Coaching is Powerful Magic
By Beth Haggett, MSW, LCSW, Ph.D.
Master Personal & Executive Coach
I am always a little concerned when I speak of coaching being powerful magic that I will sound a bit too “Woo Woo” to some. So, let me explain my thinking. First of all, I think “Woo Woo” refers to thing that we sense or feel but often cannot see so things of this nature are difficult to measure or prove. That being said, although it can be hard to measure the magic of the intangibles of coaching, there are outcomes from the coaching relationship that are quite tangible.
The magic of coaching begins with a partnership of trust between a coach and a client. I will never forget what a client once told me, “I just love how I look through your eyes!” This sentiment depicts the beauty of the coaching relationship. I see my clients through eyes of possibility and potential. I see their strengths and what they are capable of when coming from their best and most supported self. I also feel a deep positive regard for my clients. Whether working with an individual, or a large group I begin to sense a warmth in my heart area and before long I realize it has happened again, I have come to love my client/s. Perhaps that is where the magic flows from. A heartfelt connection with another human being, centered around their goals and dreams.
An important part of coaching is asking powerful questions, listening deeply with our whole selves, mind, body, and spirit. A good coach listens to what is said and what is not said. We listen for values, goals, and desires. A good coach reflects back what is heard to ensure understanding and asks clarifying questions to allow for further insight and possibility to emerge. We use reframing and encouragement to help a client to overcome limiting beliefs or obstacles. These principles help to expand and broaden the conversation and allow for discovery of new ideas. (Biswas-Diner, 2009)
Once we are clear on what is possible, we can begin to narrow the focus to consider which options make the most sense to the client and how they will go about accomplishing them. We often use SMART goals to assist our client to set goals and milestones that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time- bound. I always ask my client to pause and make sure the goals they set actually feel right to them and the idea of seeing themselves accomplishing that particular goal fills them with excitement.
The agenda is always the client’s agenda. The goal may change as the coach helps the client to zero in on what is most important in that moment. Part of the magic of coaching is in the accountability. It is so easy to set goals and never accomplish them. A coach helps the client to be accountable for what they say they want to accomplish. The accountability is not to the coach, but to themselves. A coach might ask, “you told me this was important to you, what got in the way for you and how can we work to overcome any obstacles?”
When it comes to focused coaching such as KCS® Coaching (The mark KCS is a service mark owned by The Consortium for Service Innovation), the dynamics of the relationship are the same. The element of trust is still critical. The idea of tapping into hopes and dreams is still possible. The focus narrows to ensuring understanding and knowledge of KCS methodology and article creation and how doing a job well connects to the overall goals, values, and needs of our client. I love how adopting a quality coaching program transforms the culture of an organization as people begin to care about each other’s dreams and assist each other in improving the quality of their work. People begin to see how their contribution makes a difference to their peers and to the organization. They begin caring more and work becomes more enjoyable which increases engagement, dedication and quality. It is not a coach’s job to motivate others using carrots and sticks. However, having someone dedicated to helping you do your best, who genuinely cares about you, is invested in listening to what matters to you and helps create accountability for your goals does increase motivation.
I’ll never forget my experience working with one of the first organizations that adopted my KCS Coaching program. I showed them how a simple thing like acknowledging and appreciating work done by others could make a difference to their entire culture and to them individually. Many years later I got an email from a man who started out as the most skeptical in the group. His name was Steve. He said “My work has become more meaningful than ever before, funny it comes this late in life. I want to thank you for your contribution to that.”
A manager in another group I trained recently, approached me on the second day of training. His eyes were a bit misty as he told me that he stopped on his way home and bought flowers for his wife and told her all the things he appreciated about her after our exercise in appreciation. He expressed gratitude for the difference he knew the coach training could make in his marriage. Another young analyst when expressing what he was taking away from training said with great sincerity, “Why hasn’t anyone ever taught me these important things before? These principles are going to help me so much in my relationships both in and out of work.”
It is such an honor to be a coach, to help people find potential they were not aware of or were unable to access. I also love training coaches to help others find that potential. I have been studying coaching for almost 20 years and there is still so much to learn and so much fun to be had.
Biswas-Diener, R. (2009). Personal coaching as a positive intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 65(5), 544-553. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jclp.20589