- Listen for what’s missing. This is both a leadership mastery skill and a coaching mastery skill. Attune part of your attention to be listening to the conversation from the question, “what’s missing here?” and let that run in the background. Similar to how your computer runs software in the background while you’re working on something else in the foreground, set your brain program to run in the background of the conversation so that part of your brain is always seeking what’s missing. Listen for, and inquire about what may be missing and keep an open mind, unattached to any expected outcome.
- Inquire expansively to generate divergent thinking. What’s possible? Masterful coaches bring a big-picture inquiry to the conversation for possibility, knowing that it allows clients to expand their self-imposed limitations, and explore safely what might occur. Clients often come to us contracted in their thinking, and we can help them create divergent thoughts from a mindset of vast, fantastic, idealistic, perhaps outrageous possibilities. Explore with your clients the realm of wild imagination to help them break the shackles of reality. There is plenty of time later to look at feasibility and actions that are based in reality.
- Make connections. As we hold up a mirror to our clients so that they can see their experience through new eyes, we can also help them to make connections they are not able to see on their own. The mastery mindset here is to always be seeking connections. Like mindset #5 above, this is one of those programs you set to run in the background, trusting your intuition and your deep listening skills to help you navigate the potential connections to reflect back to your client. The trick is to train yourself to see the dots that need connecting, and rather than decide what to connect, get yourself out of the way and ask your client. Offer up what you see or hear and ask them if there are connections.
- Remove yourself from the equation. It’s not about you! Truly mastering coaching is the art of noticing when you are inserting yourself into the conversational space rather than holding the space for the client. You know you’re adding yourself in when you are compelled to share a personal story, or teach a model, or reveal data or information, or dazzle with your expertly crafted question. Notice when you have this compunction and flip the switch. Remove yourself from the need to know, the need to share, the need to show up, and shift into being. Be there for your client, be present to your client, listen for their needs and their agenda. If you show up in your field of vision, step aside and let the client reclaim the full space. Keep it about them. Release your desire to insert yourself and return to fully focusing on the client.
- Detach from specific outcomes. Of course you want your client to succeed. Of course you want them to have the breakthrough. Of course you want them to think you’re brilliant. Let it go. Let it all go. Those are your wants, so they are about you. Flip the switch and get out of the way. Neutral detachment is what allows you to stay in the mindsets of coaching mastery. It’s the clients’ journey, and the outcomes they generate are wholly theirs.
- Always be serving. The service mindset is what coaching is all about. Masterful coaching is the art of staying in a mindset of service. What will serve your client best? What level or type of support will serve their needs? What does extraordinary service look like? Even in business development conversations with prospective clients, if you approach it from a mindset of always serving, you will keep yourself out of the equation and have lasting impact.
If you practice these mindsets, you’ll have the key to getting out of your own way, flipping the switch of your focus from self to other, and evoking the awareness needed to help your clients connect the dots to their ultimate freedom of choice.