When you look at our Transformational Leadership Program (TLP), which is now starting its third year, one of the first things you’ll notice is the extensive practice of coaching. All TLP participants are assigned a TLP coach from ConvergenceCoaching and an in-firm coach from their respective firms. That’s a serious emphasis on coaching!
As a TLP coach, I am coaching both the TLP participants and their in-firm coaches:
- For the TLP participants on their journey of identifying how to get better, developing their plan to get better, and executing that plan.
- For the in-firm coaches on the journey of identifying what it takes to be a good coach, developing better coaching skills, and encouraging them to continue coaching the TLP participants long after the TLP is completed.
Even as a coach, I have some questions about coaching – maybe some of the same one’s you have. I might even have some answers. Let’s explore the topic and find out.
What is a coach? When I say “coach,” I’m not talking about a horse-drawn carriage, the cheap seats behind first class, or the expensive handbag! I’m talking about a trainer, a developer of people, a supporter, a straight talker, an encourager, a mentor, a performance enhancer, a motivator, and a teacher.
A coach asks introspective questions to help the “coachee” understand their motivations and fears. A coach enables learning and development of particular skills, gives prescriptive advice and guidance to help achieve a particular goal, and the one to whom the person being coached submits and reports progress. As a person develops, matures and begins to get better, a coach will shift to the role of a mentor who teaches a way of thinking or decision making, offers advice when requested, and is someone that the person being mentored chooses to follow.
Who seeks out a coach? Anybody who wants to get better. Is Tiger Woods a great golfer? Yes, of course. Does having a coach to help him improve his game? Yes, it does. Because, even though he is a great golfer who has enjoyed a lot of success and winning, Tiger knows he can still get better.
A person seeks out a coach and submits to coaching when he or she wants to be held accountable, and when they want to be challenged to do more than they would otherwise choose to do on their own. A person seeks out a coach so that when they don’t feel like continuing the hard work of getting better, so they will get up and do it anyway, simply to avoid letting their coach down.
What makes a good coach? A good coach is organized and prepared. They arrive on time and with their commitments met. They “do as they say.” A good coach is passionate and positive. They believe in you even before you believe in yourself. A good coach is “relatable,” meaning they have direct knowledge and experience playing the game they are coaching. They understand what you are going through. And they are good communicators, who listen first and allow you be heard, and when they speak, they do it clearly and honestly. They tell you the truth you need to hear, but with kindness and humility.
How does one become a good coach? Does it happen by coaching or from being coached? That’s like asking, what came first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is both. You become a good coach by getting in the game of coaching. And by learning from the coaches you’ve had in your life, both good and bad. Sorry to say, it is not something you learn from reading a blog, even a well written blog like this one. You simply have to get in the game.
Why don’t more people want to coach? The usual reasons: feeling too busy, self-focused, or having a lack of vision, to name a few. Perhaps the biggest reason is fear. Fear of not being relatable to the next generation, fear of not being as talented as the person being coached, and fear of being exposed as a poor role model. But coaching is not about these things. Instead, coaching is mostly about “showing up” with a positive attitude and a willingness to share your life with another human being who needs that as much as you do. And that’s why serving as a coach not only provides the opportunity for the person being coached to get better, but for the coach, too. You get better by serving as a coach.
Why don’t more people want to be coached? Most people do not intentionally seek out a coach. Perhaps out of the fear of failure and looking bad – even if only to themselves. We fear, “If I seek out a coach and fall short of my goal, what a colossal failure that will be.” Yet is it better to try and fail or to fail by not trying at all? Hardly. If you are seriously committed to getting better in your career and in life, you need to find a coach.
Why do I coach? Because I want to get better. And I want to help others get better. In what ways specifically?
- I want to be more organized and prepared. If I only do one thing as a TLP coach, I’m committed to being organized and prepared for every single one of my coaching calls.
- I want to be a better listener. I love to talk. Being a TLP coach provides opportunity for me to practice and develop my listening skills. To focus on making it more about the TLP participant and less about me.
- I want to share my passion and experience with others. I like to smile. And when the TLP participants grow and succeed and get better, I’ll be doing a lot of that!
Who coaches the coach? Does a person ever get so good they no longer need coaching or mentoring? I don’t think so, but that’s a discussion for another blog.
The TLP participants are both lucky and smart. They are lucky because they have two people willing to serve as their coaches and firms willing to invest in their getting better. And they’re smart because they are intentionally seeking out and submitting to the process of being coached.
We will continue to help our clients to learn and grow and succeed at life by both coaching and being coached. If you have ideas or experiences to share on the process of coaching, please post them so others can benefit.