"I want to become a coach!"
"Pardon me?" I replied.
"I have decided to become an executive coach", my friend stated.
"I really love helping others succeed and feel like the lessons of my success could be shared to help others. I want to tell others what they can do and should NOT do to succeed."
So, now I have a real dilemma... Someone just shared a heartfelt passion for a career and all I can think is NO, NO, NO! Not that his motive isn't pure, sincere, and reasonable. It's just not going to lead to the success my friend is envisioning.
The reason is really simple. Coaching is about leading others to discovery. Leveraging their views and experience. The minute it becomes teaching you steal the most powerful part of what it is designed to do.
You see, when you feel like you have the answer you inevitably measure your success in coaching in the results experienced by your client. That sounds right on the surface but it isn't.
The measure of success is your clients development of the skill to make better decisions. Those decisions lead to improved outcomes, most of the time. But when they don't that doesn't mean the process has failed. Failure is required. Failure is the catalyst for continued learning
The operating principle is simply this, THE WEIGHT OF RESPONSIBILITY NEEDS TO SIT WITH IT'S PROPER OWNER.
When we coach leaders we are always allowing them to carry the weight. The weight of their decisions, the responsibilities, and their experienced results. Coaching, rather than showing them the say, is about helping them discover how to find their own way.
A great coach is an objective party invested in helping the client fulfill THEIR version of success. The coach doesn't own any position or authority in that decision. They simply exist to shepherd the process. To provide objective and independent insight. AND, to stay out of it.
Literally, stay out of it.
The reality is that coaching as a skill is required by all of us. As managers, leaders, spouses, parents, and even as friends. When we stay OUT of it we HONOR the other person but acknowledging their own capacity to make great decisions.
When we serve as a coach we MUST recognize the brilliance of our client. And that means NOT being brilliant ourselves. We must disappear in favor of our clients development.
So, what did I tell my friend?
I simply played the coach. I asked questions to allow him to see what his potential clients would need. I asked him how HE wanted to be coached. I talked to him about ways in which others had helped him grow and develop.
He decided NOT to become a coach but rather a consultant. He is a GREAT consultant! A strong subject matter expert paid for his advice.
And he figured it out on his own!