It’s Not About the Coach

Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Stuart Haden (United Kingdom).

Many of us are lucky enough to work with great coaches, in business, sport, and life. Individuals who are keen to support and challenge us in many aspects of work and life. But, do we really make the most of these relationships? If we are to increase levels of performance via coaching then we have to make sure we are ready for coaching.

Let’s deconstruct a known saying – ‘when the coachee is ready, the coach will appear.’ That’s just it, so many of us are not ready for coaching despite having experienced individuals to hand. If this is the case, then it will take us longer to make an impact.

My latest research has shown that individuals only possess 40% of the skills required to be an effective coachee. So unless you can evaluate whether coaching is the right option for you, you might be wasting everyone’s time. Ask yourself two questions…

  • Are you ready to be coached?
  • Do you possess the skills (coachability) to be an effective coachee?

Ten years ago I was struggling to ascertain whether coaching was right for me, despite the fact that my organization had paid for and arranged a world-class coach. High performance was certainly one of my key goals but I was struggling to take to the challenge of coaching – the probing, questions, and observation in particular. After some visible resistance, I slowly found my feet as a coachee and my performance increased.

This experience and many others like it led me to embark on a research project and eventually a book (It’s Not About The Coach) that I published in 2013.

I began to realize that coaching is a space between two or more people, coach, and coachee. Typically coming together to discuss performance and how it might develop. However, to date just about all of our research and literature has focused on the coach. Why aren’t there any resources for the other half of the coaching relationship? Everyone else thinks it is about the coach; training, qualifications, and accreditations etc. are readily available. Yet we often neglect the hero of the story – the coachee.

A new world where coachees are at the center of the relationship. Inspiring them to…

  • Make informed choices about coaching
  • Discover readiness for coaching
  • Develop the values required by coachees

Knowledge of the coaching process can only get you so far; choices, readiness, and values will allow coachees to accelerate their coaching relationships and achieve a long-lasting impact. Here are 10 top tips for getting the most from coaching…

  1. Authenticity – are you making your values valuable?

Develop awareness of self (and others) so that you can begin to attune your needs (inner) to the environment (outer). Watch out for the conflict between compliance and defiance.

2. Change – on a scale of 1-10 how present are you being right now?

Change is change, it is neither good or bad. It is just changing. When you recognize a change, just do exactly that, recognize it and hold onto possibilities. Steer clear of negative descriptions.

3. Emotions – are you reacting or responding?

Develop your emotions in the same way you develop your muscles. Thus coaching becomes a workout, with your personal trainer to hand. Bottling up these emotions serves no one.

4. Curiosity – are you serving the world?

When you experience curiosity you will need to be conscious of it, aware, knowing. Encourage consciousness and spot reflective behavior. Don’t push curiosity though, it might push back.

5. Challenge – are you taking the road less traveled?

In order to achieve superior performance, there isn’t one single challenging question that will serve us. We need to come at it from all angles. Remember low support and low challenge = apathy.

6. Questions – do you ask open questions that create endless possibilities?

Coachees flourish when they work with questions. Enter into dialogue – searching for the question and then the answer. Be aware that society is a ‘tellaholic’ one, rewarding answers.

7. Goals – are you setting performance and outcome goals?

As a coachee look to secure your performance and outcome goals towards the end of the coaching conversation, rather than at the start. If the goal is misjudged then you are misaligned.

8. Systems – what impact are you having on those around you?

As a coachees performance shifts so do their system, increasing in size and complexity. Make sure you are investing your energy in the right place so that you can connect with other people.

9. Energy – are you firing on all cylinders and tapping into all five sources?

Our energy sources create well-being and vitality in us all. Simply complete conscious activities that keep your soul, body, heart, mind, and spirit strong. Don’t lapse these must be done daily.

10. Mastery – are you now ready to master being a coachee?

Consider POSSIBILITIES, aware. Challenge PERCEPTION, adapt. Change PERFORMANCE, action. You have entered a new world, two worlds even – coach and coachee. Master both…

Of course, the concept of coachability can be applied to us all. We all at some point find ourselves in a conversation with another person where our performance is at the center of the discussion, aka coaching. Equally many of us are coaches ourselves, here our role is to manage the learning journey for the coachee and ensure that they are coachable. A word of caution here, if you aren’t coachable then you will most likely struggle to instill this value in others.

Once coachability is in place then you can attend to the coaching objectives. This is why I ensure that all my potential coaches are exposed to coachability as soon as I hear from them. The chemistry or contracting sessions are perfect for exploring this in more detail. If your coachee is ready for coaching then ROI shoots up, which is of value to all.

The first thing you can do to take a step in this direction is sign up for a free e-book introduction to It’s Not About The Coach – I have also just released a free online course on and the book is available on Amazon.


Credit Source:

Stuart Haden is a facilitator, coach, consultant, author and speaker specializing in Authentic Leadership and founder of Storm Beach based in Bath, UK. @StormBeach


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