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
Information about classes in coaching including course descriptions and essays about what's covered in the classes.

Smooth the Rocky Edges of Your Coaching

Join the Coaching Master Class 

It’s Summer!

Boots and Coreopsis

I’m sitting on my deck enjoying the flowers (ignoring the weeds), listening to the ocean waves crash against the rocky shore (no sandy beaches here), and hoping that the wind doesn’t change direction and bring the odor of the decomposing whale that washed up on a nearby island into my idyllic morning.  Summer in Maine is lovely, but far from perfect.

And neither is our coaching. We all have some rocky areas, weeds among the masterful coaching moves, and a few bad habits lurking close by that could stink things up a little.

Is that enough of the rotting whale story? (It’s true, by the way…)

If you have questions about where your coaching might be less than ideal, or want to talk about those bad habits that you're no longer willing to ignore, I invite you to join the Coaching Master Class.

I’ve been so pleased at how experienced coaches who join the Master Class love returning to a safe learning community. We share rich conversations about our coaching, and learn from our collective experiences. Within the framework of coaching competencies, even experienced coaches have new insights into how they can serve their clients better.

Here’s what one Master Class Alumna shared with me recently about how this course impacted her:

There’s something magical that happens when people get together in the learning environment you create. So, on one level, there is this ethereal feeling of camaraderie. But then there's another level where I'm getting real, practical information and help on what to do to be a better coach. My notebook is full of new questions to ask my clients. Kelly Kienzle, PCC

I have a deep belief in both the power of sticking to and reinforcing the basic moves of coaching and being in community with fellow coaches. If this appeals to you, I hope you will consider signing up. 

You can REGISTER HERE.

In Gratitude,

Sue

P.S. Students who register early will save $150 on their Master Class investment. (Sweet, right?!) Since I save time in planning the sooner I have my class roster set, I like to pass those savings along to my students.

Continue reading
  258 Hits
  0 Comments
258 Hits
0 Comments

What will you Start, Stop and Continue to Become a Better Coach?

Awareness - that window into what’s working and what’s not - is the foundation for change. 

 
The coaching profession values learning. In fact, coaching is all about learning. Our clients learn about themselves and howthey relate to the world. They learn new approaches to their challenges, either through new attitudes or behaviors. They learn to be more aware of the world around them and what’s happening inside of them.
 
It makes sense that coaches should be continuing their own learning, increasing their awareness and learning new approaches to their coaching and their relationships with clients.
 
Many consultants, facilitators, and coaches I know use the START/STOP/CONTINUE model to define how the future should be different than the past. They ask “What do you know to do that you want to START doing in the future? What are you doing now that doesn’t work that you want to STOP? What is still working that you want to CONTINUE?”
 
I think it’s useful to use this model when thinking about your own learning and how to improve your coaching.
 
What do you know about your coaching that is working well? How can you CONTINUE to do these things with confidence?
 
What do you know about your coaching that is just not working – for you or the client? How can you STOP doing those things in the future?
 
And where do you feel you have deficiencies? It could be things that you know you should be doing, but aren’t. Or you’re facing situations or clients that you’re not sure how to handle, and need new skills or approaches to feel more capable. What do you need to START to handle these better?
 
Before you answer these questions, take a minute to reflect. Do you know enough about your coaching to make good decisions about what to START/STOP/CONTINUE?
 
From my experience, it’s hard for coaches, on their own, to objectively view their own coaching. They have questions rather than clarity about whether what they are doing is working. So they are unsure whether to STOP or CONTINUE.
 
Their clients are happy and telling them the coaching is great, and they don’t have another way to tell is something is missing. It’s hard to START something to fill a gap when they’re not even aware of the gap.
 
Awareness, that window into what’s working and what’s not, is the foundation for change. Equally important is a model of coaching that sets a standard of what’s effective. Looking at your coaching (with an learners eye) against a model (that you believe in), you can start to understand what you can Start/Stop/Continue to become a better coach.
 
It’s further complicated when you consider that how well you coach depends on what you do and how you “be” while you’re coaching. Your technique might be fine, but your “being” might affect your ability to listen to and hear your client’s emotions or energy. Or you might have a connected and supportive way of “being”, but forget to challenging your client, or holding them accountable.
 
When was the last time you honestly reflected on your coaching against what you were taught? When was the last time you recorded a coaching session and listened carefully to see if you are using all of the coaching competencies? When was the last time someone you respected as an experienced coach listened to your coaching and gave you feedback?
 
Isn’t it time you made a serious commitment to START/STOP/CONTINUE for the sake of you coaching and your clients?
Continue reading
  324 Hits
  0 Comments
324 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
  307 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
307 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
  272 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
272 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
  317 Hits
  0 Comments
317 Hits
0 Comments

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.
 
Continue reading
  254 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
254 Hits
0 Comments

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.

 

Continue reading
  283 Hits
  0 Comments
283 Hits
0 Comments

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.

Continue reading
  264 Hits
  0 Comments
Tags:
264 Hits
0 Comments