The popularity of coaching has increased dramatically in the past three decades that I have practiced the process. It has expanded into various forms of life coaching, health and wellness coaching, wealth coaching, executive coaching and many others.
Coaching must be valued by the person being coached (I will use the term coachee) and supported with a strong commitment. The title of my ninth book says it all, "You Can't Push a Pig into a Truck." There is no need to try and force a person to gain new skills and create fulfillment and balance in their lives unless he/she sees the need to clarify choices, capitalize on strengths, and make changes.
As I begin a coaching relationship, I usually gather some data on the performance of the coachee by interviewing peers, reports, and the person to whom the coachee reports. I also ask the coachee to read the book, "Now, Discover your Strengths" by Buckingham and Clifton and complete the StrengthsFinder self-report assessment. Also, the coachee is encouraged to read my book, "The Facilitative Leader: Behaviors that Enable Success."
A successful coaching relationship must involve confidentiality, trust, honesty, and openness. Any information shared by the coachee, gathered by interviews or resulting from the StrengthsFinder assessment belongs to the coachee and is shared only by the coachee. Trust, honesty and openness grow with the relationship. However, if any of these three elements seemed blocked over time, the coach must describe what he/she sees and discuss it with the coachee. The coachee must feel safe in the coaching environment.
My objective as a coach is to help the coachees achieve their objectives and build upon their strengths, capabilities, creativity and resourcefulness. The assumption in a coaching relationship is that a successful coachee will find more fulfillment and balance in all aspects of his/her life. Fulfillment occurs when values are clarified to help sort out choices. Balance occurs when we say yes to some responsibilities as we let go of others.
Over the years, I have coached dozens of business owners, plant managers, other organizational leaders including supervisors, and individuals seeking a new path forward. The vast majority of these coachees, but not all, learned new skills or realized exciting futures. I take responsibility for listening to what is said or not said verbally or nonverbally, relying on my intuition as to how the session or relationship is going, and being willing to ask the right questions at the right time. Success is dependent upon how much the coachee wants it and how much they work on their issues. My job is to help hold them accountable for what they want to accomplish.
There are probably times when we all could use the help of a respectful, compassionate, neutral person to help us separate the trees from the forest and to be more objective with our decisions in life. My experience tells me that coaching can be one way of helping us achieve our deepest goals.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.