Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and
thinking what nobody has thought ~ Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi
The rewards and joys of mentoring and coaching are that you the coach, has the opportunity to simultaneously expand your own thinking while contributing to the expanded thinking of those you are coaching.
Having said that, over the years I’ve discovered that mentoring and coaching can be a tricky business. We all want to see results quickly. But the people we coach will learn at their own pace… sometimes our own desire for results will create an unnecessary tension between the coach and a client – especially when we forget to be patient with them.
Paid or voluntary, taking on the role of a Coach in another persons life is an incredibly rewarding pastime and role to take, so to make it more so for you I have put together my 7 tips for a successful and satisfying coaching relationship.
1. Surrender control
Control is an illusion…especially when it involves people. At the end of the day, coaching or educating is about giving up your own agenda to
explore the other persons agenda.
2. Guide without steering
People very often know where they want to end up…your challenge is to help them create a map to get there. Remember that ‘7 Roads Lead to Rome’ and although some roads may not suit you personally, the person you are coaching may have a real and compelling need to explore them…even without you.
3. Promote self awareness and responsibility
Our personal beliefs and values impinge on every decision, every interpretation, every action we take. Exploring these beliefs and values is a critical part of the learning process. Taking personal responsibility for these beliefs and values liberates us to be more accepting of others, and unlock our true potential for learning. When we accept others, we become masters of our learning, and therefore more effective coaches of others.
4. Don’t try to be the expert
Many educators, coaches, trainers, and leaders have a need to be seen and valued as an ‘expert’…we need to avoid this temptation. In the knowledge economy, no one person can be the oracle. Instead, be the channel by which the person being coached taps into the knowledge of others. By using this approach, you will help the person being coached to avoid falling into the trap of viewing themselves or others as ‘all knowledgeable’.
5. Encourage relentless inquiry
Guide the person being coached in how to challenge the ‘experts’…help them develop a straighforward line of inquiry, that suits their personality and respects others. Provide feedback to them on the degree to which they show they can balance advocacy with inquiry.
6. Challenge assumptions
We all hold assumptions about life. We form new assumptions every day. There is nothing wromg about having or making assumptions…they promote learning. The problem is when we hold untested assumptions, and proclaim them as the truth…this introduces our own personal biases into the discussion. When working as a coach, we need to hold our assumptions up to the harsh light of reality…we need to challenge our own assumptions.
Only then can we challenge the assumptions of others, including those we coach.
7. Encourage open-mindedness
The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism ~ Sir William Osler
When you feel the need to be dogmatic about something, then perhaps it’s time to open up your mind to other fields of knowledge. Expanding your mind in this way creates new horizons, and with it, new possibilities.
When we help others to do likewise, we accompany them on this journey…and in the process create multiple streams of open-minded consciousness. This is where the secret, and joy, of lifetime learning resides. Where wisdom begins.
Share your coaching tips.
Do you have a great tip or story to share with others? What works for you might help someone else.
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