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  • Writer's pictureNeil Keeler

What do you look for in a coach?

Increasingly coaching is becoming far more established as a vital component of any businesses potential success.

In the same way that businesses seek specialist financial, legal or marketing support may business owners, directors and leaders are seeking further support with their thinking. Better thinking = better actions = better results.

Some of the skills and attributes of a coach are (there are of course many, many more!):

Listening - really actively listening, listening to what isn't said as well as what is. Not waiting to speak - silence is the midwife of solutions.

Observing - body language and other physical 'cues' can highlight seams of untapped potential, especially beliefs and consequent emotions that are going unsaid, yet clearly are seriously troubling their client.

Non-judgemental - coaches need to hold their own opinions, beliefs and internal dialogue in check when focused on their client. This requires a high level of self discipline and focus, it is tiring too.

Solution focused - learning from the past not being forever in service to it. Coaching is future focused, yet rarely does any session remain only in the 'now', many beliefs (some extremely limiting/'hindering') are formed young.

Supportively challenging - this is a core component of a coaches mindset, a well founded belief in the client's potential to continue to grow, develop and improve and the skill and courage to challenge them to do so, with the power of a question.

'Tactfully forthright' - this aligns closely with the previous ability, it can best be described as maintaining the right 'creative temperature' in the coaching conversation.

The right focus, challenge & resolve to work with a client, on something that they may (consciously or not) have been deliberately avoiding, sometimes for years, needs som skills akin to a Master Blacksmith.

The metaphor (perhaps a rather forceful one - forgive me that - and built entirely from a childs level of understanding of 'Blacksmithery') comes to mind of a blacksmith heating, hammering, then tempering an item to achieve a new shape, perhaps so it can be used for a completely new purpose.

A blend of heat (to soften the item/establish the motivation) and pressure/even hammer strikes (yes sometimes questions can land like 'blows' from your coach) to establish some new shape, form or design, in something previously constructed, quite differently. Hopefully not too many sparks will fly!

That requires a careful mix of force and heightened temperature to reshape it, then for it to be offered up to some design or vision of what the new item must be, before the item is tempered, cooled in oil or water, to establish the right degree of rigidity (or flexibility) and it becomes fit for its future purpose.

I was once given feedback that I can challenge people in the nicest of ways (with a question of course) which I found very pleasing, forceful pressure need not always feel like a hammer blow!

Sometimes pressure & heat is required in a coaching session, so choosing a skilled coach, that you trust, to work with you to forge something new, needs some careful thought.

Hope I got you thinking take care.

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Welcome to my blog

Hope you will find something here to really get you thinking. Topics will be on any of my passions: Organisational Development, Leadership, Employee Engagement, Culture Change, Organisational Improvement and Transformation are the key themes.  

If you have a topic or suggestion for a blog, or maybe you'd like to do a guest spot on here (!) drop me a line. I'd also like to share some of my experiences in moving from 32 years of working in the public sector to starting my own business!

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