CEO and Business Coaching
One Of The Benefits of Business Coaching Is Helping Illuminate Your Own Strategies For Success
The leaders path can sometimes be a lonely one. Having someone to brainstorm with and bounce ideas off is one of the invaluable benefits of business coaching.
As I recall the times when, as a leader, I attempted to convince an individual about taking a certain action with respect to a problem they had encountered, and then my words seemed to fall on deaf ears, I realize the futility of my efforts.
I had run headlong into the effects of the NIH (Not Invented Here) pattern! American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie, in his wisdom, understood this pattern and, although he articulated it differently, his words are profound:
“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Business leaders run into this situation daily, and even though they may hold rank over an individual, it is difficult to get past the resistance of convincing against one’s will. In other words, if a person does not participate in selecting the solution themselves, resolving an issue effectively can become much more complicated.
To reiterate, the corporate coaching process consists of five collaborative—and interactive—steps: connect, gather, strategize, focus, and assess. Business coaching is driven by discovery and, through helping a coachee uncover a way forward, the solutions become “Invented Here.” This is the essence of my approach to coaching.
Once a coachee and coach have developed a trusting relationship, and the coach has gathered sufficient information, the process of developing strategies that address the situation or challenge is next. Essentially, this is goal setting: a method to overcome the obstruction.
In this entire coaching process—including and especially strategizing—the coachee must find answers from within. As Carnegie wisely points out, a person led to an “opinion” or a course of action against their will has not grown or changed, and the chances of the strategy yielding success are slim to none. On the other hand, when a coachee develops a plan of action (Invented Here) and rallies the determination to implement it, he or she will gain enormous traction from the experience. More than simply resolving an issue, the action steps increase self-esteem. For a coach, this is the most favorable outcome.
Illuminating the Strategies
As a coach, the solutions to a problem are not necessarily the appropriate answers because they’re not the coachee’s answers and my approach may be different. As always, my role is to guide the conversation and gather the details with as much information as is needed for the coachee to evaluate. My questions bring light to the problem, with an intention that the coachee will discover meaning and understand the implications. Given what is uncovered, I will ask questions for clarity, which is the most critical function of a coach. Strategizing comes easier, and the coachee is able to respond decisively to such questions as, “What are the next steps? How do you deal with this situation? Do other options come to mind?”
Probing questions are valuable to the process and for a successful outcome. Examining an issue and questioning the process of resolution builds self-empowerment for a coachee. Ultimately, the determination of how best to deal with the problem is the coachee’s. It cannot be my agenda, even though I may have an opinion for handling a situation, or a possible solution. It is mine alone, and this can have little meaning for my coachee.
There are times when it is appropriate to suggest a solution or plan of action to my client. For example, they may have an unresolved serious issue, and I can suggest a generally accepted business practice that solves the problem and allows the client to move forward. In this situation, I’ve moved from coach to consultant with a view to clearing a roadblock that helps my client move on. Most of the time, my focus is on being the coach and helping my coachee’s come to a clearer understanding of their situations, and achieve a greater sense of confidence and competence in dealing with them.
It is vital that the coachee, in his or her growth, come to these decisions on their own, and then take action under their own steam. Negating these actions take away the learning and do not help the coachee as he/she needs to develop strategies and tactics to run their business.
Vince Lombardi, American football player, coach, and executive, once said, “Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate.” The coach isn’t the one in the middle of the action; in fact, the client is handling the boardroom meetings, the personnel issues, and the financial crises. Instead of “outlining plays,” the coach has to be able to spur action, to motivate a coachee to figure out a way to make their own plays, and to have the courage to run with an idea. This is one of the greatest benefits of business coaching.