Professional sports people rely on a coach to get the best out of themselves. Increasingly, business people are coming to realize how invaluable an executive coach can be.
The role of a coach is not to tell clients what to do, but to challenge and support them in ways that facilitate their being able to achieve higher levels of performance. The process also improves their state of well-being and their ability to contribute positively to the performance and well-being of those around them.
The basic methodology is simple: ask appropriate questions, listen intently, learn, and develop a deeper understanding, so as to ask better questions. Through this cyclical process clients are provided with the equivalent of a mirror by which to reflect on what may have become invisible and overlooked aspects of their behaviour, thinking and personality. With this they may go on to develop greater self-awareness and more effective strategies for advancement.
A coach is not simply there to encourage and support, but to challenge as well. The relationships between our perceptions, beliefs, goals and behaviours are complex, and within them conflicts and contradictions tend to arise. These have the capacity to frustrate our ability to realize and achieve our goals, and also to cause unrest and frustration in those around us. By seeking out and exploring these contradictions, we present clients with challenges that facilitate their being able to resolve them.
Of course we can be flexible, but our preferred approach is to follow up a goal setting meeting (sometimes a tripartite with a line manager) with two sets of three 90 minute coaching sessions, with a mid-term review, over a period of six months to a year. This is book-ended by a further review, at which progress is evaluated and potential avenues for continuing development are discussed.
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