The mindset of being a coach

Reading time: 5 minutes

Can anyone coach?

“If you want to do a job, start doing it”, was the advice. As careers advice goes it was simple and effective. It ranks alongside “if you want to catch fish go hang out where the fish are…”

Given there’s so much advice at the moment about the importance of leaders being ‘coaches at work’ we thought it’d be worth sharing what it looks like if you want to act on this advice, but you don’t want to embark on a lengthy set of coaching qualifications to let you become the equivalent of Yoda in the work place.

Start by starting

Like leadership and golf and many other things, coaching is a simple thing easily made complicated.

In its essence being a coach for someone is as simple as having a conversation with them that’s designed to help them get better at something they want to be better at. Very often, to have that conversation, you don’t even need to be any good at that thing yourself to add value?

So, in many ways being a coach to someone is straightforward. If you’ve never done it before then of course it might feel awkward and you might not be confident of the results you’ll get, but, as with any skill, those feelings will reduce with some regular practice.

So, find someone who you’re leading and just start seeing what questions you can ask that might prompt some actions that will help them make improvements.

The absolute basics

Be really clear about your intentions for being a coach to someone. Write down your intentions and share them with the people you want to coach. That way, it’s clear to you why being a ‘coach’ will make a difference and why having a ‘coach’ might be of value to the person you’re talking to.

If you get this basic right of letting people know what’s in it for them and for you, then you’ve got a great positive foundation to start from. You also get the benefit of the success of the coaching being a collaborative effort, rather than something you’re trying to do to someone!

Simple questions

The next step to take is to just get confident in the simple questions you’re going to be able to ask regularly that will ensure you’re ‘coaching’ the person in the right spirit.

We’ve got a bunch here to get you started http://www.theperformanceroom.co.uk/high-performance-impact-coaching-tool/ and of course you can sharpen your performance speak too http://www.theperformanceroom.co.uk/sharpen-your-performance-speak/, which will help you get into the right coaching frame of mind.

Don’t worry about having to keep finding new questions – you’ll find in time the people you’re ‘coaching’ will expect them and then it’s all about helping them maximise the quality of the answers. The questions just let people have the time, space and opportunity to create and answer, which is the thing that will ultimately help improve performance.

Keep it simple

Is it really as simple as just letting people know why you want to coach them and asking a few questions? Yes!

It might not feel high value and high impact immediately, but the thing is, you’re coaching. And when you keep coaching regularly, with an ongoing desire to help someone get better, then the discipline and consistency of being that regular support pays off. You improve your questioning skills and the two of you improve the quality and focus of the answers you create.

If you can swing a tennis racket and hit a ball over the net you can play tennis. If you can add two ingredients together and warm them in a pan you can cook. If you can ask questions and give space for answers that prompt action, then you can coach.

If you get going and you like it and want to get qualified fully, there’s loads of formal ways in which you can develop into a fully qualified coach, at which point a new profession might be in play for you. If that’s not for you, no problem. Just be curious about the value you and those you lead can get from some simple coaching skills, applied with discipline and a desire to improve performance.

And if you think there’s more to offer from coaching, but it’s not via you, then there’s plenty of great qualified coaches out there who you can challenge to come and add value beyond the work you put in place.

Get going

So, ready to get going? Well, if so, find someone who you know is motivated to make some improvements. Ask them if they’d like to test out the power of some coaching questions with you. Tell them you’re new to this, tell them your motives and share your willingness to learn together as you go. That’s a great way to get started.

So don’t wait

Coaching can be incredibly rewarding for everyone concerned, and all you need to start with is these simple basics. No equipment, no finances, no track record – just a desire to help and the confidence to begin..

Let us know how you get on and don’t forget there’s plenty more inside The Performance Room to help you out. Get started with this Kitbag – High Impact Performance Coaching

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