Ask, Don’t Tell

There’s a great YouTube video, which shows Sir John Whitmore, one of the founders of coaching, working with a novice golfer. He adopts a pure coaching approach, raising awareness and generating responsibility in the golfer he’s working with. He asks her what she notices as she hits the ball, and what further developments she would like to add to her golfing game. He asks her scaling questions (i.e. on a scale of 1-10, how does that feel), and paraphrases her language. By the end of the video, she was hitting the ball much better than when she started.

Next to Sir John, a more accomplished golfer works with another novice. He adopts a pure teaching approach, giving instruction and correcting technical faults. By the end of the video, this golfer was also hitting the ball much better than when he started.

The difference was in the ownership each golfer felt towards the process. How they had shaped the experience for themselves, and the resulting joy that came from that. If you’re working with someone and trying to help them develop a new skill, how might you give them ownership of their own development? Where might the opportunities be for you to ask, rather than tell?



Kissing Frogs

A recent article in the Irish media explored the area of Executive Coaching and Coaching Cultures.  The article spoke of the importance of getting the chemistry right with a coach and that this can mean you check out a number of coaches – a process described in the article as similar to “kissing frogs” before finding your prince.  As coaches (and in this case the frogs) we in TOWARD share this view.

Some of the most profound and long lasting change that we see in leaders happens through executive coaching. The coaching space provides a powerful learning environment that allows the client to become more self-aware and to commit to sustained behavioural change.  To do this, there must be trust and commitment from coach and client to the process and the relationship itself ie: the chemistry has to be present on both sides. Both parties’ responsibilities and commitments should then be clearly contracted and connected back into the wider organisational system.

Each TOWARD coach understands that they will not be the “Prince” every time. And that’s ok. When they are, they will use the chemistry to work with warmth and edge to release the brilliance in their client.