CoachingExcellence

January 1, 2017
Dear Coach,

Welcome to my Blog. Here you'll find essays I've written about coaching. Some of the questions I'm exploring are (1) What makes coaching work? (2) What helps coaches do their work well? (3) How do coaches continue to be masters of their profession? and (4) What the heck are those ICF coaching competencies, anyway?

My passion is helping coaches to be their best, so they can bring the best of coaching to their clients.

There's something here for all coaches, at all levels of experience. I’ll bet you'll learn something new, find a new perspective to consider, or just encounter a new way to say what you already know from experience. It’s all good, and (probably) good for you, too! .
You're welcome to browse - I'm sure you'll find something that resonates with your experience. You can also search on Categories and Tags for specific topics.

If you find something that you enjoy, please share with your colleagues and friends, and copy the link so you can find it again. Leave a comment if you’d like. You just might spur a new essay about something I’ve learned from you!

It's my privilege to offer my thoughts on coaching.. Enjoy your reading!

Sue McLeod, PCC

How Does a Coach Listen?

Creativity and finding new paths requires listening to what is and imagining what could be...

T-Shirt seen on the streets of Bath, Maine Summer 2015

 

“Active Listening” is a familiar term. In general, it describes listening that requires effort by the listener to be attentive, use body language to communicate that attentiveness, and restate or summarize what is heard and understood.
 
This type of listening is important for coaches. But is being actively attentive enough to help our clients find new perspective and awareness, to break out of their current reality to see future possibilities? What does active listening mean for coaches?
 
The ICF defines Active Listening as “The ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client's desires, and to support client self-expression.”
 
To me, a coach listens beyond and around what the client is sharing, tuning into patterns of thought; topics skipped over or avoided; shifts in emotions, tone or energy; charged words, phrases or metaphors; incongruities between words, emotions, and body. The coach also listens to her own experience of the client, noticing her own shifts in energy, focus, and the curious questions that bubble up inside her.   Listening in this way allows us to find paths to explore that the client may not have seen on their own.
 
Our listening creates the space for our client to talk, reflect, and explore. It impacts the quality of our questions and observations.  It sets the direction we use to guide the coaching conversation.
What is your understanding of “Active Listening” for coaches? If you were observing a coach, how would you know the quality of their listening? How do you know if you are listening at your best?
 
Continue reading
  339 Hits
  0 Comments
339 Hits
0 Comments

A Safe and Courageous Space for Coaches

This lace shawl was made possible by my friend and knitting expert (Cheryl) who steps in to help with any of my challenges. She creates a safe and courageous space on my journey to knitting mastery!

In my coach training with CTI, I remember learning the "new" idea of creating a safe and courageous space for our clients. I immediately realized that the “space” in my workplace was neither safe nor courageous. Not that is was dangerous, mind you. But it was an environment where you didn’t want to rock the boat too much and you certainly couldn’t show any weakness or uncertainty.  Moving up in the organization required a great deal of either courage or naiveté, because you were on your own to figure out how to do the new job, without ever admitting to uncertainties or asking too many questions.
 
Many gatherings of coaches feel that way to me, too. They are a places to put your best foot forward, to talk about how much work you have, mention the high-profile clients you’re working with (with permission, of course), and retell stories of your coaching triumphs.  I find myself holding back from these conversations, because the conversation I really want to have includes revealing the challenges and struggles we’re having as coaches.  
 
I want a safe and courageous space to talk about our coaching.
 
The Coaching Master Class (formerly the PCC Master Class) is such a space. Students who’ve completed the program have appreciated the level of honesty they can bring as they share their personal challenges. They’ve found a space of non-judgement and exploration. And they challenge themselves and each other to address those challenges head-on by practicing new coaching moves with their clients.
 
Class highlights
  • Small class size (maximum of 5 students)
  • 18 Core Competency CEUs, 0.5 Resource Development CEUs, 3 Ethics CEUs
  • 8 tele-classes for lecture and discussion
  • Homework assignments to deepen your learning
  • $1,450.00 class fee
 
Continue reading
  366 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
366 Hits
0 Comments

Watch your coaching grow!

Spring has finally arrived in Maine and the gardens are planted. Now we watch, weed, and water to support the new growth that will soon (we hope!) be reaching towards the sun.

 
If you’re ready to spend some time  watering, weeding, and watching your coaching grow, consider joining my Coaching Master Class. It’s perfect for ACC’s reaching towards becoming a PCC.  It’s also perfect for PCC’s reaching to be more mindful and masterful in their coaching.
 
Join the Coaching Master Class to
 
  • Dig into the ICF expectations of a masterful PCC level coach
  • Turn over and examine your own coaching in a confidential and supportive group of peers
  • Weed out the bad habits you’ve been tolerating
  • Sow the seeds for being the best coach you can be

 

Continue reading
  337 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
337 Hits
0 Comments

Coach, Are you an Innocent Bystander? or a Passive Enabler?

You know that feeling when you're coaching. Your client is doing what they always do. Maybe they talk a lot and never really get to the point. Maybe they "I don't know" a lot and deflect all invitations to explore new paths. And, since you've been here before, you let them do what they do, feeling powerless and "skill-less" to change the course of the conversation. 

 



You're an innocent bystander to your client.

Innocent because it's not your fault (it's the client's fault). Bystander because you're on the sidelines watching and listening, and being a little bit of a victim, too.

This term came to me in a Master Class session I was leading on Establishing the Coaching Agreement. We were discussing challenges with clients who are difficult to pin down, who can't seem to focus on what they want from the coaching, who only want to talk about what's already happened, and who never come to the coaching session with a topic in mind.

Listening to these stories led me to reflect on my own coaching. Of course, I have clients like this, too.  With reflection, I had an epiphany - I've been taking the role of "innocent bystander" with clients who don't come to the session with a clear topic, ready for coaching.

I'm now reframing.

When I pull back from the coaching conversation and blame the client, I'm not really "innocent". In fact, you could say I'm guilty. Guilty of not being a full partner, of not owning my responsibility to lead the coaching session to be a purposeful conversation.

I'm also not a bystander! My presence and actions with my client have an impact, always! By letting them ramble on, I'm enabling them to continue their default patterns of thinking, reinforcing their stories and assessments of how life is for them, and accepting the lack of focus and forward movement this is probably not working for them in other parts of their life.

From "innocent bystander" to "guilty enabler" - there's a powerful reframe! It's a wake-up call for me and I'm mindful now as I work with clients, students and colleagues to return to the core of coaching - my role is to be a partner, to support the client to "do/be what they don't want to do/be, in order to have the life they want." which mean I sometimes have to do what I don't want to do, or say what I don't want to say.

Continue reading
  391 Hits
  0 Comments
391 Hits
0 Comments

Setting Goals: It's Complicated

In coaching, we work with our clients to set goals and find ways to have new results in their lives.  At the March ICFNE Maine Affiliate program "Beyond Goals", I got an insight into just how complex and nuanced that can be.

 
 
 
 
The ICFNE Maine Affiliate program in March was a facilitated discussion based on the book Beyond Goals: Effective Strategies for Coaching and Mentoring by by Susan David and David Clutterbuck.
 
This interactive session gave me a lot to think about, as I realized the limitations of my own preferences and practices, and how they might also limit my clients.
 
I left with more questions than answers:
 
·      Are stretch goals motivating or overwhelming?
·      Am I motivated by moving towards a positive result or avoiding a negative result?
·      Are specific and measurable goals focused and results oriented or too narrow to make a real difference?
·      Are simple and obvious goals just good common sense or a way to avoid exploring and understanding nuanced options?
·      Are goals always useful in an increasing complex world?
·      Are goals set by others more or less motivating than goals we set for ourselves?
 
In letting these questions roll around in my head for a few weeks, I realize that having more distinctions around goals and how they work for others would help me in all of the roles I play.

·      As an individual, are there options for goal setting that I should have in my tool kit, that aren’t my normal and familiar way?
·      As a leader, how can I expand my awareness and practice to use different approaches with different people and groups?
·      As a coach, how can I partner with clients so they are the best they can be at setting and achieving goals?
·      As a coach trainer and mentor, how do I teach and assess a coach’s ability to partner with their clients?
 
A big part of the awareness from this program is that my own preferences for goals creates a powerful bias in how I act and how I judge others. With that awareness comes the desire to pull together a diverse set of people to explore this with me - to get “up close and personal” with different perspectives, motivations, and practices.


These are questions that I will be bringing to my own participation in the next PCC Master Class.
 
This winter I set a goal for myself. To photograph and share the biggest snow bank I could find here in Maine.  Here's the winning entry. 
 
 
 That's my 6ft 2in tall husband standing next to our Suburban in a parking lot in Camden, ME.
Continue reading
  307 Hits
  0 Comments
307 Hits
0 Comments