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The Coaching Mindset

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

In today’s workplace, coaching is recognised as a valuable approach for leaders at all levels. Yet, there are organisations that have invested in coaching and don't understand why it is not producing the envisaged benefits. This may be because they have focused only on developing particular coaching skills. These skills, such as active listening and asking powerful questions, are indeed important.

However, coaching needs attitudes to shift as well as skills to develop. Coaching is about building relationships based on certain fundamentals of how we will work together. It requires a mindset shift from directed command and control to a more collaborative approach. Consider carefully these five principles of a coaching mindset for both coach and coachee.

As the Coach

1. Trust - I behave in a trustworthy fashion. I offer a safe space for you to step out of your comfort zone and in so doing you are able to be vulnerable without regret.

2. Belief in the potential of others - I believe that you have untapped resourcefulness within you to work through your individual issues and collaborate with me fruitfully to move towards our organisational goals

3. Curiosity - I am genuinely curious about what you think. Genuinely. This is not about listening to reply; I want to hear where your thinking (and feeling) is taking you.

4. Non-judgmental - I am not about to criticise you for sharing your thinking; I have no desire to trample on your thoughts, though I have your permission to open them up to challenge.

5. Future-focused - I know you cannot edit the past but you can learn from it and shape an ever better future.

These create the safe space in which the coach’s skills can surface and encourage development and change by the coachee.

Then consider the corollary of those five principles for the coachee

As the Coachee

1. Trust - I trust in the integrity of the process and the motives behind the person coaching me. I am willing to step out of my comfort zone in the interests of my own growth and those of the people we ultimately serve.

2. Belief in my potential - I accept that there is untapped potential you can help surface in me so that I can develop and take ownership of my actions towards my personal and our professional organisational goals.

3. Curiosity - I value your curiosity as it gives me the space to think (and feel) openly about my work, my values and what energises me.

4. Non-judgmental - I am valued because my voice is heard and I can offer opinion without fear of humiliation or put down. In reciprocation for being listened to, you have my permission to challenge my assumptions and offer constructive feedback.

5. Future-focused - I do not feel blamed for any past mistakes, but we both treat them as points of learning. I am not stuck in the past but focused on where I need to go and what I next need to do.

The organisation that nurtures both of these coach and coachee mindsets is in a better position to see the return on the investment in coach skills training and coaching conversations.

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