Developing Precision in Coaching

With the coaching marketplace becoming increasingly sophisticated, coaches and organizational consultants need to articulate how they add value for their clients.

At the Global Coaching Institute we believe one important marker of an advanced coach is their precision.  Here’s what we mean by that:

Coaching with Precision

Imagine you are a patient about to have a surgical procedure.  You don’t want your surgeon to just open you up and do a general search around for the problem.  That would be shockingly amateur, and would be a waste of your resources.

Instead you’d want the surgeon to have a clear understanding of anatomy and physiology, and to be following the signs and symptoms toward a solution to your problem.  Armed with this knowledge, your surgeon can skilfully and efficiently find their way around your body and will not waste your time looking for a brain tumor in your armpit.

For us as coach trainers, this means providing our students with a sound understanding of the dynamics of change.   Great coaching demands a nuanced understanding of human motivation and behavior, as well as asking powerful questions to unlock new insight in our clients.

Individual Psychology and Systems

Just as you would expect your surgeon to understand more than the workings of a single isolated organ, we train our coaches to go beyond individual psychology.  We see our clients as parts of a system, interacting in a changing environment.

Process oriented coaches are alert to systemic dynamics such as organisational politics, team relationships and the ways our professional roles influence our behavior.

In fact, like any advanced field of medicine or other science, our radar for those factors that influence client outcomes goes even further.  Process oriented coaches are alert to social dimensions of the client’s experience, such as the dynamics of power in society and within themselves.  How the client’s self-concept and the terrain they navigate are influenced by dominant messages of gender, race and ethnicity are also highlighted.

It is the process-oriented coach’s deep attention to multiple factors influencing their clients’ wellbeing, the ease or challenges they face, which makes them such a powerful ally.

Attention to Feedback

But something else adds to the GCI trained coach’s precision.  Attention to feedback goes far beyond any background understanding of the anatomy and physiology of growth and change.  Observing and acting on feedback takes place in the coaching moment, and is dependent on the acuity of the coach’s skills.

As I have mentioned previously, my first career and post graduate studies were in the field of neurology.  Perhaps that’s why I find neuro-surgery one of the most fascinating domains of medicine.  Precision is everything in neuro-surgery.

In most neuro-surgical procedures the client is awake, because the surgeon needs the clients feedback throughout the entire procedure.  Undertaking an operation and then waiting till the client wakes up to see whether the surgeon was on the right neural pathway is not an option.  The same applies to coaching.

Coaches partner with their clients to determine which path of enquiry to undertake.

At the Global Coaching Institute, we take partnering and the capacity to read feedback from our clients very seriously.  We are alert to the power differential that can be implicit within the coaching relationship.  It brings the potential for feedback to be slightly skewed in favor of pleasing the coach.

Working with Contradictory Feedback

We are also aware of something truly marvellous; the different feedback mechanisms that reflect the conscious and unconscious mind of the client. Let’s say for instance, your client excitedly proclaims that they could NEVER do something. Yet, at the same time, they smile and laugh and become animated.  Which part of this feedback should you follow?  The acuity of a process oriented coach is in their ability to spot simultaneous and contradictory feedback and to work with both, for sustainable growth and change.

Guided by Feedback

Returning to our analogy of the neuro-surgeon, the procedure is guided in part by the client’s feedback.  For coaches, this feedback, both verbal and non-verbal. may indicate a specific approach is needed, an intervention needs to be slowed down, or a slight segue should be taken, before returning  to the topic at hand.  For a process oriented coach, the energetic dimensions of feedback inform the coaching path as much as a client’s conscious choice of words.

Of course, coaches are not surgeons, but it is this surgical-like precision and acuity that clients are looking for.  It not only ensures they are in good hands, but also guarantees you will pick up the subtle cues and clues that other coaches miss.  That is a real value add.

Interested in developing greater precision and acuity in your coaching practice?  Check out our upcoming programs in Australia and Barcelona.

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