It was only a little over a decade or so ago that the word “coach” brought to mind a guy in a sweat suit with a loud voice and a whistle. Now, having a Life Coach / Career Coach is de rigueur for the up-and-coming in their personal and professional life.
Life Coaching involves a specific skill set that is used not only in individual coaching, but has infiltrated the business world and positively impacted personal relationships. Coaching has helped thousands of people around the world to see greater possibilities for themselves, clarify new goals, and follow through to achievement with the support of their coach. Working with a coach, people can make significant changes in their lives that they couldn’t manage by themselves.
Coaching has taken off in business as well. A study of Fortune 1000 companies that use coaching showed an increase in productivity, improved customer service, increased retention of senior people, and improved relationships with managers, co-workers and clients.
Kathleen Calcidise, former Chief Operating Officer (Retail) for Apple, stated: “When managers become manager-coaches, almost anything is possible. I’ve seen productivity jump, people start working toward common objectives, and good performers become great. . . . The challenge in dealing with employees today is to coach them, not to constrain them.”
Employees who are empowered rather than ordered around feel more valued and fulfilled. In turn, they contribute their creativity and productivity to the company’s bottom line. In their book, “The Coaching Revolution: How Visionary Managers Are Using Coaching to Empower People and Unlock Their Full Potential,” authors David Logan, Ph.D. and John King say:
“Just a few decades ago, good leadership was defined as the ability to give and receive orders. . . Today, managers are giving up the old ‘command and control’ model for the coaching model. . . . Those managers who are hiring or becoming coaches for the people they manage are seeing their careers take off.”
Coaching positively impacts other types of businesses as well. One of my coaching students, who I’ll call John, was a lawyer who was feeling stale after conducting over 8500 mediations. During the training, John said that the language of coaching started “seeping” into his mediations. Not only did he become a more effective mediator, but he began to enjoy the process again.
The coaching approach becomes a way of life that can also change relationships. I’ve heard many of my coaching students say that when they started applying coaching principles and skills when communicating with their families and friends, their relationships improved dramatically.
So, what is it about coaching that makes it so powerful? Here are a few of the principles of coaching that are helping people to shine both personally and professionally:
Coaches learn to put their personal agendas aside and listen deeply. Usually, when we’re in a conversation with someone, we’re thinking about what we want to say next, which is often a comparable story about ourselves or advice to help the other person. As a result, the speaker doesn’t feel heard and either pushes for more attention or resists what you want them to do. Most of us crave being listened to without interruption, and when we get that, we feel more appreciated, and new ideas and solutions naturally come forth.
Coaching is about change, and change happens when we can tell the truth about where we are, feel validated in who we are, and receive encouragement and support to take the next steps. Coaches are trained to listen from a non-judgmental place. We hear all kinds of personal stories, and we need to create a safe space for our clients to share their stories truthfully and feel respected, no matter how embarrassing their thoughts, feelings or actions may be.
. Empowering rather than controlling
In life, we often try to control people to do what we want them to do. The truth is, you can’t control anyone but yourself (and even that is sometimes hard!). Coaches are trained to support clients in coming up with their own best solutions, rather than giving them advice. If we do make suggestions, we offer them freely, and then let the client make their own choices.
. Seeing the best in people
People often respond to what we expect of them. If we expect the worst, we’ll get it. But if we expect great things, we’ll get that. The film “Stand and Deliver” tells the story of a dedicated teacher who takes a group of students who are on the verge of dropping out and inspires them to excel in calculus, building their self-esteem in the bargain. When we see the best in people, we give them a vision of something greater and empower them to strive to be their best selves.
As you can see, using coaching skills can have a broad impact on your life and your work. The skills are easy to learn, and with practice, they become second nature. You’ll soon find yourself relating to people in a more open and positive way. And the bonus is, when you approach life using the coaching approach, the world becomes a better place, for both yourself and those you inspire.