I get my love of sports from my Mom. Actually my Dad also encouraged my individual sports (tennis, skiing, running), but Mom is the one who loves all team sports and watches the games faithfully. I even like sports movies, especially those where the underdog team or player rallies to a miraculous win at the end.
In all of those movies and in real life, the person who inspires, comes alongside, and brings out the player’s best for the unexpected, against-all-odds, fist-pumping success is the coach. A great coach knows the player’s strengths and weaknesses, and they believe that the player can grow and improve. The coach cannot do the hard work for the player, but they can help the player move forward towards their dream.
Even outside of sports, coaching is important. Parenting older children, mentoring friends, and professional job situations all offer opportunities to coach.In our organization we use a coaching process that is transformational for coaching situations. Instead of trying to fix the problem or give advice, this simple process guides a conversation from the present “Where are you now?” to the future “Where do you want to be?”
The first step is to focus the conversation. Ask the person being coached, “What can I help you with today?” or “What would be most helpful for you to discuss today?” or “What is the focus of our appointment?” It may take a while for them to distill their needs or thoughts into a simple answer, but this is important since there is no way to work intentionally on an unclear goal.
Second, explore options. Brainstorm without a commitment to any particular idea at this time. The coach asks, “How do you think you could…?” “What are ways you might…?” “Where could you find…?” “Who could help you with…?”
Third, plan next steps. After brainstorming many options, it is time for the person to choose the best option that surfaced. It is important to ensure that the chosen option is SMART: specific • measureable • achievable • relevant • timely (due date). Help your coachee plan carefully and completely by asking them, “And then…? And then…?”
A crucial, but often neglected, fourth step is to address the obstacles. Good coaches deal with reality. Assuming a simple, clear, unchallenged path to the goal is naive. A really big obstacle might return the conversation to the second step to explore other options; the discussion does not have to be linear.
Last, take time to allow the coachee to review and close. The coach should not do the review. Make sure the person being coached can summarize what they have decided to do and who will hold them accountable for their plan.
A first conversations using this process may feel stiff or unnatural – probably because we usually do a lot more talking and a lot less question-asking – but it will feel more comfortable with practice. You will like the results. As you coach, praying, observing, and listening well are key.
… And don’t forget to celebrate and encourage the “wins”! A good coach knows how to do the vocal-cord-stressing, all-body gyrating, don’t-cares-who-sees-me victory dance along with their players!
Who could you take through this coaching process? How can you improve your coaching skills?
(It is a privilege for me to write as a contributor for Missional Women. This post was originally published there.)