Most of us are fed up with instructions, ready-made solutions and all the literature about “the X steps to success” that somebody else has tried (or just imagined) and presents them to us all as the Guru in the matter of self- development and success in life and business. For this reason, Coaching is the most effective way to self-development: it allows people to be who they are and express their thoughts and beliefs freely without being judged by any expert. And starting from being themselves they can pave the way to a better version of themselves: their balanced self and even their happy self.
The basic rules in the Coaching process include is that,
- We should not be directive,
- We should not give instructions,
- We should not make decisions for the Coachee,
- We should not provide solutions, and
- We should not give the answers.
As Coaches we have to make the Coachee discover the path to their own development, take action and make decisions in their own way without us providing any ready-made solutions or answers (by knowing how to effectively implement the basic rules).
Coaching works really well and is very effective when the Coachee makes decisions and acts for themselves without us pushing him/her to specific actions; it is the best way for a person to take responsibility, engage in the process and have sustainable results. Yet, there are times when being directive in the Coaching process is a skill reserved to those few Coaches who are experienced and are able to do it without limiting the Coachees’ right to “be who they are”.
Working with high level Executives with advanced skills and potential
When our Coachee is a high level executive we are usually have to do working with a clever person with a lot of experience in their field and usually of a sound educational background. They know how to succeed and how to meet their goals. They often request ask for a Coach when the pressure in their role becomes exhausting or they are advancing further in their career and need behavioral adjustment or personal development. In such cases there is not much new to discover about themselves; the majority of them have been through a Coaching process in the past and know a lot about their personality strengths and weaknesses, their leadership style, their behavioral setbacks. All they need is someone who understands their situation and can act as a facilitator organizing their thinking and therefore lowers their pressure. This is where Consulting can help. We don’t have to give orders and instructions but when there is a clear answer or best practice we can offer it as an option.
For example, when they ask “what would you do?” we can be direct and offer our approach to those clever people who have the ability to understand that there are alternatives to their initial thought. They are the people who are ready to see the value in a new approach and consider it as an option for their style.
This approach is a Consulting approach where we act as a person that watches the situation from outside and can bring a fresh look in it. In this case we propose an answer or a solution knowing very well that our Coachee can see value in this approach and are responsible to make the decision for themselves.
An example of a real case of Consulting Coaching
In this case the Coachee was about to be promoted to a Global role in a multinational energy company and had to go through the interview with a member of the Board in the headquarters. When she came to my office she was stressed and slightly panicked with the idea of the interview with that high level Board member abroad. Although she already held an international role, the idea of the interview for an even higher position that would put her between the 20 highest positions of the company worldwide was extremely stressful to her.
We discussed about the system in which she is functioning in her current role, and then we also analyzed her expectations and aspirations. We also only had 2 sessions until the interview and she had to be ready and perform perfectly to get the position. As a Consultant I knew what she should do and as a Coach I had to help her develop her skills, but in only two sessions there is no time for “pure” Coaching; so I decided to literally direct her.
I redirected her attitude by advising her that the framework was completely different to what she thought it was. I presented to her that her main activities wouldn’t change that much since the main target of the work would remain the same but she’ll be acting from a higher level. How difficult can this be for an experienced executive? Not at all.
So, this is not a new position. It is the same … just with a higher title! As simple as that! What would be there to fear? What would be there as a task that she didn’t know or was so difficult to learn? Nothing really!
Until she understood this approach and accepted the new scenario, she was panicking because she was thinking that she had “to win the new position”. After I redirected her thinking to “I have the position already and I am only here to present to you what I shall do in my ‘newly-appointed’ position” her attitude changed completely. Can you see the difference?
In her thinking it was all about “winning the position” and this it requires effort, a battle even competition mindset.
In Through my repositioning of “I [already] have the position and I am just here to present it to you” this allowed her to relax and strategically talk about how she does her job, how she uses her experiences and skills.
This is a completely different approach to which a Coach can deliberately direct a Coachee and immediately stimulate naturally a new behavior. From being in a panicked and stressed state she now turned up relaxed and self-confident. Needless to say that she got promoted and we are now working on the next step.
Don’t be afraid to be directive when necessary
As a Consultant and Coach I believe that we can direct our Coachees to speed up the process of their development and help them see the change they want faster.
Being directive in the Coaching process is a skill reserved to those few Coaches who are experienced and are able to do it without limiting the Coachees’ right to “be who they are”.
Being directive within Coaching requires:
- A deep knowledge of the issue (as Consultants we have this privilege for certain issues),
- A special skill to be directive in a way that the Coachee listens to it as an idea not an instruction,
- A deep understanding of the Coachee, their style and the situation so that the “direction” comes from an objective Consultant and not an emotional bystander who project their own issues (this is dangerous!)
- Respect and a real interest for the person
My experience in practicing Consulting Coaching
I really enjoy working as a Consultant – Coach because I can speed up results and my clients see value in the work we do together. In specific cases I might be directive with my utmost respect for them.
My fundamental principal is that I accept them as they are and facilitate the process to their own truth; I just propose some clever shortcuts when necessary!
To connect with Maria Biquet
Maria Biquet is an experienced multilingual Business Consultant and Executive Coach with vast experience from diverse business fields. Maria has long experience in Strategic Marketing and in establishing companies in new markets. For more than 15 years she has studied various methodologies for self development and change including Systemic approach, Appreciative Inquiry Approach, NLP and mindfulness techniques.
Vice President of Marketing & Communication of HCA (Hellenic Coaching Association), EMCC (European Mentoring & Coaching Council). Currently is a Mentor at Orange Grove for startup companies and Cherie Blair Foundation.
Works in Greek, English and French.