I sit here basking in an endorphin fuelled glow sipping my post workout coffee and can't help but wonder why coaching isn't a far more actively engaged service within business circles.
I want to be clear: coaching NOT consulting
In my mind the distinction is that a consultant analyses and assesses, tells you what they think the problem is and recommends how you should solve it. Of course they then offer to do it for you and eventually go through a transition and handover.
A coach is different, with a coach you do the work. ALL of the work. A coach stands alongside you every step of the way, their sleeves rolled up, guiding you towards an improved performance by assessing the goal, the existing method and then advising on what to do differently. The coach inspires, motivates and measures and of course, cracks the whip and delivers direct, honest feedback when necessary.
No great athlete has ever achieved stellar performance without the aid of a coach. Not Cruyff, Ronaldo (either of them), Messi, Farah, Bolt or anyone else.
What prevents a business from adopting a coach/athlete relationship to help address their problems and challenges and clear the way for growth?
Here's my view:
Fear: a true coach asks an athlete to be vulnerable and accept that to get better you must acknowledge your limitations and 'fess up to your fears. That's not something that (sadly) happens all too often in the workplace
Arrogance: many organisations seduce themselves into thinking that their problems are unique, that an outsider couldn't possibly understand or address the complexities and curiosities of their business
Lack of clarity: many businesses do not spend enough time identifying the underlying causes of poor performance. If you don’t know what the problem is then you can’t identify a solution. If you can’t hypothesise solutions you can’t set success measures which leads to….
Concern over value: how do you measure the value of a coaching relationship? There will be some metric driven measures but also softer measures - increased confidence, preparedness, shifts in attitude, acquisition of new techniques and methods, etc
Finding the right person: A coaching relationship is different from that of a supplier and I can only imagine that many businesses surround themselves with 3rd parties that they effectively hire & fire so it’s tough to break out of that and look to hire someone who is on an equal footing. It’s not often businesses hire someone to tell them what they can do better!
The real issue here is starting - broaching the fear, getting clean about your challenges and being able to articulate them clearly. After this the coaching relationship becomes an easy two way street. As any great athlete knows the ones that have the greatest impact on your ability to realise your potential are the ones that you connect with on a deeper, personal level. Think Cruyff & Michels, Guardiola & Xavi, Ramsey & Moore, Busby & Charlton, Ferguson & Keane, the list goes on. So, if you’re not connecting or you don’t feel it’s working, you stop. Simple :)
So what are the next steps? Ask yourself the following key questions:
Fears: What’s keeping me awake at night? What are the challenges that I struggle to grasp in my business? Where do i see other businesses similar to mine excel whilst I struggle?
Arrogance: What are the fundamental first principles that underlie your challenges? If you were explaining them to a 4 year old what would you say? If you can explain them to a 4 year old then they’re not complex at all.
Lack of clarity: Are you leaning in to your problems or leaning away or ignoring them altogether? Have you sat with your problems, sank into them - really felt them? Are you creating space in your business to discuss problems? Are people free of the fear of blame? Do you have enough slack on a daily basis to identify and address problems before they become emergencies?
Concern over value: what is the value of the business that you’re not doing because you can’t solve the problem? What is the potential lifetime value of being better at delivering your core proposition competitively?
Finding the right person: Are you utilising the enormous network capabilities that are available to you and your colleagues via sites such as LinkedIn, via personal enquiries with existing trusted sources? This is not a Google search solution this is a referral based solution. Are you actively meeting people to discuss your issues and getting outside expertise to offer a new perspective?
If you can take some time out to answer these questions you’ve opened the door to the possibility of bringing in a coach with expertise to help you solve problems that are restricting your ability to grow.
Good luck :)