If you were to ask a sample of managers how important coaching is to success in their role, what do you think their answer would be?
I’ve worked with thousands of them over the years on Leadership and Management skills programmes, so I can state with some confidence that the answer is a little disappointing. I would say that less than 20% of them see coaching as a core activity, and even fewer of them really get what coaching is.
After some discussion, in which I introduce the concept of using coaching as a vehicle for helping others to find answers to their own questions, we usually have a go at coaching. I get people into triads, where one person coaches another, and one observes.
The two traps they fall into almost every time are:
- Jumping in with the answer rather then letting the coachee find it
- Asking closed questions to test the conclusion they have already come to.
When we debrief and I ask why this happens, the answer is predictable: we do it this way because it gets us to a conclusion most quickly, and we are always short of time.
It does get you to a conclusion quickly if you do this. Trouble is it fails to let the coachee grow, and leaves them reliant on the coach for answers. Instead of coaching, the manager has been directing, leaving the coachee dependent on them, and no further developed than before.
I wonder what your experience of being coached has been? I’ve had some good coaching and quite a lot of bad coaching over the years. The video below is a deliberate example of how not to do it. As it is improvised it is based on my own real life experiences, which gives you a clue as to the quality of coaching that is out there.
Have a look at it to see how many errors you can spot. Make a list of them if you like, and I’ll send you my list if you comment below. And if you want to really spread the word and do your bit to address the woeful state of coaching skills on planet Earth, I’ll send you a link so you can download it and share with others.