Coach. Say the word and different pictures come to mind. Some might think of a favorite sports coach while others conjure images (good or bad) of their drill instructor, or perhaps a favorite teacher. Regardless of the situation, we find that coaches are individuals who provide assistance to someone to work on a specific issue or to strive for self-improvement. The benefits of actively coaching individuals in an organization are well documented. Yet we also find that, despite their best intentions, many individuals have a difficult time being a good coach. While developing the skills necessary to be a great coach is worthy of an entire course of study (yes, we have one), a good place to start is to think about the relationship between the coach and student. (I’ll use “student” as a generic term for the one who receives coaching. This could be a subordinate, employee, team member, player, or client but student sounds much better than “coachee”.) Too often, would-be coaches bring pre-conceived notions that don’t make for a positive coaching relationship, and hence doom themselves to poor results from the beginning. For your consideration, here are nine qualities of an effective coaching relationship:
Established Agreement. There must be agreement between the coach and student as to the purpose of the coaching relationship and desired outcomes. These may change over time, but there must be a starting point.
Commitment. The coach is committed to helping the student achieve their objectives. The student must have the same level of commitment.
Credibility. The student must believe the coach can help their situation. The coach must be comfortable with their ability to provide help on an issue, and be willing to admit if the student’s situation is outside their expertise.
Mutual Trust. The coach and the student must be completely honest with each other. The coaching relationship will be ineffective without a trusting relationship.
Nonjudgmental Attitude. The student believes that he or she can share feelings and ideas without fear of being judged.
Collaborative Approach. Coach and student work together to achieve coaching objectives.
Open-Minded Attitude. Coach and student are willing to explore new ideas and approaches.
Patience. Coaching is rarely one-and-done. Effective coaching takes time and the coach and student must be committed to allowing the process to progress.
Accountability. The coach will hold the student accountable for carrying out actions needed to affect change. The coach will be accountable for providing the best possible coaching experience.
Keeping these in mind is a good start to being a great coach.
So, be great!