Over the years, coaching has become very popular in the corporate sector, perception about coaching has shifted from a remedial approach to a developmental approach. A lot more executives are using coaching these days for self-development and growth but many people still don’t know much about coaching. A lot of people still confuse it with counseling, consulting or mentoring, through this article I have tried to answer some of the questions I come across about coaching.
How coaching works: A coaching relationship is an interactive system in which both the coach and the client form an alliance to help the client bridge the gap between their real self (where they are now in their lives) and their ideal self (where they want to be). Most of us have a picture or a vision of an ideal life or an ideal outcome of our endeavours that we constantly work towards attaining. We come across problems while working towards our goals, not because of our limitations but mainly due to our ineffective ways of working.
Coaching helps to reassess our approach and unlock our true potential by confronting our way of thinking which is not conducive to that situation. It starts with a familiarity session, a coach and a client get to know each other. If they decide to work together they agree on an issue or a problem the client wants to work upon and the number of sessions. The coach listens, asks questions, and provides a structure to the conversation focusing on the positive thoughts and confronting the negative thinking. The coach helps the clients reflect and re-evaluate their old beliefs to re-organise their thoughts to arrive at their own solutions. Coaching assists in raising your self-awareness, which is to be conscious of your own feelings, emotions, personality, and behaviour. It helps re-evaluating your fears which create stress to effectively deal with stress and anxiety to strengthen your mind.
“There are but two powers in the world, the sword, and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the mind” ― Napoléon Bonaparte.
The Coach: It is very important to choose the right coach. A coach is neither a consultant nor an expert in any field. A coach is helping you to discover your true potential, your strengths and the most effective ways to reach your goals. A coach’s intention, awareness, and right theoretical framework support the client to use different ways of thinking for making a choice and be accountable for it. A coach's capability and intention play a very important role in providing an appropriate structure and the support to ensure that client is committed to bring in the necessary changes. According to a Harvard Business Review report, executive coaches who lack rigorous psychological training can do more harm than good. A well trained psychological coach should be able to pick on real issues blocking the client’s progress which other coaches would struggle with or misidentify.
Different types of coaching are available, examples of these include career coaching, skills coaching, business coaching, well-being or life coaching, and personal development/self-development coaching. Career coaching, skills coaching, and business coaching are directed towards a specific objective and work towards bringing clarity around available options to increase effectiveness.
Leadership coaching and self-development coaching work towards the long-term goal of self-improvement to improve overall performance at work or to effectively manage relationships. Successful people do not necessarily have the higher intellect or more charisma than others, but they do know how to make the best use of their talents and how to avoid the pitfalls that could limit their success. Self-development coaching focuses on improving social competence and helps you make best use of your capabilities.
Why do we need coaching: Coaching is a way of learning for development and growth, it is an effective way of reaching your goals. You can use coaching to gain competitive advantage, stay focused, increase engagement with the work you do, feel happier and become successful. Coaching can help you build the drive to achieve higher goals faster than what you could do on your own.
According to Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, emotions play an important role in decision making. The choices we make in our lives are more decided on how we feel rather than just logic behind those choices. Coaching helps identify the choices you feel more motivated to pursue and help you clarify any doubts associated with those choices. Sometimes you avoid taking steps that are necessary for success because there could be an unconscious conflict within you. That conflict could be due to perceived fear, habits, values and learned behaviour (cause of a negative emotion) which could be blocking your progress. A good coach will be able to address that unconscious conflict or go deeper to help bring the change or transform your way of thinking and doing things in your life to achieve your desired goals.
In day to day functioning and moving towards our goals, we face challenges in controlling our own minds and our social interactions. Both can cause chaos and derailment from the track leading to a successful life. You could be very intelligent and have a high IQ but you need to have a higher emotional intelligence to be successful in every field of your life. According to Harvard Business Review, Emotional Intelligence or EQ comprises of four domains i.e. self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. EQ is the awareness of your own feelings, emotions, behaviour and the ability to assess the emotions and feelings of others. It is understanding of the consequences of your own behaviour in Social interactions and an ability to control your emotional states, especially in difficult situations. Coaching can raise your skill of assessing your emotional intelligence and to effectively manage your emotional states to be a good negotiator and a good leader.
“Anyone can become angry—that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose in the right way—that is not easy.”— Aristotle.
Some of the questions coaching can help you with.
How to manage anxiety difficult time and motivation? Waiting for an opportunity, setbacks, uncertainty about the future, managing team dynamics & and different stakeholders, performance stresses and much more can cause a lot of anxiety. These tough times can make you doubt your capabilities and your confidence. You might have listened to many motivational speeches, read lots of books, talked to people but when it comes to taking action you might be finding that you just can’t put your ideas into practice. A good coach can be your thinking partner, a guide, and your friend. A coach helps you direct your efforts in a positive direction thereby reducing your stress and anxiety. You feel motivated, energised and more focused on your efforts and your goals.
Why am I not getting success: Being successful in life needs hard work, drive, direction, and most of all the purpose or the goal and can do attitude. If you are not there yet, it may be because you are not approaching the opportunities available to you in the right way. Coaching is a way of learning by becoming aware of your approach and making the right choice through self-reflection.
How to improve performance at work? Coaching can assist you to reflect upon your work and assess your performance from a critical lens. Your coach can help you uncover your blind spots and the areas of work or personality which need to be developed. A blind spot is a performance hindering mindset or a behaviour which you are not aware of. With new awareness and clarity, you can think of a strategy which will help you improve performance.
Will I be able to achieve this?: Your past experiences and values may be leading you down a path that is not conducive to success. Coaching can help you enhance your emotional intelligence by becoming aware of how pragmatic is your approach is for achieving your goals. According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, People with average IQs and high emotional intelligence outperform people with high IQs, 70% of the time.
What to do next: There are situations where you have reached an impasse or you are at crossroads and you can’t make up your mind where to go next. Suddenly you feel the pressure and anxiety, you might feel stuck or desperate. A good coach can provide you the much needed positive support, bring clarity, discuss options, and plan to take a thoughtful action.
The leadership role: Not everybody is ready to take leadership positions. One needs to have self-awareness, systems awareness, social awareness and capable of managing relations. Leaders have to manage relationships across boundaries (such as geography and culture) to work with collaborative intelligence. Leaders must constantly learn about themselves and others in order to make best decisions. “If you have to improve the organisation, you have to improve yourself” Indira Nooyi. Coaching for leaders is a very effective way of learning about their strengths and their blind spots and also about others in their teams in order to become good negotiators and strategic leaders.
How can I manage relationships effectively: It can be very challenging to effectively deal with relationships especially if you are dealing with different cultures, different mindsets, people with difficult behaviour. Coaching can help you develop a frame of mind which is conscious of the needs of other people and gives you a control over your responses to effectively manage the relationships at work as well as in personal life.
To sum it all, Coaching is an investment worth making for people who are looking to bring in growth and improvement in their lives. It’s very important to find a coach who has the capability and the intention to provide a structure for you to think differently, be accountable, feel supported and committed to achieve your goals.
I have tried to answer some of the questions about coaching in this article. I will be happy to answer more questions and would appreciate any feedback regarding this article.