Photo: Tim Parish
I believe that coaching, when done well and in the interest of the performer, can be a powerful medium for change that should help individuals achieve success in their chosen area of performance. Through the process of coaching, a person may deepen their knowledge, improve their undertsanding and, without being overly evangelical, perhaps even enhance the quality of their life. The relationship between a coach and the learner should be a beneficial one as ultimately the aim of the coaching process is to accelerate the performer's' progress. The function of coaching a person is to provide focus, direction and create awareness of choices that need to be made in order to make enhancements. The coach's role can bring clarity to the situation, may contribute to finding the right solutions and thus help define the building blocks of change.
There are certain issues within the coaching process, that if not addressed or recognised, could lead to a tremendous imbalance of power which may, though unintentional, negate the long-term value. Although the coach is there to support the learner, by virtue of the fact that the coach guides the process, they can end up holding the balance of power in the relationship. This power imbalance leads to a dependent relationship where the performer becomes overly reliant on the coach and doesn't feel they can move forward without any direct support. This dependent relationship in turn limits the individual's ability to take responsibility for their actions and so achieve sustainable change.
As a strategy to prevent an imbalance from arising, I would encourage any individual who is being coached, or in any learning situation for that matter, to adopt an approach of 'open scepticism'. To enhance any transfer of learning, and hence strengthen our understanding, one needs to regularly question and challenge the process, both from the point of delivery and internally. Such questions might be 'How has this helped me understand?' 'What do I know now that I did not know before?' and very simply 'Why?'.
Coaching highlights what people can readily achieve, given the right support. Its needs to offer a supportive, practical and structured process by which the coach and the performer work ‘together’ to jointly chart a course to deliver any learning objectives. In order to assist the learner and the coach be more aware of the process they are following and take joint responsibility for a successful outcome, it needs to be a collobartive partnership. By adopting this approach, it becomes a shared journey experienced by both parties equally and which both can take ownership of. With this shared process the learner can have more say in the focus of conversation and content, while the coach provides a guiding framework they jointly use.
Photo: Tim Parish
The coach facilitates the process...........the coach isn't the process