Behind each successful executive is the contribution of many others. We would be lacking in humility if we attribute our success only to ourselves! These others could…
I have been coaching for over 15 years now and have clocked over 2500 hours of coaching. I have yet to find a pattern in leadership coaching that creates what is an aha moment. There is often a trigger for change in each coaching session with a client but I haven’t yet identified what creates the breakthrough in coaching that enables transformation for the client. This is not to say that transformation or change doesn’t happen in coaching! But what creates it is different in each coaching engagement and with each client.
I was in an executive coaching engagement a few years back and was coaching a woman leader who was the Functional head of a services company. The mandate was that she needed to be developed as a Coach to coach and mentor younger women in the organization. The end goal was to retain and engage women in the work-place. We had 4-5 sessions where we looked at coaching and together we expanded her understanding of coaching. The client was responding very positively and the sessions went on fine. She asked me to sit into one coaching session as an observer while she was coaching one of the women managers. This was part of the Observed Coaching part of the intervention. Permission was taken and the coaching session started. The lady who was being coached shared her dilemma about her inability to conceive and how that was impacting her at work. This was obviously a sensitive issue and there were layers of emotions that merged in the conversation. My client (let’s call her Shabnam) asked her “What are the options that come to your mind”? The answer was going in for IVF or waiting for some more time. At this point, I noticed that Shabnam was getting restless. “What about adoption?” she inquired. The lady answered, “No, I am not considering this.” “Why not? Do you know that when you adopt, you are saving a life?”. The lady didn’t seem convinced. At this point, I thought Shabnam would back out. But for some odd reason, she persisted in talking about the merits of adoption even to the extent of suggesting that she would send her some material. The conversation soon ended in an awkward note.
When Shabnam and I sat for a debrief soon, Shabnam was still agitated. I asked her a simple question, “What happened out there”? Shabnam burst out about how people have weird notions about adoption and how much misconception is there on the same. I allowed her to speak and after some pause again asked her “What really is happening?” Shabnam was quiet for some time and then said” I am an adopted child. I know how my life changed after I was adopted. I feel very strongly about this.” The conversation that we had after that was an ‘aha’ moment, not just for Shabnam but also for me as a leadership coach in India. We explored how we as Coaches get colored by our own life experiences and we bring these into the coaching conversation irrespective of whether this is of value to the coachee in her context. As a coach, we do not influence a coachee’s decision or thoughts especially then they seem to have a game plan. No matter how right or wrong the decision seems to be, it’s their decision as it is their life. Our role as a Coach is to clarify their thinking, work with them on options that seem right for them, let them take accountability for their choices. Of course, we can share other options as an observation or on request, but we don’t lead with our choices.
This incident and conversation certainly changed the way Shabnam now approaches Business Coaching. It also changed something in me. I began to see the unconscious biases I carried into my coaching born out of what my mind and experiences said were the “right things” to do by my client. Of course, as Coaches, we are trained in not offering our suggestions to the client outright but the monkey mind continues to think and pass judgements! That’s why the practice of mindfulness and creating awareness before a coaching session is so helpful for a coach.
Blog Writer – Anu Wakhlu
I am convinced that trust and intimacy, which is the foundation of a successful coaching relationship, gets first established in the chemistry session with the potential client (coachee). So, this becomes a critical prequel to the coaching journey and therefore a non-negotiable step!
What makes my chemistry session so fulfilling?
STEP 1) SHARING BY THE CLIENT
I invite the prospective client to share about own self. Mostly the client is forthcoming and open, thanks to the initial 2-3mts that I would have spent in making the client comfortable. If for some reason the client is not being open, I probe gently to bring forth their vulnerability. On the sharing, I ask one or two powerful questions that gets the client to reflect, go a little deeper into the soul and share their realizations. This gives me an opportunity to listen for feelings and demonstrate that I’m mindful, empathic and totally engaged.
Most importantly, it gives the client an opportunity to get a quick preview of a typical coaching conversation. This takes about 20-30mts of the total one hour that’s been scheduled for the chemistry session.
STEP 2) RECIPROCAL SHARING BY ME
I then share about myself in 5mts, as crisply as possible. I’m transparent and vulnerable…to reciprocate the same trust placed by the client in me. I share both professional and personal aspects of my life. I make it a point to find some common ground – either the tenure in the company or the way we deal with challenges or common values or common natural gifts and talents or common experiences. This helps in establishing a connection. This takes about 10mts with QnA.
Needless to say, I would have shared a one pager bio on email before this first time chat!
STEP 3) DE-MYSTIFYING COACHING
The last 15mts, I try and understand the client’s interpretation and knowledge of executive coaching.I get into details on explaining how executive or corporate coaching is different from training, mentoring and counselling, role of the coach, role of the client, how coaching helps to cause needle movements, why is it primarily used for behavioural and leadership skills, what does the ICF certification and credentialing really mean, what exactly happens in a typical coaching conversation.
STEP 4) THE NEXT STEPS
In the last 5mts, I summarize and work out next steps. I always offer a 45-60 mts sample coaching session to enable an experimental decision-making, promise to email a couple of videos on a typical coaching process for better clarity, commit to share the ICF code of ethics to help build the initial trust and confidence of the client and finally address any gaps in the overall understanding of what the next few weeks and months will be all about.
STEP 5) ENSURING ALIGNMENT
I invite the client to share their expectations from the coaching journey and how exactly are they willing to move forward in their process of self-discovery and self-development. I also seek an understanding of how aligned is the client with their HR and their reporting manager on the objective of this intensive exercise. A few times, I see a gap in the alignment within the sponsor company. It is then that I make it a point to connect back with HR and the reporting manager to make sure that they connect up to ensure that all of them, especially the prospective client, are on the same page on the specific reason for the coaching intervention, expectations as a leadership coach in India and the expected outcome!
This 5-step process seems to work very well for me. And works for my clients as well because the ensuing coaching sessions, post this chemistry session, have always been intimate and very trusting?
What makes it more gratifying is that the client is here by their very own choice; just like as a coach, I was free to not accept him/her as a client, they are also free to reject me as a coach, post the chemistry session!
Would love to hear what works for my fellow coaches? What do you do to make your chemistry sessions meaningful for your client and yourself?What are the best practices that we can learn from each other? If any of my fellow linked in members have been coached, then what has worked for you as a client in the first chemistry session?
Blog Writer – Shampi Venkatesh
How Executive Coaching Can Help You Become an Accessible and Flexible ‘Leader’ and Not a Controlling and Difficult ‘Boss’
We’ve all at some point in our careers thought of our bosses as being overly controlling and even accused them of only being bothered about the ‘numbers’ and not their teams, right? Well, now that you’re the boss, have you thought about whether this is what your team may say about you?!
In the words of Bill Campbell, coach emeritus:
“Your title makes you a manager. Your people will decide if you’re a leader, and it’s up to you to live up to that.”
So, you think you’re a great leader because you achieve your targets each month and your seniors seem pleased with your performance. But wait. Do you regularly hold one-to-one meetings with your team members to find out if they’re satisfied, or if they could perform better? Do you give individual attention to each to spur them on to higher achievement? Or understand what is holding back some of them from performing better?
It’s time to take a reality check:
Executive coaching helps organizations cultivate leaders who can capture opportunities, make sound decisions and create new revenue streams. It also builds valuable skills and knowledge for career advancement or for taking on new job roles and responsibilities.
If you are looking for a leadership coach in India who will equip your top talent to handle current and future roles in the organization, then send them on a journey of self-discovery with CoachMantra! Call +91 7838088597 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to experience the benefits of quality Executive Coaching.
Blog Writer – Guest – Team Coachmantra
If you’re making the transition to a new leadership role, whether it’s in the same organization or somewhere new, it’s a challenging and important moment in your professional life. What you do in the first few weeks of a new role can determine the success of your tenure.
What can you do to ensure that your transition is successful?
Executive coaching can contribute hugely to an effective transition. Having a coach by your side makes this journey stress-free and satisfying. Through meaningful conversations that use skilful questioning your coach will be the catalyst for the following behavioural changes in yourself:
Transitions are a great opportunity to build a foundation for long-term success, both your own and the organization’s. Executive coaching certification makes you realize that it’s not about your achievements or your success as a leader, it’s about recognizing the efforts of your team and helping them succeed.
Blog Writer – Guest – Team Coachmantra