This blog is about helping you thrive in a challenging coaching situation and support you in bringing your coaching to the next level whether you are new to coaching or already an expert professional.
If you are a coach, leader, entrepreneur, leadership development professional or a human resource manager, these series of blogs will provide you with some of the key competencies necessary to coach a manager in a complex corporate situation. Let us take a specific case study.
Let’s start with a case study!
“You are coaching two leaders who are partners in the same company. Each partner has a separate face-to-face meeting with you each week. One of the partners, George, has confided some problem issues he has with his partner, Sally. George expects you to bring up the issue with her. What do you do?”
“Good coaching is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so rewarding that the leader wants to resolve them.” – Katrina Burrus, PhD, MCC
Which mistakes to avoid?
You could go to Sally and confide to her that George is having difficulties communicating with her with the intent of helping them get together. You might discuss the issue separately with George and Sally. You might bring them together to confront their different points of view and mediate their differences. Mediation is only an option when direct communication amongst Georges and Sally is beyond repair.
Let us look at how an experienced or certified coach might tackle the problem.
What is the ethical issue here?
A more experienced executive coach would know that in the above case there is an ethical issue involved. Confidentiality is being breached.
What about confidentiality?
The coach is a keeper of confidentiality and under no circumstances should report back to Sally what George confided in the coach. Why? Because the coach’s role is to be a catalyst and support George in clarifying his needs but on no account should the coach breach the confidentiality code even with George’s permission.
Do coaches clarifies goals and approaches?
The coach’s role is to help George come to a decision as to how he wants to approach the issue with Sally.
How does the manager take his/her responsibilities?
If the coach intervenes on George’s behalf, the coach is impeding George from taking responsibility to discuss the issue directly with Sally.
Is part of a coach’s role is to be a message carrier?
Moreover, a coach is not a message carrier. This can be challenging. When I was called in to coach an abrasive leader whose boss happened to be the CEO and Chairman of the company, the CEO asked me to tell my client if she did not change, she would be fired. I answered, “No”. Why did I say no?
It is the CEO’s responsibility to clearly communicate what behavior top management accepts and what behavior is unacceptable. The coach is a catalyst but should not interfere with line management’s responsibility. Moreover, when line management takes a stand, it is a powerful message sent systemically throughout the company.
Coming back to George and Sally’s case, the coach should not intervene by communicating for George what he wants to say to Sally. A coach is not a messenger.
What kind of catalyst is needed?
Instead, the coach can help George clarify what, how, when, where he wants to communicate his message and review the different possible consequences of communicating or not communicating with Sally. Finally, the coach’s role is also to energize George to come to a resolution.
What would you do in this case? Do you agree or disagree? Take this opportunity to leave your comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts.
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- We are happy to announce that Mr. Martin Albrecht from H & M Hennes & Mauritz SA won a complimentary podcast from our drawing at the Salon RH at Palexpo.
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