Coach or be Coached

coachEveryone has the capacity to coach someone else at something – whether it is coaching kids in a sport, an after school program, friends, family, neighbors, people that you work with or those that work for you. There is a skill set or knowledge you have acquired that someone else could benefit from. There are many benevolent reasons why this can be both personally rewarding as well as having a positive impact to the recipient – coachee. If that is not enough reason, then consider a much more self-serving one – it will make you better at just about everything you want to do. How so?

Coaching has two key attributes: (1) you have some knowledge/skill to transfer and (2) you must be able to transfer that knowledge/skill effectively to a recipient. The first is obvious and metaphorically, like ingredients. The second is much more difficult, almost always overlooked, but critical to being a good coach – like a recipe for those ingredients. A good coach understand that every person needs a unique combination of ingredients and recipe, both of which will change many times over with the same Coachee. Many coaches have “their philosophy” and teach it “their” way. This works with some but rarely for most. A good coach will take an enormous amount of time to understand the coachee and properly diagnose the needs. Based on this, the good coach will then change her ingredients/recipe. Coachees often make the mistake of wanting quick answers without taking time to help the coach with a proper diagnosis or avoiding sharing personal insights that might help the coach. So again, how will coaching make you better at everything?
These skills are very difficult to teach – both as a coach and a coachee. They are best learned on-the-job. Many good coaches will tell you that they learned to be great by coaching more and more people as it forced them to come up with different ways to teach the same thing. Personal and professional life is no different. In the workplace, where collaboration is key, and often times it is cross-functional collaboration, what you bring to the table (knowledge/skill) is not enough for good outcomes. It takes empathy skills (understand the audience) and tremendous flexibility in being able to adjust your style to transfer your knowledge/skills and ideas in a way that they can have a positive impact. It also takes being coached – someone willing to be courageous enough to give the other party pertinent information about themselves (motives, style, etc). The same is true for all relationships outside of work.  Most rely on years of experience with much trial and error (failure) to become better at this. That time could be cut significantly by finding ways to coach or be coached.
This week, explore ways to coach or be coached in 2015. Talk to folks in your HR department, create peer groups, go online, volunteer somewhere – do something to help someone else  – the more challenging, the better. This invariably is the key to helping yourself.
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