Coaching with executives, managers, and up-and-coming talent

When I started my own Business Coaching practice, I was not aware of the broad spectrum of coaching methodologies. I guess that because I came from a College Lecturer background I was thinking more of the teaching / coaching style, similar to the definition you might find in a dictionary:

Dictionary definition: Coach 

Someone in charge of training an individual or a team

e.g. He coaches students in Mathematics, usually for exams.

After 6 months in the business coaching arena, I now realize that the formal definition of a coach is perhaps a bit old fashioned. Many people who coach leaders, executives, managers, and up-and-coming talent don’t do not fit with the dictionary definition.

While some, like myself, still fit with this definition, the spectrum of styles is a lot broader. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the coaches that tend to meet with their clients in an office setting, where they sit down in a meeting room and coach. Coaching for them largely entails asking many questions, so that clients can determine what to do on their own. They provide advice and observations but try to do so only when clients have exhausted their options. This is similar to how a Life Coach may operate, but without the picture story boards.

Sports coaches on the other hand are much more active. They sit down with the athletes, either individually or as a team, and coach them. They watch tapes to learn what went well and what the athlete or team can do better. They ask questions and engage in a dialogue to understand the athletes’ perspective about their performance. They make resources available for the player to train and improve. They engage the players in a dialogue to understand what drives them, what makes them tick, and how they can take responsibility for improving their own performance.

I strongly believe that Coaches who work with executives, managers, and up-and-coming talent can learn a lot from sports coaches, especially the ones who know how to engage their players. Asking a never-ending circle of open-ended questions, as is the method used by some coaches, is not always the best way for a Business coach to get results. My clients want to achieve the Transformation not information. They want to engage with some-one that already has experience in the field. In real-world Business Coaching, the coach needs to intervene a bit more proactively, as a sports coach does. An effective Business Coach makes observations, gives tough advice and feedback and helps the client to make plans and execute on their objectives.

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