The Coaching Habit

The Coaching Habit

am a consultant and coach. I try to live up to my fullest capabilities and I strive to provide the same, or even best capabilities/opportunities, to the people I associate with! I try (and strive) to channel their resources to the services of their dreams, by providing the systems, the processes, and the means to achieve their goals.

How many times you need to help a person getting out of a difficult spot, but it seems very difficult? How many times you genuinely try to help someone, just to realize that that either you were unable or he/she cannot understand or he/she was unable to listen? Well, if you are a consultant or a coach, I would bet that the last time it was a time too many.

How To Really Help Someone

It is difficult to help someone if you have not the proper knowledge, skills, interface or character needed for this person to be helped! Makes sense? Let say, that you are genuine like to help someone on the street changing his car’s flat tire, but you have no idea on how to do that. What would you do?

Perhaps you stay there, making him some company waiting (or hoping) someone who know how to do it to passing by! It is good behavior but is not a solution for him.

Probably you would think what you would do best to help/support the person in question! And some more questions around the subject!

Later on, in the safety of your house may do some more “deep” thinking, about “How I can really provide value to someone” in “difficult” situations! And doing so, maybe, just maybe, is where the Seven Dwarfs & the Karpman Drama Triangle starts to take their toll!

Consulting, Coaching & Beyond

It is a consulting thing. Of course! And a coaching practice, without a doubt! But it is real. To be a coach is to help people to maximize their potential and to find the strategies to become stronger, smarter, healthier. Better in a word.

My ancestors have established the Olympic games (as a mean of negotiating the crucial things of the ancient world), declaring the old fashionable, but true credo: Citius, Altius, Fortius which is the Latin equivalent of the: Faster, Higher, Stronger. It is a good aim to look for, at!

As a consultant, and as a person genuine caring about the development of people, my aim is to develop the approaches, ideas, processes, and the system may help people to accomplish everything they want. It is not self-evident that everybody can. Not that it is something everybody wants, wills or he/she is able to follow through!

But, who claims, that coaching is an easy discipline. Coaching is not something of a static discipline, a fixed recipe you can follow through to bring the intended results! No, sir/madam! Is not.

It is an evolving process. Both for the one who coaches as it is for the one accepts the coaching.

Coaching As A Paradigm Shift

Coaching before all is a mutual agreement. It involves someone who willing to provide help and someone who is willing to accept and implement the given advice for reaching his/her potential. A pact, if you will!

The interaction of these two parties is complex and dynamic at all times! So it needs accountability, clarity, focus, attention and, most of all, intention!

And, further along, the way, it needs objectives and goals. As SMARTer the better!

The problem with coaching is what you aim at when you practice it. There are 2 main trends in the circuit. There is:

  • a coaching practice for performance (is about solving a specific problem or a problematic situation), or/and
  • a coaching practice for development (is about focusing on the person who is designated to solve the specific problem but not on the problem per se)

Both genres, though, along with many other trends, combining to a single practice (your coaching practice) aiming to help the person(s) becomes the ones who want to be. This is the main strategy and in this, there is no doubt about!

The practice of coaching depends on a major degree on the character, personality and knowledge of the person assume to lead to the coaching relation, to the coach. It is on his/her hand to perform a coaching that would really transform the person he/she accepts it and make his/her see the capabilities and how to succeed his/her dreams.

In this sense, coaching, if done right, can be a true paradigm shift, aiming at the same direction as the pure training does: to a behavioral change towards an intended pre-selected and pre-agreed direction.

What Habits Are?

All the things, as the coaching discipline and the coaching practice/experience, is, as much more does not mention here, are not just a thing of work, or just a matter of pure willing for helping other people. Coaching is an art and a science and in order to do it right, you have to incorporate its main principles to your daily activities.

To be a good coach is suffice to know some things about people and system. To be an excellent coach it needs to know a lot about projects, people, and patterns!

But in order to be a master coach you need to embrace the habit of coaching. i.e. a genuine intention of helping someone (except yourself) to succeed; a method to do it in a way does not create:

  • overdependent,
  • getting overwhelmed, or
  • becoming disconnected

and here is the “art” thing! It is difficult to do it, but it is even more difficult to do it … “A HABIT“!

A habit is a:

routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously (Wikipedia: Habit)

As a deeply rooted behavior is something that is practiced in a manner not fully understandable by the person practicing the habit! And for this reason is very powerful, because a bad habit can bring a lot of problems while a good one can enhance and multiply your success in many domains. As the habit of kaizen or the art of small, infinitesimal changes is (or as a compound effect) important!

As Aristotle have stated, long time ago:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

and this is the only habit we want to cultivate towards, … excellence!

The Coaching Way

You are a consultant and a coach! No lingering on what you have to do! You need to provide help and direction to the people needed the most.

You need the intention of trying to help someone and a special mental framework to help you understand the situations at hand and act on it!

Unavoidable, though, as a person and a professional coach there are questions you should answer before you should act effectively in similar situations!

Stoics made a lot questions about how to do or have done this or that thing. Questions such as:

  • “Have you done, well?”,
  • “Have you really help someone?”,
  • “What best/better can I do to help my associates to do better?”,
  • “Who are the people I have wrong too?”,
  • “How can I remedy it?”

These are noble questions! But, as a leader and consultant, you need to do something more! You need to develop a habit of doing the right questions!

The Coaching Habit

To this end, you need a guide! And this is what Michael Bungay Stanier provides with his new book, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.

A guide to being a better person and a better coach/consultant! It is an excellent book on how you can be a fabulous consultant on the making (my interpretation). But it is not far way from the truth!

Michael is an experienced coach and consultant and with his company trying to “Do More Great Work“.

With his new book, “The Coaching Habit“, Michael provides a well-researched guide on how YOU can be the mentor/coach/consultant you wanted to be (without the problematic parts, of course as the taxes, client selection, fees negotiation, etc.) and help some people along the way.

As Harlan Howard said:

every great country song has three chords and the truth

So, … you need just 3 chords and so more truths to lead yourself and the people you try to help where they have to be!

And all that, Michael provided it in a concise and a compound thought framework, articulated on 7 basic (but well researched) questions, you as a coach can use to “elicit” required responses.

A 7-Question Framework for Making Coaching a Habit

The 7-question framework, developed by Bungay Stanier is simple! And it states that:

  1. coaching may be, not enough,
  2. coaching needs to tinker with to use it better as a discipline,
  3. you need to do more Great Work at your field, and
  4. you need to do coaching a habit of working with and using it effectively!

This is the Coaching Habit! A book on how to gain the coaching reflex and maintain it during all times! And moreover a book on making the right questions.

Michael suggests 7 questions can help you articulate the right content and context to focus your thoughts on understanding what the other people wants and how to help him/her best.

These questions are:

  1. The Kickstart Question: “What’s on Your Mind?
  2. The AWE Question: “And What Else?
  3. The Focus Question: “What’s the Real Challenge Here for You?
  4. The Foundation Question: “What Do You Want?
  5. The Lazy Question: “How Can I Help?
  6. The Strategic Question: “If You’re Saying Yes to This, What Are You Saying No To?
  7. The Learning Question: “What Was Most Useful for You?

This 7-Question framework is enough to help you not just understand but to act in any given situation, helping more effectively the person needs more of your assistance as a consultant.

The book is excellent formatted and easily to read and use as a reference guide, while, it provides a full additional material and resources to help you understand the basic concepts of the book and develop and skills and the habits required for coaching effectively the people depend on you.

As such is an excellent book, and a roadmap providing a practical and actionable frame of thought and resources to help you be an excellent leader and coach.

A must read!

Question: What are your habits? How do you coach! You can leave your comments or your questions, by clicking here.


Also published on takisathanassiou.com

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Takis Athanassiou

Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! He frequent writes at his personal blog and at Leadership Initiative @Businnes! You can add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.