Posts tagged: Going Deeper

Are You Challenging Your Coaching Clients Enough?

By , January 16, 2013 10:42 pm

 “Effective coaching is about challenging assumptions, examining habits, overcoming barriers, and embedding change.”

~ John Blakey & Ian Day – Authors – Challenging Coaching – http://challengingcoaching.co.uk/

 

A few of my professional coaching friends and I were talking recently about a common coaching challenge:

Why do some coaches shy away from holding up the mirror to show a coachee something that they might not want to see and may be avoiding about themselves?

Have you ever finished coaching someone and then wished that you’d been more direct during the session because you recognised the core issue was but too scared to give feedback or challenge them? So the issue takes up space and is not dealt with directly.

One of the common disappointments about coaching is that the coachee isn’t challenged enough by their coach (according to my Masters Research).

Sometimes coaches need to move beyond supporting to give feedback and challenge their coachee to move to a deeper level of self-awareness, helping them to be more accountable. This is hugely important if the coachee wants to break through blockages to achieve their goals.

The coachee may be following a textbook of what they need to do in terms of a step strategy for their business or how to lead a team, but they are still not getting the results. Things aren’t working.

Getting great results is not just about the knowing WHAT needs to be done… it’s also about HOW you do things.

Your coachee might be following the process and doing everything right, however, it is their personality or behavioral traits that are actually holding them back. For example, they might be overplaying a strength and getting in their own way of success.

I call this the Human Factor – how you show up and interact with others is so important. Yet this can be the one thing that stops you getting clients or commitment from your team. It’s also a difficult and sensitive area to coach.

Of course, no one wants to hear that their own behavior is pushing clients away or upsetting their team. Especially when they are trying so hard to make things work…

But who’s going to want to tell you that your behavior is stopping you from getting clients or from effectively influencing your team??  Some coaches are too frightened of upsetting you. After all coaches are meant to be supportive right?? And giving this kind of feedback doesn’t feel supportive.

Here’s the thing…

Whether you coach people for performance as a leader in an organization or you run your own coaching business, you’ve probably learned to coach from a traditional supportive stance. Most coaching books heavily focus on this approach for success.

I agree that being supportive is important for building trust, respect, developing rapport and for creating a safe environment to grow. This environment enables individuals disclose their private thoughts and feelings and develop their self-awareness.

Sometimes being supportive isn’t enough and you need to help your clients reach a deeper level of thinking that takes them out of their comfort zone, holds them accountable, makes them face those issues and roadblocks and take risks to courageously achieve their goals.

Great coaches intuitively know how to challenge and hold the tension until the pressure point is opened up and resolved. It’s like when having a back massage, you feel the tension of the masseur applying some pressure to a specific point, then they hold exactly the right amount of tension waiting for those knotty bits to move (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this!). It almost feels painful, but the relief releasing those knots is worth all the discomfort!

It’s the same with deep coaching…

As a coach, you have to be okay with challenging and pushing self-awareness to a deeper level for your coachee. You hold up the mirror and apply tension through feedback, challenging them to be accountable and take them out of their comfort zone into what Cranfield Business School calls the ZOUD (Zone Of Uncomfortable Debate) so you can get to the core of the issue and resolve it.

Applying and holding tension isn’t always pretty because you are creating discomfort. It might initially create a reaction of tears, anger, anxiety, worry or the coachee may feel tense and stressed.

Intuitively you need to recognize this and apply your supportive coaching skills to re-create a balance, by tapping into their feelings, taking a breath and re-grouping before stepping back into the ZOUD and working through it together. You have to believe that this will lead to a breakthrough for your coachee and provide positive supporting skills to face rather than avoid the issue. This can be a challenge for you as the coach to stay in your power and push further than before.

Working through the knotty-bits can take time, but the release of pressure and clearing the block can create transformational shifts for your coachee.

Staying stuck in a solely supportive style doesn’t deliver the full potential of coaching for your coachee. Going deeper has a much greater impact -increasing self-awareness and creating upleveled performance and results.

I ALWAYS want my coach to challenge me so I can live outside of my comfort zone.

If you coach people – Are YOU challenging them enough?

 

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