I think we all have a responsibility called Being interesting, and Being worth working with.
I read a definition for “the heart of great coaching” within a terrific article written by Lisa Gates called, The Case for Coaching: Adding a Little Socratic Inquiry to Your Life, Learning and Parenting:
The heart of great coaching (and I’m really simplifying here) rests on three fundamental skills: Listening, curiosity and asking open-ended questions. At heart, we’re really traveling back to the ancient art of the Socratic Method, or posing questions that allow the learner to own her learning, and to make decisions and choices based on that learning.
Within the coaching I do I have discovered Lisa has this right. So the simplifying is good: Let’s not get distracted in unnecessary complexity.
The better listening I do (because I’m interested, and curious) the better questions I will ask, and the better the conversation turns out. Coaching happens in conversations (which is why I’m so big on talking story). In fact, I tell my customers that they do their part best by giving me enough information to work with, information relevant to them that is accurate and complete. I challenge them to fascinate me with their problem if we’re to turn it into an opportunity or a breakthrough.
The heart of great coaching happens as a response to something else, and that something else is my wanting to help someone.
Now I have a big responsibility in the process too, but let’s get real here: Any coach (whether me or someone else) will be at their best when the person being coached is at their best level of willing engagement. They are giving their coach enough food for thought, the coach wants to receive it well, and wants to convert what has been shared with them within the coaching process they offer.
We want to help because our customer is so interesting. Within my own field, I can tell you that most executive coaches in business prefer to think they don’t work with many problem children: We choose our customers, and we choose to work with people strong in potential, intent on getting them to be even better and stronger. We work with winners in the making, and the prospect of getting the win is exciting.
Coaching will happen in an okay way if I can help someone by teaching them what I know, for I do bring a good amount of experience to our conversation.
However great coaching will happen in a truly heart-fluttering way if we learn a breakthrough together because my customer has been magnificent in doing their part to begin with. They go all in.
Would you like to be coached by your manager?
We who are employees have to own up to this responsibility we have with being interesting, and worth working hard with. If we want the manager coaching us to do it with great heart, fully committed to our success, we have to help them want to. We have to fascinate them. We have to trigger those questions they will have for us, and we have to answer them openly and honestly. We have to play full out.
Our manager has to do their part, yes. But let’s face it: It is so much easier for them when they look into our eyes, see they have a partner in waiting, and see that together we will score a big win.
Are you interesting to your boss?
I am becoming more and more convinced that our self-motivation gets its energy and propulsion from whatever it is which currently fascinates us. Fascination captures our attention: It hooks us in. When our fascination is strong enough, it doesn’t let go until we act upon the subject of our fascination in some way.
—Fascination, Motivation, and a Progressive 9 in Learning, at Joyful Jubilant Learning
Photo credit: Pinky by Swanky on Flickr