Coaching to greatness


Oxford Innovation business coach Geoff Ribbens explains how coaching can bring out the absolute best in a person

In times of global competition, a recent banking crisis and the increased pace of change from web technologies, leadership can be a very lonely place.

Coaching can be described as helping leaders work through challenges so that they can transform their learning into results for the organisation. There are some distinct benefits to the coaching approach:

  • Coaching builds on the knowledge the client already has.
  • The coaching process, in the work context, means that the person being coached can use their new found skills quickly.
  • Coaching is a more effective method of knowledge transfer than training, advising or just telling.
  • The coaching process is very motivational for the client.

In the process of “knowledge transfer”, imagine a continuum. At one end we have the direct style – telling, instructing, advising etc and at the other we have more indirect methods of mentoring, coaching and facilitation.

In the coaching process, the coach often begins by asking the client about their vision, goals and objective for the session. The client, in this case, is setting the agenda.

The second process is to explore the situation in more depth, in this process the goals and objectives might become clearer.

The third stage is to explore with the client the various options, as they see them, and finally to get them to sum up or come up with their action plans. The whole coaching process is indirect and client centred.

I mentioned above that coaching is motivational for the person being coached. We can see this if we use the motivational research undertaken by Frederick Herzberg in the middle of the last century.

Herzberg noted that the things which typically caused dissatisfaction at work and the things that motivated people at work were actually different. He called the things that caused dissatisfaction, hygiene factors, as they needed to be dealt with before one stood any chance of motivating people to work with creativity, enthusiasm and dedication.

Typical hygiene factors would be status, pay, relations with the boss, job security, working conditions and so on. The motivators were such things as Job Interest, Recognition, Achievement, Growth, Advancement and Responsibility. The process of coaching actually allows for these motivational elements to come to the fore.

Job Interest. Coaching increases the client’s knowledge understanding and skill and this makes the job more interesting.

Recognition. Because the person being coached is more able to achieve their goals they get recognition from the coach as well as their colleagues and other stakeholders. Recognition is a great motivator.

Achievement. The client, by definition, gains a great sense of achievement as they were not told what to do or how to do it – it was all their achievement. This is one of the strengths of the indirect coaching or facilitating style.

Growth. By definition the whole coaching process enables someone to grow within their role, they become more confident and competent.

Advancement. Coaching increases the client’s knowledge, understanding and skill. In this way the client is more likely to be promoted – if that is what they desire.

Responsibility. Because the coach is not telling or directing the client they gain a sense of responsibility. It is up to the client to make decisions, select the options and take action – they feel a sense of responsibility, they are empowered.