One of the standard premises of most coaches is that the coachee has all the answers and the role of the coach is to help them find them.
This is probably true when the coachee is juggling priorities or workload for example, but what if the problem they face is them? Do they have all the answers?
Take James as an example. James worked in IT solutions and had a great reputation for coming up with creative ways of solving problems. In fact there was hardly a problem he couldn’t look at and find another way to fix; even ones he’d already sorted. James was seen as a success.
Last year the company changed it’s delivery model & wanted to integrate the selling with the solving so they set up their best problem solvers in to a new sales team. James was obviously picked for the role and was expected to excel.
But James didn’t do well, in fact he was quickly classed as an under-performer. How can that happen?
The problem was that James was no longer fixing the problem, he had to propose a solution & price it. The trouble was when he went in to see client and started explaining the solution he would start to re-evaluate it in his mind & see another solution. He stumbled over the pitch, got client confused and did not build confidence as a result.
His boss told him to ‘stop doing it’ but it happened automatically when he saw any problem. He couldn’t turn his thinking off, so a strength in the back room became a weakness in the new role.
Taking the standard coaching paradigm wouldn’t work in this situation. How could you ask James what he could do differently when he didn’t see any other way of thinking? He’d always been that way. All his answered were predicated by that kind of thinking. Standard coaching approaches wouldn’t deliver for James & therefore for the business.
So what did we do? We used our Accelerated Coaching techniques to help James understand his ‘unconventional’ way of thinking when it came to problem solving and then helped him design ways of using other aspects of his thinking at the appropriate time. To do that we had to give James some new input and that’s where we deviated from standard coaching practice.
By helping James to understand how his thinking drove his behaviour we increased his opportunity to choose the strategy he could use in any given situation. He still chose the solutions but now he had the knowledge of his own thinking style to broaden his options.