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You Can Use This Powerful Coaching Tool

One way you can develop your leadership and management skills is to borrow a tool or two from coaching.


Have you ever wondered how coaches do what they do?

How do they help their clients to improve, to get insights into their problems and clarity about their goals? It's a bit of a mystery isn't it. Would you like a little peek behind the curtain?

Fortunately, coaching isn't like the Magic Circle. We are allowed to talk about how we perform our tricks. But before we get into that, let's consider what a coach is (and isn't).

Firstly, coaching is not a regulated profession. This means that anyone can legally call themselves a coach. However, there are qualifications people can take and they can also join bodies like European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) to get accreditation, support and supervision.

Personally I don't mind if coaches don't do either of these things. There are other ways to become a good coach. But, it is important when seeking a coach that you understand what qualfies them. In my case, for example, I have an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Level 7 qualification in Executive and Senior Leadership Coaching and Mentoring. Bit of a mouthful!

Anyone who has formally trained as a coach will be taught tools and techniques. These include:

  • how to ask good questions

  • how to listen

  • how adult learning takes place

  • psychological aspects of coaching

  • and much much more.

One of the most common techniques is something that you can use in your own conversations. It is called the GROW model, which stands for:

  • Goals

  • Reality

  • Options

  • When (or Will).

When you are having a coaching conversation with someone you can use this technique to help them. You do this by asking questions that progress through the model.

To begin with you work on the goals. Try to really understand the root of problem the person is trying to solve or the true thing they want to achieve. Be curious about it.

Coachees often realise, through questioning, that their goals are not quite what they thought they were. That's normal and helpful.

Once the goal is clear, you can then get curious about the reality of the situation. This is where you should spend most of your time. Try to ask about all of the contributing factors. Who is involved? Why is it a problem now? What happens if they don't do anything? How is it making them feel?...

This stage is where people really start to see what they want to do, but they need a little help. So, ask them what their options for action are? Encourage them to think of around 3 before asking which is the best one.

Finally ask them to commit to when they are going to take the first step. Don't allow them to be vague at this point. Not "soon", but "tomorrow at 10". Or, even better, "right now".

By going through this process you'll be amazed how much help you can give someone. So, now you're a coach, right? Well, maybe not quite. There are many more tricks that it takes time and training to learn. Which is where a professional coach can help.

But, in the meantime, you can really impress your colleagues by helping them to GROW.

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