Coaching. It’s not all about YOU!

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, guys.  When you coach someone, it’s not all about YOU!

meWhat makes me say that?

I’m fresh back from running another Leadership course, where on the third day I invite folks to coach each other.

I ask them to use the simplest possible coaching framework:

1.  Create rapport

2.  Agree Objectives

3.  Listen and question.

4.  Agree next steps.

As they get into their triads (coach, “coachee”, observer) I float around and listen in.  Last time it was no different to any other.  Give business people who do not coach for a living a chance to coach, and they think that what is required of them is to provide people with answers.

With very few exceptions, they use the same coaching style:  Directing.

It doesn’t help that they also seem to find it virtually impossible to articulate an open question when they need it.

The effect is that it turns an Adult to Adult conversation into a Parent-Child transaction, in which the coachee has little ownership of the result, and ends up politely thanking the coach for their ideas at best.  It’s a missed opportunity for both parties to experience the power of helping other people to find the answers which invariably sit inside, if only someone would shut up long enough for them to be unlocked.

I so rarely hear any other of the other styles:  Enabling, Supporting, Informing, Confronting, Managing Emotions.  Why do you think this is?

I think there could be a number of reasons.  Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  • That’s the way they have been coached, so they know no other way
  • They think coaches are supposed to be experts
  • They confuse Mentoring with Coaching (Mentors are further down the same road as the coachee, Coaches are on a parallel road)
  • They think coaching is on-the-job training
  • Directing is their preferred leadership style, so it feels most comfortable
  • They do not like to not know where the conversation is going, so this helps to control it
  • They are in too much of a hurry.

What’s your experience of this?  And where do you think it might come from?  I’d love to know whether I am alone in this or whether it is a widespread condition.  Please share your thoughts.


About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at
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5 Responses to Coaching. It’s not all about YOU!

  1. Ali B. says:

    I often there is a fear in there as well. A fear of not being able to help, a fear of being out of control, a fear of getting it wrong ….

    I find in my work (counselling) that the most powerful thing I can do to support people is to allow them to explore it for themselves. Asking questions and allowing them to discern what it means for themselves. Being afraid of silence and emotion (that may come from the client) are I think two things that hold coaches back from being effective.


  2. Carolann says:

    I think the need to say something (say the right thing) as opposed to listening and exploring plays a big part.


  3. John Smith says:

    Reblogged this on THE STRATEGIC LEARNER and commented:
    Important distinctions being made here …


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