That’s easy to do, but if I were to do so, it would pre-suppose that you know what coaching is. And you may do. But, what if you don’t?
I have set myself the task of describing mentoring without mentioning coaching again in this article.
That’s easy to do, but if I were to do so, it would pre-suppose that you know what coaching is. And you may do. But, what if you don’t?
I have set myself the task of describing mentoring without mentioning coaching again in this article.
If coaching in the workplace seemed like no more than a trendy idea put about by a few business gurus and trainers in the 1990s, think again.
The upward rise of the trend has stabilised. And today, over 25 years from the publication of John Whitmore’s ‘Coaching for Performance’, the discipline is in rude health.
From my perspective, coaching is here to stay.
What better way to start a new year than with a management thinker who showed us how to perform better in all walks of life: Timothy Gallwey, founder of the Inner Game.
A Happy New Year to all of our readers.
Timothy Gallwey is best known for his Inner Game books about tennis and golf. They transformed the approach of a million weekend sports enthusiasts. But these were no limp self-help manuals. They were equally lauded by sports performers at the pinnacle of their sports internationally. And they remain so today.
And it was not just sports people who found power in Gallwey’s advice. Quickly, business seized his ideas and called on Gallwey to show them how to play the inner game of work. In so doing, Gallwey became the progenitor of business coaching, and therefore of executive coaching and its domestic relative, life coaching.
Timothy Gallwey was born in 1938,in San Francisco. He attended Harvard Business School, majoring in English Literature. But his academic work sat alongside his tennis playing and in 1968, he was captain of the Harvard tennis team.
His direction remained academic until 1971, when he took a sabbatical, during which he acted as a tennis coach. It was on the court that he started to realise how impoverished were the traditional approaches he was using. Telling the sports person what to do would distract them from all else. And it would introduce new anxieties to their play.
Gallwey started experimenting with new ways improve tennis performance. Instead of telling a player to watch the ball, he asked them to vocalise sounds at the moments when the ball struck the ground or the racket. Of course, this required them to watch the ball too. Later, he shifted his instruction to noticing where the ball landed,or where it struck the racket face. Gradually, Gallwey developed the principles he still teaches, as do many coaches the world over*.
During the early 1970s, Gallwey also learned meditation, which he suggests improved his game and influenced his thinking. That thinking came together in what was to become a million selling book, The Inner Game of Tennis (1974). It remains a best seller today. This was followed by Inner Skiing (1977), The Inner Game of Golf (1981), and The Inner Game of Music (1986).
But it was not to be long before weekend tennis players and golfers in the upper ranks of business started to wonder if Gallwey’s coaching principles could apply to the workplace. By the late 1970s, he was a much in demand speaker and through the 1980s, he spent more time advising business on using inner game principles to boost management performance.
Also in the 1980s, Inner Game coaching was in full flow in the UK. There, Inner Game sports coaches like Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore started to see the wider application of the principles too. They articulated what is perhaps the best known management coaching model, the GROW model, and took their sports experience into business* too.
It was not until 1999 that Gallwey relieved business people of the need to read about tennis or golf, to gain business performance insights. The Inner Game of Work took inner game principles and all Gallwey had learned from his consulting experience, and consolidated it into a marvellous book.
At its heart, the ideas of the Inner Game are simple. I shall present what I consider to be the core:
Gallwey’s big idea is this. When we are focused on achieving something that is important to us, there is a constant dialogue in our head. And, motivated by self doubt and fear of failure, one part of our mind provides a constant and undermining commentary. It issues instructions and deals out rebukes. It warns and it threatens. It praises (rarely) and chastises us for our failings.
Who is this part of us addressing? It’s the part of us that would otherwise get on and perform. Gallwey calls these to selves,
If this all sounds familiar, compare it to today’s psychological concept of System 1 and System 2, popularised so powerfully by Daniel Kahneman in his wonderful book, Thinking: Fast and Slow.
If you have an instinctive self that is capable of doing stuff and figuring out how to do it well, then why do we take so long to learn and become excellent. Gallwey says that Self 1 gets in the way. Its constant directions, critiques and berating interfere with our performance. Gal;wey characterises this in a simple formulation:
Performance = Potential – Interference
Consequently, the Inner Game is all about removing that interference from Self 1, and allowing our performance to rise to the level of our potential.
Gallwey’s solution is simple and (I can say from experience) highly effective. If we can focus you awareness on what is happening, that focus will still Self 1’s voice long enough for Self 2 to gain insights into how to modify our behaviour.
Gallwey calls non-judgmental observation and the role of a coach is not to tell you what to do, but to direct your attention. This directed focus allows Self 2 to learn, and Self 1 to think it is occupied with the noticing.
Gallwey’s insight is to transform coaching to a process that centres on awareness raising. The skill of a coach is first, to direct attention to the most pertinent events, and second to reinforce Self 2 in its quest to act on what you learn.
The R of the GROW Model is Reality. Giving you enough time to fully understand what is going on is the single most valuable role of a coach. And when you have articulated your Options, a good coach will cycle back to Reality, to help you test those options out. Gallwey does not use the GROW model explicitly. It isn’t his model. But it grew from his thinking.
And, while we are on Gallwey’s legacy, let’s cycle back to his experience of the early 1970s – he learned to meditate. And I am convinced that this impacted on his practice by placing awareness at the centre of his approach to coaching.
Let’s just remember what the flavour of the year was two or three years ago, in the world of personal development: mindfulness. Emerging from meditative practices, what is mindfulness all about? Focused awareness.
Here is a 12 minute interview with Timothy Gallwey, filmed in 2012
* Including me. I was privileged to be taught coaching by Sir John Whitmore and David Hemmery and to have attended a masterclass and an informal dinner with Timothy Gallwey.
The powerful belief behind coaching: whether life coaching, corporate coaching, performance coaching or any other sort is simple: If we fully understand the challenge or problem we face, then we can access our own solution to it. Nancy Kline puts it this way:
Usually the brain that contains the problem also contains the solution – often the best one.
Her contribution is to formalise a set of criteria for what she calls (and has trademarked as) a Thinking Environment. These ten conditions at once make sense: they are both obvious and insightful.
There is not a lot of information around on Kline, save that she was born in New Mexico and served on the faculty of a Quaker School in Virginia, where she and her first husband set up a satellite institution in 1972. It was there that she started to think deeply about how to create the space to think. She went on, after twelve years, to be a director at the rightwing Leadership Institute. In 1990, she married her second husband, Christopher Spence, and moved to the UK. Shortly afterwards, she set up her consulting and coaching business and wrote her first book, Time to Think, published in 1999.
It seems to me that the entire burden of Kline’s ideas is supported by one statement:
The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking.
This tracks back to her and her colleagues’ observations of teenage students trying to solve their own problems for themselves and it is the the core principle of her attitude to coaching – and of the attitude of many coaches. Her book, Time to Think: Listening to ignite the human mind and her concept of a Thinking EnvironmentⓇ set out ten conditions that create a good environment in which we can think. These conditions are:
Kline is clearly a master coach, and her organisation offers a range of training. Her book does not only offer a prescription for how to create an environment where people can think more clearly – and therefore solve problems more effectively. It also contains valuable insights of a range of organisational types. Along the way, what I found most useful, were some of the specific questions she suggests asking others… and ourselves. I would put Kline in a category with another asker of insightful questions, Susan Scott.
Any leader or manager can gain a lot by taking time to think about some of her questions, of which my two favourites are:
What do you really think?
What do we already know now that we are going to find out in a year?
This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.
Your job, as a manager, is to coordinate people and resources to get work done. Important parts of that are:
and so on…
One management skill has emerged as the solution to all of this. It does not stand alone, but over the last twenty years, we have learned its power to enhance individual and organisational performance. That skill is coaching.
The best managers, leaders, and teachers have been doing coaching for years – hundreds and thousands of years. What is new, is that the process and techniques have been studied, systematised and turned into a thousand books, articles and training courses. This means that coaching is no longer the preserve of the few who figure it out for themselves and have a natural talent: anyone can learn it, practice it and master the skills.
At its best, coaching is a valuable conversation that lets one person figure out what they need to do to get the results they need.
The core principle of coaching is respect for the person you are coaching. As a coach, you need to assume that the other person can find the solution to the challenge they are working on, whether it is a workplace problem, improving under-performance, or preparing themselves for a promotion.
To support this, the fundamental skills are
Questioning – asking good questions that increase the other person’s awareness of their situation and help them perceive things in a new way
Listening – so that you can ask questions founded on exactly what they say
Patience – giving time for the other person to work out solutions for themselves
Trust – recognising that they will make mistakes, but that is a valuable part of learning
As a manager, you need to balance opportunities to learn (sometimes by making mistakes) with the need to manage risk. But the thing that surprises most new coaches is how often the coaching process finds a good solution first time – and often a better solution than the coach themself would have thought of.
There are a lot of methodologies for coaching – many of them proprietary. Most of them offer an acronym to help remember the areas for questioning and exploration. These are:
Coaching is one of the most discussed topics on the Pocketblog. You may also like the following Pocketblogs:
An Infinite Number of Coaching Acronyms
So you can see how different models follow the process above – and find the acronym you like best.
Keep it SIMPLE
A look at the Solution Focus approach to coaching.
Who is getting in your way?
The ideas of Timothy Gallwey who many regard as the originator of modern coaching as used in the business and management world.
Let’s sort out poor performance, Part 2: Turnaround
An example of how coaching fits into the pragmatic world of management.
The Awesome Power of Mentoring
Mentoring is often discussed in the same sentence as coaching. Find out what it is and how it can work for you, as a new manager.
Questions, Questions, Questions
…is about the art of – questions!
is about listening
This blog is published on a Bank Holiday, so we don’t expect many people to be at work, reading it. But a diamond jubilee is a big deal – and so is Queen Elizabeth II. Over the last sixty years, she has proved herself, among much else, a great manager. Let’s look at how.
The Queen is the consummate professional – putting in many hours of work every day (still) and, until recently, maintaining a work schedule that would make Apprentice candidates and Dragons shudder.
She is Chief Executive of one of the nation’s oldest established, biggest and most successful family businesses. And she has run it pretty well. Whilst openly acknowledging the occasional wayward members of the family, and allowing the odd unsuccessful venture from some of them, she has ensured that the succession is assured with all of the major players showing signs of commitment to the business and high levels of professionalism themselves.
The Queen prepares well for every engagement, famously knowing all about the people she meets, from Lord Lieutenant to Lunchtime Assistant (Dinner Lady in old money). And she also keeps up with her red boxes (literally, red boxes in which Government papers are sent to her daily), devoting many hours each week to assimilate everything the Government sends her.
Her identity and that of her family, the House of Windsor, remains clear and, despite some setbacks, currently has not only great name recognition (“The Royal Family”) but also high levels of brand approval. It has adapted well to modern media and the website is supplemented by YouTube, Flickr and Facebook pages, and a Twitter stream @TheBritishMonarchy. I doubt that the Queen herself tweets – but how many CEOs do?
No longer right at the top of the Sunday Times Rich List (now at 262, with £310m), this could be argued to be a weak area, but she has reduced the scale of the civil list and, unlike some of the higher fliers, is not running a global business.
The Queen’s regular meetings with her many Prime Ministers have, by many accounts, often taken the form of a non-judgemental conversation, in which she asks many probing and insightful questions. In management, there’s a word for that style of conversation.
A lot is made of the continuity of the British monarchy, but the reality is one of constant change. The last sixty years have been no exception. And whilst she has avoided the pitfalls that led predecessors to far more rapid change (Magna Carta, Civil War like Stephen/Matilda, Charles/Parliament, Roses etc, or reformation), she has created a highly agile institution that, whilst in no way a creature of the twenty first century, at least looks fit to continue within it.
The Modern Monarch’s Pocketbook has been delayed, so in the meantime, if you are a UK resident and reading this on the Bank Holiday, enjoy the end of your break.
Last week, I wrote about Emotional Intelligence (EI) from a fairly abstract, theoretical perspective. So, to redress the balance, this week I want to get wholly practical. I have been through The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook, by Margaret Chapman, and selected my favourite tips and tools to help you increase your EQ, and adapted them for you.
Tune in to mood – yours and others. Start to notice the way people stand or sit. Where they look when they are interacting with you or other people, the quality of their voices, and their gestures and expressions.
Now tune in to your own mood. How are you feeling? Start to inventory your body for tensions and awkwardness. What does this tell you? How do you move and what postures are you adopting? Listen to your voice, is it steady and confident or hesitant and weak?
Get into the habit of doing this and it will start to become second nature.
* Adapted from Gauging the Mood and Getting in Touch with your Feelings exercises
If you detect a stressful or uncomfortable feeling in yourself, Stop!
Calm yourself by relaxing your muscles and adjusting your posture. Take deeper, slower breaths. Recall a time when you felt strong, confident, playful… Now think about how you want to handle the situation that you are facing.
* Adapted from Freeze Frame Technique
The Build your A Team exercise is spot on. Margaret offers a useful worksheet which, if you want to identify and create a supportive and life enhancing network of friends and colleagues is worth the price of the book alone. Think of all of the types of support you would like or need (Margaret has done this) and list them. Then, for each one, think who you know at work, and who you know outside of work that can best provide that support.
Now make a plan to speak with each of them.
Extend your A Team list in a new way. This time, list all the people, at work and outside, that you see regularly. Against each one, make a note of their particular skills, knowledge and expertise. This will help you to appreciate the people in your life more, and encourage you to call upon help more readily.
* This one’s my own, inspired by Margaret’s Top Ten Tips.
I absolutely concur with the top two skills that Margaret suggests. If you want to coach anyone, hone your abilities to listen and to ask questions. You need little else when you can do these two.
Do you ever find yourself held back by doubt about your capabilities? Have you ever known the right thing to do, with absolute certainty, but lacked the courage to suppress the voice of caution in your head? Did you ever want to get on with things but find yourself over-analysing every detail – almost against your will?
It is almost as if there are two people inside your head, competing for control: an inner you, who knows the truth, and some sort of gate-keeper, trying to protect you from disappointment; even harm.
Timothy Gallwey has names for these two characters: Self 1 and Self 2.
Self 1 is the critical argumentative voice in your head, which is giving instructions, offering warnings, and expressing doubts to Self 2, the inner you. Self 1 is the interference that stops you from achieving your true potential. There are other sources of interference, but Gallwey sums his whole attitude to coaching up in a simple equation:
Performance = potential – interference
I regard Gallwey as the originator of our modern ideas of coaching: be it management, executive, performance, life or any other form. It was he who took coaching out of the sports context and gave a really solid base to some of the ideas that now dominate coaching.
Self 1 is a know-it-all who does not trust Self 2 and therefore tries to control it. Self 2 represents all that we are and all that we can be – our present and future capabilities, our unlimited potential. Our best performance comes when we can quiet Self 1 and let Self 2 take control. Self 1 distorts our perception and interferes with our results.
Based on his observations that “should” and “shouldn’t” instructions get in the way of learning, and that learning takes place within the learner, Gallwey developed three principles for coaching.
All that Self 1 is, is a voice in your head. It may sound simplistic, but you need to pay more more attention to Self 2. Teach Self 2 to be more assertive and listen to it more carefully. Find counter arguments to Self 1’s assertions and demand a higher standard of proof, when all Self 1 does is criticise.
Coaching seems to be one of those disciplines that everyone likes to invent their own process.
I’m not sure if it’s because I like systems, or I like to collect, or I’m just a coaching ‘geek’, but I have been collecting coaching process acronyms ever since I did my first coaching training with Sir John Whitmore in the late 1990s. So here’s a survey of some of my favourites:
Developed by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and John Whitmore, GROW is fully described in ‘Coaching for Performance’ by Sir John Whitmore.
Will – Way forward
Dr Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge developed the ACHIEVE Model to make the details of the steps more explicit. It is one of many, many variants on GROW.
Assess the current situation
Creative Brainstorming of alternatives
Valid action plan design
In their book, ‘The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE’, Paul Z Jackson and Mark McKergow introduce the OSKAR Model, which introduces the importance of getting a perspective on the scale of the problem to GROW and its many variants:
Choices and Consequences
Here are some more I have inventoried – you may like to look some up on your favourite search engine: WHAM, OUTCOMES, PIDREF, STEPPA, FLOWS, CLEAR, ACHIEVE, ARROW, ACE. I don’t have the space to spell them all out for you, but if you get really stuck, do feel free to ask in the comments.
Coincidentally, our very own Pocketbooks have two more models to offer you, that are both called COACH.
The Coaching Pocketbook, in the Management Pocketbooks series offers:
C – competency – assessing current level of performance
O – outcomes – setting outcomes for learning
A – action – agreeing tactics and initiate action
Ch – checking – giving feedback and making sense of what’s been learnt
And my own current favourite (if it isn’t a little disloyal to the Pocketblog) comes from the Teachers’ Pocketbook series, and The Coaching & Reflecting Pocketbook:
Open up Resources
Agree the preferred future
Create the Journey
Head for success
If you have a favourite coaching model or process, please do add it, using the comments section below.
No one process is better than the others, so you pays your money (or you get the basics free, online) and you makes your choice.
John Heron has been one of the most active and insightful leaders in the world of helping and counselling, yet relatively few coaches and mentors have heard of him.
This is a typical problem that you may hear from a colleague or client and, if you want to help, there are a number of ways that you could do so.
“What you should do is …”
“Let’s look at some of the things you could do …”
“What behaviours seem hostile to you?”
“How do you feel about this?”
“What’s going on when your boss seems hostile?”
“No-one should feel hostility from their boss …”
These are six examples of a response you could give and, working originally with the medical profession, John Heron identified six categories of intervention in 1974, which are equally helpful to teachers, managers, advisers, counsellors, and consultants.
They help us to understand the relationships between counselling and coaching, or between coaching and mentoring.
John Heron’s model of six different ways we can intervene to help first divides interventions into Authoritative and Facilitative Interventions. These each have three styles of intervention within them.
These interventions are clearly led by the helper, who takes on some of the responsibility for the client. Here, the helper will guide, raise awareness, and even give instruction or hold the client to account.
These interventions are ‘client-centred’ in the sense that the client must take complete responsibility for themselves and the direction of their support.
||The depiction of the Sumerian serpent god Ningizzida, the patron of medicine, dating from before 2000 BCE, gives us our modern Caduceus symbol for the healing arts and sciences.The god itself is the two (copulating) snakes entwined around an axial rod. It is accompanied by two gryphons.|
The labels ‘authoritative’ and ‘facilitative’ are, perhaps, misleading. Each of the six categories of intervention could be led in an authoritative ‘I will take control’ manner, or a facilitative ‘you tell me where to explore next’ manner. Indeed, in his later work, in ‘The Complete Facilitator’s Handbook’, Heron identified three modes of facilitation, which he called:
Why do we spend so much time worrying over precise definitions of coaching, mentoring, counselling, advising, consulting and the myriad of supportive help we offer one-another. John Heron showed us at least three times six = eighteen different ways to help each other and there are doubtless many more.
Coming in future blogs will be insights into resolving conflict, coaching, and, later this week, mentoring.
And, in the Teachers’ Pocketbooks series:
And look out for The Cognitive Behavioural Coaching Pocketbook later this year.