Home Tools and Applications Executive Coaching Executive Coaches Share Openly and Unselfishly: Dynamic Panel Discussion at ICF Annual Conference 2003

Executive Coaches Share Openly and Unselfishly: Dynamic Panel Discussion at ICF Annual Conference 2003

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Mary Beth also had an interpretation of the reason a client manager would ask about how the client is doing. I appreciate her interpretation and the opportunities it presents – to discuss how the manager is monitoring client performance and to provide informal dialog with the manager about their perceptions. This is tracks with the more formal approach of Mike Jay, an executive/leadership coach. In his contracting, he gains agreement to coach not only the client but their manager. This acknowledges the manager’s influence and importance in the client’s performance environment.

Bill had observed that most of the issues to address in organizational coaching were problems and mysteries. I can appreciate this view. It’s one on which Bill and I wrote several article. Said differently, often the performance issues for which coaching is requested have multiple root causes. They beg for a blended approach (coaching and other interventions), able to address more of the problem variance. I am seeing an increase in clients’ willingness to consider options beyond what they initially requested. It does require accepting the client premise that there’s something worth changing without buying into the proposed solution. As for mysteries as Bill and I have written about them, these are legitimate issues worth exploring and engaging through different coaching approaches.

About coaching themes: Both Linda and Mary Beth commented on the criticality of having clear agreements. This is as true for the coaching contract as between managers or managers and their direct reports for the work to be done. Jeannine also mentioned this in a later section. Agreements between parties (and the related trust among partners) are the foundation on which everything else rests. Taking the time to assure that there is shared understanding is a sound investment. Each party gets to be rigorous rather than assumptive about expectations, conditions of satisfaction and standards. This won’t guarantee that things will go smoothly (in fact, they seldom do); it will affirm that you’ve done your due diligence.

About the value received from executive coaching: Bill shared the perspective that the coaching relationship provided a sanctuary space. In a similar vein, Val commented on the coach’s role to push back. Sanctuary seems to be a fair interpretation, one of the hallmarks of a coaching relationship. It shows up in at least three ways: confidentiality that what’s discussed in coaching stays in coaching; nonjudgmental engagement by the coach; and mutual candor in what’s shared, listened and explored. In these ways, the client is encouraged to be curious and courageous to explore the shape and boundaries of their world, recognize self-limiting beliefs and experiment with new ways of thinking, being and acting. The coaching context becomes a practice field for planning new moves, practicing, then executing and debriefing for new perspective and learning. The sanctuary distinctions contribute to expanding the client’s world of effective commitment and expression.

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