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Simplifying Soft Skills: Coaching

Whether you’re a new or seasoned coach, mentor, or manager, you can always brush up on techniques that will help you stay present, make connections and lead others to success. Here are some tips for fostering successful coaching relationships from Accel5®

According to the 2020 ICF Global Coaching Study, around two-thirds (65 percent) of internal coaching specialists anticipated that coaching would become increasingly important in 2021. ICF defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Coaching is often a relationship sold as a tool for business growth and is beneficial for both parties.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned coach, you can always brush up on techniques that will help you stay present, make connections and lead your clients toward finding practical solutions. Here are some tips from Accel5® for fostering successful coaching relationships.


Reflect on Your Coaching Style

As a coach, you should continuously assess your coaching style. In an exclusive Accel5 video, Timothy Clark describes a continuum to successful coaching that ranges from those that ask to those that tell. Great coaches are the ones that do the former. Ask yourself, “Where do I fall on this coaching continuum?”

Coaching skills represent one of the most potent tools for influencing others to reach their potential. There is a continuum to coaching — at one end, we tell people what to do and at the other end, we ask what they think. Great coaches lead others through inquiry, self-reflection, and questions, as the opposite behaviors may create dependency and helplessness. Asking, however, shapes critical thinking, empowerment and self-reliance.


Find an Approach That Works for You

There are many different approaches to successful coaching. Yet, the end goal remains the same — help clients expand their thinking, find clarity and make long-lasting changes that will help them achieve personal and professional success.

In Coach the Person, Not the Problem, Marcia Reynolds describes how you can use inquiry to encourage reflection and insight. She provides a set of practices that allows you to help your clients understand their own words, make connections between their beliefs and perceptions and reframe their problems to find better solutions. Assisting others in finding their “aha!” moment can be so rewarding for everyone involved.

Marcia explains that while many coaches are taught to follow a strict set of rules, you shouldn’t let these five misconceptions hold you back from becoming a good coach:

  1. It takes a long time to become a great coachIt can take years for you to expand your coaching repertoire, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer a valuable service early on in your career. Start by listening to your clients and encourage them to self-reflect.
  2. You must adhere to a set of questions to create breakthroughsEvery client will come to their breakthrough moment in their own way. Limiting yourself to one style of coaching will not benefit you or your client’s success.
  3. Coaches should never ask closed questionsMany coaches are told to avoid questions that are not open-ended, or that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Don’t be afraid to ask any questions that can lead to successful self-reflection, even close-ended ones.
  4. Reflective statements are confrontationalWhen misused, a reflective statement can make a client feel attacked or that they’re only focusing on the negative. However, when used with curiosity and care, many reflective statements can inspire breakthrough ideas and help clients form new perceptions about the circumstances they’re facing.
  5. Coaching must always have a clear outcomeAlthough the whole point of coaching is to have that breakthrough outcome, you must also leave space to recognize successes and indicators of emotional, intellectual, or behavioral progress in your clients that happen along the way.


Learn to Coach for Success

It’s vital that both coach and client understand their roles and that an open line of communication is created to allow for feedback. In an Accel5 video with Jay Congerwe look at the techniques that can be implemented when using performance-based coaching.

  1. The sounding-board approach. This approach requires that you and your client discuss the best way to perform a particular activity. Brainstorm how this task should be done and together, you can decide the best plan of action.
  2. The case study method. This method requires the client to think of a time when this task had been handled before and discuss a potentially negative or positive outcome.
  3. Post-performance coaching. Debrief your client on their completed task, reflect on how well they did and talk about the next steps.

Once you and your client have a clear idea of the task at hand, it’s essential to provide them with coaching before, during and after the task.

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