I am working on a project to create coaching training for folks inside organizations - the training will be geared towards leaders, HR folks, and anyone else who wants to learn how to be an effective coach for others.
To anchor the program, I have created a list of the most important competencies that coaches need to be effective. These aren't the ONLY competencies, but the ones that - in my humble opinion - make the greatest positive difference to the coaching discussion.
I am wondering, do you agree? Please drop me an email or a comment on this post to weigh in. Thanks!
Most Important Competencies for Coaching Others
Increasing learner coachability: Coaching starts with a learner. If the learner is not coachable or not interested in the coaching, stop. It is a waste of time. Great coaches know how to help learners become more open to coaching. This involves observation, empathy, exercising good timing, communicating based on preferred tendencies, reframing, and much more.
Service orientation: Coaching is a service and we cannot be successful if the learner perceives that we are helping to satisfy OUR needs or wants. At its core, coaching is service-oriented help, driven by the interests and needs of the learner (not by us).
Deep listening: This is not active listening but something much more in tune. Deep listening occurs when we are and show interest. When we take in what the learner is saying and resist the urge to mentally practice our responses while he or she is talking. It is being here now with the learner and seeking to understand from their point of view.
Questioning: Other than listening, which should take the majority of the time, the coaching discussion is about uncovering barriers and exploring alternative paths forward. To do this well, we need to ask great questions. This is not a straightforward skill. I know many people who are smart but who ask dumb questions. The conversation goes nowhere interesting.
Enhancing perspective: Have you noticed that one of the most common reasons people get stuck is that they have lost perspective? They make mountains out of molehills. Or molehills out of mountains. Or they are operating based on faulty assumptions. Or they are responding disproportionally. These are all problems of perspective. Great coaches are able to help learners adopt a more helpful perspective of the situations about which they are struggling.
Systems thinking: A coaching conversation is an exploration that meanders and connects on many levels. Coaches need to be able to make those connections and help the learner see them as well. The best path forward almost always has many tentacles.
Inspiring action: We are all so tired, and busy, and comfortable with today's ways. Great coaches will catalyze the desire to make something NEW happen. Not in a controlling way, but in ways that make the learner feel energized, powerful, and optimistic.
Managing agreements: Coaching discussions often circle around goals and actions. And so we need to be able to effectively facilitate a results-oriented discussion and call on learner when they break their agreements. We don't want to become micro-managers - this would mean we aren't really coaching - but we don't want to waste our time with someone who won't take their own goals seriously.
Love: Taking initiative on another's behalf. But beware, this should be done only if the learner wants it. Those of you who are recovering control freaks, like I am, might be tempted to take over and handle things for the learner. This is not coaching.....
These are the most important competencies for successful coaching. Agree?