A coach is an ally. Someone who makes the most out of his connection with his client, while also making the most out of his “outsider” perspective. The coach isn’t you…and he’s highly invested in supporting your stated goals.

What does that support look like?

It varies according to personality. However, there are some absolutes:

Listens.

Coaching equals listening…in great part. Problem-solving insights that occur through effective listening outpace all others. My premise is that the person being coached holds all of the answers. That person also holds the learning challenges. And, more often than not, both the learning goal and its challenges have appeared in the Coachee’s life before, possibly often.

How to gain new perspective and learn?

Everyday life holds that answer. But it isn’t obvious to the Coachee. Only expert listening reveals it.

Once heard, the Coachee has an opportunity to see her/his insight to grapple with the issues that have held her/him back.

Affirms Strengths.

All learning is an add-on. Whether skill or perspective, we want to gain more. The process of achieving that gain works far more effectively when the learner approaches their learning goals through their strengths.

Here’s an example: An introvert may want better people-connection skills. A natural inclination in the US culture might be to apply quick logic: become an extravert! The introvert tries that approach — suppressing her/his natural inclinations and attempts to substitute the desired behaviors. The problem is that what’s natural to the introvert–their strengths–are now pushed away and unavailable. How does a new skill get added to what’s been denied?

Rather, the coach might help the person gain perspective on her/his strengths. There might be enviable ability at making one-on-one connections with others or an ability at intuitive creativity. Once articulated, the learner could build a Development Plan around affirming those strengths: creating venues that promote meaningful connections with others through one-on-one meetings.

Asks Provocative Questions.

The role of provocative questions is empowerment. Almost all relationships of every type have a list of “undiscussables”. Individuals have a similar list of topics that they don’t bring up with themselves. Once a trusting relationship is built, a coach can help advance learning goals by challenging that list of undiscussables with provocative questions. Very often, the effort required to keep a topic “hidden” can be re-directed to boost the learning goals.