Quote of the week:
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something
you want done because he wants to do it.”
—- Dwight D. Eisenhower
A favorite phrase of one of my colleagues, Dr. Tom Woodruff is “Change has no conclusion” (2003-2011). I was reminded again of this pearl of wisdom in reading the introduction to our Stober and Grant (2006) text when they added “So too is the search for more effective ways to create and sustain change” (p. 1). Our mission for this week is to look at the various theoretical and cognitive approaches in which to find the most effective match in the service of the needs of our client or ‘coachee’ or “toward an informed-practitioner model of professional coaching” (Stober &Grant, 2006, p. 4). Our quest is to find out what works in what situation and why.
When one approaches the idea of coaching, we first must acknowledge above all else that we are working with people where our goal is in the service of the needs of our clients. Stober (2006) offers a variety of techniques to consider from Rogerian Principles (person centered approach), to psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy (the sum is more than individual parts), experiential therapies, and existential therapies. This is an all encompassing discipline that offers a wealth of knowledge to understand, be able to sift through, to find the best pairing of said technique with client’s said needs. No easy task.
We first need to understand the differences between therapy and coaching.
Where much of therapy is focused on resolving deficits and weaknesses in the direction of restoring a person to functioning, coaching is a process focused on working with a person’s needs, wants, goals or vision for where they want to go, and the designing steps for getting there. (Stober, 2006, p. 17)
Fairly straightforward, right? Let’s see where this may lead us.
The idea of coaching does appear relatively in simplistic terms to enhance the growth of one’s experiences as opposed to simply trying to rid one’s self of destructive or non-serving behaviors. The goal then becomes one of strategic planning on the level of the individual as one would plan strategic outcomes for a business. Strategy is the picture, where tactics are the step-by-step GPS turn—by-turn directions of how your client will allow you the coach to take them.
Stober (2006) returns on to the core principles and foundations of our dear friend Maslow and his infamous hierarchy of needs and the premise of self-actualization. Stober (2006) suggests that those desiring the services of a coach are those desiring a growth-oriented view of the client. However the challenge is that “the coaches role is that of facilitator, rather than subject matter expert or more experience guide” (Stober, 2006, p. 20). Do you believe in the Rogerian perspective that the client already knows the answer and your role as a coach is merely to draw out from them to externally help them connect the dots? How do you extract yourself from the equation or refrain from offering personal opinions or subject matter ‘esque’ guidance? Stober (2006) accurately reflects this suggestion that the goal is to “work with the client, rather than working on the client” (p. 21). This distinction is truly the nexus of congruence.
Sounds simple enough, right? *grins* Let’s take a deeper look.
Soon-to-be-famous Segment: News You Can Use.
Now let’s look at the application of what we have learned this week. How does this translate into action? How can this translate into “News We Can Use Today?”
As we assumed in prior weeks that beliefs cause feelings—not events (Auerbach, 2006), then the role of a coach is to “sharpen discriminations, correct misconceptions, [to help learn] more adaptive attitudes” (Auerbach, 2006, p. 105). Let’s look then at this idea of coaching to results. How do we as coach resist the urge to judge? As we get to know our clients, both their strengths and weaknesses, how do we avoid giving away the end of the story to allow them the experiential lessons they must learn on their own? How can refrain from judgment as we work with them along their self discovery, despite already having a good idea how this book ends? *grins*
This is where the macro level or humanistic range of techniques may offer additional guidance and perspective here. Instead of the therapy based micro level, the coaching level begins with a broader picture or macro level of the experience. What is the client experiencing from the perspective of self in relation to their environment and surroundings? What is it that the coach can offer through the eyes of the client to look at the overall experience to help the client see what is already there? Be sure to read through the case studies of Bonita and Bob to see examples of dialogues of communication between the coach and client. Coaching is very much based within the philosophy of Socratic question. Notice that the coach is not answering or even addressing the client, merely keep notes and asking guiding questions to help the client interpret the situation in ways that would have more effective outcomes.
Story time: *smiles* Years ago when I worked at the ACME Corporation, I found myself quite literally stuck. I recall with crystal clarity when I realized that I had simply outgrown my position. I was completing my studies and wondering what the next step might be. What surprised me was the bizarre timing of this epiphany. I was going along the course of my day when the thought just hit me. This continued to gnaw at me throughout the rest of my day. I was not sure exactly what to do with this discovery, however once that Jeanie was out of the bottle, she would not go back in.
This was my first time working with a coach. I recall the coaching smiling a great deal, as if a proud parent marveling at the outward accomplishments as well as inner turmoil these struggles were offering. I was stuck; she was thrilled to find me at this crossroad. Why? This is where true growth happens. Think of the idea of cognitive dissonance. We have but two choices to either (1) make our inner world compliant with our outer world, or (2) to make our outer world compliant with our inner world. In my case, I could no longer ‘make do’ at my current position at the ACME Corporation. In my third session, my coach had helped me realize that my next step was the design of an exit strategy. She let me flounder for a while until the bell finally went off in my head that it was time to go. My coach already knew the answer, however she helped me honor the struggle as I worked through this process. I marvel at her ability to (1) not judge me, nor (2) push me in her direction or push too soon. She reminded me of the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz, waiting for just the right moment to help me work through the realization of the ruby slippers (Connors et al., 2004). Within the proverbial three clicks of my heels, I finally realized that my time at ACME had come to a close. *grins*
To this day I am amazed at how that ‘pivotal’ moment just came out of the blue. While this course wasn’t true, as my coach helped me realize that ‘this thought’ had been with me for a long time, I was simply ready to acknowledge its presence, identify it by name, and be willing to see a different future other than my previously ‘5-year plan’. Until I was ready to let go, the thought remained hidden, until that ‘fateful day’ where I was finally ready to listen.
Now back to the ‘News You Can Use’ part of this lecture segment. How does this specifically help you? What can you take away from this today? How do the principles of emotional intelligence help us here? Remember my goal is to help you see—with new eyes—what is already there—the same as the foundational goals of the coaching process. What can you learn from my personal story? What ‘aha’ moments have you had in your own life? Who helped you through them? When did you know ‘you were ready to begin?’
Great points for us to ponder this week. Let’s tug on these strings a wee bit more as we move into our discussions and see where this takes us.
Enjoy your week and happy thinking!
**For more helpful tips on doctoral publishing, please join us for a free webinar (a $97 value!) by going to http://www.FreeRefractiveThinker.com. Please feel free to share your comments!
Connors, R., Smith, T., & Hickman, C. (2004). The Oz Principle: Getting results through individual and organizational accountability. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.
Jones, G. R. (2010). Organizational theory, design, and change (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (1987). The leadership challenge: How to get extraordinary things done in organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2007). Work in the 21st century: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Stober, D. R., & Grant, A. M. (Eds.). (2006). Evidence based coaching handbook. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.