This post shared from Leadership Coaching faculty member Sue McLeod. See more from Sue on her blog at suemcleodcoaching.com.
My friend and coaching buddy, Heidi Bellamente, and I have been working on our habits – We’re creating new ones, breaking old ones, and appreciating the ingrained habits that keeping us alive and on track. And we’ve learned a lot along the way.
Why focus on habits and what do they have to do with coaching?
My experiment in creating a new habit was my desire to be healthier and physically stronger. The beginning was simply saying “I need to start exercising!” Simple to say, yes, but not easy to manifest. In fact, it turned out to be pretty complex. How does that statement transform into a gym membership, four completed 5Ks, a backpack filled with the right clothes and shoes, and exercise being a part of my life, every day?
By intentionally creating a new habit, I learned my own success formula. Working with Heidi, I learned that she’s not the same as me, and has her own unique ways of creating habits.
What does this have to do with coaching?
When our clients say “I need to…” that is just the beginning of the journey. Sustained change, for individuals and groups, happens when the new behaviors become a habit. And we all have a unique success formula for creating habits.
What’s the coach’s role?
Here’s a hint – a couple of the PCC markers for the Designing Actions, Planning and Goal Setting, and Managing Progress and Accountability (D-P-M) competencies.
- Coach assists the client to design what actions/thinking client will do after the session in order for the client to continue moving toward the client’s desired outcomes.
This seems simple enough on the face of it. But what if you knew that your client needed to put that action into the context of a big vision in order to be motivated? Or, that your client gets freaked out by the big vision, and prefers to just map out a few next steps? Would your approach change if you knew that your client will do this new thing because you’re expecting them to, or might rebel unless it’s completely their own idea?
- Coach invites or allows client to consider her/his path forward, including, as appropriate, support mechanisms, resources and potential barriers.
This is a little more detailed than I would usually get. What needs to be considered in the “path forward?” Think of all the things that get in the way of your good intentions. If you’re like me, it can be a long list! How will your client face and conquer what will get in their way? Again, it’s personal. Do they need to schedule it, be reminded, get the right equipment, track and measure progress, get feedback, find a community of support, expect resistance and plan a way through it, or something else?
- Coach assists the client to design the best methods of accountability for her/himself.
Ahh yes, accountability. When I was a beginner coach, my coaching move was to ask the client if I could hold them accountable. It runs out, that wasn’t a good idea. I have trouble being accountable for my own stuff, never mind my client’s stuff, too! So, the better move is to know what kind of accountability works best for them. Do they like to keep things private, share with only trusted individuals, create a group and get hurrahs when they succeed? And what happens when they get stuck? Will they hide or boldly declare a breakdown? Who, or what, will call them back to their commitment?
So you see, there’s lots to talk about with clients after they say “I need to…”
What have you noticed about what works for your clients?