The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”.
We think that this is a pretty broad definition and leaves a lot unsaid, especially about the “how” coaches go about helping people.
Our approach is particularly geared to equipping coaches to help their clients respond adaptively to the challenges of what might be termed as the PAID Reality (Pressured, Always-on, Information-overloaded, Distracted – coined by our Partner Organization: Potential Project), which is sometimes known as the VUCA Reality (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous).
Therefore, we add that “coaches help clients firstly, to be clear on their goals, and then help them remain present with what they need to be attentive to in order to make optimal moment-by-moment choices which lead towards these goals”.
This is done through a series of collaborative learning conversations that facilitate improved performance through the development and strengthening of optimal behaviours.
Coaches use leading edge, multidisciplinary, evidenced-based adult learning frameworks in a systematic, creative process of setting appropriate goals, exploring options, discovering / challenging limiting beliefs / assumptions, taking “skillful” action and reflecting on learnings. They challenge and stretch clients in a way that others cannot, inviting them not only to stretch competency in their areas of concern but also to alter their “ways of thinking, feeling and being” as needed to support sustainable change.
These conversations lead to insight from the client, professional growth and sustained behavioural change by creating long-term motivational balance and attention to their well-formed goals.
Through the process of coaching we see that clients experience broad outcomes that we term “The 3-Selfs”:
- Actionable Self-Awareness: This is the moment-by-moment knowing of our mental, physiological and emotional state and how it may be driving our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. As well as this, it also involves a flow of understanding, or discovery, of our authentic and skillfully determined motives, values, preferences and goals together with that which takes us “off track”.
- Self-Management: This is “recognizing and adjusting” when going “off track”. With the understanding cultivated by self-awareness, the client will then work on self-regulatory strategies to use this information to the benefit of themselves (and their organisation) rather than just being caught up in the “flow” of experience. In this way instead of reacting to stressors or other external events with “patterned responses” which may create derailment, clients will practice, using multiple methods, different ways of responding which are constructive and productive.
- Self-Transformation: This relates to the ability not only to change in the “areas of concern” but to acquire abilities which will create long term positive change. This occurs through self-observation of one’s “structures of interpretation” or “narratives” and how they are impacting on reactions, behaviours and (self-limiting) assumptions. This information is obtained through developing a passion to obtain feedback, particularly “disruptive” feedback, and to set aside defensiveness when challenged or disagreed with. Self-transformation provides the foundation for long term development of specific competencies underlying leadership and management skills and without it, performance development may not be sustained.
These improvements are witnessed in both their personal and organisational lives, thereby benefiting both the individual and the organization
All in all, clients learn to bring their best to more and more moments of their work and their life, at the same time helping others to do the same.
If you are still unsure about what coaching is, you came to the right place! Check out the recording of our webinar, “What is Coaching? What It’s Not?” here.