A professional coach will interrupt your story, but not your thinking.
That’s because coaching is a partnership between the coach and you, the thinker, with the aim being to explore new thinking.
New thinking is necessary to get somewhere new. It prompts new actions and new results.
If your thinking stays the same then so will your actions, and your results.
Change the story
As a professional coach, I can tell when your thinking is old thinking.
You’re telling me your old story, going over familiar history and detail.
You’ve mastered the topic. You know it inside out.
You can sum it up in two or three sentences, or unpack it in a three-hour lecture.
Your story might be accurate but it’s still a story, a narrative you wove to make sense of your situation.
We all do this, and it’s necessary and fine, but there’s a problem.
Your story sets limits to what is possible based on an interpretation of the facts – an interpretation that is, by the nature of things, outdated.
Outdated because the world moves on, and the world includes you.
I don’t mean to be rude
To facilitate your new thinking, with your agreement, I will interrupt your story.
I’ll never interrupt your new thinking, though.
I can tell when your thinking is new, because you start questioning your old story and putting together a new one.
I will support you in that and challenge you to sustain it.
How best to bring about change?
Change happens naturally when we become more of who we are, rather than when we try to behave differently.
Those who focus on your behaviour may be trying to get you to be different and both of us know you’re going to resist that!
How do you become “more of who you are”?
A good place to start is to become aware of what is happening in you, in the moment.
I believe most people come to work to do a great job, and that they have huge potential.
But stuff gets in their way. It might be systems that disadvantage them, office politics, or personal circumstances.
Managers tend to see this as a “performance” issue, and conclude that Bill can’t do his job.
They reach for a “performance management” response, which I feel is the wrong place to start.
Gaining a sense of control is a big motivator
A coach starts with Bill’s potential and helps him to be aware of that potential, and aware of the barriers to fulfilling it.
Once aware, the next step is to take responsibility for doing something about it.
When people become aware and take responsibility, they gain a greater sense of control.
That is a powerful motivator to change the story – to think differently, act differently, and move forward.
“You are all looking down” was all that was needed
Here is a little example of what happens when self-awareness kicks in.
In an early Zoom session with a leadership team, I noticed the team members were all looking down or looking away as the discussion proceeded.
The energy was low, and draining away.
My coaching was simple: “I notice you’re all looking down,” I said.
Each immediately looked up to their webcam. Real eye contact on Zoom is a challenge, but at least now they were presenting themselves as listening and engaged. The dynamic changed.
That team is now operating permanently at a higher level and the members are changing the dynamic in other Zoom meetings.
They have become more of who they are: engaged and connected with their fellow team members and inspiring agents of change for others.
Leadership Team Coach Dave Stitt works with construction industry executives and project teams enabling them to deliver remarkable results in a remarkable way.
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44 years experience in construction industry, last 22 as leadership team coach