By Anna Slocombe
Whatever the goals may for a coaching assignment (improve career prospects, work on a particular personality trait, get unstuck with an idea), the main purpose of coaching is to help a person move forward, to grow personally and professionally. So, what are the conditions needed for growth?
Time and Space
A safe environment is as important for a person to develop as for a seed to start germinating. Coaching can provide you with this by:
- Setting time aside for You: There are very few people who have the discipline to schedule the important activity of thinking about the future and themselves. For those who struggle with this, coaching provides the luxury of focusing on the important.
- Providing confidentiality: Engaging an independent coach removes the anxiety of oversharing, which talking things through with your boss, work colleagues or close family and friends might induce.
- Giving you uninterrupted attention: The professional coach takes time to listen and gives space for your own thoughts while they are still shaping or being tested.
Soil and water
Without nutrients, no plant will start to grow. Without new information – absorbed and digested – nothing new will happen to an individual. The coach can provide necessary feedback, probe into areas into which the coachee has never ventured and create an environment for increased self-awareness. The coach will help discover new perspectives, which will allow the coachee to try new skills.
What is also important is to fill the coachee with new confidence, watering the new shoots of ideas and more helpful beliefs, weeding out the psychological barriers and self-doubt, which we all pick up with experience.
Sun and Air
In order to truly blossom, a green plant has to get out of its comfortable shell, to be able to withstand the weather, start transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen. An experienced coach will challenge and stretch, sometimes creating tension in the coaching relationship. Unlike therapy, executive coaches usually work with strong ambitious people, who – like all of us – have their vulnerabilities, but thrive on challenge. Some of the truths the coachees will discover about themselves and others might not be easy to accept. Some of the actions they will decide to take could feel daunting and even scary. Yet transforming yourself, people you manage and organisations you lead does require effort and courage.
Coaching has a dual nature – it is a welcome investment and a self-care treat, however, it can bring you out of the comfort zone, testing your resilience. Yet only in this way you can grow.
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