Athletes in all kinds of sports engage coaches to develop their potential and achieve breakthrough performance. Likewise, professionals in the workplace are increasingly engaging coaches to optimize their talent and transform to their best self.
“Transformation requires a view from the outside” stated W. Edwards Deming, whose theories are widely regarded as tenets of modern quality practice.
Access to Blind Spots
New knowledge comes from the outside. An outside-the-system perspective reveals aspects of ourselves and our environment of which we are not aware. As a result, we can take more informed actions, recognizing that knowledge of these hidden dimensions represent new opportunities and/or reveal critical self-limitations.
“Without some access to outside intervention and an outside view, we are trapped in too narrow a context. An outside view leads to a shift in concentration from the wrong to the right things. Outside intervention and coaching provide a new lens, offering a way to see ourselves and our environment clearly. Without this critical influence, even highly talented people can lack the self-awareness, knowledge, and motivation that transforms individuals into champions.”
The Johari Window, developed by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham is a communication model through which you can categorize information known by you and by others. There are four quadrants:
- Quadrant One is the Open area: things that I know about myself and Others know about myself
- Quadrant Two is the Blind area: things that I don’t know about myself and Others know about myself
- Quadrant Three is the Hidden area: things that I know about myself, and Others don’t know about myself
- Quadrant Four is the Unknown area: things that I don’t know about myself and Others don’t know about myself
A coach’s contribution can be vital in helping you to find out things that you previously didn’t know about yourself, and learn about your automatic/ default choice of response to triggers.
Coaching emphasizes personal discovery. It reveals what habits are working so they can be further exploited and leveraged. Also, it reveals what habits need to be changed, and what new habits will replace them. Coaching provides direction and focus for an individual’s energies, helping to channel her/his efforts towards a desired outcome. Coaching encourages learning, reflection, and development of new skills and capabilities for greater personal effectiveness. New ways of working and interacting can be practiced until they become implicit behavior.
In the book The Superperforming CEO – Liberating the promise within, Dave Guerra emphasizes the importance of a coach for helping CEOs to adopt and steward new system optimization methods.
Coaches identify hidden patterns that prevent high quality, optimum behavior. Coaching offers interventions that form the bridge to greater self-awareness and insight. The coach, free from political, authority, or power issues, is able to help an individual (or team) make changes in a much shorter time period than they could on their own. According to Eric Schmidt, ex-Chairman of Google, coaching has proven to be an invaluable personal development tool:
“The coach doesn’t have to play the sport as well as you do. They have to watch you and get you to be your best. In the business context, a coach is not a repetitious coach. A coach is somebody who looks at something with another set of eyes, describes it to you in [his] words and discusses how to approach the problem.”
List of questions to help you decide when you’re ready for a coach:
- Is there a gap between where you are and where you’d like to be?
- Do you have a sense that there is something getting in the way?
- Are you about to make a critical decision pertaining to your life or career?
- Do you have the time and resources to invest in your growth?
- Are you getting the message that you need to make some changes?
Coaching can offer a fresh outside view, refocus energies, and provoke reinvention. A coach’s effective involvement with an executive or a leadership team can exponentially affect many other people in a fruitful way.