Challenging and probing to achieve real solutions
Self-awareness, creating a safe environment and supporting but also challenging clients to come up with their own solutions are all central to my approach.
I use a very open questioning style to allow clients to step into the challenges they are having and so enable them to come up with the solutions to their own problems . Where necessary, I push and probe to really get to core of the issues at play for clients and also to identify behaviours that might not be serving them well.
I recognise that it’s necessary to suspend all judgement to create the conditions where the client can be open, where they won’t be judged only supported. It’s vital to create that right environment of trust.
Ensuring that clients feel safe in my company and marrying this with an innate ability to challenge are essential. It’s only when clients are challenged in the way they need to be that we’ll make progress.
When asked, I can also be directive in terms of the advice I give and bring in perspectives from both my corporate career and my experience as a Leadership Coach.
If clients do not put what is agreed into practice and take action on the solutions they come up with, then it’s just a nice conversation with no bite. When closing each session, I agree with the client what they are going to work on before the next time we meet.
So he or she needs to be really clear about how they are going to put into practice the behavioural changes and the actions we have agreed. My job is to make the client accountable, to hold his or her feet to the fire in a supportive but firm way.
One of the challenges as a Coach is that the client’s perception of an issue can be at odds with the reality. I tend to use awareness raising tools which puts the mirror up to the individual and enables the client to understand how his or her leadership and managerial style are coming across to stakeholders.
All too often, in my experience, clients are not aware of their impact. They don’t know if they motivate or demotivate people. They don’t know if what they say or do encourages or discourages those around them. While IQ and professional skills and experience have got them to where they are in their careers, what determines success in career progression is the impact they have on those around them.
The self-awareness tools I use benchmark a client against a global leadership database – in my experience that helps a client to be more open to change because it’s evidence-based. Sometimes the process can be affirming to a client. Other times it can act as a wakeup call.
I spend a lot of time focusing on what is in it for the clients to change. If they don’t recognise it, they won’t bother and the issues that they want help or support with won’t go away. Instead, if there is buy-in, change will happen more easily and the desired results – be it impact, performance or less stress – will happen.