with greg layton

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G’day Chiefs,

Today we’re going to talk about coaching principles.

Coaching principles are the underlying philosophies you have in relation to when you're leading and coaching your people at work. They are really critically important because they shape the language you use, the process you follow and it's really important over time that you develop some real core philosophies or principles so that when you're in coaching environments, in one-to-one or even team environments, you just come from the right place and it gets great results in a group.

These principles should drive outcomes for you and the people around you, and they should inspire people to get better results, improve their skill in the application of a framework or just to get things done. That's what we're all about here at Chief Maker – get results, be bold, bring your people with you, have fun, get in flow.

Three examples of coaching principles

So how do you do that from a coaching perspective, when you look around you at times and think, “My people aren't in flow,” or, “this person isn't in flow,” or, “I'm not in flow”?

Here's 3 examples I want you to put in the back of your mind and be able to refer to when in this sort of situation or indeed any coaching scenario.

1. Help them to create a congruent future vision of themselves

Let’s say for example that you’re in a situation where you're giving someone advice or you’re coaching them and they just weren't listening and they weren't following and applying what they were being told. It happens all the time and I know it does, because it’s a common issue I hear from clients.

This CEO once came to me and said, “I need you to work with my Director of Sales. He’s a great guy, the life of the party, a brilliant operator, but he's wearing this facade. He's a show. There's something missing that we're not seeing. We're not seeing the authentic, true self.”

This Director had been in this role for nearly 20 years and was really their only professional experience. They were exceptionally good at sales, doing it this particular way, with their facade, their veneer, whatever it is, out to the world. They've never really been authentic, never really drawn back the curtains and shown their soul and their true self.

So I said to the CEO, “You're asking someone, who's got 20 years of success, to change their recipe and fundamentally change their behaviour every single day. That's going to be a challenge because if they can't congruently see a version of themself in the future, performing to an even higher level than they are now, they will not shift.”

So the principle here is that you have to be able to create, with the client or with the person you're coaching, a congruent vision of their future self, one where they can see themselves performing even better than they are now, and they must like everything they see about it. It must feel right in their bones; their values are being looked after, they're achieving success and they’re being an even better version of themselves.

If you can't create that vision of the future, they won't change. This is what we call a congruent vision meaning that all parts of this person are on board with this and they think, “This is the best thing for me.”

So when you're working with an individual and you can see a reluctance to what you’re asking them to do, either verbally or nonverbally, what's actually holding them back is that they can't hear or see themselves being the person you know they can become. And it’s your job to help them solve that problem first before they can take any meaningful action.

It might mean role playing. It might mean shifting their mindset. It might mean giving them some language and some words to use, the right kind of questions and process. But until they can see that congruent vision of themselves doing this particular task better than now, it's almost guaranteed they will not do it. There will not be a permanent behavioural shift; not even an attempt at it.

2. An insight made by the coach is owned by the coach; an insight made by the client is owned by the client

When you've been around a few different businesses, you tend to be able to know what the answer is pretty fast. You might walk into a room, you can almost immediately see what's going on with the team, and this will happen more and more as you get into senior leadership roles. You know the answer before anybody else and as soon as this happens, you have to own that insight.

Then it's your job to help someone else connect those dots because if you just jump to the answer and you tell everyone, they won't necessarily buy into it. This is why we often do vision and value sessions as a group. Everybody buys in because everyone was a part of the process and they all have and share their own insights.

So when you're in a coaching environment, I want you to be as curious as you possibly can and ask questions that shape people's thinking. If they can have an insight about performance improvement or the new approach themselves, then they will almost always do it. That's when they take ownership of the outcome, because they own it. So as a coach, that's what you're always trying to do is help someone have that insight themselves so that they ultimately own it and take the required corrective or strategic action.

3. Assume that an individual can be great

The number of times I've asked someone about their dream role and they say, “Well, I'm not quite sure.” And I'll say, “Well, I assume because we're chatting, you want to be on the Executive Team in a C-suite role. So let's just break down how you're going to get there.” Essentially, I’ve assumed that they want to be more than what they currently are.

So I end up talking with them about how they're going to increase the quality of their skills and their resources, how they're going to build a track record, how they're going to look after the stakeholders and their people, how they're going to play to their strengths.

The funny thing is that people look at me confused because they can’t understand that I believe they can be in that C-suite role. Now that is a fundamental assumption that you have to take to your coaching. Because when I come into that meeting completely convinced, the individual immediately starts to believe in themselves, too. They get out of their own way. They stop asking whether it’s possible or not. They stop “daring to dream” and we just get straight into solving the problem about how to get there.

You'll be amazed at how it makes people feel. It really gives them hope. And it makes them think that some of the problems they've been facing aren't really that bad.

So Chief, there's three really powerful principles that I want you to put at the core of your coaching for your people.
Chief, I hope these 3 principles are useful for you.

Stay epic,