The Power of Coaching

I’m going to put myself out there and share something I haven’t talked about much on the blog (admittedly the title is a bit of a giveaway!)… coaching. I bloody love coaching. I love being coached, I love coaching others, and I even love self-coaching (though it’s never as effective as being coached by someone else!).

There seem to be quite a lot of misconceptions around coaching, and I’d like to blog about some of those in future. For now though, I just wanted to talk a little bit about my experience and why I find coaching so powerful. For me, coaching is a way of enabling and empowering other people to identify, refine, and move forwards towards their goals.

This week I attended a two-day foundation in life coaching course hosted by The Coaching Academy. It was marvellous. I went in wanting to see if coaching is something I want to prioritise more in future, and if so to think about whether I’d like to do any further qualifications or look into accreditation. Spoiler alert: I do. As a core factor in all of my work is helping people develop, coaching aligns well with my values and motivators.

I’ve completed an ILM Level 3 Award in Coaching which was my first formal introduction to coaching (other than my Club Coach Award in Gymnastics which I achieved as a teenager!). As part of the ILM qualification I learnt about the theory and practice of coaching, and I logged 20 hours of coaching (in my case for three different individuals). I found coaching so difficult at first; I’m used to offering advice and giving people answers, which is a big no no in coaching. I had to frequently stop myself and instead focus on asking questions to help the individual unearth their own solutions. As part of the course I was coached by my peers and it was so incredibly helpful in areas I’d felt stuck with and this experience really helped me understand the value of coaching.

I began to adopt more of a coaching approach to problem-solving in many areas of my life, and became a mentor for CILIP (which is different to coaching but uses many similar skills). Then at my Clore Leadership Short Course I received further training and had the opportunity to put my coaching skills into practice. I also received coaching during my time there, both from my peers and from the course facilitators. I found my coaching incredibly helpful and I know my peers did too.

In the Knowledge for Healthcare Leadership Programme I have facilitated action learning sets (a form of group coaching) which many of the participants commented have been a highlight of the programme; both in terms of developing their coaching skills and in helping them address some problems they’d been experiencing. It’s been fantastic to check in with them on a regular basis and see their progress.

The crazy thing about coaching, and the reason I’ve struggled to come to terms with the fact that I think it is so amazing is that all the ideas and actions to help you reach your goals come from you. Which makes it incredibly powerful because only you know what is likely to work for *you* and what barriers *you* might encounter. It means you’ll probably be more likely to commit to your agreed actions and are more likely to achieve (or at least make progress towards) your goal.

But if the ideas come from you why do you need a coach? This is the (to my mind, fairly rational) question I frequently find myself asking. Then I experience some more coaching myself and I’m yet again reminded how much of what is discussed is a new revelation. Often the most useful questions can be as open as “So what could you do? What else could you do?”. It seems crazy that this would result in anything different to what you’d already thought of, but it frequently does. I had an experience this week where one of my coursemates was coaching me and hardly needed to say anything; he just encouraged me to think things through and I suddenly had lots of ideas I hadn’t previously considered. I joked at the time that I’d like a cardboard cutout of him by my side at all times when I need help with something, but it’s something more than that.

Effective coaching is an incredible skill; it’s the active listening, effective questioning, and holding the space to enable the other person to explore things in ways they haven’t yet done themselves. It’s helping someone set achieveable yet challenging goals, consider where they are currently at, explore possible actions to help them move towards their goals, acknowledge any potential barriers, and hold them accountable to the agreed course of action.

It’s seriously bloody brilliant.

I’ve always loved goal setting, and I’ve always loved helping other people develop, so coaching seems a natural fit for me. I’m finding that when I coach I’m not wanting to make suggestions anywhere near as often as I used to (meaning my mind is much clearer), and I’m able to listen much more effectively because of that. I’ve really enjoyed the coaching I’ve done this week during my course. My skills are definitely developing, but I’d like to do more. I’m hoping to continue to do more coaching and look into a higher level qualification and formal accreditation in future.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more or experience the power of coaching for yourself, let me know and I’d be happy to chat 🙂