Coaching Will Challenge Your Value As A Leader

Where do you get your sense of value? From giving advice? Knowing information? Getting things done? Coaching will challenge your value as a leader. The key to becoming an excellent coach is to change your beliefs about what makes you valuable. 

Coaching skills are fairly easy to learn. What is difficult is changing your mind about what makes us feel valuable so that we will use coaching skills in our interactions with others. Often the reason we don’t is the practice of coaching conflicts with the image we have of ourselves.

Recently, I listened to a coaching conversation at a workshop. The coach kept adding his experience, ideas, and commentary.

I interrupted and asked, “Are you coaching or consulting?”

“I’m just trying to be helpful,” the coach replied.

“To the client or yourself?”

The coach smiled with awareness, “Asking questions don’t make me feel like I’m contributing anything. I need to change that grid in my head.” Yes. And when he does he will enjoy listening and asking questions.

How Coaching Challenges Your Value As A Leader

Coaching challenges the normal ways we derive our sense of value as leaders. We place value on certain activities, interactions, and behaviors. When we do them, we feel valuable.

Listening and asking questions are generally not the highest leadership values. We tend to value giving information, answers, ideas, and solutions.

I witness the conflict between coaching and the coach’s self-image at my coaching workshops:

  • An executive was so busy coaching to solve the client’s problem that he missed the client’s far-reaching internal struggle. He must rein in his need to achieve in order to coach the person, not the problem.
  • A woman with a medical background was challenged by the organic, discovery process of coaching. She felt out of control dealing with so many intangibles in coaching conversations.
  • A pastor struggled to coach non-directively because he was so used to being the one to provide answers, not questions. His self-image was based on teaching and having answers.

Changing How You See Yourself In Order To Be An Excellent Coach

Intellectually, people quickly recognize that coaching is an excellent set of skills to help people reach goals, solve problems, and develop in their ability to do both on their own.

Here’s how to bridging the gap between the practice of coaching and your sense of value.

  1. Know thyself. The first step to become an excellent coach is to understand how you currently view yourself. By default, you will gravitate toward the behaviors that match your self-image and boost your self-esteem. I’m aware that get value from having answers, seeing progress, and being funny. I do that by researching, teaching, giving advice, and telling funny stories.
  2. Build on strengths. Several ways I get my sense of value actually do align well with coaching. As I coach people, they come up with ideas that I hadn’t thought of. This conflicts with my preference to have and share answers, but matches my desire to research. I can coach using the same curiosity that helps me research.
  3. Develop mental switches. Good leadership adapts to the situation and different roles. I coach, consult, and speak. Each of these roles have a distinct set of practices. When I am in a coaching role, I flip a switch in my head to turn off advice-giving, while dialing up question-asking.
  4. Recognize new self-image values. One way we add to our sense of self is by how others view us. When I realized that people respect those who listen and ask questions, I become more motivated to listen and ask questions. Shift your focus to new ways of behaving and watch for the positive reaction of those around you.
  5. Express yourself in other ways. My desire to teach is strong. So, I’ve found ways to do that through speaking to groups and writing, rather than through coaching. During coaching conversations I calm my inner-Teacher by saying to myself, “You get to teach a full day next week. Right now, listen and ask questions.”

Coaching is challenging because it’s so “other focused.” We don’t receive the usual boosts in self-esteem that we’re used to when do other leadership roles.

Take a look at yourself and identify what makes you feel valuable. How well do these things line up with your role as a coach?

Recognize the gap between how you want to behave and what makes you feel valuable. Begin adjusting your sense of value to that which will serve you (and others) better.

Question: What would be possible in your coaching if your sense of value was aligned? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is an author, speaker and Professional Certified Coach. He helps on-the-go leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    • Dave Beeler

      Thank you Keith – this is a very fundamental awareness needed to grow as a coach. I plan to share this article with many of my colleagues. I find one of the internal motivations for me is to see the success of others – to see them grow in their leadership capacity so that more people can be influenced in the long run. So the inner motivation to make a difference and to mobilize others for good is a key motivator for me to coach well. Thank you Keith – very helpful to identify these inner motivators. Blessings.

    • Charles Hooper Jr

      As a teacher, I too have to pull the reigns on using the coaching space for teaching. There is a tension between “direct communication” and the desire to teach. Good insights, thanks.

      • Charles, for years in our coaching workshops I didn’t even introduce Direct Communication, because I was afraid Teaching would simply be relabeled as Direct Communication during coaching. 🙂 In a room full of teachers that would be music to their ears!

        • Charles Hooper Jr

          So true. A person who likes to teach and is a coach-in-training has to get reprogramed first then can bring in the proper direct communication in later.

    • Tammy Schutt

      This is a keeper, Keith! As I shared this article on Google+, I commented: “Well said… it’s not just the client who is being transformed. So is the coach!”

    • Jeffrey Nelson

      This is my experience described of wanting to give advise or share my insights. By stating it with ways you have dealt with the inclination to do what makes you feel valuable you have helped me to see how I can be intentional. This applies to a methodoly for learning from scripture through inductive Bible reflection and discussion that we are using so it helped me in this as well as coaching.

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