The Value Of Coaching And The Dangers Of Telling

I have led many global training sessions on leadership and coaching. I typically start by asking, “What is coaching?”. The responses of most people gravitate towards an answer consisting of making people better in some way. If you look up the word “coach” in the dictionary, the first definition is “a large usually closed four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage having doors on the sides and an elevated seat in front for the driver”. People equate coaching to “moving forward” or “getting someone from point A to point B”. 

I see why people like the visual and agree with the concept. However, consider reflecting upon your method. The danger of this interpretation is that you can get someone to “move forward” by just telling someone what to do. Here are some examples of the pitfalls of telling,

  • Typically, no one likes to be told what to do…people are more likely to execute their own solutions because they prefer their own ideas.
  • If you come up with a bad idea, then you continue to own their problem. Usually, they will ask you, “Well that didn’t work…now, what should I do?”
  • If you continue to successfully solve their problems, you create a dependency and they will rarely try to solve anything on their own.

So here is my favorite interpretation of coaching,

“The art of creating a new possibility.” – Keith Rosen

This interpretation forces you, as a coach, to open the mind of an individual you are coaching. To be a successful coach, you have to ask the right questions, creating an environment where the person can figure out their own solution. Using this strategy, there is a higher chance that a person will execute his or her own ideas. This is one of the keys to great coaching.

Look for my next article during the week of September 4, 2017.