Developing people, developing schools

Want to be a coach? Start by finding a coach

In order to be a great coach, or a successful coaching manager, it is best to be coached first of all. You will learn so much about yourself, and about coaching, by going through your own voyage of discovery.

I trained and qualified as a coach back in 2001, when it was seen as a new fad and much scorned upon by the cynics at work. Now it is seen as a fundamental part of a manager's role. I'm delighted this has happened. It has taken quite some time though, hasn't it?

But it seems to be one of those competencies that everyone thinks they can do, and do well. All you have to say is 'I'm a coach.' Or 'I coach my team.' It's easy right? All you have to do is shut up and listen. It can't be hard. I've read the book. 

My message is that it's harder than you think to be a competent coach. I spent a year developing the knowhow through intensive training over a year and by being coached myself. And the learning continues till today. I still have my own coach. The programme I attended focused first of all on us learning about ourselves. This was tougher than you might think, but let me tell you, it was life changing. I never looked back after that. 

One of the secrets of effective coaching that seems to be ignored in much of the literature, is that first of all you need to fully understand yourself. To be fully present for someone else in a coaching conversation you have to let go of yourself, leave yourself outside the room. This is harder than you think, especially if you are a manager trying to be a coach. And you have to develop your emotional intelligence to a high level. There are different ways you can do this, but one way is by being coached over a period of time.

To be a coach you should think about doing a professional coaching course. But in addition, or at the very least, one of the best way to learn about true workplace coaching is to be coached by a professional coach yourself. All professional coaches have their own coach. I think all managers should have a coach as well, but then I'm biased on that one! I met a woman on the plane the other day who told me she had three coaches .. I'm not sure why she needed three!

It's important to find the right coach for you. One that you connect well with. Take the opportunity in the preliminary conversation to see if you click. This is very important. If it doesn't feel right, find a different coach. Intuition is important here. Coaching conversations need to be chats that you look forward to.