Coaching is one of the terms that is often being used and abused within the business support community. Some people might reference it from sport or life coaching. However, I think instinctively many stakeholders, without exactly understanding what it entails, realise that coaching is a relevant intervention or mode of support when working with owner-managers because it somehow put the focus on the entrepreneur rather than the enterprise. It also shifts the focus from the advisor knowledge to the client goals.
Our webinar this month coveted the topic “Using coaching techniques in supporting owner-managers to overcome limiting thinking” and featured Vinod Kalicharran, a certified Action Coach, and Michele Hinds, a certified Consciousness Coach and mentor to coaches.
Michele started off the webinar from a perspective of what coaching is and how it may be applied. She quoted the ICF (International Coach Federation), where coaching is defined as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment”.
Michele highlighted that coaching is about:
- Understanding that the client is not only the expert in their business, but they already have all the answers and solutions they need to achieve their goals.
- The coach’s role is to be genuinely curious, with no agenda or expectations. The purpose of the coach is not consulting and thus “knowing best” is a no-no. A coach meets the client where they are at.
She further shared three fundament steps to of a coaching process:
- Clarity – What does the client want? Clearly define in space and time. What is that future state they want to experience? And by when?
- Commitment – How committed is the client to realise what they want? What is the client relationship with the goal? What are they willing to do?
- Completion – The client finds out what she or he needs to do and who do he or she needs to be to achieve what she or he wants. What are the (often habitual) obstacles the client needs to overcome?
Michele introduced the Consciousness Gym concept as a practical tool for coaches to exercise and prepare for adding value to their client support. Regular exercise is clearly needed to overcome the habitual limiting thinking – as you would gym regular to develop muscles.
To visualise the concept of breaking habitual limiting thinking, she used two acronyms as images:
- ANTS – Automatic Negative Thoughts (habitual limiting thinking) – e.g. this is hard, I’m too busy, etc. – leading to stress, fear, distraction, low confidence, etc.
- CPR – Create Positive Response – e.g. this fun, I am energised/inspired, etc. – leading to engagement, focus, commitment, confidence, etc.
The task of the coach is to assist clients to be aware of their state and evaluate whether that is useful; if not, assist clients to take the next step and chose a different response, enabling transformation from one state of being to another.
She further provided three steps to practice in the Consciousness Gym:
- Awareness – of our state and habitual limitations.
- Choice – choose to stay or create something different as a response.
- Transformation (from one state of being to another – I feel different). Going one level deeper, the flowing three steps will assist in the transformation, which cycle may be continued until calm is achieved:
– Acknowledge – what can I acknowledge (e.g. I’m stressed).
– Let go – what can I let go off (do I stay in the state or do something different.
– Decide – what can I, for instance, decide to be calm and rounded right now.
Michele stressed the need for coaching training and accreditation to ensure you are on sure footing when dealing with clients. Ensure the training is accredited by institutions such as ICF or Comensa. She also shared information on WBECS, the World Business & Executive Coaching Summit, a coaching development initiative offering webinars and training.
Michel’s session sparked some insights from other panellists and attendees with Niq Sibanda from Osiba observing that coaching really deals with the thinking of the client rather than their ability or competence. Our webinar host, Christoff Oosthuysen, responded with “I agree Niq, thinking differently from before helps unlock new possibilities. Shifting from one state of mind into a new state of mind”. And webinar attendee Jackline confirmed that shifting your thinking for a positive or desired outcome is a good muscle to exercise!
Vinod focussed on the practical business coaching environment working with owner-managers. He stressed that business advisers can benefit greatly from coaching training in their advising practice. He also challenged advisers to confront themselves in their own “limiting thinking”.
Vinod shared the GROW coaching model – which helps in goal setting and problem-solving in coaching. The model consists of 4 stages:
- Goal (G) – What the client wants to achieve, both for personal or business development. It is important that the goal is measurable and achievable, using the SMART approach to goal setting.
- Reality (R) – What is the reality in which the goal must be achieved? What is the ability or capability issues? For example, if a person wants to understand finances but have no understanding or qualification.
- Obstacles and options (O) – What are the internal and external obstacles limiting the achievement? What are the options available? The coach needs to show empathy, building rapport and understand the issues? It is important to avoid telling and to rather let it come from the client. Try and understand how you can get around the limitations of fear or overconfidence.
- Way forward (W) – Build action steps to commit the client to guidelines and agreed process. The coach will assist in reviewing progress and in getting a commitment at the end of the session to check in again at the next session.
Vinod also accentuated that if a business advisors see that a client needs coaching support but is not qualified, that it may be better to refer the client to a qualified and experienced coach for assistance or to get training in coaching. Vinod quoted Robin Sharma “Once I know better, I can do better”.
After some discussion on shifting between the various modes of entrepreneurial support and how easy or difficult that may be to manage, Michele remarked that advising and coaching can integrate well “as long as you are crystal clear on what role you are in and what is most appropriate for your client in the moment. Telling often shuts down a client’s ability and willingness to hear and integrate what you are telling them”.
On changing the modes, another webinar attendee, Shirley, offered a tip “while in a coaching session, ask the client if you can move into the consulting role and give advice or an opinion on the specific intervention”. Michele concluded: “Also, once you have shared your expertise and advise, you can shift to asking the client what information or advise they would like to take up”.
Participation by attendees added further value, with Luther indicating the importance of framing enabling you to determine where and when the correct mode of support would be ideally.
Overall, it was emphasised that assisting a client to overcome “limiting thinking”, might require much empathy and patience as the cycle might happen a few times. This kind of support would require a long-term relationship. It is important that “limiting thinking” is relevant to all aspects of life and work, it is a mindset issue. Whether the client experience automatic limiting thoughts overconfidence, it starts with the client’s goals and ability to achieve them.
For business advisers the questions remain, do I walk the talk. Vinod asked whether advisers have business plans if they ask it from clients. Similarly, if you want to coach, do you have a coach or mentor?
The final note on coaching for business advisers? Get the knowledge to at least recognise the need but be sure that you know your own limitations. Rather be consciously incompetent than unconsciously incompetent!
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