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

Make it a Habit

Make it a habit…

My friend and coaching buddy, Heidi Bellamente, and I have been working on our habits - We’re creating new ones, breaking old ones, and appreciating the ingrained habits that keeping us alive and on track. And we’ve learned a lot along the way.

Why focus on habits and what do they have to do with coaching?

First, the “why”.

My experiment in creating a new habit was my desire to be healthier and physically stronger. The beginning was simply saying “I need to start exercising!”. Simple to say, yes, but not easy to manifest. In fact, it turned out to be pretty complex. How does that simple statement transform into a gym membership, four completed 5Ks and a 5-mile trail race, a backpack filled with the right clothes and shoes, a personal trainer, a running app on my phone, and exercise being a part of my life, everyday?

By intentionally creating a new habit, I learned my own success formula. Working with Heidi, I learned that she’s not the same as me, and has her own unique ways of creating habits.

What does this have to do with coaching?

When our clients say “I need to…”, that is just the beginning of the journey. Sustained change, for individuals and groups, is more effective when the new behaviors become a habit. And we all have a unique success formula for creating habits.

So, what’s the coach’s role?

Here a hint - a couple of the PCC markers for the Designing Actions, Planning and Goal Setting, and Managing Progress and Accountability (D-P-M) competencies.

  • Coach assists the client to design what actions/thinking client will do after the session in order for the client to continue moving toward the client’s desired outcomes.

This seems simple enough on the face of it. But what if you knew that your client needed to put that action into the context of a big vision in order to be motivated?  Or, that your client gets freaked out by the big vision, and prefers to just map out a few next steps? Would your approach change if you knew that your client will do this new because you’re expecting them to, or might rebel unless it’s completely their own idea?

  • Coach invites or allows client to consider her/his path forward, including, as appropriate, support mechanisms, resources and potential barriers.

Hmm, this is a little more detailed than I would usually get. What, pray tell, needs to be considered in the “path forward”?  Think of all the things that get in the way of your good intentions. If you’re like me, it can be a long list! How will your client face and conquer what will get in their way? Again, it’s personal. Do they need to schedule it, be reminded, get the right equipment, track and measure progress, get feedback, find a community of support, expect resistance and plan a way through it, or something else?

  • Coach assists the client to design the best methods of accountability for her/himself.

Ahh yes, accountability. When I was a beginner coach, my coaching move was to ask the client if I could hold them accountable. It runs out, that wasn’t a good idea. I have trouble being accountable for my own stuff, never mind my client’s stuff, too! So, the better move is to know what kind of accountability works best for them. Do they like to keep things private, share with only trusted individuals, create a group and get hurrahs when they succeed? And what happens when they get stuck? Will they hide or boldly declare a breakdown? Who, or what, will call them back to their commitment?

So you see, there’s lots to talk about with clients after they say “I need to…”.

Oh - and here’s what it took for me to get exercise into my life:

  • Short-term, easy to accomplish goals (Run a 5K every month).
  • Accountability to my husband, my running partner and to Heidi.
  • Permission to hate exercise (which I do),
  • No permission to NOT exercise
  • The right clothes and shoes, in a backpack, ready to go, everyday
  • An expert to tell me exactly what I should do and when, so I don’t have to think about it.
  • Tracking what I do and when with an easy to use phone app.
  • Anticipating the change of seasons and proactively working out a new exercise plan

I’m curious if any of these strategies would work for you?  And what have you noticed about what works for your clients?

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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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