idea with a neutral party who has your best interests in mind is an irreplacable value inherent in executive or corporate coaching. At times, I put on my “consultant’s hat,” which allows me to convey some of my business experiences as part of the conversation. This is especially important when my antennae go up in response to a perceived trap that my client may not have considered.
As an executive coach, I am prepared for anything. Again, this is not my agenda. As a result of having made and solidified that connection, the client and I can make progress, even—and especially—when the going gets rough.
Establishing a relationship of trust allows a coach to gather information at a deep level and get to the root of the roadblock. There is nothing more satisfying than to witness a client’s breakthrough and know that I had a part in facilitating a good outcome. Suddenly, it’s much easier for an entrepreneur to face tough issues and develop viable solutions to their most persistent business challenges.