Once the trust is established, it becomes imperative to establish certain ground-rules for the productive force to work together
The coach has to sustain the delight that the coached encounter once they get into a relationship, says Fazl H. Siddiqui, Advisor to the Center for Leadership Development reporting to the Chief Executive Officer of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Kuwait
Coaching is a process of equipping people with the tools, knowledge and opportunities they need to develop and become more effective. It fosters self-awareness that helps people development. It is a process of ‘helping people help themselves’. It is not an occasional conversation; it is a continuous process of sustaining the delight.
Change is inevitable and will happen! In fact, ‘if you are not changing you are not growing’, however, the difference between transformation by accident and transformation by a system is like the difference between lightning and a lamp. Both give illumination, but one is dangerous and unreliable, while the other is relatively safe, directed and available.
Coaching like any other concerted process has to have a modular approach that will have some basic elements of success. The following model summarizes the basics of coaching.
Establish a trusting relationship: Although a continuous process, coaching needs to be based on the basic foundation of ‘trust’ without which the process will never be successful. Coaching can only work when there is a bond of trust. An open and transparent relationship that is based on positive and easy communication transcending all inhibitions of being pejorative or judgmental forms the cornerstone of any coaching relationship. It is imperative that the person being coached believes that he/she and the coach are a productive force working together.
The magic formula for a trusting relationship in the process of coaching is:
T = r + d
i.e., trust has a direct cumulative correlation to ‘reliability’ and ‘delight’.
The stronger the sense of reliability, the person being coached develops with the coach, the greater the delight he/she gets in experiencing the productive force of work. And the more the delight he/she derives the stronger the bond of trust gets and greater are the chances of a success story.
Set the scene: Once the trust is established, it becomes imperative to establish certain ground-rules for the productive force to work together.
This is best manifested through the following equation:
Weighted Expectations X Delivery on Expectations/Clarity of Expectations X Value of Assistance = Delight
The coach must ensure that the person being coached must come into the process with certain expectations. It would be a futile exercise if the person being coached comes in with lack of clarity and expectations; in fact, the coaching sessions would soon turn into very boring and meaningless meetings to discuss the weather.
Therefore, the coach must help the person being coached build some expectations and clearly define them, as this will not only help them embark on a devout journey but also help navigate through the excitement. This laying down of expectations will set-up a plan of action for the person being coached and place a sense of responsibility on the coach – the more explicit the action plan, the more accomplishments, the more reasons for celebration and greater the delight.
The worst beginning that a coach can make is to commence the relationship unprepared. The coach must do a thorough homework by gathering and assimilating as much information about the person being coached as possible. The more details the coach manages to assimilate, the more personal and productive the relationship will become – the more delight the coach will create. However, gathering and assimilating information does not mean developing a bias or getting prejudiced. The last thing that a coach would want to do is to form an ‘opinion’ about the person being coached without having met him or her.
Prepare and probe: The coach must always explore, reflect and affirm the information that has been gathered because no matter what the source of information and how reliable it may sound, it is still a secondary source. The coach must always reaffirm the information from the ‘horse’s mouth’ – from the person being coached and create delight of seeing the issues through long and wide lenses.
The coach must approach with the premise that life is an accumulation of experiences and the person being coached will be coming in with his/her own share of baggage. Most mental blocks are a result of past experiences; adversity may lead to low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.
The coach must help the person being coached understand the law of ‘cause and effect’. As John Dryden puts it, “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” Problems are imaginary and exaggerated. Doubts can be deconstructed to arrive at solutions – the delight of deconstruction that the coach can create is enormous.
The greatest impact that the coach can make on the person being coached is to make him/her clearly and explicitly define the problem or a perceived problem, base it on facts than on feelings and as the person being coached describes the problem, he must be assisted in being specific in order to conquer any fears that may be blocking the vision.
A problem well stated is a problem half solved and a good problem statement often includes:
• what is known,
• what is unknown, and
• what is sought
It is important to help the person being coached overcome mental blocks by allowing an open discussion in a positive, non-threatening way. The coach must explore, affirm, reflect and let the person being coached come-up with solutions and develop an action plan that he/she owns in order to ensure the delight of accomplishment sustains.
Provide facilitation & tools: The coach must be seen by the person being coached to be adding value and making a difference. It is therefore imperative that the coach must ‘act as a resource’ and provide candid and timely feedback to ensure that the delight continues and the attitudinal change does not remain skin-deep. The coach provided facilitation must make the person being coached be willing to stretch and go the extra mile, provide a new perspective to problems and help accept new challenges. Once the person being coached sees the value of productive relationship, attitude adjustment becomes easy and ensures whole-hearted commitment.
The coach initiated facilitation may range from a simple recommendation to read an interesting book to taking on new assignments that the person being coached has never ventured into. These may also include activities that will bring out the latent talent or overcome hidden yet unsubstantiated fears in the darkness of the sub-conscious mind.
Remain a support & confidante: Once the coach has helped the person being coached embark on a journey of self-development, it becomes important for the coach to remain a support. The coach must constantly exhibit positivity and help the person being coached see the value of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’.
The law of expectation illustrates that what you believe with confidence becomes a reality and the person being coached can stay focused, remain positive and motivated through the constant reinforcement, support and sustenance of the delight brought in by the coach.
Continuous process: Coaching is not an event or a one-time occurrence; it is a continuous process, many a times slow and often too slow. The role of the coach is to maintain momentum, encourage raising the bar and celebrate accomplishments.
The most important role for the coach to play at this stage is to sustain the delight that the person being coached encounters once he/she gets into a relationship that is established to create value.
Fazl H. Siddiqui works as Advisor to the Center for Leadership Development reporting to the Chief Executive Officer of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Kuwait. He has three Masters’ degrees in various disciplines from India and UK. He has over 27 years’ experience in Corporate Planning, Human Capital Management, Executive Compensation, and Sales & Marketing working in Industries ranging from Oil & Gas, to Retail to Banking and Manufacturing in India, the US and the Middle East.