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October 15, 2012

Coaching, an affair of two souls

"Who exactly seeks out a coach? Winners who want more out of life."Chicago Tribune

It gets lonely at the top, oh yes, but more often than not we feel lonely in the lower rungs of the ladder too. Someone to discuss the problems faced for the client project without being regarded as a weak heart. A soul to confirm yet clear our doubts, and help us walk the tight rope. A heart next to yours, only better with an ear for listening and pool of experience to draw from for aiding crucial decision making.

Coach’ the word evokes a picture of a sportsman taking on the opponent team under the keen eyes from the inner circle. Coaches are souls who help us enhance our performances and empower us for better decision making. Their importance led Daniel Goleman to suggest it as a Leadership style. A style which facilitates learning amplifies engagement and motivates for higher performance.

But managers today are deluged with hastily put together action plans, push for greater performances, shortened innovation cycles and changing organizational needs. Handling all this leaves them with little time to focus on coaching needs of themselves as well for their subordinates.

Before we go any further would share some common myths on coaching:

Leaders know it all and they have all the answers: Perspectives need to change and are changing too with acceptance of the fact that leaders need not do the thinking for us and solve our problems rather they need to don the coaching hat to help us think through the problems and come up with a solution.

It is not everyone’s cup of tea: Each one us can be coached and can coach. The most important prerequisite, being the willingness. Yes the approach might be different for different cultures.

Too busy to coach: Yes, coaching would eat at your precious time but think of the long term benefit which comes from preparing a team of capable hands who can take higher responsibilities and exhibit better business decision making. All of this would add to the bottom-line of the business.

All honey and sugar: A healthy coaching style does not just involve sweet and nice interactions; there is more to the perfect recipe. It is imperative for the coach to guide right and show us the mirror when required. As conveyed by John Madden, Famous American Football Coach and Broadcaster “Coaches have to watch for what they don't want to see and listen to what they don't want to hear."

Talent is a scarce resource and to have capable hands that seem to be struggling due to some internal block of focus, motivation or confidence is a pain. The remedy at hand is to bring them out of this block with ‘Coaching’.

As a manager we focus on employee performance and donning the coach’s hat we try to align the personal values of the employee with the organizational growth. But willingness at the employees end is of paramount importance.

How does an employee get prepared to be coached, few takes: One needs to be clear or at least to a great extent understand the expectation he or she is putting into coaching.

What Next: The accomplishments you plan for yourself in the next couple of years.

So far so good: What has been your success contributor so far.

What SWOT: Be aware of where you stand. And that includes your strength, weakness, opportunity and threat.

There would be uncomfortable moments of truth. Be prepared to accept and acknowledge the uncovered weaknesses and threats. Patience would be the key as you try to imbibe new habits, techniques, approaches and tools. The change although slow and deliberate is to be for life.

Commitment to coaching is a mutual affair. Both the coach and coachee are important to the organization but yes at the end of the day it is all about business results.

Tags : Professional coach, mentor, requirement of a coach, what is coaching

About Nivedita

Nivedita has almost six years of experience in the HR domain. In her current role with an IT company, she manages the talent acquisition and talent management initiatives of the organization. She has been honored a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources. She began her career in 2005 and has been working in the different domains of Human Resources ever since.