Monday, February 26, 2007

I have been given some coaching sessions. But I don't get the point! What are they supposed to do for me?

Q.I went on a course about leadership. Now I have to pick a goal (related to career development) for the next six months that coaching will help me achieve. My problem is that I can't think of a single thing that I could possibly need these people's help with!

If I want something I work out how to get it and then go and do those things, unless I decide that it's too much effort compared to how much I want the end result. So what is coaching supposed to do? What am I not "getting"?

I asked but got a patronizing, smug answer that didn't address my point but was "cleverly" designed so that I had to shut up and smile or risk looking like a cynical, negative, BAD person. (They know I have to be seen by my employer to be enthused by all this since it's costing them money.) I guess the coach doesn't care if I get nothing out of this, as long as she can stop me from saying so!

Can I benefit from these sessions in a way that I am not seeing at the moment? How should I approach them?

A. The approach you describe to accomplishing your goals creates the impression that you are a very independent person.

If leadership is something about getting things done that you could not do alone and you continue to be independent, you will have no-one to lead. This will constrain you to accomplishing only what you can do on your own and that's really not very much.

From a very early age, our natural inclination is to learn to become independant of our parents and usually we get very good at it. Then much of the time we spend in classrooms, we are encouraged to acquire knowledge that appears to strengthen that independence. You are just behaving according to your conditioning.

A goal will only be meaningful in terms of leadership if you want to rise to this (possibly your) most important challenge - accomplishing goals with others. If your coach is any good, she already understands, or will soon, the limitations your steadfast independance creates for you. She will help you see them and help you get past them.

If your employer paid for a leadership course and is now paying for coaching, they must believe you are worth the investment. You must have some unrealized potential and that is what you don't see. Consider what that potential might be.

The coaching relationship is a collaborative one - neither you nor your coach can get anything out of it until you decide there are some things you can do only with another's help. When you affirm that by asking for help, you are actually showing leadership. That might be a good approach.

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