I've been lucky to have worked with some very effective coaches in my adult life. Some have been my employers and some have been professional coaches. I have also had the misfortune to have worked with and for some dictators too and, whilst many managers feel this is an effective way of running a tight ship, I myself have never excelled in this regime.
Recently, when I asked a new client what his expectations of our coaching sessions were, he said that he thought I was going to tell him off for all the things he was doing wrong. I explained that I’m not an advocate of ‘telling’ people how to run their business and, as he already runs a highly successful and profitable restaurant, I think it would be rather audacious of me to start picking holes in it. This is maybe what some consultants might do but this is definitely not what coaching is about. In my world I would ban everyone one from saying; ‘What you should do is’ and ask them to enquire instead ‘What could you do?’ Fluffy? Possibly, but who likes taking orders from someone standing on their soap box of superiority with a pointy stick?
I guess the best way to describe what happens in a coaching session is structured thinking. It gives you un-interrupted time and space to think through problems and work through a strategy; the pros & cons, the buts, the whys & wherefores so that, in the end, you are able to make a decision, confident that you have explored every avenue, dead end and wrong turn. In our daily lives our decision making is constantly interrupted by people and other thoughts: Have you ever tried to think through a problem and got to the end of it without either someone asking you a question that sends your thoughts in another direction? or suddenly thinking about something you should have done earlier or need to do later on?
Good coaches do not tell you what to do because no-one is more of an expert about your life and business than you. You already know what needs to be done it’s just getting there without veering of the beaten track into unknown pastures with a bit of fire-fighting along the way that’s the tricky part. You’re in charge of your destiny and your journey in getting there. Coaches are simply your sat nav to enable you to stay on track and get there as quickly and as painlessly as possible. You just have to decide where you want to go!