In coach training it is often a discussion of what a coach is NOT that starts the most important paradigm shift from helping by solving the problem to helping by empowering. A coach is NOT a mental health professional and a coach is NOT an advisor. Instead, a coach is a strategic partner.
Explore an analogy: Consider (for example) parenting. Some parents manage every aspect of a child’s life for as long as possible. Other parents start working toward independence at a younger age. Ultimately the child will become an independent adult. What are the pros and cons of starting the transition sooner instead of later?
- The child will make mistakes.
- It can be risky.
- The parent wants to be fully engaged.
- Time efficiency in the moment.
- Children learn by making mistakes.
- The relationship is stronger when children learn independence and thereby earn respect.
- Children become more effective decision makers as adults because of the practice.
- In the long term, it becomes a time efficiency.
Apply these thoughts to coaching. When the coach truly empowers the client, asking questions to which the coach has no idea of the answer, then the client gains confidence, buys in to the plan, follows through, and creates meaningful change.
An effective coach learns to listen completely, rephrase and reflect what the client says, and then ask short, simple, open questions to give the client the space to be their own best expert.