There is often confusion about not only what goes on during coaching sessions but also how to decide what changes to make or goals to work on when being coached. The lack of clarity in these areas can keep some people from making the commitment to work with a coach. So let’s get everything cleared up.
Essentially, the first order of business when you set out to work with a coach is to establish where you are right now: Point A. This requires a cold, hard look at your current reality.
Next, figure out the place you want to end up in the not-too-distant future: Point B. Your coach may start with the question What will be different in six months because of the changes you are about to make?
Once you are clear on Points A and B, you and your coach can put together a plan. When creating the plan, it is important to choose areas where change is actually possible—you want to set goals that may require you to stretch but not ones that would require a personality transplant. This is what’s called “reaching for low hanging fruit.” You can’t ask a chicken to climb a tree. Ask yourself: What can I do—maybe with a little extra direction and support—that makes sense for me?
During the conception of the plan, your coach will help you figure out not only how to leverage your strengths and stay engaged, but also how to choose goals that feel fun and exciting to you. You will gain some clarity about your weaknesses and learn to mitigate them and work around them. You may decide to shore up an area in which you are weak—but I recommend working on only one weak area at a time. Better to leverage strengths.
As the coaching sessions progress, you’ll find yourself stumbling over some attitudes or beliefs that have been holding you back—blind spots, if you will. You’ll think through and perhaps shift some long-held perspectives. Finally, you’ll uncover some new emerging strengths you can build on.
When the coaching is drawing to a close, you will review with your coach everything you have accomplished and what you have learned along the way. This will reinforce changes you have made and highlight new habits you have established.
In the crazy rush of everyday life, it can be really hard to stay focused on the stuff that is important but not necessarily urgent. Ultimately, that is what coaching will help you do.
About the Author
Madeleine Blanchard is the co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with 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.