Awkward! Move Past It with These 3 Tips

Coaching is a powerful skill set that every leader should cultivate.
When done skillfully, coaching can unleash the power of your team by…
    • Building trust, connection and engagement
    • Empowering others and increasing accountability
    • Driving change
    • Improving decision-making
    • and more!

But let’s face it. When you first start, it can be awkward. Training yourself to listen first, ask more & better questions, and tame your inner advice monster can be tricky!
Here are 3 powerful tips to enhance your coaching:
1) Be clear about the PURPOSE of your conversation.
I often ask, “what are you coaching toward?”
There are many possible answers to this question, but competent coaches operate within a framework.
    • They may be coaching a person toward their goal, or toward a shift in mindset.
    • They may be coaching someone toward greater self-awareness or confidence.
    • They may be coaching someone toward new behaviors and abilities.

But one thing is for sure...the competent coach is guiding the conversation (though it often doesn’t feel that way!) and is fully present, while also gently steering.

If operating in a framework like this feels uncomfortable, simply remember that your core purpose is always to help the coachee discover their own way forward. You're helping them uncover their own goals, barriers, and options and then guiding them toward making choices and action plans that feel right for them.
2) Be curious.
If you hear your inner voice saying, “I know exactly how this is going to go,” or, “I know what this person should do,” or, “why don’t they do it this way,” then you need to cultivate your curiosity.
Let’s face it, as we get to know someone, we naturally develop shortcuts in how we interact. This can derail us as coaches because it narrows the questions we might ask, and taxes the patience we might have when it comes to helping someone sort through their issues and find their way forward. (Or worse, it can lead to us giving advice, which should be avoided—or at least minimized—when we are coaching.)
The key to staying curious?
    • Remember that each moment is new, and people are always changing.
    • Remember that the future is what we make it, and your job as a coach is to imagine an exciting future full of possibilities, and guide your coachee as they discover it. 
3) Stick with it.
You have a lot to do. I get it. One of the most common concerns I hear about coaching is, “I am so busy! How long is this going to take?” My favorite response is: Pay now, or pay later. One of the things that we never calculate as managers is the time it takes to NOT coach. Every team pays a price in terms of wasted effort, duplicated work, poor decisions, and lack of engagement—all of these improve when coaching is done well.

But the fact remains. Busy managers might cut their coaching sessions short by skimming over the part where we get specific about what will happen next, and how to follow-up. This is dangerous, because it limits the effectiveness of your coaching. Taking the time to get crystal clear on what the coachee will do next, and when you will follow up with them, is a critical part of your success as a coach. Don’t skip it.
    • Remember that to truly prepare someone to take action, the pathway must be clear.
It takes time, commitment and support to truly develop yourself as a coach. Coaching is an art and a process. Learning to be a good coach takes time and focus - but the results are worth it!

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