February 2010


Naked Coaching

All right, all right…. relax! I’m not suggesting THAT!!! (Although coaching over the phone does afford one the opportunity to…… oh never mind!) Actually, I’ve just finished reading Patrick Lencioni’s newest book Getting Naked and it has got me thinking.

As you know Lencioni writes some of the best stuff out there about managing, working together, teamwork, and so on…. And he writes from the perspective of a consultant. Patrick is not a coach, however a lot of coaches I know use his principles in the work they do with others.

I promise not to give away all the good stuff from Getting Naked – you’ll want to read this yourself – but in it I found a lot of the same principles coaches use with their clients… vulnerability, generosity, servant leadership…. coaches use these principles every day in helping their clients move forward to the life/goals/dreams they are pursuing.

Vulnerability is a common theme in Lencioni’s books. The idea that it’s so rare that it warrants such attention may seem odd to coaches. Most coaches I know use this principle to build the kinds of relationships that lead to powerful results. Rather than damaging a relationship, willingness to look wrong or silly or uninformed can actually deepen the relationship between a coach and her/his client. When we let down our guard and act real with those we are trying to help, it can provide the strength a relationship needs to yield big results.

Generosity is a concept I have come to recognize as key to the coaching mindset. Those coaches I’ve known who “give it away” as a regular part of their coaching life are sending a message to their clients (and prospective clients) that the coach has the client’s agenda and best interest at heart. I must confess to sometimes seeming more concerned with the “contractual” rather than the “relational” nature of my coaching agreements and I am learning from other coaches how much a part generosity plays in coaching.

Servant Leadership is the one principle of the three in Lenocioni’s book that surprised me the most. It didn’t surprise me that it was identified as an important characteristic for those wanting to help others achieve their dreams…no, what surprised me was that it needed to be said at all…. that the idea of leading by serving others is a novel concept. Coaches have always known this…haven’t they? Don’t we always lead from a posture of service? Don’t we put serving the client at the top of our agenda…in fact, isn’t that our ONLY agenda?

As I read Getting Naked it occurred to me that some of the principles that business leaders and consultants are learning are those which coaches have been using regularly for years. Perhaps that’s one reason coaching is proving to be so effective. Patrick Lencioni has given coaches some valuable resources and ideas over the years for working with others….maybe this time coaching has returned the favor.

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The Joy of the Journey…

 When it comes to traveling I always have two tensions with which to deal. There is the tension of enjoying traveling, meeting new people, and going new places and then there is the tension of enjoying staying home and enjoying the comfort of the familiar.

 Through coaching and being coached, I have discovered that these two tensions also exist as we try to find movement in our work and lives. I like to blaze new trails, do new things, and start things. I also like to sink back into the familiar at times and pull the safe comfortable things of life and work around me.

 At times these two tensions pull at me and cause what I am trying to accomplish to get out of focus or become foggy. I get stuck! Coaching has helped me and those I coach to find focus and clarity. It helps to balance the two tensions.

 I find real joy through the process of coaching. I call it the joy of the journey. It is exciting and refreshing to gain focus, watch the fog lift, and see the clear or clearer route of the journey begin to form as the coaching process does its work.

 The powerful questions that a coach asks help to bring this focus and movement. Question such as:  Where are you headed? How will you know when you get there? Who can help you get there? Who needs to take this journey with you? How can you prepare to take the journey? What are the road blocks to your journey? And more…

 The listening and encouraging skills of a coach make the journey even more pleasant. To be heard and genuinely encouraged allows the PBC to express openly and clears the way to a better view of the journey. This new clarity aids the PBC to take a more decided and focused journey.

 As the coach partners with the PBC, he or she makes observations and maybe even delivers a concise message or two that helps to create additional movement.  Sort of a virtual “bon voyage” party for the PBC.

 For the coach, the joy of the journey comes from the discoveries the PBC makes that reduce the tensions of either staying put or moving forward. For the PBC, the joy of the journey comes from the clarity, focus, and movement they can celebrate as they arrive at their destinations.

 The joy of the journey…how does that happen for you as you coach or as you are being coached? I would love to read your response.