High Quality in the Coaching process by Maria Biquet

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Practicing Coaching for years and reaching a point of maturity I have come to some observations and conclusions about what we really do when we work with people in a coaching process.

Quality is the key issue for such an “easy to entry” job and this is what I believe differentiates excellent professional coaches to good and average coaches.


The 8 Essential components of High Quality Coaching

From my experience in working initially as an Executive and later as a Coach with Banks, multinational companies and non-profit organisations, I have concluded that there are 8 essential components of High Quality that can be split across four quality levels:

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  1. Interest in people (Pre-requisite)
  2. Technical Process Knowledge (Basic level)
  3. Professional Experience (Basic level)
  4. High Intelligence (IQ) (Advanced Level)
  5. Multidisciplinary knowledge and cultivation (Advanced Level)
  6. Emotional maturity (High Quality Level)
  7. High ethical standards (High Quality Level)
  8. Higher purpose linked to others and society (Excellence)
     
 

Basic Level

This is the entry level of what we use to quickly assess via simple observations of what’s expected of a Coach.

The essential prerequisite for a Coach is Interest in people.

How else can we do a job that focusses on people and their needs? How can we imagine and ask the right questions that will lead to a breakthrough in the Client’s thinking? And how will we be able to support them through the hard process of change if we are not truly interested in them and engaged in the process of developing them while protecting them from triggering their trauma?

Technical Knowledge and Professional Experience

They are the basis of anything we do.  We need a process that is designed to lead to a result. And we must try in practice what we have learnt; follow the specific steps to build gradually the way to the desired goal. This is the role of Coaching models that set a standard process for a new Coach who tries them, understands them and gains the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

Advanced Level

At this next level, it goes BEYOND  the application of a Coach simply applying a process TO being empathetic with high intelligence with each of their clients AND working across multiple contexts and cultural levels from expanding our intelligence.

High Intelligence (IQ)

High quality Coaching requires a Coach that can understand the client’s mental models and thinking process in order to be able to bring transformation. A highly intelligent person has the ability to analyse and map the thinking process not just understand the thoughts. If a person presents their thoughts and beliefs, us Coaches need to have a developed intelligence in order to be able to think in a wider and deeper way and figure out how the person perceives the facts and events and interprets them in their own reality. In this way we can help them reconstruct their own thinking towards their objectives and goals.

Intelligence goes together with multidisciplinary knowledge and cultivation.

In fact continuous learning and study of various subjects in science, business and art enhance our cognitive abilities and expand our intelligence. A cultivated person that dedicates time to read, think and incorporate the new knowledge into their practice improves their intelligence. For a Coach it is not enough to know the coaching models and methodologies; we need to have knowledge of anthropology, politics, history, biology, sociology, psychology, business, management and all sciences related to human behaviour in order to be able to understand our clients’ reactions in different conditions and situations.

If we want to help others in their own journey to self- discovery, we must get rid of our ego and our egotistical needs for acknowledgement, power, acceptance and vanity.

High Quality Level

To be consistently operating at this level of high quality suggests that a Coach has reached a level of maturity that is able to absorb, manage, normalize and let go of tensions that typically arises in each and every moment of a complex coaching conversation caused by externalities and internal conflicts. This means a Coach needs to both emotionally mature and constantly maintain high ethical standards; role modelling the characteristics of what it means to be of high quality.

Emotional maturity is probably one of the most difficult personal achievements in the process of our own development.

If we reach the point that we understand ourselves, our fears, our inner motives, our behavior, our relationships, our position in our environment, the way we relate to others and consciously manage to regulate our behavior and take responsibility for our actions, then we can start talking about emotional maturity. This is a highly complex and difficult process that never ends; it is our continuous effort to “know ourselves”. If we want to help others in their own journey to self- discovery, we must get rid of our ego and our egotistical needs for acknowledgement, power, acceptance and vanity.

We must step down of the stage and let the client be who they are; facilitate them become their own best and not what we think is best for them. Our own limiting beliefs and emotional needs like need for love, lack of self-esteem, jealousy, negativism, lack of realism and the list goes on and on, must be out of the way and this is possible only if we are mature enough to see it.

Together with Emotional Maturity we must list High Ethical Standards.

In a way they go together because emotional maturity is a prerequisite for a person in order to have high ethical standards. High ethical standards are not the theory but the real practice of what we truly believe and the manifestation of our value system in the work we do and the life we lead.

Respect of any kind of differences in culture, background, mentality, needs, privacy is the basis. Working with the client for their own objectives and for their own development is essential. On the other hand, we should respect our own work and set limits in our own personal engagement treating them as professionals and not as friends.

Would you coach an unethical executive who destroys people’s lives and careers to further improve their “performance”? Ethical dilemmas are the most difficult to answer in our job…

It is also very tricky when the client asks for support in achieving something that is professionally or socially unethical; we must decide about our own ethics in that case. Would you coach a criminal? Probably not. Why then support an executive who is doing harm to other people’s lives with his/her actions? Ethical dilemmas are the most difficult to answer in our job… But even in the simpler cases, like for example, trying to extend a contract for longer than needed or accusing the previous coach that they didn’t do a good job, do not consist a professional approach and we can see them both happening very often.

Excellence – Higher Purpose

Higher Purpose is the unique attitude and goal that distinguishes the very few who become a paradigm in this job and their lives!

  • What makes a Coach reach the level of Excellence? Why do we do this job?
  • Is your own purpose in life manifested through your work?
  • Is it linked to a Higher purpose for the good of others and the society?

Although it sounds too ambitious and romantic for our technological and scientific era, this is the privilege of the very few people who really want to make a difference in this world.


Where next?

In this article I have provided some insights from my experience of what I think is required from high quality coaching. As the beginnings of a working framework it has helped me to share and map out what I believe is a more useful way to differentiate between Excellent and Good coaches. Each of the components deserves its own explorations, and I hope to do that in future pieces.

Meanwhile, the following are some key questions that I have tried to answer in this article and would be happy to receive your thoughts:

  • How do we define Quality in a complex process like this?
  • How can we claim that we offer high quality Coaching during the whole process from the first meeting to the last session?
  • Does Accreditation or Certification guarantee that the Coaching you deliver is high quality compared to a non – accredited Coach?
  • And, most importantly, what is High Quality Coaching compared to standard Coaching delivered by most Certified or Accredited Coaches?

To connect with Maria Biquet

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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 20 years she has studied various methodologies for self development and change including Neuroscience in Coaching, Systemic approach, Appreciative Inquiry Approach, NLP and mindfulness techniques. She holds a University degree in Language & Linguistics and an MBA-International Marketing.

Vice President of Marketing & Communications of HCA (Hellenic Coaching Association) EMCC Greece, member of the EMCC (European Mentoring & Coaching Council). Works as a volunteer with Non Profit Organisations; is a Mentor at Orange Grove for startup companies and at Cherie Blair Foundation. Project Leader in research projects on ethics in collaboration with EMCC .

Works in Greek, English and French.

Email: mariabiquet@gmail.com, Tel.: +30 6944 889526 | www.quantaconsulting.co.za

How Coaching expands and enhances Leaders’ capacity by Maria Biquet

As a Coach I work with high level Executives and Entrepreneurs in developing their skills, abilities and behaviors to match the complex requirements of their roles.

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Developing a person is a highly demanding and very revealing process for both the Coach and the Coachee.

People that take up leadership roles usually have a track record of successes in their previous positions either in the “functional” part of the role or in the “social” part of it. For example, the best engineer could be promoted to Head of Operations because he knows every detail of the systems and can solve all sorts of technical problems; an excellent communicator could become the Head of Sales because he can motivate his staff and speed up results in sales. In most cases both aim at becoming the CEO of the company in the next step of their career.

People who get promoted to Leadership roles combine both sets of skills “technical and people skills” at different levels.


The Leader the Role and the Culture

When we have to work with a person to develop their Leadership skills we first need to understand their role; what does the specific role require?

It is not always the same.

The requirements of a specific Leadership role depend on the system (the Organization) that he/she has to manage and lead.

It is also very important to consider the Culture of the company in which the Leader has to perform. If the Leader is an internal promotion then he knows the Culture and in most cases, he can navigate in the system successfully. If he is new in the company then it is very important to understand the environment and realize which behaviors he needs to learn or unlearn to be able to lead others in the Organization (the system).

In both cases, whether  internal or external promotion, the level of performance required has increased and it requires the leader to continue their own development in 4 areas that’s consistently and repeatedly appeared as I coach leaders into their new role. I broadly outline what each of these are and bring these learnings to light with one of my case studies.

  • Self-awareness
  • Expanding the thinking process
  • Developing and refining emotional intelligence
  • Explore values and ethics

Self-awareness

The first step of the Coaching process in Leadership development is to facilitate and promote self-awareness so that the person,

  1. understands their strengths and
  2. their areas for development.

Together with that, we both as Coach and Coachee need to understand what the specific role in the specific culture requires.

Although Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Integrity, Openness etc. appear as common values in most Organizations’ websites, in fact they are not the real values that we discover when we do an in depth diagnosis of an Organization’s culture. In the process of understanding the Culture we discuss with people from diverse functions and levels. During the structured interviews we explore the “how we do things here” which is the essence of the Culture, the subconscious thinking and acting process that affects every person in the Organisation. It usually happens that the elements of the Culture differ from the stated values. In each specific context the Leaders should be aware of what is required from their role within the Culture in order to be able to retain and enhance their position and change the Organization for the better.

Embarking on a Coaching Programme an Executive will go through a self- awareness process in which he will be able to realize his strengths, his areas of development and his potential. We work together in exploring their dreams, values, aspirations and fears and plan the way ahead with small steps forward and reflection on achievements and alternative actions. Very often I am happy when people discover a much higher potential that they have never used before because they didn’t know they could!

Expanding the thinking process

Self-awareness includes a very important element: thinking process and beliefs. 

During the Coaching process we come across hidden dysfunctional beliefs and fears that shape -and in most cases - limit the thinking process and deprive the Coachee of valuable opportunities for further achievements. A lot of the work I do focusses on their thinking process in order to expand it and open the way for the Coachee to use their own potential freely, purposefully and systematically.

Developing and refining emotional intelligence

Supporting the expansion of the thinking process understanding our own fears and emotions is a major step towards self-development. Understanding other people’s fears and emotions is a significant skill required as a Leader.

  • Emotional intelligence is a skill that the Coachee develops and enhances in the process of Coaching;
  • Self-awareness leads us to better understand how we feel and how others feel at any different situation.

We can only manage ourselves and others if we can understand and manage our own emotions at any different situation. Fear, stress, anxiety block our best thinking and intentions for result; Coaching creates the “safe framework” for the Coachee to learn to manage them successfully and efficiently.  

Exploring values & ethics

Values and ethics is the most complex and challenging topic because both of them influence our decisions and actions unconsciously.

  • They are built at an early stage in our lives and form patterns of behavior that we follow without consciously thinking.
  • As we evolve our values and ethics might change slightly but again this process happens unconsciously without us dictating or deciding it.

We discover our true values when we face dilemmas, challenges and major crisis and even then, we may not realize how far our true values and ethics are from what we declare to believe.

This self-deception and incongruence is often a cause of failure and disappointment in life and business. In the Coaching process we have the chance to reveal the inner values, realize them and understand which of them to keep or change in order to feel more in balance with ourselves and our goals in life.

An example of Leadership development might be useful to illustrate some of the above-mentioned points.


A real case of Leadership development in a very different company environment

My client is a Sales Director in a Real Estate Agency. In fact, it is the biggest Real Estate Agency in the country with thousands of transactions every year. He became a Sales Director after a promotion he got for his high performance as an agent. In the new position he needed to develop different skills and behaviours because his role was completely different. He wouldn’t have to see clients to promote property; he would manage people doing that. The team he belonged to merged with another team and some more new people joined. This company is different to the usual companies we know: all the agents work on commission without any benefits or expenses covered; they are free lancers who are independent and their income comes from the sales they achieve.

The Sales Director can manage the work but doesn’t really have power over the people because they are freelancers. How can he make them abide by the rules of the company, work as a team and perform?

In a typically structured company there is hierarchy, roles and tasks, salaries and insurance and in some cases a development plan or some sort of career path for the employees. In this specific case people work on commission, get a very basic training on the systems and regulations and they start selling.

From our conversations it was clear that the management of his team should be based on creating a context of trust, belonging and mutual cooperation that would then lead them to become a team and perform.  There was a need to create one team from the two teams that were merged and the new people who joined. He should offer what was missing from the context: people should feel support and stability if not safety.

Because of the specific characteristics of this environment there was no position for a manager; he should be a leader be the example himself or else the freelancers would act independently and ignore him.

We structured together his plan to develop people by being the example himself;

  • He was the first to explain the regulations and apply them in every task.
  • He was the one who provided a lot of information and tips on how to manage a client so they would sign the contract and earn their commission.
  • He would do all the difficult negotiations and discussions to ease the sale.

He started organizing “best practices” sessions to give them the opportunity to share their experience and learn from each other; new and older agents were looking forward to those meetings in which they both learned and got praised. This practice expanded to their everyday work: they started discussing between them the most difficult cases and find solutions for the agent who had the “difficult” client.

They are in the 9th month now and they have become the most connected team in the company and their results are continuously improving. They are a team working closely together with their leader. The Sales Manager enjoys working with the agents that became a team that cooperates and help each other in all difficult cases.

He had to become the example and prove that he cares about the team by truly supporting them to perform and be rewarded for that. And he did. He developed new skills in coaching and developing people and raised to a new level of understanding and practicing his new leadership skills.

It was a great example for my practice of how a person can build a team with trust and care. My contribution to the process was to shed light on the hidden spots of the system (team) and his own unused abilities and qualities that became conscious and were wisely incorporated in his everyday behavior.


To summarize

Coaching a Leader within the framework of an Organization is the process that will strengthen and develop the person in their role and help them achieve highest results for themselves, their teams and the Organization. At the same time, Coaching builds and refines a person’s hidden talents and abilities and leads them to a more fulfilling life as a person and as a professional with purpose and balance.

As a Coach I find real purpose in life when I contribute to a person’s development and success. There are valuable learnings in every coaching process that I look for and appreciate.   

To connect with Maria Biquet:

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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 Neuroscience in Coaching, Systemic approach, Appreciative Inquiry Approach, NLP and mindfulness techniques. She holds a University degree in Language & Linguistics and an MBA-International Marketing.

Vice President of Marketing & Communications of HCA (Hellenic Coaching Association), member of the 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.