The Secret Quality of a Great Coach

group of business people working on projectA client of mine is seeking to shift her company from the current hierarchical command-and-control culture to a coaching culture, so I have been working with her to create a Leader as Coach program.

During our work together, the learning leaders and several senior leader pilot participants got into a fascinating debate about the qualities of a great coach.

One participant kept trying to get across his concept that the coach must have positive intent and must care about the person being coached, but seemed to have trouble finding the right language. He finally blurted out, “Loving. A coach should be—loving.”

There was silence in the room and then everybody turned to me, the subject matter expert. What could I say? First, I laughed—and then I admitted he was right. In my opinion, the coach who’s going to make the biggest difference is the one who loves the people who are being coached. Love is the secret ingredient almost no one talks about. It’s one of the dirty little secrets of coaching—and you can’t really teach it. It’s certainly not considered an appropriate topic of conversation in most corporate settings.

Here’s the most interesting part: I was in the room with a group of senior level medical engineering geniuses who all began to nod their heads yes. The group ended up deciding not to actually write the word loving in black and white in the participant materials, instead opting for more indirect ways of expressing it. But there was an implicit agreement among the group—all of whom have self selected to be role models for coaching—that loving is, in fact, a quality they will be cultivating. And do you know what? I believe they actually have a chance of shifting their culture.

About the Author

Madeleine Blanchard is the co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have coached over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

8 thoughts on “The Secret Quality of a Great Coach

  1. “Love” is a great quality to bring to any aspect of your career, but especially when leading / coaching others. Fascinating that some feel uncomfortable with the term and seek to call it something else!

  2. This is so very true! Neuroscience research indicates that people “pick up on” when someone is truly caring for them and their wellbeing. I love my clients and love on them…and, I think they know it. It’s a powerful glue for relationships. At home and work.

  3. I tend to agree and choose to think along these lines: They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

  4. Enjoying this. Studying coaching. Apparently there is a distinction between consulting for one person, which is now called “coaching” and coaching an organization, now called “consulting.” You will enjoy what Blanchard has to say.

  5. I think that in order to coach a person, you must have a connection. Love is a great way to describe it. I think with anything people do, they should have love.

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