Battle-lines are sometimes drawn over the definition of ï¿½coachingï¿½ in the context of personal or career development.ï¿½ But a useful definition has always seemed pretty simple to me: “coaching is a process for helping people to help themselves.”
An important part of wisdom is to know the limitations of your own knowledge, experience and insight.ï¿½ In many situations, wisdom will allow you to advise others well, but I know that the domain of my deepest level of expertise extends no further than my skin.ï¿½ If I am to help you best, I need to understand that my answers to your questions are not always right, rarely optimal, and seldom wise.
Franï¿½ois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire said:
ï¿½Judge a man by his questions, rather than by his answers.ï¿½
Coaching is all about asking good questions
The great strength of the process of coaching is its deep respect for the person who is trying to learn and develop themselves.ï¿½ You show that respect, as a coach, by not offering advice, but by helping the other person to find their own answers.
Perhaps the most influential coach, trainer and author of performance coaching in the management and workplace arena in the UK is Sir John Whitmore.ï¿½ His best-selling book, ï¿½Coaching for Performanceï¿½, identifies two principal components of a sound coaching process: awareness and responsibility.
We can only make good choices in life when they are based on good knowledge.ï¿½ Evoking a high quality of awareness in the person you are coaching is essential, to give them a thorough understanding of their situation, what they want, their environment and their capabilities and personality.ï¿½ From these, they can synthesise an appropriate way forward.
In Sir John Whitmoreï¿½s coaching process, the GROW Model, the first two steps are:
Identifying what outcomes you want
Understanding the elements of your starting point
Within the Smart to Wise framework of seven pillars, awareness calls to mind Perception, of course,
and also Self-Mastery.
To make real changes, the person you are coaching must take responsibility for their own future, and for the results of their actions.ï¿½ The next two steps in the GROW Model are:
Establishing as many different ways to achieve your outcome as possible
ï¿½ and then evaluating them objectively
Making a commitment to take actions that you have selected
Responsibility brings to mind the concepts of Judgement and Conduct from among the seven pillars.
The Result of Coaching
The result of coaching is change.ï¿½ Even if no actions are taken, new awareness creates change or, in the language of Smart to Wise, Evolution.
Coaching has been seen by many public and voluntary sector organisations, and by many commercial businesses, as a smart solution to staff development.ï¿½ It is economical, relevant and effective.ï¿½ But it is more than that.ï¿½ Good coaching ï¿½ performed with respect and adeptness ï¿½ is the acme of wisdom.