Over many years I’ve listened to coaches who are passionate about learning coaching skills, that inspired them with confidence to go and help others.
That’s marvellous, but what if others aren’t ready to be helped through coaching? They don’t feel ready to be a coachee; maybe they’d rather be told, or shown what to do or get a sense of direction from a group? I’ve been there, I want to help people be ready; particularly to be able to contract a coaching relationship of equal power. I liken it to me not personally trusting anyone with my website; I want some control, my website (or received coaching) must be about me, what I want (even if I don’t exactly know what that is yet and seek freedom to change my mind at any point).
I felt so strongly that coaches have better soft skills than others by virtue of their training and practice – it really upset my values of fairness and honesty – that I did a doctorate with a thesis on how project managers learn soft skills through coach practice! Finally, after 7 years it has been completed. From an academic standpoint I can honestly say I’ve contributed to the limited literature on the benefits of coaching to the coach. To any coach, the findings are not surprising because they are typical of a novice coach. However, what was great from my perspective was that these project managers took their soft skills learning into their work role where there was no expectation to coach and coaching was not important. They mainly used coach-like soft skills for supportive and collaborative working with increased confidence in their job role as a result.
Many people are encouraged to use coach-like skills now, not just coaches, but the power is attributed to coaching rather than learned soft skills that can be used anywhere. This feels slightly dishonest to me even though I acknowledge coaching has provided a brilliant insight to soft skills – far better than other disciplines. I am happy with democratising coach-like skills because more is expected of professional coaches: for example knowing about the theoretical underpinnings of their work. There is more to coaching than using soft skills – isn’t there? Knowledge is supposed to be easily accessible these days on the internet, but is it? Are we getting to sufficient depth and breadth in the understanding of coaching to warrant our professionalism?
The Agile space
As the take up of coach-like skills becomes more prevalent, coaches can lead the way, provide coach mentoring and supervision – possibly in many different and new ways that are valuable! If anyone is working in the Agile space, and interested to find out more about my research that suggests we could do more to educate everyone in coach-like skills, you’re welcome to join this free webinar on 25th September:
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Project management focus, team coaching, soft skills issues