One leader was peer-coaching another leader. Each came from a different company. Let’s call them Johan (coach) and Christina (coachee). Christina had an important challenge to put on the table. She had a direct report (I’ll call him Harry) who found it extremely difficult to say no to requests. Because Harry kept saying ‘yes’, and because his work was of such high quality, he’d ended up with too much on his plate for too long. Christina was worried that he was perilously close to a severe burnout.
Johan asked Christina: “What signs do you see that give you the idea that Harry’s on the edge?”
Silence followed, and Johan was getting uncomfortable, so he continued with, “I mean, is Harry looking more tired? Or, is he getting overly emotional? Or, does he act depressed, or something?”
Instead of answering the initial, open question from Johan, Christina found herself reacting to Johan’s (limited) menu of options that had followed.
I was in the room because Johan and Christina were participants in a 9-month program JJC offers called 'Coaching is an Art', which focuses on bringing leadership to the next level by developing coaching skills.
We had quite the debrief discussion about that particular moment, afterward.
What emerged was that:
Coaches, when you ask an authentic, open, and thought-provoking question, and it is followed by silence – YOU’RE ON A ROLL!
One could even hypothesize that there is a positive correlation between:
Coaches, take the silence following your question to be one of the biggest compliments you could receive! You’ve just produced the conditions for creative sparks.
So, let your question land with your coachee, sit there in (extended, and hopefully relaxed) silence, and watch those sparks fly!
Here's what past participants are saying about 'Coaching is an Art' :
“The program has helped to create a significant change in the way I, personally, operate as a leader. The biggest shift is having moved from being an advisor to empowering others to solve immediate challenges themselves through partnership and collaboration.”
“I am now less directive and more supportive, resulting in colleagues developing their own ideas and solutions instead of just waiting for my advice. This is contributing to the strategic goals and business results of my organization.”
“I wanted to improve my coaching skills to enable me to better support and develop our talent. This goal was certainly met. I measure my success by the feedback I receive from coachees and by the number of people who actively approach me for coaching. However, there was an additional benefit I hadn’t anticipated, in that the skills required to be a good coach are equally useful to interact more effectively with senior clients. I am also pleased with the fact that my group has actively kept in touch long after the course was completed.”
“The ‘Coaching is an Art’ program has helped me to truly listen and appreciate not only my colleagues, but also friends and family.”
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