Coaching Mastery

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  Sue McLeod has over 10 years of experience as a coach, executive coach, coach instructor (trainer), mentor coach, and assessor. She believes that all coaches have the potential to be masterful. When coaches use the skills from their coach training, are aware of what gets in their way, and engage in practice and reflection about their work, t...hey can tap into their best coaching self. Sue's coach training programs, retreats and mentor coaching provide safe spaces for coaches to be open and honest about the challenges they face, and motivation and support to overcome those challenges. Sue holds a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential from the International Coach Federation (ICF), and a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) credential from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). She is a faculty member for Georgetown University's Leadership Coaching Certificate Program, and teaches the Coaching Master Class (an online coach training program on the ICF Coaching Competencies). Sue is a frequent facilitator for ICF New England live events held in Portland, Maine, and is a PCC assessor for the ICF. Sue lives in Maine and enjoys knitting, hiking, boating, and gardening. She volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust. In addition to her coach training, she does consulting work in public education, board development and facilitation for non-profits, and is a wedding officiant. More

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?
 
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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
 
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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

 

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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.

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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.
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Fulfill the Vision of Your Coaching - Join the Coaching Master Class

 

In my spare time, I'm a knitter.  You'll usually find me with knitting needles in my hands and visions of my next knitting project in my head.  As an amateur, my visions don't always appear from the yarn in my hands. But the fun thing about knitting is that it can be unraveled back to where it started - just a ball of yarn...

Every once in a while, I create something that aligns with my original vision. This sweater is one example. Just what I imaged and the young girl who received it, loved it!

In my professional life as a coach, I also created something that aligned with my vision - The PCC Master Class.  I call it my "little class" because it's designed for little groups of coaches (less than 5) who are ready to have conversations about the little details that are the foundations for masterful coaching. Topics like what's in your coaching agreements, what wording changes can shift your questions to be more curious, and what thinking can shift your clients to full partners in the coaching.

Little changes that come from intimate conversations about our coaching and big shifts that come from our collective commitment to be the best we can be.

Here's what some of the recent student have to say…

The Results
 
I feel like I have a more focused approach to my coaching sessions as a result of this course.  I have a clearer picture of the ICF PCC competencies and feel like I have a better grasp of them practically rather than just theoretically. 
 
Each competency reviewed and discussed led me to deeper insights and practical considerations. My notebook is full.
 
Every session resulted in a practical reflection of my own work and new ideas for subsequent coaching sessions/practices
 
The Learning Environment
 
An open and spacious environment for discussions was a true gift.
 
I truly enjoy being in conversation with fellow coaches who are thoughtful about their work.
 
The Instructor
 
Our instructor was so well prepared and willing to draw upon the expertise of others to complement her own. 
 
Sue adapted to whatever her learner's needs were, and freely shared her own growing edges and distinctions.
 
Sue, you do a great job facilitating conversation and creating an effective learning environment.  The fact that you join in the exercises and continue your own learning really adds depth to the experience.
 
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ICFNE Maine Affiliate Program Summary - Mentor Coaching

It was a night of the full moon - both a Harvest Moon and a Super Moon, at that.  With the energy shift that moves us from August’s relaxation to September’s hustle we kicked off the second year of ICFNE Maine affiliate programs with Mentor Coaching.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The mission of the Maine affiliate of ICFNE is to create a community that fosters our learning, building the reputation of coaching in Maine, and supports us in building our businesses. To support that mission, the program was designed to be interactive and draw on the experiences and wisdom of the participants.

.... I was totally impressed with the level of engagement, trust, and support demonstrated by this learning community ... (SG)

I’m passionate about Mentor Coaching as a valuable tool for developing our coaching skills. I also want to bring clarity about Mentor Coaching so that coaches can be informed “consumers” of this valuable service, and that experienced coaches know what it means to be an effective Mentor Coach.

...Sue's workshop illustrated the power of mentor coaching in my own professional development in a hands on, real time manner.  It was structured, organized and high impact.  ... (JE)

The ICF’s definition of Mentor Coaching is “coaching on your coaching”. After small group discussions on what it means to be a mentor, we reviewed the Georgetown University Mentor Coaching Model, which says that a Mentor Coach is an expert in coaching and a partner focused on developing coaching skills.  There are similarities to coaching and there are differences.
...Sue McLeod's presentation clarified the importance of mentoring to developing and sustaining the quality of my coaching... (JC)
Mentor Coaching begins with establishing your goals for development. Next, the Mentor Coach provides feedback on your coaching, and then engages in a coaching conversation focused on developing your coaching skills.  
The feedback is based on the Mentor Coach observing your coaching, assessing what they see and hear against a standard of coaching (such as the ICF Core Coaching Competencies), and providing feedback in a way that you can hear and understand.
The Mentor Coach then engages you in a coaching conversation that explores the feedback, looks for opportunities for new awareness about your coaching - including identifying habits and blind spots such as avoiding emotions or skipping over designing specific and measurable actions.
...Mentor coaching targeted areas for my development and offered improvement strategies that were spot on.  I want more!!!... (JE)
 After discussing the model, we moved on to demonstrations and practice.  Like coaching itself, the best way to learn about Mentor Coaching is to experience it!
We used the new ICF PCC Level Competency Markers as the basis for assessing the coaching.  Participants found the markers to be easy to understand and observe as they watched a coaching conversation. They were also humbled by how difficult it is to capture everything that’s happening as they prepared for giving feedback.  
...I want to thank you for such a rich program you presented on mentor coaching.  It was enlightening! It made me step back and think about my coaching and how I follow (or not) the core competencies.  I've been coaching for 11 years and it's so easy to forget!  I am now committed to taking one competency and practicing  the skills for 2 weeks and then moving on to another one... (DB)
After a demonstration of a mentor coaching conversation, we broke into triads for everyone to have the opportunity to be a part of a Mentor Coaching session. The room was energized as coaches coached clients and mentors observed. Then it was the mentor’s turn to try his/her hand at a mentor coach conversation. We finished up with a little feedback to the mentor coach. 
... As a result of the program, I will now be more intentional about how I elicit feedback and mentoring on my coaching ...  (SG)
Everyone was gracious and courageous in jumping in to try mentor coaching, and came away with a deeper appreciation for Mentor Coaching, Coaching and the community of coaches that we share.
...The interactive exercises enabled me to connect with and observe other coaches and appreciate the impact of good coaching... (JC)

Thank you to ICFNE Maine affiliate for the opportunity to present this program. And a special thank you to Susan Gallant, Janet Eastmen, Deb Bergeron and Janice Cohen for allowing me to include their comments in this blog post.

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Transforming Judgement into Learning

 

It’s way too nice today to work inside, so I’m on the deck, squinting to see my laptop screen through the glare, moving around for the optimal position relative to the sun, the shade and the breeze.
 

It’s worth the trouble!
 

It reminds me of my college days here in Maine. 

In the spring, when the weather was finally warm enough to be outside without shivering, we’d convince the professors into holding class outside. We were often surprised how little convincing that took, although now I’m sure they had cabin fever as badly as the students! 

 
Outside, sitting on the library lawn, we couldn’t hear very well, taking notes was a challenge and there were a lot of distractions! But the feeling of the sun on our faces and a warm wind at our backs for an extra hour was heaven!
 

For the last two weeks, I’ve been working on coaching assessments. In case you don’t know, this means listening to recordings of coaching for the PCC level competencies and finding a few points of feedback to give to the coach.  I’ve been doing this for years, and I still find it a challenge.  It’s sacred space to hold someone’s work in your hands (or ears, in this case) with the intention to pass judgement on whether it’s ‘good enough”.  It’s a delicate thing to find feedback that will speak to someone who is probably most concerned about the results of that judgement. And it’s a challenge for me, with my math brain and desire to find yes/no answers to the question “is this coaching good enough?”.   How do I listen to the words the coach is using, tune into to the relationship the coaching is building, and be witness to the choices he makes as he navigates the complex and delicate paths of a coaching conversation.
 
It is my continuing, never-ending it seems, learning edge as an assessor and mentor coach. 

How do I manage the impacts of judgement while opening the door to learning?  

How can both of these feel like that Maine spring-time sun - invigorating, humbling, and renewing all at the same time?

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"Just the Facts" - about Mentor Coaching

Mentor Coaching Overview


What is Mentor Coaching (according to the ICF)?
 
  • Coaching on your coaching 
  • by an ICF credentialed coach at or above your desired credential level
 
Roles in a Mentor Coaching Relationship
 
Mentor Coach - person providing coaching on your coaching
Mentee - person receiving the mentor coaching
Client - person being coached for the purposes of evaluating the Mentee/Coach’s coaching
 
How is Mentor Coaching done?
 
Option 1: Using Recorded Coaching Sessions
  • Mentee records a coaching session with a Client
  • Mentee and Mentor Coach separately review the recording to assess coaching behaviors and identify focus areas for the mentor coaching
  • Mentor Coach and Mentee engage in a conversation about the coaching that includes
    • Feedback
    • Coaching for development
    • Action planning for improved coaching

Option 2: Live Coaching Sessions

  • Mentee coaches the Mentor Coach, or Mentor Coach listens to a live coaching sessin with another client
  • Mentor Coach and Mentee engage in a conversation about the coaching that includes
    • Feedback
    • Coaching for development
    • Action planning for improved coaching
Who is a Mentor Coach?
 
Expert in coaching competencies, effective coaching behaviors, experience in delivering effective coaching, and understanding the human traits that support or hinder effective coaching.
 
Partner playing an equal  role with the mentee in their development. In partnership you invite the mentee to create their own focus of learning, their own awareness, their own plans for improvement. In partnership, you share your expertise, observations, assessments, and feedback using a coaching approach designed to foster the learning and development of your menthe.
 
Why Use A Mentor Coach?
 
Mentor coaching is a great option when you're ready for a "personal trainer" approach to becoming a better coach.  Learn more HERE.
 
For More Information about Mentor Coaching
 
International Coach Federation (ICF) - Mentor Coaching Duties and Competencies
 
 Lees, Janet. "Mentoring and Supervision [Special Issue]." Choice Magazine Volume 10, no. 3 (September, 2012). 
 
Sue’s Blog Posts 
Who Needs a Mentor Coach?  September 2013
Are you curious? About your own coaching? August 2014
 
For More Information about ICF Coaching Competencies
 
ICF Website - search for:
  • Coaching Core Competencies
  • Competencies Comparison Table for ACC, PCC and MCC
  • PCC Competency Markers
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Coaching Presence: Are you with your client right NOW!

A Mentor Coaching Story


I was listening to a coaching recording, getting ready to give the coach feedback to support his development as a coach. “So far, so good”, I thought. Bob (not his real name) was asking open-ended and curious questions, he and the client were working on a clear coaching topic, and he seemed fully engaged in the conversation. 

As I continued listening, I noticed a subtle shift in Bob’s coaching. At the beginning, he seemed slightly behind the client, asking questions about what she had said a few seconds earlier and missing what she had just said. Not a big concern, but I started to be curious.  A little later, he was very connected to the client and focused on what she was sharing in the moment.  “Better”, I thought, but now I was curious to know what had changed for the coach.  In the last section, as the conversation shifted to designing action, Bob’s coaching shifted again. Now he was ahead of the client, expressing his ideas for her future and pushing her forward, while she was still clearly pondering the present moment and exploring what she was learning. 

 
 
Now I was truly curious - not about the client - but about the coach. What was going on  to cause Bob’s focus to shift so dramatically as the coaching conversation progressed?
 

When was the last time someone listened to your coaching
with curiosity
about you? 
 
When we coach, we’re in a private conversation with the client. All the focus is on the client.  So who is paying attention to the coach? Who is listening objectively, being curious about the choices the coach is making, and noticing patterns or subtle shifts in the coach’s language, emotions, and presence?
 
Without that objective view, how can we learn what we’re doing well, what we’re missing, and how we can continue to improve our coaching?  Relying on our client isn’t enough. Remember our clients aren’t experts in coaching. Relying on our own impressions of our coaching isn’t enough. We all have blind spots and selective memory.  And even additional coach training isn’t always enough. New knowledge about coaching or adding new coaching tools doesn’t always help us improve our day-to-day coaching.
 
Mentor Coaching fills that role. As defined by the ICF, Mentor Coaching is coaching on your coaching, based on actual recordings of you coaching a real client.  Your mentor coach listens to your coaching, makes note of what you’re doing well, and notices opportunities you missed, and patterns and habits you’ve developed. Then, in a coach-like conversation, gives you feedback and helps you to see where and how you can improve your coaching.
 

I like to think of a Mentor Coach as your “personal trainer”. Your Mentor Coach stands besides you, watching and listening, reminding you to do your best, encouraging you try something new, exploring what you need to push beyond your self-imposed limits.
 

Oh - and what about Bob?  In our Mentor Coaching discussion, I shared what I had noticed and we talked about what was happening for him during that session. At the beginning of the session, he was taking notes and this caused him to lag behind the client. In the middle, he relaxed and stopped taking notes.  Without thepen in his hand, he connected to the client and what she was saying. Near the end, he got excited about what was possible for his client. He disconnected and tried to pull her into his vision of the future. After our conversation, he saw that he could be a better coach by putting away the pen and paper, and setting aside his own excitement to stay connected to the client.  “Ahhh. Much better”, I thought.

 

If you're ready to look closely at your coaching, Mentor Coaching might be just right for you. Learn more here.

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The Gift of Fog

 

Fog is an integral part of the Maine landscape. It rolls in from the ocean covering the coast. It creeps down the rivers to cover the towns, like Bath, that live on their banks.
 
I've found that fog has an emotional and energetic impact on me.  As my distance vision blurs, so does my future thinking. The past and future disappear.
 
As the sunlight decreases, so does my energy. It's a sense of time and space closing in, with the only option to focus on what is present at this space and in this moment.
 

I'm thankful for the gift of fog.

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The Intoxicating Scent of Lilacs

 

With spring comes new energy, more light, a little warmth (when you live in Maine, anyway!), and the promise of being out of the house and on the water.

 

 
This weekend spring really seemed to have arrived on the Maine Coast, with mild air, blue skies, fluffy white clouds!   
I found myself noticing the “firsts” of the season...
 
First row across the harbor in the dingy.
   First wiff of the intoxicating scent of lilacs.
      First trip around the yard with the weed whacker.
         First planting of the annuals that decorate our summer deck.
 
and.. best of all...
 

 

First Maine Lobster dinner!!!
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Can I get that for Free?

My daughter has enticed me to try “extreme coupon” shopping. For those of you not familiar, extreme couponers buy items that are on sale and have two or more coupons or rebates, looking for items that can be purchased for 70% or more off of the regular price.  Of course, the ultimate goal is .... FREE!
Here’s an example of how it works:
 
 Rite-Aid is selling a brand of baby aspirin for $2.00 and offering a $1.00 rebate credited to your Rite-Aid Wellness card. In the newspaper, there’s a coupon for $1.00 off that same brand.  Final price???  Free!
 
A side effect of buying aspirin, toothpaste and shampoo this way is I frequently ask “Is there a way to get that for Free???” when making any purchase.
 
You're in luck!   I’ve found a Free deal for coaches who are renewing their credential.
 
Free Continuing Coach Education Units (CCEUs)
 
Self-Study CCEUs allow you to do your own studying, at your own pace, focused on what you want to learn. For Free!
 
Here’s how they work.
 
Do an activity, such as reading, writing, or research related to coaching. Track your time. Write a summary of what you did and how it contributed to your development as a coach.  Include your time and this information in your recertification application as Self-Study CCEUs.
 
That’s it!
 
Quantities are limited and some restrictions apply.
 
Up to 16 Resource Development CCEUs can be Self-Study.
They can not be used for Core Competency CCEUs
 
You cannot count time spent coaching, mentoring or supervising as Self-Study.
 
The Fine Print.

 Just like the shopping deals that change every week, the ICF changes the rules and requirements every so often!  I encourage all ICF coaches to double check the requirements a few months before they’re ready to renew.  Here’s the website to bookmark!  Individual Credentialing Renewal

Enjoy!
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The Big Question: Am I coaching or doing something else?

We all bring more than just coaching skills to our coaching conversations
 
Sally and Joan (not their real names) joined the Coaching Master Class for a deeper dive into their coaching skills and competencies. After the usual logistics and introductions we jumped right into a conversation about the ICF Code of Ethics. It didn’t take too long for their big question to surface.  “I’m worried that someone will find out that my‘real’ coaching isn’t really coaching. I do coaching and I add in other things, based on my expertise and knowledge about the areas the clients want to work on.  Am I really coaching or is this something else?”
 
We created the terms “pure coaching” and “hybrid coaching” to hold the distinction.  I was struck by the level of worry these coaches had that what they called “hybrid coaching” wasn’t acceptable.  I was concerned that their worry affected their coaching. Could they be as confident and bold in serving their clients if this was in the backs of their minds?
 
I was sure that alleviating that worry would help these coaches be the best they could be. Since I’m committed to coaching excellence, I also wanted to understand this question better. Were they really coaching, or did something need to change for their coaching to be aligned with the coaching competencies?
 
With our distinction between “pure” and “hybrid” coaching in hand, we focused in to understand this big questions, and to find ways to address their concerns.
 
What were they doing in their coaching sessions that was concerning to them?
    
They were using their expertise to frame their questions, provide new perspectives, and explicitly share information that was new to the client.
 
How were they doing this?
    
Sometimes they asked permission - “Can I share something that might be useful?” and sometimes they assumed permission because the client had hired them for that expertise. They offered what they knew, without insisting that the client believe it or use it.
 
 
Why were they doing this?
Because it fit, in the moment, with what the client was working on. Because they believed that it would serve the client at that time.
 
 
What would you say? Is this coaching, or something else?
 
As we worked through the competencies, we came to the following conclusions:
 
When offering your expertise to the client, it’s important to maintain your focus on serving the client and the client’s agenda. This expectation is woven into all of the PCC level coaching competencies. 
 
This means that what you share should be pertinent to the topic at hand. It also means that it’s presented in a way that serves the client’s continued growth, development, and ability to become self-sustaining.  My students talked about offering another perspective, not the “answer”. Even when teaching the client something new, they hold it as “just another perspective”. Allowing the client to choose what to do with the information reinforced their trust in the client - the she is able to integrate new information and make choices that serve her best.
 
There’s  also an Ethical question that arises. Is it “ethical” - that is, aligned with the ICF Code of Ethics and Professional Practices - to coach using our expertise and knowledge in this way?
 
As we read the Code of Ethics, we saw no prohibition on bringing what we know to the coaching. In fact, we noted that we train in different domains of coaching (leadership coaching, relationship coaching, etc.) and engage our client in these specialized coaching services. Of course, our clients would expect us to have perspectives on leadership if they’ve hired us to be leadership coaches!
 
What we saw is that ICF asks us to stay true to the following tenets:
  • Honor our agreements with our clients
  • Do not misrepresent our services or qualifications
 
What is your agreement with the client? What services are they expecting you to provide? 
The agreement should clearly state that you are providing specialized coaching and clarify what that means. Clients should expect that you will bring in your expertise and know how you will use that expertise in the coaching engagement.
 
Are you qualified to provide that expertise or perspective?
Think about your qualifications for sharing your knowledge with your client, including formal training, education, research, and real-life experience. If your client wanted only that expertise, would you be a qualified candidate to provide them? If you can say “yes” to that (and others would agree), offering that experience to your clients would be appropriate.  
 
In the End…
 
After looking at this big question through the lens of the coaching competencies, the students completed the class with less worry. They could see how they were coaching and using their expertise to serve their clients. That was a success in itself!  
 
They also committed to reviewing their agreements with their clients to make sure they were representing themselves and their coaching appropriately.  And, they made a longer-term commitment to pay attention to their motivations for sharing their expertise during coaching sessions, so that they were staying aligned with serving their clients in the moment.
 
As the instructor, I was impressed by the honesty and vulnerability that these coaches brought to their work in the class. Without that, we wouldn’t have learned as much as we did, and the impact on their coaching wouldn’t have been as great.
 
What’s your Big Question about your own coaching?
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On Listening


I had come to believe that the act of being listened to was far more important than being in the documentary itself and could be transformative in people’s lives, because no one had actually ever listened to them. 
David Isay on why he moved from making documentaries to StoryCorps.
 
When I travel, I load up my IPad with podcasts from my favorite radio shows. I can listen while I knit or crochet, so it feeds my need to be doing something meaningful with my hands and my head.
 
This morning, I sat down with my crocheted scarf project and an episode of On Being that all coaches should find interesting. It’s an interview with David Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, and the topic is “The Everyday Art of Listening”.  
 

I was intrigued to find that this interviewer holds listening as a way to transform people’s lives and the conversations they have with each other.  So much of what he shared is aligned with how coaches listen and why we listen, and affirms the transformation that we bring to our client’s by the gift of our listening and by bearing witness to their stories.
 
He also shares how he finds intense listening to be challenging and hard work, and something that he can’t do all the time and with all the people in their lives.  This, too, should be familiar to coaches - it certainly is for me!
 
I encourage you to find a quiet moment to listen to this extraordinary interview.
 
http://www.onbeing.org - April 17 episode.
 

 

StoryCorps is a project that collects the stories of everyday people in audio recordings, which are stored in the Library of Congress.  http://storycorps.org
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A Season of Renewal for Your Coaching

It’s been a long winter!


Here in Maine, we’ve been shoveling snow and dealing with below freezing temps since December. I know from my friends along the East Coast and in the Midwest that it’s been a tough all over. Never ending snow, ice, cold, and cancellations. It’s hard to believe that spring is on it’s way!

One of the delights of my winter has been the PCC Master Class. There are three sessions in progress, each with just a few participants. I’ve been delighted by the level of commitment the students have shown to the process. They are willing to focus in on a specific competency and wrestle with what it means, what they are doing well, and where they need to improve. They share their coaching stories including their struggles and uncertainties - the moments that they’re not so proud of in their coaching. They learn from each other’s experiences and questions. And they design their own assignments to observe themselves more closely, and try new coaching moves.

I’ve witnessed each student grounding her knowledge, increasing her confidence, and deepening her awareness of what it means to be a masterful coach.

And, now, spring is coming. The birds are returning to the Maine landscape. The ice on the rivers is breaking up and flowing out to sea. The snow is melting, revealing the ground from which our summer grass and flowers will emerge.

It’s the perfect season to spruce up your coaching.

 

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Who Needs a Mentor Coach?

Mentor Coaching is a new requirement for some of the ICF credentials. But, who is required to have mentor coaching to fulfill the requirements?


To quickly answer that question, I've put together a handy guide in table form.  Find your current credential level in the first column, then find your next credential level in the top row. Find where they intersect and you'll find the mentor coaching requirement!  Simple!

ICF Requirements for Mentor Coaching
Information accurate as of Sept. 30 2013
 
Mentor Coach must hold credential at or above your certification level
 
Graduates from Accredited Coach Training Programs (ACTP)
 
 
Current Credential
Next Credential
ACC
PCC
MCC
None
name the mentor coach from your training program
none
none
ACC
10 hours
none
none
PCC
 
none
none
MCC
 
 
none
 
 
Portfolio Candidates (those who have not completed an Accredited Coach Training Program)
 
 
Current Credential
Next Credential
ACC
PCC
MCC
None
10 hours
10 hours
10 hours
ACC
10 hours
10 hours
10 hours
PCC
 
none
10 hours
MCC
 
 
none

The light blue boxes show the requirements for renewing your current certification level.

Does this make it clearer????  If you have questions, please leave a comment and I'll answer them as best I can.

And, I recommend that you bookmark the page on the ICF website that has the requirements for your next credential and check it periodically. Download the sample application to see exactly what information you're required to provide.

Requirements have changed and are expected to change again in Spring 2014.

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The road to mastery (or at least, to being more masterful than I am right now!)

What does it take to continue towards mastery?

I finished my coach training over 12 years ago. I've been a PCC for 10 years and since then have given feedback and support to many coaching students. And, of course, I've coached a lot too. A good training program, and lots of on-the-job training - and you'd think I could consider myself a master at my trade.

However, I've found that just doing the work of a coach, without close examination of what I'm doing and why, without upgrading my understanding of what good coaching should be, without honest feedback and support, doesn't really lead to mastery. It leads to experience, yes. But without that edge of continual improvement, deepening awareness, and the struggle inherent in moving beyond my limitations to new levels of performance, that experience doesn't always lead to better coaching.

So, I've gone back to basics and created a program I call PCC Master Class (now the Coaching Master Class). I offer it for others to participate in - and I've enrolled myself as well. So I'm not the all-knowing instructor, but a peer on the same journey of discovery and challenge.

The Coaching Master Class is based on an assumption that we've had a good foundation in what great coaching can be, and we have enough tools to use in our coaching conversations. So it's not about learning to coach.

The ICF Coaching Competencies give us a road map for both the "being" and "doing" of a coach. The PCC Master Class takes us into those competencies for the PCC level, and asks us to reexamine our understanding and use of them with our clients.

There's class discussion and then field work - which can include research and writing, observing a coaching demonstration, or examining your own coaching. We learn together, asking the questions that are on our minds now, using our collective experience and wisdom to seek the answers.

Class 1 was about Ethics and Professional Standards. I came away from that class is a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of our Code of Ethics, and a better way to evaluate those situations that just don't feel quite right so see what action is the best to take.

I'm excited to see what will develop as we dig deeper into each of the competencies in this journey to mastery.

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