Growing as a Coach – Tips from a Seasoned Expert
Whether you’re new to your coaching role or have logged countless hours coaching many kinds of professionals, there’s always room to hone your skills and be more helpful to your employee, peer, or other person you might be supporting. The better you are, the better you can be.
These tips will help you adapt your approach and refresh your intentions for each person you coach, each time you coach them.
- Be transparent. If you’re going to try a coaching approach in a conversation that sounds different than how you’ve spoken in the past, go ahead and be transparent about how and why you want this conversation to be different. This can clear the air for the person you’re speaking with. No one likes feeling “worked on” or peppered with questions if they don’t understand the context of the new approach.
- Give yourself permission to not prescribe answers. Allow your mindset to include that your employee or partner can be creative in conversation with you, with the resourcefulness to generate answers themselves.
- Check what assumptions you are making about your stakeholder. Approach them as full, whole people—not deficient or otherwise “un-able” to generate new possibilities.
- Find out what they want from the conversation. What’s a successful outcome of the conversation for them?
- Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to. What are you listening for? (e.g. opportunities to reply or to understand? etc.)
- Let your coaching mindset drive your open-ended, generative questions. As a coach, you aren’t there to give out directions and answers. Are you asking questions that lead and impose, or uncover and evoke?
Frequently, the 11 Core Coaching Competencies (as defined by the International Coach Federation) get boiled down to simply listening and asking powerful questions. But the real (and more challenging) work of becoming a stronger coach for your peers or employees (or clients) lies in the tips I’ve listed above.
If you leave a coaching skills class and you hear yourself asking questions like “What if you tried this?” or “Have you thought about doing that?” Just keep practicing. Eventually you’ll learn to get away from asking questions with your own answers already embedded.
Remember, your coaching mindset is what drives your questions, your thoughts, what you listen for, and more. The work that you’re doing as a coach for other people begins with work you’re doing on yourself.
All of the tips above are actions you’re taking with yourself, your awareness, your mindset. You have to pay attention to how you process these things. Cultivate that mindset, and the impact of your conversations will follow.
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