If you want to reach peak performance, many people employ the services of a professional coach. Coaches help you reach your goals quicker than you would otherwise do on your own and help you surpass your own beliefs about your abilities. High performers know that a coach is invaluable
in order to excel in a given field. A good coach will help you to:
- Set challenging and achievable goals
- Pinpoint context related factors that are critical to success
- Identify and evaluate creative options
- Ensure that effective action follows the coaching session
But how does a coach work to achieve these results?
Style and Substance
There are many types of coach. Some simply provoke you through the power of questions whereas others will offer advice and guidance to help you realise your goals. I prefer coaches that operate across the full range of coaching skills so that you get the style you most need to inspire
you to great performances. Coaching styles fall into two categories: Directive and Non-Directive. Choose a coach that is able and willing to work across the range.
Directive styles include:
Prescribing: Essentially a “tell” style – e.g. “take these pil- ls and you’ll feel better.”
Informing: Neutrally passing on information, ideas and knowledge – e.g. “I can tell you that your team scored minus 25 on risk-taking.”
Confronting: Involves challenging viewpoints and requires the examination of motives – e.g. “you said that you wanted to devise a strategy, but I’ve noticed that every time we try to do this you want to talk about what the Company is doing about this week’s work.”
Facilitative styles include: Cathartic: Interventions which enable people to “get things off their chest” – many radical creative management interventions fall into this category – e.g. Can we spend some time exploring what it feels like for you to lead this project.
Catalytic: Providing a sounding board and helping others to come up with their own solutions – e.g. “would you like to explain more about the opportunities for business improvement?”
Supporting: Feedback to staff in which they are actively listened to and encouraged in what they are doing – e.g. “I can understand why you would feel that the company is encouraging more hard sales techniques from what you have told me.”
How to coach
There are many models but I like the ones that are simple and have a track record such as the GROW model. This covers your:
Goals – One of the most important things in performance improvement is having a potent goal – Fuzzy ambitions produce fuzzy actions
Reality – Being clear about where you are now
Options – Identifying a range of creative options allowing you to choose those which best-fit your circumstances for maximum application
Wrap up – Defining and sticking to your “what next” actions to ensure action follows intentions
Coaching Star Performers
A couple of examples will help to explain how coaching works better than any model can. I did some coaching for Patti Russo to assist her with career reinvention and renewal, now that she is pursing a solo portfolio career. Patti was Meatloaf’s long term singing partner for 20 years, having also worked with Cher, Queen, Bryan Ferry, Betty Harris and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, to name a few. She is also no stranger to the theatre stage, having appeared as Esmeralda in the London production of Notre-Dame de Paris and as Killer Queen in the Las Vegas production of Queen and Ben Elton’s smash hit musical We Will Rock You. How then do you set about coaching someone on a portfolio career when they themselves have made their own way through their life, having dealt with some of the most passionate people with the largest egos on the planet?
Coaching crucially depends on what I call a good
- There must be excellent rapport and chemistry between the coach and the
- There must be an important client goal to pursue for which there is no obvious and easy solution.
- The client must believe that the coach is in a position to help.
- The coach must have a wide repertoire of skills and experience to draw upon to fit the client’s preferred style.
I’m pleased to say that Patti was pure joy to work within this respect. This was particularly pleasing as she takes no prisoners and we did not have a great deal of time!! Here’s what we did:
- We started out by mapping out Patti’s This revealed a number of patterns and more importantly untapped connections to assist in the next phase. The act of reviewing was particularly important for someone who lives life in the fast lane.
- From this, a series of goals Our psychological contract was for me to actively provoke as well as just support her. In short we used the full range of coaching styles available. It would have been a mistake have just applied the GROW model first without the background and career and life mapping approach as there was a lot of baggage to go through. I hold the GROW model in my head as a kind of useful „compass” to help me determine what the client needs most and used most of the styles available in an intuitive way on reflection. It’s important however not to become a slave to the model. The most important element of coaching is the person in front of you.
- Through a series of follow up sessions, we then „joined up the dots”, actually making connections as we It’s the old adage „The longest journey starts with the smallest step”. This included some cathartic purging of accumulated baggage in the longest coaching car journey ever undertaken as I drove Patti back from Henley to London late one evening after a performance at the Business School. Clearance is necessary if you are to make space for new things. Primal screaming can be a helpful purging tool if you are in the rock business.
- Like all good coaching, it rests with the person themselves to do the hard work and I’m delighted to report that Patti has set herself on a course towards realising her Whilst Patti is best known for her singing and acting, as a result of this she has decided to develop a wider but linked portfolio for the next stage of her career.
If you ever have to coach someone, make sure that you set the conditions for success at the outset. Preparation is all.
Coaching Business Rock Stars
Most of my coaching life is concerned with coaching high performance business people rather than rock stars. Examples include:
- A senior banking manager wanting to improve her decision-making
- A leader wishing to improve his presentation skills for greaterpersuasion and influence.
- A pharmaceutical executive wishing to save 20% of his working day through better time management.