Sometimes it can be confusing to know what to do or how to actually get going. The previous articles in this “Discover Coaching” series will hopefully have given you the background that you need by introducing you to a variety of areas, highlighting useful resources (websites, podcasts, books, articles), my coaching backstory, debating different qualifications and advice on how to tackle tough challenges. The aim of this final article is to neatly pull everything together by providing you with my three top tips on how to start your coaching journey.
Firstly, before attempting to coach others, turn your attention inwards to your own coach-ability to deepen self-awareness, make the conscious decision to adapt and take action. Often, there’s the temptation to become engrossed with the notion of “helping” or “fixing” others, whilst neglecting ourselves. This journey of personal inner discovery forms the foundation of change that ripples across our lives. Part of this exploratory work can be carried out solo through reading, watching webinars, journaling, long walks in nature, self-reflection or meditation. However, at some point an external perspective, a need to be held to account, or some other form of support will be required and you will need to cross paths with your own coach, mentor, teacher, consultant, trainer or guide* (insert suitable expression for your needs).
I’m always curious to discover when people have worked with a coach in the past or what’s fuelled someone’s desire to work within the coaching profession. When I’ve curiously inquired “when have you worked with a coach in the past?” during conversation, on several occasions I’ve been met with a bemused expression as the recipient grapples with the question. Insert pregnant pause, followed by a response along one of the following lines: “My manager has some coach like qualities”, “When I learnt to play tennis as a teenager”, or the most common: “I’ve not needed to…” before the explanation generally tails off. I struggle to comprehend how it’s possible to aspire to be something (a coach in this case) that you believe provides significant benefits to anyone and everyone, except yourself.
This notion coined “coach-ability” is unpacked by Stuart Haden and he breaks the concept into three constituent parts: possibilities (authenticity, change and emotions), perception (curiosity, challenge and questions) and performance (goals, systems and energy). Working through the process can be an eye opening reflective process to analyse your own mind-set around coaching, probe into the origins of these beliefs, and readjust as necessary.
Practice, practice, and practice some more. It’s like any applied skill. You can read 101 books, listen to webinars and debate various aspects of coaching with your colleagues or friends but it’s through putting everything into practice and “doing” which really matters. Seek out opportunities to apply coaching knowledge and skills into your daily working routine though be mindful of “stealth” coaching whereby family, friends or colleagues are unwittingly subjected to your endeavours.
Consider who specifically within your organisation or wider network would potentially benefit from exposure to your newfound coaching knowledge and skills and offer the opportunity to support their development that concurrently develops and refines your practice. Once you’ve identified possible candidates, suggest your proposal, co-create a coaching partnership together, clearly contract the parameters and boundaries, and get started. Take advantage of the prevalent “coaching-culture” buzzword, which remains a popular HR trend where leaders and managers are keen to adopt a more coaching approach into business.
Think win: win
Taking a more global approach and reaching beyond your immediate network, virtual coaching presents an alternate platform to hone your skillset. For some, it can be initially daunting to work remotely from a client with potentially less non-verbal cues to observe, perceived barriers to build rapport and possible unforeseen technical glitches to contend with; though through practice the subtle nuances of verbal intonation, pace, pause, volume and pitch reveal a wealth of information to explore and develop coaching skills.
The International Coach Federation offer a peer reciprocal coaching programme to connect coaches through Reciprocoach. Over the last seven years I’ve participated in several rounds and had the opportunity to work with coaches from China, Canada, Australia, Germany, Belgium, Italy and America. I’ve learnt from every coach and coachee I’ve been matched with and it’s formed a solid network of coaches across the world.
Time and time again I’ve benefitted from the unwavering support, generosity and inspiration I’ve been fortunate to receive from across my network. I recently discovered the term “colla-petition”, a healthy combination of collaboration and competition whilst listening to The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. I immediately associated with the term that on reflection has been fundamental to developing my coaching practice and business. Reach out to other coaches; learn, share ideas and collaborate on business ventures.
At the core of the coaching profession and indeed any business, it’s all about the relationship between people based on trust. Any first encounter, whether it’s online through LinkedIn, a virtual conversation or meeting face to face, is the first step to building a deeper connection based on mutual trust. Looking back across previous coaching partnerships or leadership projects in various formats, the vast majority stem from referrals from within my network.
After experiencing the expat lifestyle in the Middle East and Australia for several years, I’ve an appetite for working across borders with different cultures and consider myself a global digital nomad. Although I’m currently physically based in Wiltshire, in South West England, due to my partners work I constantly look beyond this region. For example, the International Coach Federation has provided an invaluable opportunity to link into a global network and I’ve been privileged to contribute towards the establishment of the Dubai Chapter (now the United Arab Emirates Chapter), then the Saudi Arabian Chapter and I now co-lead the ICF Executive and Leadership Community of Practice. Hunt out opportunities where you can contribute your experience, skillset and knowledge to support the wider community. The key question, which I keep pinned next to my desk, and grounds my bigger purpose to the wider global coaching community is:
What is it that you can uniquely do, that the world of tomorrow needs?
Peter Hawkins, in Coaching & Mentoring Supervision – Theory & Practice.
The “Discover Coaching” series idea came into fruition after being approached time and time again by individuals keen to discover more about the coaching profession. I’m exceptionally passionate about spreading the benefits of coaching from an individual, team and organisational perspective to optimise performance.
Over the last couple of months I’ve worked through the following questions that offer an insight into my backstory and resource recommendations.
What’s your personal coaching journey?
What coaching websites would you recommend?
How did you know what coaching niche to specialise in?
What coaching resources would you recommend?
What’s been the toughest challenge you’ve encountered establishing Reach for More, your performance coaching business?
What coaching qualification would you recommend?
The Q&A format seemed an ideal framework as one of the key coaching tools to dig into the details and share my experience. I’d be interested to hear what your response to each question would be. If you know anyone who would find these articles useful in developing their coaching knowledge and skills, either to support their current role, a period of transition, an aspiration to be more coach-like or simply make the first step towards the coaching profession, I’d be grateful if you would share this post with them.
I’d love to connect and continue the conversation based on ideas, thoughts or concepts in this “Discover Coaching” series. Feel free to reach out via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever social media outlet suits your needs or alternatively, simply pick up the phone. I usually find it’s easier to schedule some time face to face dependent on location or virtually than bounce messages backwards and forwards.
Looking ahead I’ll be sharing my thoughts and ideas around coach supervision, pulling from my experience on the Oxford Brookes University Professional Certificate of Advanced Study in Coaching Supervision. Coach supervision is fundamental to ensuring safe, ethical and quality coaching. I’m excited to move into this area to further my coaching, teaching and facilitation skills and support other coaches develop and refine their practice even more.
Many thanks for taking the time to read, like, comment and share.